Interviews

Published on June 22nd, 2018 | by David Morales

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Pride Month: Claire Mortifee and Xavier Wallace: An interracial queer couple

Claire Mortifee and Xavier Wallace are an interracial queer couple who join The Hype magazine to talk about their beautiful relationship and how it transcends all social boundaries to accommodate the essential aspect of true love. Claire is an exceptional synth, R&B/neo soul artist, who dropped a 9-track album titled “Medicines,” a journey of healing. Her intention is one of support in that listening will inspire innermost truth in oneself. Xavier is Claire’s transgender husband who is highly supportive of his wife and her music career. Together, they join The Hype magazine to talk about their unique relationship and life working on the road.

‘Medicines’ is a project I made to remind myself of my inner power. Singing it lifts me up, like prayer, like mantra – my intention is to lift others up too. — Claire Mortifee

With a focus on our current political times, Xavier and Claire talk about their difference in privilege, how they identify, and their life together as a queer couple. “He is black and the worlds that we walk through are different because of the differences in how people perceive us,” said Claire Mortifee. “Recognizing the intersection of my privilege and the person who I walk through the world as is one perceptive that I live from.” Nothing illustrates this more than Claire’s song “Panther Paws,” which is a celebration of interracial diversity.

Claire points out that it wasn’t until 1967 that it became legal for people to marry outside their race in America. While “Panther Paws” is a song that reflects the potential of diversity and progress, many of us are left to endure the current political climate. However, Claire has a message of hope and progression. “Despite the current political climate and the recent setbacks, I can feel the notion to move forward,” Claire Mortifee told The Hype magazine. Mortifee goes on to explain how there is always a backlash in history and that LGBTQ people have a safe place to speak freely about political change. Claire Mortifee’s next batch of music will be a mixture of various Toronto creatives. Make sure to keep your ears open for what’s coming out next in 2018.

Claire, can you tell me a little about where you are from and what your upbringing was like?

I am from Vancouver, Canada. I was born and raised along the west coast. I had a very privileged upbringing. I wasn’t aware of my privilege until recently. My understanding of the world was limited outside the community I grew up in and the school I went to. Coming out as queer to my family was an experience that was fearful for a moment, but I was still able to maintain my housing and live at home with my parents after I came out. I recognize that is a great privilege and not the experience of others in the LGBTQ community. Even living in Canada, its different political climate, although we are affected on what’s going on south of the border. But recognizing the intersection of my privilege and the person who I walk through the world as, is one perceptive that I live from.

Claire, do you remember when you first felt different than your peers?

I identify as a queer woman, but I don’t know necessarily if I ever felt different from those I was around. I wasn’t straight that’s for sure. For me, I remember first being attracted to other girls when I was really young, and then I would become more attracted to boys. I went to an all-girls school and I would do musicals at the boy’s school. I remember driving up to the building and my face would just be flushed. That was an early experience of my attraction to boys. As for girls, I can remember wanting to touch other girls and wanting to be with other girls in a romantic and sexual way. That happened before my attraction to boys.

Claire, one of your songs talks about interracial relationships. You have mentioned that this is fairly new concept in North America. Can you tell me a little more about that?

I recognize that there is a long history of prohibition and racism and it wasn’t until 50 years ago that people from different racial backgrounds could get married legally.  So, I just wanted to speak on that. I am so grateful to be in a partnership with my husband Xavier. He is black and the worlds that we walk through are different because of the differences in how people perceive us. That is what the song “Panther Paws” and the music video really speaks to. It is my experience to begin to acknowledge this in a deeper way.

Again, coming back to that we are all human and we are unified in that. We have so much more in common than we have differences. Not just different sexuality, gender or race, but any differences we may have like Republican or Democrat, how we look or how we dress, the shows that we watch. No matter what our differences are, we are humans in our skin and we are so much more alike than we are different.That is why I choose to recognize my privilege. I have learned and able to have an intimate and loving relationship with a black man.

What can you tell me about your latest album “Medicines”?

Medicines is a project I made to remind myself of my inner power. Singing it lifts me up, like prayer, like mantra – my intention is to lift others up too. So, if it sits right, take it like Medicines, babes; daily.

Xavier, you identify as transgender. Can you tell me a little about that and how are you involved with Claire’s music?   

I can’t take credit for any of Claire’s music but maybe I am an inspiration. We simply inspire each other. We keep each other motivated and grounded. I believe that is the foundation. As for me, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California more precisely in Englewood.  I knew I was transgender ever since I was young. My parents thought I’d grow out of it. I mostly had male friends and it was easier to digest that I was more like them than it was that I was different. It wasn’t until I started going through puberty that it became more difficult.

Xavier, did anything help you come out?   

My parents actually found a note from someone thanking me for helping them coming out to their peers. They were expressing gratitude in this letter and I was basically just giving myself away. My parents are Christian. They were religious. They weren’t exactly strict, but the thing is that it’s not a part of their core beliefs. According to their value system it was not acceptable. So, they had a hard time wrapping their head around it. I knew it would be a thing, that’s why I decided not to tell them.

Do you have any advice for people who are experiencing a want or a need to transition from one gender to another?     

Live your life! We are all doing things that make us feel happy. You have to live your life to the fullest. My thoughts on gender are not that complicated. As children, we really don’t know much. There is definitely a brain body connection as gender is fluid.

Claire, what are your thoughts on the Trump administration and their recent policies toward the LGBTQ community?

Anytime there is injustice done it makes me feel sad. I try to look at the positive. Despite the current political climate and the recent setbacks, I can feel the notion to move forward. With any jump in history there is always a backlash. With progress there are setbacks. Change can sometimes be hard and slow. People in the LGBTQ spectrum have had these issues since the beginning of recorded history. I do believe that now there are a lot of positive people that feel safe enough to where they can speak out and get into political positions to make change. So, there is definitely some positive momentum in the world.

Claire, what advice do you have for new and upcoming artists?

Listen to your creative longings. You’re here to make something different, something no one else ever has channeled before. The specific sounds you hear in the specific spaces you hear them in are to be trusted. No one’s creative input is more or less valid, so speak up in creative collaborations. Be fearless in your approach. You can literally do whatever you want – so why not try whatever that is out? You are as magical and as important as the next artist. Remember that.

 

 


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About the Author

is the Executive Editor of The Hype magazine. A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, David has a background as an artist manager, writer, blogger, drummer, and in the human services industry. He is passionate about helping others, learning and has a deep empathy for the creative process. You can follow his social media @dcypherstudios


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