Welcome to Seven Minutes in Heaven, GO Magazine’s interview series that profiles a different queer babe each day, by asking them seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
Eli Denby Wood is one of those fabulous queers who I became acquainted with through the Internet. I always appreciate their political posts, cat videos, and musical talents. I was bursting with excitement when they launched their event series AcoustiQueers, which focuses on providing space for LGBTQ musicians. Their events are an intimate setting where queer and trans people can congregate over beautiful music. You can tell that Eli passionately produces each and every one of these events with intention to foster community for all attendees.
We at GO wanted to get know Eli a little better, and what better way than to spend Seven Minutes in Heaven with them?
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Eli Denby Wood: I’m Eli Denby Wood, a non-binary songwriter and performer, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. For the past eight months, I’ve been producing AcoustiQueers, an intimate acoustic concert series highlighting LGBTQIA+ musicians. During the day, I’m a window dresser for a small woman-owned toyshop on the UWS. I’ve been incorporating strong political and social justice themes into my windows since last November.
GO: What is the driving force behind your career/activism?
EDW: I’ve had this doll holding a protest sign reading “Protect Trans Kids” going in and out of my windows since the bathroom bill shenanigans began. A mother recently told me that the sign started a conversation between her and her daughter, who is now at the beginning stages of transitioning. She told me that my action will always be a part of their family’s history and made a point to later introduce me to her daughter. As one who also identifies as trans, this occurrence and others like it have been the driving force for me to keep doing these displays.
Sure, there are folks who fight me on the messages. There was some backlash from my most recent display “Magic vs. Science” where I pitted a solar mechanics engineering kit against a nanoblock model of The White House, as some perceived it as anti-45. I like to think of it more as anti-imminent global destruction. People have also expressed concerns about the educational value of the “Stay Woke” sign that hangs permanently in the window. They say that it is not grammatically correct and that we should remain non-partisan. My stance is as follows: 1) It is colloquial and therefore grammar is irrelevant, and 2) if they’re more concerned about antiquated English than the lives of POC, they’re fighting the wrong fight.
Trans babies, queer kids, and all marginalized children deserve an ally and voice in one of the most gender binarized, classist, racist and ablest driven industries on the planet: the toy industry. I’m proud to speak with and for them.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
EDW: I turn to my instruments. If I’m unable to write, I’ll try to find new meaning in old music. Writing and sharing music with my community is my water; it makes the hard pills in life a little easier to swallow.
GO: How would you describe yourself in three words?
EDW: Patient, handy, and dependable.
GO: Why do you think it’s so important to have queer-centric events and spaces?
EDW: At any queer event, you know you’re among people who have been marginalized in one way or another. This makes for a better chance of finding empathy and understanding. There’s still a fair share of problematic ideology within our community, but the more we come together, listen, and hold each other and ourselves accountable, the better and stronger we become. It’s been the most rewarding thing to provide a safe space for queer folk through AcoustiQueers. Our performers are actually HEARD and validated by their peers, not just drowned out in some cis-het bar, where they are fetishized or disrespected. It’s also just refreshing to be in a queer scene that doesn’t revolve around drinking culture. It’s BYOB, but we’re really there for the music and the company.
GO: What music are you listening to lately?
EDW: I’ve been listening to ‘Morning Crawls Towards You and I’ by Good Luck Finding Iris on repeat for the past two weeks. It’s a really simple song with two guitars, a bass, and a vocalist. The timbre, range, and lyrics really get me. “Ask me to stay. I don’t want to go, but I will if you want.” Cue me Crying.
GO: Where can people find you?