This is not Rachel Pollack’s obituary

2 mins read

I wanted to write an obituary for Rachel Pollack, but I can’t. I can, however, mix letters and words, I can write some pretty but vague description of her life, I can ask language models to shape semi-well-crafted paragraphs into something the resembles a decent obituary, but in reality, I cannot write Rachel Pollack’s obituary.

Rachel Pollack was the woman, especially to me. She was the writer that broke my mind and taught me the binary of gender was a ploy to be dismissed, a mythology we could choose to opt-out of. Her words on cards inspired me, to this day, when I slowly walk the path of reading. And her work in comics with the New Gods and the Doom Patrol were some of the things I can never, ever forget.

When I was a young woman, recently coming out of cisgenderism and still believing in the lies of binarity, I wrote a small piece about representation in comics. It was alright, not too deep but well researched, like most of the things I did back then. And in that piece I said Coagula was the only ideal representation of trans characters in mainstream DC and Marvel comics. I stand by that statement.

Characters like Dreamer and Escapade are all the jazz now in comics, even though they barely exist, but Coagula was the first to shine bright, written by a trans writer. She had real life embedded in each sentence. 

Rachel was my bridge between Grant Morrison’s philosophy and cosmology and Judith Butler’s ethics and politics. It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be alive now if not for Rachel Pollaks thoughts, words and actions. Not only me but most of modern transgender individuals in the northwestern globe, maybe even the whole western hemisphere.

It is difficult to explain to people who are not at the same time big fans of comic book history and transgender themselves, but I`ll try.

Rachel didn’t just “‘”exist.” She (r)existed. Her art was fundamental to DC comics, her work on tarot and occultism was so vast and powerful she remains one of the grate names on the subject, having personally dealt the cards to build a Vertigo print version of the deck. Neil Gaiman and Karen Berger saw her as their peer, and for good reason. She won multiple awards for her works, including the Arthur C. Clarke award.

And she did all of that during a time were being queer was a crime in most of the planet, when being yourself was a death sentence in unwritten law in the rest of it. Death squads paid by the Brazilian civil-military regime hunted down people in the streets of São Paulo. Thatcher’s solution to the AIDS crisis in the United Kingdom was to let the gays rot, and Reagan’s wasn’t much better in the so called “Land of the Free.” Portugal and most of western continental Europe was quieter about their passive ways of letting us die by not giving us access to healthcare, but it was there.

Rachel Pollack stood in the typing machines of gods and crafted plotlines and modern myths on the house of legends and told truths and tales to inspire us, to let us know, that the material may burn and hurt, but we would strive. For in the long distant past we were gods. We were priests, and chiefs, and healers, and in some places we still are. They tried to delete us. The Right-Wing and the Leftists of all over the place chose to erase our history.

But Rachel Pollack made us New Gods.

Erika Atayde

(she/her, they/them) ADHD, Sephardic Travesti
Writer and editor of Comic Books, audio-editor and director of podcasts and audiodramas, and independent journalist between countries. Beyond the Daily Planet you can find me ArcbeatlePress, "Aquele Outro Podcast Sobre Quadrinhos" and "Muralha da Fonte".

Leave a Reply

Previous Story

Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis, dies at 54

Next Story

DC remembers MAD Fold-In creator Al Jaffee

Latest from Memorials