12 – Assotto Saint – Silky Shoemaker


Silky Shoemaker
Assotto Saint
wood, fabric, paint, neon


Assotto Saint was born Yves Lubin in Les Cayes Haiti. He changed his name when he moved to New York City in 1970— Assoto for a drum used voodou rituals and Saint after Toussaint Louverture (who led the Haitian Revolution.)

Assotto was a poet, a performance artist, an essayist, a playwright, a dramaturg, a singer, a dancer, a publisher. He was a keystone in the literary culture of black queer men of his time through his own writing and also through the work of so many writers whose voices he helped elevate. He mentored many emerging artists and produced/ published/edited several anthologies of work by black queer men.

He was an AIDS activist who insisted on the importance of being out about one’s status, who insisted on an open casket funeral so that the world could see the genocide that killed him, who insisted on smashing the silence surrounding AIDS in his art, his community, and in his daily life:

“donald/the spectacle of your funeral/was a wake-up call from the dead/but history religiously repeats its travesty/in lunatic denial of an epidemic that decimates us/gay black men”… “anguish in the blood iarrive/skeptical after the obituary stated you died/of a heart attack which almost gave me one”…“isoar like an archangel summoning those wishing/to avenge your censored queer legacy”

He was an immigrant who spoke from the diaspora as a gay Haitian living in New York. He was the founder of Galiens Press, which published the work of black queer writers. He founded Metamorphosis Theater and was the lead singer of the band Xotica.

He was an unapologetic effeminate queen . A “loud, low-life bitch”. A tall beautiful flamer.

He was a seeker of backrooms and a haunter of leather bars.

He was the lover, collaborator, and life partner of Jan Holmgren who preceded him in death by just over a year.

He died June 29, 1994 at the age of 36. In protest of the state sanctioned AIDS genocide, he requested that the American flag to be burned at his funeral and its ashes scattered on his casket.



Silky Shoemaker is an artist, performer, and community organizer living in Austin TX. She was the creator and cohost of CAMPCAMP! Monthly Queer Performance Night, Trivia Travesty with Rebecca Havemeyer, and is one of the organizers of Gaybigaygay Music Fest!. She is also the curator of this, The Gay Wax Museum!, a dream over ten years in the making!