Michelle Tea (born Michelle Tomasik , 1971) is an American author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose autobiographical works explore queer culture, feminism , race , class , prostitution , and other topics. [8] She is originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts and currently lives in Los Angeles . Her books, mostly memoirs, are known for their views into the queercore community. [8]

Spoken word and magazine writing

Tea was the co-founder of the Sister Spit spoken word tour. [8] She has toured with the Sex Workers' Art Show [9] alongside Ducky DooLittle and others. She is also a contributor to The Believer magazine [10] and was the co-writer of the weekly astrology column, Double Team Psychic Dream with astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo, in the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper. [9]

In 2012 Tea partnered with City Lights Publishers to form the Sister Spit imprint. [11]

From 2012 to 2015 Tea wrote a column for XOJane where she chronicles the difficulties she is facing trying to have a baby with her partner Dashiell. [12] [13] Her articles document the stress and difficulty that accompanies fertility treatments and artificial insemination, and additionally illuminates gaps that exist for queer couples in a system that was created with heterosexual couples in mind. [14] [15] [16]

Recent work

Michelle Tea founded Radar Productions in 2003 and served as their Creative Director for many years. A non-profit based in San Francisco, Radar Productions produces a number of literary-based projects in the Bay area and beyond. [17]

Tea stepped outside her work as a writer to serve as the Executive Producer of Valencia: The Movie . Based on her novel of the same name , the experimental film was spearheaded with filmmaker Hilary Goldberg. [18] [19] Valencia was filmed by 20 different lesbian, queer and trans directors, each assigned a different chapter of her novel. The twenty one different ‘Michelle’ characters “vary in age, gender, size, ethnicity, style and era”. [20]

Her experiences trying to conceive and preparing for parenthood led her to start the website Mutha Magazine, an alternative mothering/parenting website that caters to those parents that do not identify with mainstream parenting media. [21] Of the project she says “I think there are a lot of women who get pregnant and have babies but they're not part of this cultural traditional ideas of what it means to be a mom and they're not interested in the media that's already out there.” [21]


In February 2008, Tea was the 23rd Zale Writer-in-Residence at the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College Institute at Tulane University . [22] She did not go to college and, in interviews, has discussed the assumption that she has studied. [9]

Critical acclaim

While touring together in the year 2000, Tea and writer Clint Catalyst came up with the idea to solicit first-person narratives for their 2004 anthology Pills, Thrills, Chills and Heartache . Described by Publishers Weekly as a "celebrat[ion of] the avant-garde," [24] the book, which includes work by JT Leroy , Dennis Cooper , and Eileen Myles , reached #10 on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction paperback bestseller list in its first week of release. [25] Moreover, the book was a 2004 Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Anthologies/Fiction category. [27] Indeed, her books have won a nomination in the competition virtually every year since her Valencia won for best Lesbian Fiction in 2000. [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

She was awarded the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize by the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in 2008.

Published work

  • The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America (1998) ISBN 1-57027-074-0
  • Valencia (2000) ISBN 1-58005-035-2
  • The Chelsea Whistle (2002) ISBN 1-58005-073-5
  • The Beautiful (2003) ISBN 0-916397-89-0
  • Rent Girl (2004) ISBN 0-86719-620-3
  • Rose of No Man's Land (2006) ISBN 1-59692-160-9
  • Transforming Community (2007) ISBN 0-9789023-4-3
  • Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir (2013) ISBN 0-385525915 (with Beth Ditto )
  • Mermaid in Chelsea Creek (2013) ISBN 1-938073363
  • How to Grow Up: A Memoir (2015) ISBN 0-142181196
  • Girl at the Bottom of the Sea (2015) ISBN 1-940450004
  • Black Wave (2016) ISBN 1908276908
  • Modern Tarot: Connecting With your Higher Self Through the Wisdom of the Cards (2017) ISBN 9780062682406
  • Pills, Thrills, Chills, and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person (ed. with Clint Catalyst ) (2004) ISBN 1-55583-753-0
  • Without A Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class (ed.) (2004) ISBN 1-58005-103-0
  • Baby, Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl's Writing (ed.) (2006) ISBN 0-7867-1792-0
  • Sister Spit: Writing, Rants and Reminiscence from the Road (ed.) (2012) ISBN 0-87286-566-5