The INTO Interview

Bay Davis on the Humanity of Her Art, Forming Her Voice, and Building Community Through Poetry

· Updated on October 4, 2023

And my God how grateful I am for the sweetest days 

All seeped in truth that somehow managed to blend into each other like they do

Honest exchanges and love 

Love that calls you by name 

I used to swear one day I’ll make it home 

And she has 

– Bay Davis 

Blending poetry, content creation, and advocacy all into one isn’t easy, but poet and creative Bay Davis makes the work of artistry in the digital age look effortless. Utilizing platforms like Instagram and TikTok to share spoken word and her life, Davis is blazing a path forward for herself that displays her art and centers her humanity. 

@baydaviss♬ original sound – Ms.Gender

Davis’s poems are her experiences and outlook personified. Accompanied by her bright personality, blunt wit, and powerful voice, Davis has garnered over 151k followers across her digital platforms, and acquired brand collaborations with companies like Hinge, Out Magazine, and Crocs. But before Davis was gracing our phone screens or working with these famous brands, she was coming into her own, learning important life lessons from the community around her. 

Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Davis grew up in the community of her extended family. Cared for by her mom, who worked as a madam and a nurse, and by the women who worked for her, Davis learned the duality of personhood from an early age. 

“All the women that raised me have these really interesting & juxtaposing identities that really cracked a lot open for me as a kid” shared Davis. “I’ve gotten to see both sides [and] the women that raised me really embodied that…they were everything – they could do anything.” 

Photo credit: Bay Davis

Imbuing her with knowledge of everything from how to “beat” one’s face and lay a wig to how to hustle and thrive, these women gifted Davis with the tools she would need to survive, one of those tools being the art of poetry. 

“My mom was really intentional about making sure that I had some kind of outlet or some kind of way to sift through all of the many things that were happening in my life because I don’t think there was ever a time where something wasn’t happening,” shared Davis. “I think my life has been a bunch of different episodes and stories [of] how I’ve survived them. And for almost every one of those episodes, there’s a poem that follows after.” 

“My willingness to bulldoze space isn’t just about all this for myself, but to bulldoze [and] create something that’s sustainable outside of my own existence – for generations after me.”

Art can be our voice and our expression or build community, but for Davis, poetry has done all three. Now distributing the very tools of survival that were given to her, Davis explains that it was her poetry that gave voice to her feelings and allowed her to stay connected with her community throughout the years, a pandemic, and quarantine. 

“ [Being] in quarantine for so long and not having direct physical contact with other trans women or even other Black people was really hard for me…but I think being able to make sense of my experience…and then watching it be affirmed back to me by…other Black trans women, specifically, really helped me make sense of so much.” 

Art has always had the power to transform society for the better, and our greatest artists understand this fact. Following in the footsteps of legendary poets and writers before, Davis has used her platform to continue in this tradition of evoking radical change. 

Photo credit: Bay Davis

“I really do like the idea of knocking sh*t over and I think that’s what my poetry does…knocks sh*t over…challenge…make people explore,” shared Davis. “If somebody can relate in any way, whether it’s a love poem or a grief poem or a Black joy poem, whatever the poem is, I feel like if somebody can see themselves in that joy or that triumph or that survival, then I’ve done my job.” 

“My willingness to bulldoze space isn’t just about all this for myself, but to bulldoze [and] create something that’s sustainable outside of my own existence – for generations after me”

Davis’ work as a poet, model, organizer, and all-around creative joins the myriad of Black trans voices of our time. Adding to this anthology with her story, Davis, through her art, aids in the move to shift the power of storytelling back into the hands of the storytellers. Not to be wielded as mere means of representation, but to center their voices and make room for others to share their stories. 

“My willingness to bulldoze space isn’t just about all this for myself, but to bulldoze [and] create something that’s sustainable outside of my own existence – for generations after me… that’s why it’s important for me that the work that I’m doing is very visible, [as] a Black trans woman,” stated Davis. 

But throughout all of her work, Davis doesn’t seek to be solely known as a strong Black trans woman, nor as solely an advocate or a pretty face for change. In it all, Davis seeks to use her art, platform, and voice to inspire others to take up the mantle, allowing her to live in the totality of her personhood. 

“I want to not lift heavy things. I want to not build stuff. I want enough space that I get to be a little docile – a little softer. I want to feel safe enough and cared for enough that I don’t have to be so here all the time… [more] curated space.”♦

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