Bay Davis Is Taking Up Space & Knocking Sh*t Over

Bay Davis (she/they) is a poet. She’s also a model. Davis is also an activist. And they’re a Black trans woman. None of these elements individually encapsulate all that she is, but one thing is clear. Everything that Bay Davis does serves a goal that so many of the LGBTQ+ community continually strive for: visibility, having a voice, and being recognized by society at large.

Born in South LA, Bay Davis made her way into community organization and activism for a similar reason that so many of us did—because she had to. However, her own story is perhaps more extreme and she truly rose to the occasion. Speaking with The LA Times, Bay Davis discussed how her father died “in an interaction with police” and in response, the young Davis began campaigning to raise awareness of the school-to-prison pipeline and other issues that affected her community.

Facing the gentrification of South LA, Davis and their family were facing eviction at the hands of an illegal scare tactic as the landlord attempted to raise the rents. Refusing to move without legal action, Davis started Porch Poetry, an open mic that took place on the literal porch of her house. Porch Poetry brought together Davis’ poetry and community organization as they worked to provide a place for people to safely talk and express their emotions and frustrations.

Porch Poetry was a huge moment for Bay Davis, and she has continued to grow and now has over 150,000 followers across her social platforms. Her poetry and other creative content have become widely shared on Tik Tok and Instagram, and that in itself proves just how powerful her work can be. While Rupi Kaur might be credited with popularizing poetry for the younger generation, Bay Davis is giving it a powerful facelift and using it for social good in a way that would make Amanda Gorman proud.

I really do like the idea of knocking sh*t over and I think that’s what my poetry does—knocks sh*t ovee, challenges, makes people explore. 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.

Bay Davis, speaking to Into

With her success has come more opportunities, new visibility, and fresh ways to educate people about our communities. Bay Davis was featured as part of Out’s series where they recreated their most iconic covers. Davis’ appearance saw them posing with Jada Michael to recreate a July 2000 cover that featured Natasha Lyonne and Clea Duvall fresh off their roles in the queer classic But I’m a Cheerleader.

Additionally, Davis is one of a group of LGBTQ+ individuals that is being featured in Hinge’s NFAQ (“Not-So Frequently Asked Questions”). The series seeks to educate people in two important ways. First, to teach people who might be using the dating app about how to interact with queer people with questions like “What are some nuances when flirting with someone who’s trans?” Second, and just as importantly, Hinge’s NFAQ’s include questions to help LGBTQ+ people better understand themselves and to deal with the real problems they might face both in and out of dating scenes, with questions such as “As a femme who’s attracted to other femmes, how do I make it clear I’m flirting?” You can find Bay Davis’ responses to these questions and others from Hinge’s NFAQ here.

While Bay Davis’ amazing visibility and activism are glorious, it’s worth remembering that none of it came easily. Transition can be hard in many ways, but Bay’s came in line with the pandemic and quarantine, providing isolation from so much of her community. Davis has fought to be where she is, all while making space for others to follow.

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.

Bay Davis, speaking to Into

You can find Bay Davis on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

Don't forget to share:
Read More in 25 Under 25
The Latest on INTO