these memes are the queer, uplifting answer to evil kermit
Artist Bunny Michael channels their higher consciousness in a new book, "Me and My Higher Self."
Courtesy Bunny Michael
In 2016, New York-based musician and interdisciplinary artist Bunny Michael started to use the gender-neutral pronoun “they.” “I thought because I am cis and mostly present femme, I was excluded from identifying as gender neutral,” Bunny says. “However, inside, my masculinity felt hidden.” In addition to challenging the world’s “limited perspective on gender,” the plural pronoun also works for Bunny’s memes. In them, Bunny appears as two people: one who is despondent, and one who is transcendental. For example, in a meme posted last week, a pink-and-purple haired Bunny looks offscreen and says, “Everything is falling apart.” Next to that image, Bunny’s Higher Self smiles and looks straight at us: “Good, because we need to rebuild.” Bunny started making and sharing these memes, which they call “doubles,” last year, and has now released them in their first book: Me and My Higher Self . “I am expanding the project beyond Instagram to make it more sustainable,” Bunny says in the following interview. “I know this is my calling and I want to reach as many people as I can.”
When and why did you decide to use the pronoun “they”?
I started using the pronoun about a year and a half ago. I was having an awakening to the performative nature of gender, as much of the collective consciousness continues to… I realized I still had a lot of shame around feeling like a man inside a lot of the time. I don't feel like a woman and I can't say now exactly how I feel because I think my understanding of myself is constantly evolving. [The pronoun] “they” feels more inclusive. I am in the process of "unlearning" many aspects of the conditioning of our world including our limited perspective of gender.
How did these memes originate? How did you get the idea to feature two versions of yourself?
I had already been making digital portraits of two of me for years before the memes. Both in my music and visual work, I expressed states of higher consciousness and spoke of becoming a witness to myself. During this time, I was also attempting to let go of personal trauma and abuse, and I explored alternative healing modalities such as ayahuasca, hypnosis, reiki, meditation, and the other plant medicines. I had a spiritual transformation. I saw my own healing journey as linked to the healing journey of our collective whole. I began to see my own self-compassion was dependent on the compassion I could have for other people. I knew I had to give love to receive love. How could I do that? What form would that come in? I still didn't know. Then a little over a year ago, I bought a workshop from the astrologer Chani Nicholas. In that workshop, I learned about my second house and it told me that I was born with a natural gift of psychological healing. I followed that guidance and focused on the psychological message of the portraits I was making. That’s when I put it in meme form because people read memes more than captions below a picture. From then on, it became clear that people really related. I decided that I would dedicate my Instagram to only Higher Self memes from then on.
How have your memes evolved since then?
I think the memes have evolved over time as far as the language I use. I used to have a vision board with all these goals on it like "World tour by 2018.” Then I took that all down and wrote on a piece of paper: "What Do People Need?" I made a short list consisting of things like "to heal from past trauma,” “to feel safe to be their authentic self,” “to feel they have a purpose,” etc., and I decided I wasn't gonna post anything unless it fit onto this list. The intention made the writing more and more clear.
What is the best piece of advice from your higher self to other queer POC?
Remember you are a gift to this world. Let your light shine! Every morning, start your day off by reminding your mind that your power comes from love and nothing can take that away from you. Write on a piece of paper, "My life is a blessing and I am a gift to this world. I am here to shine my light. Nothing can diminish my power." Tape it on your wall and read it out loud every morning.