Saturday, February 6, 2010
"Party like a rock star!"
Today, I woke up, and I felt the energy of a 200,000 person march pulling me out of bed. The sun light and city sound filled me with heart and soul of the people. The people who are fighting for everything that we believe in. I heard the calls and the cries of those lost, those born and died to a world that surrounded them with hate and despair. I heard these cries and it made me realize that these cries will only continue to echo through out our time unless we do something, so I got up and got ready.
After looking at the schedule, at least 17 workshops per session, Mario and I strolled out without saying a word, or at least that I can repeat because all we did was talk shit about people and ideas that make us nervous or frustrated or confused as to why they exist. That space to vent and express that agitation in my heart is so essential for making sure I treat everyone with respect and listen to what they have to say -- no matter how I might think it's ridiculous; every voice should be heard, processed, and given the same respect.
My first workshop was about sustainable leadership, recruitment and retention in the not for profit sector. Though somewhat unaccesible and frustrating that Eliza Byard wasn't there, I found the time to think about two things: how can sustainable leadership in the youth movement last continually, and does it need to, and is working in the not for profit sector something that I want to do?
I walked down to a Theater of the Oppressed workshop put on by a Boston Youth group. It was refreshing to be able to do something creative and applicating our high level thinking in a way that provokes social change. In our workshop, we split up into groups to "share our stories dramatically."
Holiday and Shatavia and I got to have lunch today. Beautiful people. I'm so excited to be moving to Atlanta.
Then plenary where Rea Carey talked about being active within the LGBT movement and that equality isn't a compromise; you can't be just a little equal. Her suggestion? Once a month, talk, write, and meet with people to change their minds. One person. Do you know how many people that is if everyone at the conference did that for a year? 72,000. That's a lot compared to just me, but really? I think we need to do more. Tanner and I agree.
I went to the third session with Kip and Robin around Queer Radical Minds retreat. The retreat focused on this idea of building a broader base and incorporating civil disobedience. I facilitated and presented the small group discussion on radical inclusivity. It turns out I'm a good facilitator. However, some kid from TEP said that he didn't come away with anything. I told him he didn't sound very open to the info, and he responded by aruging he was. He walked into the meeting and said that he was sent to spy on us by TEP. Great. Queers spying on queers.
Finally, and I think most importantly, I made it to the Gay for Pay workshop, which brings me back to whether I want to do this for a living. Honestly, if I'm going to be doing something in the not for profit sector, it's gonna' have to be in the queer movement. I met an Emory student today and I was talking to him; he told me that a lot of people do pre-med, but there's excellent liberal arts programs to utilize. I guess we'll have to see! Regardless, I came away from today with a really clear idea of what it would be like to work in the social justice movement. It sounds fun!
After the conferences we had caucuses. I don't want to go into how angry I got, but let me just say how I feel: SOCIAL JUSTICE IS AN INTERGENERATIONAL PROCESS. If you think it's ok to completely disregard all the work, progress, and people who have come before you, and disrespect those who have come before you, there is no room for your attitude in this movement, and you better check that at the door.
Later, Sherry Wolf and I tooled around and ate hour'dourves and talked about socialism.
At last, Kyle and I came back to our apartment to meet up with Mario. We all had a big ole' time talkin' love. Kyle and I went to S4, and it was fabulous.
** DO SPEAK UP ON BEHALD OF YOUR ADULT ALLIES
** DO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM FORCEFUL PHYSICAL ATTENTION FROM STRANGERS.
** DO MEET YOUR BFFS DAD
** DON'T BUY INTO PATHOS SPEECH RIGHT AWAY
** DON'T DISREGARD EMPOWERMENT SPEECHES
** DON'T BUMP INTO PEOPLE AT S4
Thursday, February 4, 2010
"We have to ride this new wave of activism."
Today I woke up next to the right man, hopped on MARTA to the airport to Dallas to Creating Change to make a difference in the world.
I should say my journey began with a mid-flight realization that this fear of flying in planes is completely rational; it stems from a fear and discomfort with being out of control. On further inspection, I realized that I (as in the human population) are rarely in control of everything. Is that control really necessary to NOT flinch every time there's a bump or start prayin' when the plane jostles. Letting go of that fear, albeit hard, was such a relief.
When I got to Dallas, I was ready to hop in Mark's red-orange Hummer, catch up with him and Mario, and make our way to the W residency. When we walked into the lobby my first comments were, "I feel so privileged right now!" the residency is truly beautiful, posh, and hip. The windows overlooking the city are enchanting; the orchids are magical; the living space is divine.
Without hesitation, we made our way to the Sheraton for the conference. Mario, my companion in all this, and I wondered around running into wonderful people. The day proceeded as such -- every once in awhile grouping with folks from Radical Minds. It was just so refreshing to be around so many queer activists. I must have talked my ass off because my voice is so horse right now. It all started with our instantaneous screaming kiniption we had with Tanner and Michelle. it progressed with conversations with old friends and new faces -- all of which are beautiful and amazing. This is truly a gathering of fabulous souls.
That really came out tonight during plenary. It was started with aknowledgement that hearing and language barriers will not be present at this conference. This sentiment indicates the accesibility that Task Force is considering when laying the foundation for this event. The next was the aknowledgment that this used to be Native land. Then a progression of awards and speakers that inspired clapping and screaming and hollering and laughing. Kate Clinton is our emcee, and boy is she hillarious. Her advice? We need not only have sit-ins, but laugh ins. Laugh in? Next time someone says something ridiculous about LGBTQIA rights/equality, listen, but then start bursting out laughing.
Finally, the keynote speaker, Thomas Seanz, a straight ally working on immigration, made 5 clear disctinctions why bridging and recognizing the intersections of the immigration movement and gay rights movement coorelate. Though dry and academic, his message was very stirring. To think so clearly that despite different specific goals, different socio-cultural implications, the tactics implemented against LGBT people and latin American people are very similar and our experience of oppression has distinct similarities such as fear of hate crime, living in the shaddow, and being denied full citizenship.
This concept of intersectionality is popping up everywhere. It's as if people are finally coming out the wood work and recognizing the fact that we need to be doing this all together. Together, we can make a difference.
Highlights: Tanner Efinger and "Rock for Equality" campaign around same-sex social security benefits; free "Legalize Gay" t-shirt from CampusPride; Michelle, Shannon, Michael, Robin, Stacey, Mandy, and Marquez hug; Kyle and Noah; Mario's and Conrad's conversations; meeting up with GLSEN; randomly running into Angel and Paulina; talking to represenatives from the census about queering the census; plennary speakers; making friends with Andrea from the Trans Hospitality room; flash mob planning; literature from "Gay? Fine by me!"; and sex positivity.
Tonight we tried walking home. Epic fail. As we're mapping out which workshops of 17 in each session, we're also mapping out better directions.
I think what I've come out of today with is two things: Self-actualization works and queer activism does, too. Also, it's the best to have a lot of friends.
** SCREAM WHEN YOU SEE PEOPLE LOST TO DISTANCE
** VISIT ALL THE DIFFERENT HOSPITALITY ROOMS
** WALK WITH NUMBERS AND BUTCH DYKES
** RESIST THE URGE TO CARTWHEEL IN AN OPEN ROOM
** GET STRESSED OVER LITTLE THINGS
** DENY THAT YOU ARE SOMEONE FROM AMERICAN IDOL
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
"May I congratulate you first for human, human of the year; you've won!"
A fluorescent pink suitcase sits zipped up, not full, but accomplished. It's a carry on; ready for the quick maneuvers of some international airport time.
I am not a particular fan of the airport. Security, checking in, busy people doing busy things on PDAs and iPods and with small children that don't know what it means to be busy. It's not the people; the people are delightful. It's not the food -- though airport food is notoriously overpriced and under quality. It's primarily the flying part.
However, destination Dallas requires a good hour and a half of flying. Last time I flew into Texas the plane felt like it was going to plummet. Terrifying much?
Going against Gandhian practices of thinking about the means as justifying the end, I'm taking the bullet and accepting the fact that Dallas is the headquarters for Creating Change. A hotbed of activist activity and advocacy and networking and mainly tweeting. It's essential, if you're an activist, to have a twitter.
Just last week I was at Highlander with some real activists. Activists looking to change the structure of how we work in advocacy and social justice. I like to sum it up by saying I was there to explore the possibility of expanding the LGBT Equality movement to incorporate a broader base and civil disobedience. I like to think that this is going to work because I believe in what's right. I'm wondering what others think is right, and that's why I'm going to Creating Change. I'm going to create change, too.
First: pit stop in Chattanooga, then Atlanta.
** THINK OF MIKE AND DANTE AND THANK THEM
** DO STUFF YOUR FACE WITH PRETZELS AND HOT CHOCOLATE
** DO GET A TWITTER
** DON'T WAIT UNTIL 12:30 TO START PACKING
** DON'T ANTICIPATE FEAR IN FLIGHT
** DON'T LOOK FOR A BELT THAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU FOR 30 MINUTES.