an open letter

Dear Wheelchair Dancer,

Hey sister— thanks for your blog post on the elections, racism, prop 8. I’ve been in such a funny place lately after all of this and your writing really helped me in naming why.

Sylvia posted a tweet the other day about wanting to wrap Obama in bubble wrap, Teflon, a condom, Fort Knox— anything— to keep him safe until January 20th. That’s kind of how I feel about my emotions. And I hate to sound cliché here, but also my hope. My head knows what this election means and what this election does not mean but I still want scream Yes We Can!, rock my Obama shirt in classes full of Republicans, and, well, just bask in the symbolism of it. I want to believe in what everyone else believes in for more than one night, even if a lot of it is compartmentalizing what I know and not thinking about things folks like Moya and so many others are sayin’. So I close my door, download all the free mixtapes people are producing for Obama, and bullshit around happily.

But then it changes, right? At least it did for me, couldn’t even last a week. I read a message from VivirLatino about another mass ICE raid where over 100 people are rounded up in Florida and separated from their families. I hear white racist gay folks getting time on the tv and then blame Prop 8 on communities of color! I get an email from someone I really care about saying someone she knows was being beaten to death from what seems like a hate crime. With tears in my eyes I read of Duanna Johnson’s death and then see talk show radio hosts trying to leave comments on my blog saying they’re advocates while simultaneously disrespecting who she was. All these things tear me right from that cloudy good place. These things come at me like a million lightening bolts, reminding me of all the work that needs to be done and more importantly, who will be the ones doing this work.

It will be us. We will do it cause there isn’t anyone else but us, the people, la gente. So like our dear friend asks in her blog— as organizers, as artists, as community-builders, as dreamers, how can we learn from his campaign? How can we get the folks on the ground, many who weren’t believers in power of people before, to keep dreaming and ready to pick up other tools? How do we stay focused? Clear-headed? How do we build this bigger than non-profits, projects, campaigning?

And what about when the evil, the hate, the bondage is internal— How do we combat these things when they come in the form of our communities, people we love? I mean I didn’t truly understand what racism and white privilege really meant until I got involved in social movements, you know? Is it possible to take these conversations happening post-Prop 8 and turn them into something that lasts? Will there be room to sew close our open wounds, our mistrust? And is it even worth it, trying to work it out with gays and lesbians who will always choose marriage, gentrification, assimilation and capital building as priorities, when so many fellow queers are homeless, forgotten, oppressed, closeted, beaten, denied their humanity?

I’m really hoping you have some answers, that someone has answers. In the meantime, thanks for being who you are, for our gchats, for the love…

In solidarity and w/ love,


Filed under activism, community, homophobia/heterosexism, internal change, organizing, queer, violence, woc

4 responses to “an open letter

  1. good post — also hoping for answers

  2. mb

    Why was this the exact convo at SisterSong today?! you were there! “The relationship of queer folks to the mainstream gay agenda just doesn’t work.” – Alexis

  3. great post.the hate crime rise is scary shit. and the mainstreaming prop8 agenda is a radical queer head fuck for sure. makes me think of my experience today when i dropped in on the no to prop 8 rally here in santa fe. very white…very middle/upper…kinda dull….and punctuating the weirdness was this white guys speech about how him and his partner were together for so so long but when his partner died he found he had no rights BUT the clincher for me was the part about how his partner died in their house in santa fe while he happened to be in their OTHER HOUSE in l.a. ….my mouth dropped open and i looked around to see if anyone else was agast but alas…i had entered some sort of privilege twilight zone.

  4. I went to our local No on Prop 8 rally, where there were few folks of color and pwd’s. I and my partner were appalled to hear a speaker say that the civil rights of the GLBT community were the final frontier. I felt like I’d been slapped in the face! I thought about the fact that I am a disabled lesbian of color who isn’t wealthy. If you want to talk about being voiceless, even within the GLBT community…Its a struggle sometimes, this intersectionality! I wondered what I shoud do-should I let it slide because today was all about GLBT, and not people with disabilities? Then, I thought, my entire history and heritage is of oppressed peoples. I am a 4-time minority! I couldn’t afford not to stand up for each of my communities, so I approached the speaker and respectfully stated my feelings. Though his response was positive, I don’t know if he was just placating me.

    I will say that though I am ecstatic about Obama’s victory, I’m jaded enough to feel that nothing will really change. If there is to be change, it’ll have to come through the work of us activists, and when it does come, we’ll have to fight hard to keep it!

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