Sunday, March 16, 2014

On Lesbian Death and a Fight Worth Fighting

Photo Credit: Galveston Daily News
I wish I could cry.

I really wish I could.

But

I haven't been able to.

I can't.

Because

I can't breathe.

Every time I think about, see pictures of, am asked a question about, come across a news story about the murders of Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby, two Black women, a lesbian couple, raising a child who were found in a dumpster near Bolivar, TX over a week ago, I've been frozen. My chest freezes. Lungs frozen. And no breath comes out. Because I'm terrified. Literally terrified and heartbroken.

Even more heartbroken, frozen, and stunned to hear that Cosby's father was involved in the murders and quite possibly responsible. He didn't like that his daughter was gay and didn't want her bringing that "gay shit in the house."

So he (most likely) killed her, with blunt force to the head and then shot Jackson before throwing their bodies in a dumpster. I can't even imagine this. I try, but it taps too much into the fear that often inhabits me and freezes my body. I freeze because yes, sometimes, especially when I'm driving across country with Joan say, I fear death.

No, really.

I fear the remote gas station in Wyoming, which is the same place that I shook because I didn't expect the woman's second glance when I said (and maybe grabbed Joan's hand?) that "No, we didn't want the room with double beds, but the queen." I forgot. And then I became terrified. My body freezes when we're in my hometown and I go to grab her hand and she pulls away. I forget and I'm terrified. Sometimes I'm terrified just three hours or so away in Nevada (well, they attack Native folks there too, so there's that...) where either one of us may whisper, "Don't touch me, I don't know these people."

You may think that I don't get scared, freeze, and fear death. Or, you may think I have some internalized homophobia where, even though I write this blog with the names 'queer' and 'feminist' for all the world to see, I still get scared and fear death. Because I live where I live.

Because I live in (what once was) one of the gayest areas in the United States: the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet, increasingly, I walk around these streets with a familiar terror, frozenness and (more often) anger, that sometimes takes my breath away. It's not the same kind of terror that shoots through me when I hear that two Black lesbians--my sisters--have been murdered and carelessly thrown in the trash, but a terror nonetheless. A fear.

It's a fear of being erased. Erased in an area, on streets that I have come to call my home.  It's a feeling of loss and isolation epitomized in an experience Joan and I had when we were walking in the Mission the other day on our anniversary--something we have done less and less in the last couple of years, because of the rapid changes. We passed old haunts: the very much missed Osento Spa (women only), the on its way out but not without a fight Modern Times Bookstore, the recently closed Esta Noche. I could go on and on about the death of a city, of the space that was once gentrified by lesbian families and is now gentrified again (and again) by wealthier and wealthier folks men.Which is what I noticed as we walked around Valencia that day: both of us were struck by the number of straight, mostly white, 20-30 year old men walking up and down the streets, playing a folksy guitar with an amplifier (seriously), walking in packs to the nearest bar, and crossing the street with hands clasped around their phones. They seemed like recently transplanted or recently minted techies, yes, the kind that are now, apparently, flying women into the city to date. As we walked around unnoticed and unacknowledged as two lesbians of color, I realized that we were walking in what has slowly become a city of men. And not the kind that I love, the kind that helped make this city the one I ran away to (and sometimes felt invisible in):

http://www.allemanphoto.com/
But the kind that slowly, but surely represents death. A lesbian death.

It's callous and cold. Dismissive. Not in the same way as the murder of Cosby and Jackson, but one that coincides with and supports a culture in which they were no longer allowed to live. A culture where someone couldn't make sense of their relationship. Didn't acknowledge it in any way and didn't want it to exist. That's what it feels like to walk these streets sometimes. Not that we're not wanted, because we've felt that way before by our 'brothers' (and sometimes sisters) in the community. But death in the sense that our existence isn't seen or felt, not just historically, but face to face. And then I'm terrified all over again. I'm furious too, of course. But, when faced with this death rather than making me want to fight, fear takes my breath away. And, I need to fight now. I want to fight now. And so, even though it doesn't ever occur to me to ask because it feels like this space is only ours to inhabit and to fight for, I need your help. I need you, as allies, to fight the fight for Black lesbians. Not a fight for all women because all women are worth fighting for. That's true, but I need you to fight explicitly and specifically for Black lesbians like Britney and Crystal because the perceived 'threat' of being Black (Native, Chicana, Palestinian), a woman, and a lesbian still exists. And it still dangerously insinuates--and intimidates--that we shouldn't be those three things at once. That there is no place for us.

And it still allows us to die. To be killed. To be erased.


And, to update the words of Audre Lorde, who wrote about a time decades and decades ago, "Any world which did not have a place for me loving women was not a world in which I wanted to live, nor one which I could fight for."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conflating Movements: Same Love?

fb.com/larryulibarri
So, it's that time of year again. The time when members of the LGBTQ community thoughtlessly make links between previous civil rights struggles--often the African American civil rights movement--and current, LGBTQ oppression. You know, because those things are always and only experienced separately. I'm not sure what to do in these moments. Other than scream. Then curse. On the one hand, I identify as queer, but I'm not much moved by recent LGBTQ campaigns--including marriage, even though I am married to my partner. Yes, discrimination directed at L, G, B, or T  people is...discrimination, homophobic, wrong, whatever you want to call it. But, it's not the same as the racist targeting of African Americans during the the very specific moment that four students: Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Billy Smith and Clarence Henderson, (shown above) from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, planned, strategized, and organized a sit-in at the whites only counter at a Greensboro, VA Woolworth's.

It's not the same time. The threat--not reality--of being turned away from a restaurant, denied service because of a queer identity in 2014 is not the same as walking into a restaurant in 1960 and having the knowledge that you may not walk out of there alive. That you'd have to come to peace with that--and also the knowledge that no one would be prosecuted for your death--then by all means. (p.s., where were you when this happened?)

But that's the not the situation for LGBTQ folks today. Yes, we are denied rights, and are physically and emotionally violated, tortured, and murdered, but the violence that structured and continues to structure Black lives, Black bodies (past and present) in photographs you so carelessly reference is different. And I really don't understand the parallels. The need to make that connection. To use Black faces to characterize a community that many of us experience, collectively anyway, as white, often male, and increasingly normative. No, it's not that I don't understand them...it's that I don't have access to them. I don't presume.

And I don't think I have to explain why these are not the same struggles. The same oppression. Why they should never, ever be compared. And why I want to move just a little bit further away from those queer folks who want to post and repost images like the one above. Who don't hesitate to make casual references to the violent racism that brutalized African American civil rights organizers--um, some of whom were gay--in the mid-twentieth century. I can't muster much more energy trying to communicate why those comparisons feel dangerous, divisive, not to mention wholly inaccurate. Or why, in those comparisons you effectively try to erase my entire existence. Instead, I'll leave those words to Cherríe Moraga who said,

In this country, lesbianism is a poverty-as is being brown, as is being just plain poor. The danger lies in ranking the oppressions. The danger lies in failing to acknowledge the specificity of the oppression. The danger lies in attempting to deal with oppression purely from a theoretical base. Without an emotional, heartfelt grappling with the source of our own oppression, without naming the enemy within ourselves and outside of us, no authentic, non-hierarchical connection among oppressed groups can take place.When the going gets rough, will we abandon our so-called comrades in a flurry of racist/heterosexist/what-have-you panic? To whose camp, then, should the lesbian of color retreat? Her very presence violates the ranking and abstraction of oppression (from "La Guera," 1981).

Or maybe Perez Hilton, the Cuban-American (often read as white) queer explains it well in his recent claim that "every gay man has a (fierce!) Black woman inside him." Does he mean Celia Cruz? Just curious.
soundcolourvibration.com
What kind of fierce Black womanhood is being displaced in this instance? He's certainly not the only gay man to say this--maybe the first to be kicked so swiftly--or, probably to turn around and compare us to Hitler. But, the performance of an exaggerated, assumed, and racist caricature of Black femininity seems to a staple for (white) gay men. If I had a dollar for every time a gay man, often but not always white, um, but never Black has snapped his fingers, neck rolled, and said honey--or some variation--in my direction at a club...you know how this ends. And here lies part of the problem, yes? The many times  I'm told that I search for racial politics, not looking at our shared "universality" was a recent word, conflates our experience and reinforces that we queers don't walk in the same worlds. Inhabit the same bodies. Come from the same struggles, even when those overlap because of some shared moniker. Most of the time, you barely see me--in a restaurant, on the street, teaching in the front of your class, writing these words. You don't see or acknowledge me as a comrade, as a woman, as a queer, a person, or, because I don't fit into the mythical Black woman that you internalize, into your oppressive fantasy. Neither does CeCe McDonald. Or Sakia Gunn. Or Lorraine Hansberry.


So don't compare what you have delineated as y(our) struggle with mine. 'Cause your blues? Ain't.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On (Real) Righteous Babes: Fires Just Waiting for Fuel

This is an end of year reflection/response to Ani Difranco's plantation lullaby/love for butch gender presentation/record review I could not adequately finish post.

Happy New Year!

I'm a little bit annoyed that my end of the year post, one I've been trying to write for days is muddied with the recent Ani Difranco debacle. At least, I thought I was upset about it, but something so sweet happened yesterday, that it kind of brought things full circle for me and helped me articulate my respect for another feminist musician. But, where to start? I'm an Ani Difranco fan, at least of her music, her "whitesplaining," as Juba Kalamka call-- nailed and hashtagged it--is a reminder of the defensiveness of those whose words provide the "fire just waiting for fuel" that I sometimes need, when called on their oppressive behavior. Her explanation of the planning of the writing/feminist retreat on a plantation outside New Orleans (essentially "oops, my bad, stop hurting my feelings") sucked. And, even though, she played a significant role in my claiming a queer identity in college--I mean, really, what Midwestern girl longing for Dyke coast living didn't identify with "their eyes are all asking are you in or are you out"--she also, always kind of sucked. What I mean is that she's always had that tone of "I'm with you, but I'm not, I'm a part of this, but I'm not, don't fuck with me because I'm smarter than you: feminist, queer, straight people, men, older lesbians and, apparently, women of color..." And that's a tone that I could never fully get down with, not to mention her tendency to switch into Ethel Merman every once in a while in the early years.

Still, this really isn't a post to dis Ani Difranco. Really. I'm sure I'll still listen to her music and she did leave an indelible print, but it was one that I moved away from because I wanted a bit more solidarity, sense of community, and sense of belonging than she has ever really espoused. And that kind of on your own attitude is one that she reiterated in this latest development. Ultimately, for me, she could never really commit. 


One musician who does commit and who I have been trying to honor in the form of an album review since September is Shirlette Ammons. If you don't know, Ammons is a Durham, NC based poet and musician. Her 2013 album is the lovely Twilight for Gladys Bentley, which, if you haven't listened to yet, um, you should go ahead and do that now. Click on the link above. Even though I love music, I'm not a music reviewer, so this post won't really do the album justice (but hopefully enough to get you to tune in until I can effectively master a real review), but from the opening lines of "Getting Dressed," (featuring Chaunesti), which start out with the words, "Here's your hat baby, yeah, get handsome how we like, learn 'em all them young dykes aiming to up they Bentley from average to envy. Cause tonight, daddy, you ain't just in it, you are the life and when you exit, I'll be waiting, restless, stage right," we are presented with a queer, dyke, butch, feminist, and hip-hop tour de force. Some of my favorite songs are the much praised "Dandelion (Eatin' Out)" whose chorus, "You should know that your girl is eatin' out" is all that it suggests it is, to "Late Night Slow Dance," and "Sexy Cerebellum." Ammons' music is at once unabashed, sexy, focused on the excess, and deeply political. Perhaps it's the last song, "Sexy Cerebellum" that describes the entire album for me and the women that Ammons aims to reach; the "Modernist, womanist interrogating capitalism, intelligentsia menance, beyond the black fierce, squeezeable, loveable, fckable feminist." Maybe that describes Ammons herself. In any case, what moves me about this album, one of my favorites released this year, is that she doesn't hold back. She's all commitment. Commitment to the messiness, the history, and the conversation necessary to address oppression. As she states in her discussion of "Bentley Mode," a further nod to Gladys Bentley, an out Black blues singer and bulldagger who Ammons pays homage to, Bentley Mode is "an existence that is black-against-blackness, peculiar-against-queerness, sexual-against-sexuality, secure-against-insecurity, and aggressively striking-against-all angles of passivity. Bentley Mode to be hyper-Everything, even and especially in environments where values of social marginalism are shared.”


Yeah, that. All of that. 

That's what I love about Ammons' work--the excess, the commitment, the nostalgia and reinvention. And, you know, the love of all things butch doesn't hurt either and, for me, is another departure from Difranco. See, when I came out, I realized, personally, that I wanted something more. I wanted to be a part of something, part of a group, specifically, a group of women. Which is part of the reason I, like many other young queers moved to the Bay Area. I knew the people I wanted to be linked up with lived here. More specifically, there were dykes here. Not just lesbians, there were plenty of those in the Midwestern college town I came out in, but I wanted dykes. And, really, what I mean is I wanted to be around/date/build community with butch dykes. 

So, I loaded up the truck and moved to Bev--Davis, CA (had to finish grad school before I got the Bay). I have written about my unabashed love for butch lesbian dyke gender presentation. L.O.V.E. Absolutely. Just a little recap: I love the way that butch women present: the swagger, the stance, the attitude. Generalizations? Sure, but butch women present in a way that I, labeled a "pretty girl" early on, have never felt that I could present. And, frankly, butch represents someone I want to be with, not be. It's kind of love. Not that I don't appreciate all presentations in the queer and trans spectrum, but butches are my pleasure. I smile, every time. It's not a weird, creepy, devour you kind of smile, but one of genuine appreciation. 

For instance, yesterday I decided to walk to BART from my house--which is about a 40 minute walk down 38th Avenue in Oakland. It was a gorgeous day and it began as a sweet/hard to swallow trip down childhood lane: houses tucked in between apartment buildings, the smell of baking bread and other yumminess coming out of kitchens, a man who seemed drunk, shuffling quickly by me and then ducking into an apt./barber shop/convenience store blaring 80s soul music, head nods and then cat calls from men sitting in their front yard (this time in Spanish, which sometimes happened as a young person), all Black and Latino except for the poorer white mom and grandma playing with their children and dog in the dirt front lawn at one apartment building. Truthfully, I was starting to get a little heavy hearted, both missing and mourning parts of my childhood and then boom! standing in the street, talking to a young man on a bike, was a stocky figure with their back facing me in Dickie carpenter pants (cliche, I know, but I looked once I got closer :) and sweatshirt. As I heard more of their exchange, I realized she was butch. I smiled, maybe shrieked a little, as I passed and then turned around to verify (appreciation, really, nothing more), I was so happy. There in the middle of my childhood was an out, butch dyke.  Or, at least, presenting as butch. And this, my friends, is why I will forever and always love Oakland, CA. There, in a place that most of us have internalized as more homophobic than any other--Black and Latino communities--was an out, butch dyke, with swag. I mean, duh, right? you're thinking, but even in our beloved Bay Area, we forget. Especially as it is forever changing. Pushing the working class, the queer, the artist, and yes, the Butch dykes out. 

If you're friends with or follow me on Facebook, you know that Joan and I and some friends have been working a little bit (like helping pack) with Homeless Youth Alliance, a fierce harm reduction organization that works with homeless, mostly queer, young people. Homeless Youth Alliance was forced to close its doors in its current location--on Christmas Day--because, as the building owner stated (and then recanted), "with current market rates being so high, they had no choice but to change direction." In other words, because they could get much more money with a different establishment, i.e. a restaurant, changing the building into condos for newly arrived techies, etc., a homeless drop in center wasn't going to cut it any longer. Yeah, that's basically what they said. And that kind of attitude is one that is sweeping the Bay Area, or so they'd have us believe. But, my stroll down working class/not yet gentrified 38th Avenue reminded me that the commitment and community that drew me to the Bay Area is still here. Still evident in executive directors like Mary Howe, anonymous Butch dykes firmly in "the 'hood," and the multiracial organizing that continues in this city.  There is still much work to be done. And there are still many of us to do it. In the New Year, there are many fires just waiting for fuel, and we are that fuel. With a feminist (Ammons) soundtrack to boot!

So, again, Happy New Year loves. May 2014 be filled with excess, reclamation, and true commitment.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ride or Die (Black) Feminism: It's Bigger than Bey

I've been thinking some about Black women and feminism this past week and the Beyonce blogsophere discussion/engagement/sometimes shade throwing conversation tipped it over the edge for me. I'm not really going to discuss Beyonce or her new album because I haven't listened to it and, um, I'm not really a fan. I certainly don't hate, "you got me sprung and I don't care who sees" is one of my favorite lines, particularly in a queer context. Beyond that, her music isn't really my style. Honestly, sometimes when I sing along, and I do, I feel like it's a bit too "who run the world? girls, but I can only think about girls and empowerment forever and only in the context of men" and that's cool, but that's not totally me. So I can't speak to the album itself. But, I can speak a little bit to the way shit blew up over the past few days--the excitement, the critical engagement, the fan love, and yes, the feminism in the Black blogo/Facebook sphere.

I'll speak on it cause that shit was work, really. And I mean, werk. I haven't seen Black women engage online like this in a long time and that totally rocks my world. Like, I had many, many things to do yesterday, like prep for my last classes and grade papers but, I couldn't really pull away from my computer for a different reason.  OK, so some of it was to see if folks was really gonna go down over Bey. Like, for reals? Like really, really? But, more, I just wanted to see what Black women were saying, what Black feminists were saying and how we were constructing Black feminism. Like up front, in your face talking about Black feminism. Fem-i-nism. And, if Beyonce is the catalyst for that and incites that discussion, I. say. werk. Bey.

But, I don't really care if Beyonce is a feminist or not. What I do care about is how my peoples--feminists, women, Black feminists--respond to and speak on something that we love. Something we get excited about. Something we think is fucked up and critique. And for a long time, something we care about has been popular culture. Where we find representations of ourselves is in popular culture. What we find fucked up is in popular culture. And what interests me about the discussion since Friday is how it speaks to our complicated and sometimes troubling relationship to feminism, popular culture, and representation.  I came to feminism at a time when I was pretty disenchanted with mainstream popular culture, particularly Black popular culture, and was wedded to "an underground" in music, literature, and film. I spit at anything that smelled like degradation of women. I was hungry and bell hooks was like a breath of fresh air to me. As was (is) Audre Lorde and the Combahee River Collective. It was 1991 and This Bridge Called My Back was a decade old. And even though, truly, those feminists felt old to me, I embraced it completely. And while it's hard to not to slip into nostalgia cause that's the course that we in this generation are often forced to ride when it comes to activism, I am reminded by bell hooks' claim that "a central problem of feminism has been our inability to arrive at a consensus about what feminism is or accept definitions that could serve as points of unification."

Word.

And I think that's particularly true in this moment when so much scrutiny is paid to what we (Black women) like and don't like, what we consume and vow never to, what television shows we watch and think lack a womanist critique, whether or not what we bop our heads or shake our asses to makes us feel good in every single bop or twerk. And that's some serious scrutiny. And, frankly, that's the scrutiny that Black women--Beyonce, Rihanna, Nikki, me, you--have been subjected to since we've been fucking around with this thing called feminism. Are you really a feminist if you don't call your man on his shit? Are you too much of a feminist if you openly write about your love, joy, for your queer--like really, really love it--life? And all of that scrutiny, it seems, is in relationship and contrast to white women and white feminism. That's the backdrop. Because somehow, in spite of all the Black feminist work that has been done, when someone says feminism, they (we) continue to think of white women. And yeah, that includes white women. And that's some bullshit.

You know, like for reals. I have to say I'm a bit tired of us struggling with this word, this identity. Like the kind of struggle that feels rooted in something that isn't ours. Cause let's think about this for a second, the continued, imagined secondary status of Black (Latina, Native, Asian, Arab) women in discussions of feminism. And then let's think about the emergence of feminism in the U.S.--at least where we point to the emergence of feminism: 1848 Seneca Falls. I'll turn to pop culture once again because that's where the reminder came for me. Last week I wrote about my love for "Punk Singer" the documentary on Kathleen Hanna and I do love it, love her. But there was one point in the film that fucked me a bit and it hasn't left yet and then I saw 12 Years a Slave two days later and the two work together in this instance. Here's how: In "Punk Singer," a well known white feminist gave the audience an overview of feminism in the U.S., you know, in waves: First Wave (in this kind of weird cheerleader voice) Seneca Falls where white abolitionist women turned race consciousness on themselves and decided to organize for the vote (not kidding). Second Wave: women in various civil rights movements turned race consciousness on themselves and organized for ERA. Third Wave: Rebecca Walker and other women moved away from their mothers. In a nutshell. Not kidding. It took all of five minutes.  I was p.i.s.s.e.d. o.f.f., feeling totally erased (and then really with the Walker mother/daughter shit, that's how you can talk about Black women). You know that feeling when you are hanging out in a space that that is mostly white but you don't give a fuck because this music is yours too and this feminist movement is also yours and so you go with it but you get totally get kicked in the gut because somewhere along the line in 2013 they act like this thing that you've worked hard for you and yours for two decades isn't yours at. all?  You know that feeling?

Anyway, two days later I went to see 12 Years a Slave and, while those visuals haven't left my brain either, there was one scene that took me back to the pissed off Seneca Falls cheerleader moment. I haven't seen much discussion of the relationship between the "slavemaster" Epps's wife and the enslaved woman, Patsy, that Epps routinely rapes. The violence that Epps' wife shows to Patsy is one that I haven't seen on screen before and it reminded me of the real violence between white and Black women that the first wave of feminism grew out of. I know there are much better texts (click on it) that get at this than the two or three minutes in Steve McQueen's film, but seeing it onscreen, something that is so overlooked in that genre, was important for me. And a good reminder of how the roots of (white) feminism still linger in some of the larger discussions of what feminism is and who feminists are. That violence. That discardment. That erasure. You know, like where some Lean In  shit can take up as much space as it does. I'm not saying that white women and women of color can't be allies, but that's not what this post is about. And, frankly, that work is not what feminism is about for me.

For me, bell hooks, again, rings true: "feminism is a movement to end sexist oppression." Period. But, let's update that a bit for the 21st century. Put your shit on it. Transform it. Contradict it. Put a face on it. Critique that face. And critique it again. That's transformative to me. And that's what it sounds like Black women are doing. Have been doing. What we do. We werk. Even if and when we come at each other a bit. I say bring it. Come for me, and I'll come for you. As long as we make sure that whatever we bring is for us. Cause it is. And it's ours.

That's the feminism I ride or die for. Mine, yours. Me and you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Keep on Livin'


Last week was a rough week: I'm exhausted, it's the end of the semester and it often, always hits me like a brick and then, I have things that have to get done--deadlines. Life of an academic, I'm not telling you anything you don't know or that others aren't experiencing.

But then, two people who meant something to me died last week. Two people I didn't know personally but who had differing effects on my life, activism, and work. I didn't know José Esteban Muñoz, but his work was and is a significant part of how I think about queerness. I love the way that it was clear that, in his work, he pushed himself and us much more than I really wanted to be pushed or even feel like I have time to think about, but get really excited about. And, it was important that, central to his work, were queers of color. That felt like something, something I wanted/want more of. That kind of critical, let's not get too far into the mainstream writing. I was struck by his death at 46, 4 years older than me. Struck by the outpouring of grief and love in the small--mostly queer and of color--community carved out on Facebook. I didn't know Muñoz, personally, so I won't pretend that I did, but his theories, his writing made an indelible print on my own work and queer place in academe.

The death of Nelson Mandela also stopped me in my tracks this week and filled my whole body with grief. Not because I was surprised he died, he was 95 and it seemed like he's been gone for a while and this was just the finality of it. But, it was stunning--as Joan says--because it's difficult to think of him not being in the world. In particular, personally because of what he meant to me in my life. I've written elsewhere about my early contact with his work as a high school student in 1987. Somehow--I have no real memory of how I came upon him--but I found a biography in our small, Mid-western/Mid-South mostly white and Baptist town. It was like a revelation. I felt some sort of kinship with what I interpreted as suffering in the 27 years he was in prison; much like the years I spent in my hometown, suffering. I don't presume to actually compare my upbringing to his imprisonment, but just rather, to note that he was living, not suffering or dying while he was in prison. I can't write everything I feel about Mandela, as there is not enough room, but one thing I took away from his death is that his living in the face of (social) death was a model for me, one that I still don't know that I embrace entirely. The pull to embody suffering, anger, and disappointment is so compelling sometimes--especially in the current moment.

See, there's so much to focus on and feel disappointed about. Feel like it's mine to take on, like I'm supposed to carry around the many things that weigh heavy in the everyday. And then, I have to admit that I'm a little scared of death--both the social (queer) and physical (me and my loves) kind. Which makes me feel even more disappointed, sad, and stuck.  A little self-indulgent, yes, I know....


Fortunately, I was lifted out of my malaise by Kathleen Hanna. And while she's not my favorite Riot Grrrl frontwoman, and Bikini Kill is not my favorite band of that era (Le Tigre is something all together different for me), I fell in love with her all over again last night.  I saw Sini Anderson's documentary, The PunkSinger: A Documentary about Kathleen Hanna at our beloved Roxie Theatre, with one of my beloveds: Holly Anderson-Crockett. As soon as the movie started we both fell silent. I think we grasped hands a couple of times, but we didn't speak. Riveted.  It was a mixture of things for me--both nostalgic and (life) reaffirming at a time when I slowly sliding downhill. A combination of concert footage, photos, and interviews with Hanna and friends, Punk Singer pieces together a smart, aggressive feminist voice, from a smart, aggressive feminist. Listening to her talk about how she decides to tell the truth about her various experiences because other women will know she's telling the truth was a revelatory reminder for me. Telling Truth about being treated like a liar about any number of things: sexual assault and other forms of violence, illness and other forms of violation. 

But, it was her realization about Truth that she articulated, which brings these folks--who exist very separately in my mind but whose lives converged this week--full circle for me. She said something to the effect of no longer writing or singing to an imagined 'a**hole' male and deciding to write to and for women.  I love that. I know that. And it was good reminder. To write for others you love and are linked with, including oneself. Not in reaction to, but in concert with and for. Which is on the side of life and continued living. 

So, keep on loves. Keep on livin'. xoxo