November 23rd, 2015


TBC 2015

icon: "feminist (the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

TBC started with an intense session, the "Being That Person" workshop. I think it was the most intense it has been, because there was one person who immediately called out the racism that permeates many queer events. I wanted to discuss it directly but felt like I couldn't just jump in, I couldn't think of what to say. Fortunately we kind of talked our way around it and into it some. I think that the white liberal bullshit might be worse in the north, generally speaking, but that might be because the only non-writing activism I do is with Black-led organizations (sounds really obvious now). I think class plays into it a lot too, as the person who brought it up referred to people having never been poor. We all talked about elitism, self-care strategies, how people perceive us and how that affects our effectiveness, how oppressions are not flat or solid (for instance gay people can be oppressive to bi/pan people), how everyone has work to do.

I think I need to stop using the word racist because I use it very sloppily to mean 'actively states white supremacist views (that they may not realize are supremacist)' as well as 'has subconscious oppressive behaviors to work on' and I am the latter and will always be to some extent but not the former. And those are very very different things, so I need to be specific.

Next, I presented a talk and workshop about intimacy and intimacy practice. It went really well, and I felt like it was better than before because I had more depth of understanding. I included more examples, like the kind of small resentment that is good to share so it doesn't become a big resentment and also so that it can be a way to be vulnerable. Then we had a little mini-IP (every single person opted in!), starting with a bit of silly play. I had to push myself VERY hard to be the first to be silly, all alone, in a room of 15 people while everyone else stared at me! But hey, it was certainly very good practice at vulnerability, and people participated well on the second go. Then we played truth-or-truth (I was super annoyed with myself for forgetting the question list) and most people asked very good questions! I was happy and impressed, and I could feel the web of connection coalesce. I felt closer to several people after they spoke. I was too frazzled to be any good at talking to people after but there are at least 4 who I'd like to hang out with.

Also, I took a pause to mention that I felt the urge to finger-snap my agreement and wanted to explain that it meant 'I feel ya' and tikva said they were glad I explained because sometimes people do that to mean 'hurry up' and I was aghast and relieved that I explained first because that would have been the opposite of my intent. Glad to have not made that cultural fail! I did make a mistake in talking about eye contact - I remembered that not all brain-types can get good from it, but I completely forgot that blind or low-vision people probably won't get any good from it either. *embarrassment*

Next Topaz and I went to a talk on polyamory for beginners. I was mostly curious as to how someone gives an intro on polyamory because I don't know how I would do it. It was a dense talk with a lot of information (most of which I had heard before as someone who has been practicing poly for more than 6 years now) but it covered the basics and went into the most important (in my mind) parts which are: don't compare external facts, just check to see if your own needs are met and boundaries are respected; avoid rules in general and don't make rules that have to do with feelings ("you can fuck people but not fall in love") or rules for anyone else's relationships; when you feel bad or an urge to control, use this as a sign that there is an unmet need and try to figure out what that is. The discussion of needs was one I already knew, but it sparked a whole huge realization about my needs and reactions, which I will put in a locked post.

Later Topaz and I went to the pool party for a little while but I had started menstruating so I didn't get in. I walked around the pool as Topaz swam along and we introduced ourselves to people. We didn't really get into conversation with anyone (except I talked with someone I already knew from last TBC), but I was glad to break down the fear a little bit by doing that.

Saturday started off with a SUPER INTENSE discussion as I lead my talk "Disowning Your Forefathers: Examining the Intersection of Spirituality & Privilege." It was a world of difference from the last time I did it -- I felt some resistance from a few people but most really engaged with the ideas and seemed to be there for growth and understanding. I felt like it was more of an actual discussion (whereas last time when I paused and asked questions, people just looked at me and waited for the answers). I really wish I wasn't the one to do this talk, or that I had more understanding, because I feel out of my depth -- but I feel like it is doing good, at the very least at getting people to consider the source and the effects of their actions. At the end of this I really liked at least three of the people but had forgotten my cards and couldn't bring myself to just ask for an exchange of contact info -- this made me very sad but I thought, I can do it later, it will be okay.

Then I was part of a panel about asexuality, bringing in a demisexual perspective. One of the panelists left shortly after the start, and I couldn't quite hear what it was they said to me, so I worried that I had been rude in my thoughtlessness. I moved a chair from the front so that their wheelchair could fit, without asking (without thinking), and they had to say that it was moved from the wrong side (so I moved the other one instead). I don't know if that was rude. I didn't even stop to think, and I don't know them so I can't apologize for acting on their behalf without asking. Anyway, the panel itself was good, we talked about dating as an asexual or demisexual, about when we disclose and how the expectation is on asexuals to disclose rather than on allosexuals to state their expectation that a romantic relationship involves sex. We talked about the structure of relationships and the danger of not disclosing right away versus the cost of disclosing right away (blocking out people who might be scared off by a stranger but might be willing to learn about someone they already know). It was a fairly easy flow and people asked very good questions!

Then was the shared lunch followed by Faith Cheltenham's keynote speech. Here are my takeaways from that, in tweet format:
we need to support each other to live and succeed in a world that isolates us -Faith Cheltenham
"I didn't know you could be queer and bisexual... I didn't know that labels could go together!" - Faith
when someone opens an opportunity for you, consider how you can keep that door open for the next person - Faith
42% of bisexual women report being raped. More than 60% endure domestic violence. 50% have dealt with suicidal ideation. -faith
in 2010 bisexual was put on google's block list
one of the benefits of being bi is the opportunity to restructure relationships so that we don't repeat cycles of violence. -Faith
"they marched on us and we marched on them. Sometimes you just gotta protest... Letting them hear your voice can educate them"
justice is needed within LGBT - the discrepancies in funds between LG and BT is massive.

Also, I realized that yet another amazing activist who made my life better was black. Faith referred to a black trans man (I can't remember the name) who had been doing work for trans folk for decades. I really want to learn more about this person but a google search gave me nothing.

Next I went to "Preemptive Radical Inclusion: Everyone is Always in the Room" by Cindy Beal, and it blew my mind and made me cry. I felt such a sense of hope that someone else was taking language and accessibility so seriously, and presenting it in such an easy-to-understand way. Here are my tweet-notes from that:
"what does it feel like to enter a space and have your needs met?" the greatest relief... It's a daily battle to exist
when we join a space that is not inclusive, what does it look like to be inclusive? Take action, ask questions, offer warning
when a space is made larger, it must be redesigned by the whole group in order to be inclusive.
first-borns and white people especially have to watch out for a tendency to speak for others
"we have to remember that we are not at the center... The ways that we are privileged limit our ability to perceive what is real."
we need to recognize our privilege, authority, responsibility, and figure out what is ours and what is ours to support.
support is not 'this is how you should do it' but 'how can I help?'
inclusion: treat others' needs as normal; trust what people state as their needs; acknowledge & validate conflicting experiences.
inclusion: don't bring problems into a space; assume everyone is always in the room; plan for people ahead of time.

Then I went to the disability panel moderated by tikva, which was amazing of course. My tweet-notes from that:
"we're pathologized or we're nothing" -Raycho on the medical approach to disability
autistic adults are influenced away from seeking an official diagnosis because so recently, people have been imprisoned for autism.
there is a generational stigma about the word "disability" -- the aging and disability communities need to connect, share learning.
being othered can make it easier to come out or make it much harder -'already weird, oh well' or 'they can't take more difference.'
most people want to be their full selves all the time but one has to compare losses - decide, is it worth it?
on stigma toward dementia or DID - "not having full control of your mind is something you don't want anyone to know"
"people with disabilities are constantly scrutinized for faking"
on 'differently abled' "I can't fly, honey" and 'handicapable' "I will end you" I love Raycho.
some are against person-first language: people are disabled by inaccessible environments.
"assume nothing and ask" and self-educate about disability, find what disabled people say about themselves (often easy online).

Then I hosted a mini-IP in a room that wasn't being used (because several people had expressed that they were sorry to miss my intimacy talk), and had three people participate with me. It was a pretty intense session, and I felt like it really connected with everyone. At the same time, I realized right before that it was too much to lead another session after doing a talk and panel already and a talk yesterday too. I made it through and it was worth it but I was wiped out. I went up to the room with Abby and Topaz and we hung out and talked for a while (I gave them both hair pets, first Topaz then Abby), and then we went to dinner.

We tried going to the comedy show, thinking that it would be safe from slurs and problematic stuff, but it wasn't, which was very disappointing. *deep frown* Topaz had been so excited, too. Later we went to the dance, and we both danced a little. I had a great time except I got super overheated, and Topaz wanted different music. I had planned to give my info to some people there but most of them weren't there and I couldn't get up the guts before the ones I wanted to share with left. ARGHHH.

Sunday Abby and I got up super early to go to "Questioning Gender, Questioning Faith: Spiritual Resources to Explore Identity" by Andrew Leigh Amanda LeAnn Bullard, and it was worth getting up early for. The tool offered is something I can imagine myself using to understand a variety of sacred texts more deeply. Afterward the three of us packed up and checked out, realized we'd have to leave mid-panel if we stayed for the next set, and then went to lunch before going to the airport. On our way out I felt deeply crushed that I hadn't managed to give out my contact info to literally anyone, and realized I could go back up and put my cards on the info table which would be SOMETHING but I didn't. I think I felt too fatalistic, as people almost never use them to actually find me, I have to find them.

There's more but I'm typed out.