An Army of Lovers – Transcending Boundaries 2014 Presentation

Panel description
Army of Lovers is an informal facilitated discussion aimed at ungentrifying* our language. Specifically I’d like to discuss how we find, talk, and support the relationships (lovers, friends, etc) in our lives. Places to cover include: hidden assumptions of monogamy & heteropatriarchy, examining how intimacy is created, scarcity vs abundance, decolonization, configurations and assumptions, finding ways to do internal psychological healing to get to a whole state, and brainstorming!

*(h/t Sarah Schulman)

Intro

Before I begin I want to apologize to y’all about something. The description as printed is incorrect, mostly due to some shiftgin in my thinking. So, this panel will unfortunately not cover decolonization and is instead looking at the issue more from an antiracism lens. Also, due to the complexity involved it will be less of a facilitated discussion than I had hoped.

Gentrification and Antigentrification are huge topics. They encompass not only changes in housing, neighborhood mix, and livelihoods, but also the kinds of places that our culture happens, and affect the very range of things our culture produces. Smashing this process together with nonmonogamy is an ambitious endeavor that I hope to do justice to.

My first topic is non-monogamy and polyamory.

[The privilege of being able to access the mindset of polyamory.]

*How do you define nonmonogamy?* – ask the audience

Nonmonogamy is an umbrella label describing having more than one sexual / romantic relationship at one time. This label covers many different subcultures including open relationships, polyamory, cheating, swinging, and polyfidelity.

Nonmonogamy is in some form or another* present in most monogamous settings. Most folks who engage in non-monogamy however don’t approach it with the support or attention to detail that the relatively recent subculture of polyamory does.

*http://pepperminty.com/writing/cheating.pdf

Lets now move onto polyamory.

Would someone like to define polyamory? -ask the audience

For our purposes today, we’ll call polyamory one of many subcultures of nonmonogamy and sexual practice.

Polyamory, as I see it, especially as a self-actualized practice requires a certain amount of privilege. You need some economic security, time, and general access to physical, social, and internal resources plus a level of exposure.

That opportunity cost means that thinking about polyamory rarely touches the political context within which we find ourselves. While the culture of polyamory may teach how to deal with jealously, it certainly doesn’t discuss the ways in which your jealously is internalized heteronormativity, internalized racial superiority, and classism. It doesn’t address how these structural forces combine in your own life to create jealousy and intimacy issues.

This silence is also present in the self help genre that polyamory tends to rely on. This problem is so pervasive that many folks who are not so privileged (me included) have a hard time healing using these tools. Whether its due to heterosexism / homophobia, religiosity, transphobia, racism, or sexism, they are literally not made for us.

Because of the ways in which access to resources and the sheer privilege of having time to figure out yourself, I would say that polyamory is as much affected by gentrification and assimilationism as it is by a culture of monogamy.

My conclusion
To build a truly supportive society that throws none of us away, we need to learn how to not only check our oppressions, kill the cops inside each one of us, but also how to allow each other to be vulnerable and intimate without internalized oppression.

To be truly supportive we need to not fuck each other over by releasing our survival instincts. This requires removing competition for housing, jobs, and economic mobility.

Gentrification and White Supremacy

*What is gentrification?* – ask the audience

Juliana Stricklen puts it this way:

“Gentrification, to me, is when the people who were the main characters are suddenly left out of the forming stories in the neighborhood. It is not the process by which poverty and crime are eliminated, but the process by which people are displaced without acknowledgment of the racial history of wealth. It is the process by which people with voices do not become but are perceived as voiceless.” http://sacmakersandmotivations.com/2013/06/11/juliana-stricklen-gentrification-whiteness-and-my-new-orleans-identity/
Simply put, gentrification is the way in which we use the segregated placement of people to make money and in so doing perpetuate our unjust system of racist capitalism.

*How would you define antigentrification?* -ask the audience

Yvahn Martin frames Anti Gentrification as this question:

“How can we build progressive, thriving communities for people of all socio-economic backgrounds? By bringing everyone in the community to the table when decisions about that community are made. By providing space for people to continue their pursuit of happiness as much as they can while they can still afford to be there. By acknowledging the privileges we each hold based on our skin color, gender, education, earnings and abilities, and by responding to the people we encounter daily in an empathetic way. We can take a legitimate interest in what is going on around us and know that we can either make it better or worse by our contribution. “
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yvahn-martin/antigentrification-build-_b_4934160.html

However that doesn’t talk about the ways in which Gentrification is intimately connected to the neoliberal cooptation, assimilation, and repression of those of us at the margins: poor communities, people of color, and queer communities. We are pitted against each other to obtain the things we need.

This is especially true following the aids crisis wherein us queers lost a great many. We’re still suffering from the collective trauma of AIDS in the form of heteronormative marriages, HRC gala’s, and “gay” bar owners that aggressively buy up properties in majority POC neighborhoods and then market to the assimilated white gay male community (eg. Paulie’s in new orleans). We are played off of one another in an “inevitable process” that is far from inevitable.

The cycle of disinvestment and reinvestment that happens within our segregated society is a product of the merging of racism and capitalism. Despite what you may think, its business as usual.

To resist gentrification is not just a policy fight but also is part of a bigger picture. Its not only a process of recovering from white supremacy* and capitalism. Its also about building a new world and becoming whole. It means not only learning how to understand the world through anothers’ eyes but also learning how to undo all the poison from this world that you’ve internalized.

*http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2014/03/were_either_suffering_or_recov.html

As Juliana says:
“The problem with gentrification lies within a larger context of segregated dichotomies between white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods which still correlate to access to resources needed to gain or sustain wealth from positions that are far from equal.” http://sacmakersandmotivations.com/2013/06/11/juliana-stricklen-gentrification-whiteness-and-my-new-orleans-identity/

Undoing that requires changing how we live our lives and how we perceive the humanity in others.

Final words

“Society is not made up of Individuals. It is made up of Interactions.

People keep throwing up the ‘Society is made up of individuals’ argument in response to any sort of commentary about the sociological landscape, culture, inculcation, etc. But it’s a bad argument. Society is not simple a sum of the individuals that live in it. Within an individual, there is no society, though the -effects- of society persist. There is only an individual.

Society is the complex emergent system that arises through the interactions of many, many people. To think it’s merely the sum of a number of discrete entities, each one an island onto themselves, is to miss the forest for the trees.”

-Nyah Wynne 2014

If a change is to occur there is a need for you to think about antiracism, antigentrification, and the ways in which our imperialistic structure of white supremacy inform your life. Until you’ve engaged with that and incorporate it into how you live, you are unable to contribute to our collective liberation.

Done properly, polyamory tugs at the heartstrings of your experiences with structural oppression. Done improperly, it merely is a tool to repackage everything that keeps us from each other.

Takeaway questions:

Does your nonmonogamy practice challenge the world you live in? In what ways are you complicit?

Connecting deeply is a radical act. How do you connect deeply? What keeps you from vulnerability? What kinds of intimacies do you close yourself off from?

What bad poly practices have you seen in your community? How do you think you could change them?

How are bad poly practices connected to racism? How are they connected to our collective trauma?

What contributes to the participation of white queers in gentrification? What would it take to undo this?

How can scarcity and abundance be reframed to create a life of resistance? And what would that resistance look like?

Write a vision of the world as you want it to be using everything we talked about today.

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Discerning Poise

A little note; the name for this blog was not chosen lightly.

Discernment is “is the activity of determining the value and quality of a certain subject or event, particularly the activity of going past the mere perception of something and making detailed judgments about that thing. As a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discernment

 

Poise is:

“That which causes a balance; a counterweight.”

“A state of balance, equilibrium or stability

composure; freedom from embarrassment or affectation

A condition of hovering, or being suspended”

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/poise

A letter concerning Endless Gaycation 2013

This letter was written in late October 2013, following a call out surrounding two workshops I cofacilitated during Endless Gaycation 2013. It was originally published to the EG facebook event page and emailed to individuals involved.  Looking back on it, I am not only grateful for the opportunity to grow, especially in my facilitation and solidarity skills, but also for the many folks that loved and supported my efforts as such. For the folks who called me out, I want to say thank you for showing me as much respect as you did.I’m posting the letter here for a number of reasons including: ease of accessibility, to encourage transparency in folks have been called out and maybe haven’t had the support system I greatly benefit from, as a way of publicly owning my own faults and my efforts at trying to improve them. Thanks for listening.

Cordelia Nailong
March 2014

Hi Y’all,

This is a letter to everyone who attended the workshops that I, Cordelia Nailong, facilitated during Endless Gaycation 2013.

First, thank you all for having the interest and taking the time & energy to attend either Transmisogyny & Femmephobia and/or Trans*Witches/Trans*Magick workshop(s). Your attendance was likely to learn and expand, while all the while being safe and supported. I realize that this was not the case for many who attended. In fact, the workshops resulted in upset, trauma, and maybe even rage.

In short, I fucked up.

Not only was I a poor facilitator, I facilitated in a manner that wasn’t consistent with my core values.

I was oppressive, overly dismissive, and not in the receptive mood I should have been in. I wasn’t coming from an inner abundant kindness nor was I making space for all voices to be heard and mediating between those voices to weave the commonalities of members of the group together. I was ill prepared and it showed.

In the two workshops, I enacted whiteness by dismissing others’ concerns, overly personalizing, refusing to listen, getting defensive, and inappropriately redirecting on multiple occasions to places where only certain kinds of discourse was allowed.

I fucked up with regards to the Transmisogyny workshop:

  • I failed to recognize that my foundation was unsteady in the way that I generally rely on the dynamic of a cofacilitator to support and check me. In trying to accommodate the interest that Beyond Coercion receives, I betrayed the purpose of the workshop.
  • I didn’t acknowledge white supremacy and I inappropriately silenced the people of color in the worskshop especially through redirecting back to the limited scope I perceived the subject at hand to be.
  • I was not encouraging of, and at times downright dismissed an intersectional dialogue between different axes of oppression. I failed to recognize that folks process oppression in different ways.

I fucked up during the Trans* Magick workshop:

  •  I was not as ready to facilitate this workshop as I thought. Not only did I fail to properly hold a container together, I also was not in check with myself as to my own overwhelmed state of mind.
  •  I shutdown when the masculine and feminine universe energy comment was made due to my own unprocessed shame-trauma around being othered in binary systems of thought.
  •  In my defensiveness, I reacted very poorly. As someone who had to pass in upper-middle class white society in New Orleans, I still carry a legacy of using civility as a weapon which carried through in my defensiveness.
  • I struggle a lot with and try to maintain a lot of integrity in being against cultural appropriation in the many forms it takes. I inappropriately attempted to defend that integrity and in so doing was a telling example of white supremacy.
  • Furthermore, I used inappropriate language without making space for anything but my ego. I was overbearing and traumatizing in a space that should have been neither.
  • If anyone has further concerns about my practice, I am happy to discuss what my relationships to the spirits are and what critical frameworks around that should be.

In both workshops, I abused the trust and power given to me by the attendees. These are reflections from me personally about this abuse. After the workshops, I recognized my own actions and removed myself from most of Endless Gaycation out of my own coping process and not wanting to trigger anyone. By doing so I, unfortunately, made myself unavailable for those that would have liked to talk out their concerns, particularly those who had to leave New Orleans after the weekend. 

As a survival strategy, I’m really good at fronting a perfect image. These workshops have exposed my flaws, my trauma, and my growing edge.

Owning what I’ve done with inner-love is an antidote to the poison of self-hate that I am working out of myself, especially the idea that if I let my mistakes/my humanity show, then I’ll suddenly become unworthy of love and community support. 

Claiming our fuckups and having the care to call someone out by letting them really know how they fucked up is important for everyone’s growth.
I’m glad to be a part of this hard process.

I’m hoping that through this claiming, that this is a way for myself and folks around me to strengthen and heal.

I want to thank everyone who attended for taking the time and energy to process the workshop and its aftermath. Thank you for taking the time and energy to call me out despite the abuse I perpetuated. I’m sorry for having made all this necessary in the first place.

If any folks have other specific feedback, I would love to talk about it.

Thanks for listening and in advance for any feedback I receive.
Cordelia Nailong
Written October 2013

Rape Culture, Kink Communities, and Ways of Consenting – A handout by Cordelia Nailong

Rape Culture: “Rape culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society,[1] and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.”
Confused? See:
Kink Specific Blog Posts

Beyond Coercion: Talking Transmisogyny & Femmephobia: a workshop by Cordelia Nailong and Ace Falcor

Beyond Coercion: Talking Transmisogyny and Femmephobia is an informal discussion of transmisogyny in queer communities. Transmisogyny is a term used to describe how sexism — the assumption that maleness and masculinity are superior to femaleness and femininity — is applied to trans* women as an enforcement component of traditional patriarchal assumptions. This sort of discrimination can be seen when a trans* woman is ridiculed or otherwise sanctioned/assaulted for expressing her femaleness or femininity. This can also be seen in ways in which we differentially treat or promote feminine expressions of gender and masculine expressions of gender. In cis contexts, femmephobia is sometimes used to describe these assumptions and behavior.

The workshop is not a lecture or presentation, rather, it is an open dialogue for people to come share honestly about their experiences and feelings without fear of judgement or backlash and to talk about possible solutions to combatingtransmisogyny in our daily lives. It is open to everyone, all gender identities and sexualities, because we believe that we all have a responsibility to work towards eradicating transmisogyny within queer communities.

Suggested reading —  * This is not an endorsement of any specific viewpoint in these articles and blogs– just background info, opinions and experiences from a wide variety of people.  * However, we strongly recommend at least reading the 1-page primer, just so we all understand the very basic concepts and language.

BOOK –  Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

PRIMER –  one-page description and definition of trans-misogyny by Julia Serano http://www.juliaserano.com/av/TransmisogynyPrimer-Serano.pdf

ARTICLES –

“Enough With: ‘I Date Women and Trans Men'”

http://feministing.com/2012/06/28/enough-with-i-date-women-and-trans-men/

and its follow-up article at

http://feministing.com/2012/07/09/follow-up-re-i-date-women-and-trans-men-cisnormativity-essentialism-socialization/

Dean Spade’s “Mutilating Gender”

http://www.makezine.enoughenough.org/mutilate.html Summary and review blog post of Mutilating Gender:

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2003/05/01/mutilating-gender/

“Beyond Inclusion”

http://takesupspace.wordpress.com/beyond-inclusion/

“Transmisogyny is misogyny to all women: an open letter to cis feminists”

http://tranarchism.com/2011/03/16/guest-post-transmisogyny-is-misogyny-against-all-women/

Tobi Hill-Meyer’s “What transmisogyny looks like”

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/03/what_transmisogyny_looks_like.php

Intersections:

http://sunnydrake.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/boy-tits-in-the-locker-room/

Getting with Girls like Us: a radical guide to dating Trans* women for ciswomen

http://www.autostraddle.com/getting-with-girls-like-us-a-radical-guide-to-dating-trans-women-for-cis-women-160269/

Transcentrism

http://www.dyssonance.com/transness-102-in-progress/

 

BLOGS –
questioningtransphobia.com

genderbitch.wordpress.com

youreatransmisogynistwhen.tumblr.com

stfutransmisogynisttransfolks.tumblr.com

nodesignation.com

dyssonance.com/

takesupspace.wordpress.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/HandbasketMedia

 

This blog is intended to be part journal, part chronicle, and part explicit project of writing about Spirit Work, Queer Witch Skillz, and Other Woo/Spooky things not otherwise specified. I chose the name to focus on seeing, classifying, & organizing and the process of finding a balanced position within and made up of those actions. So wish me luck!

A lot of folks, when they’re just getting started figuring out woo things*, seem to have trouble either in dropping in to the altered states/recognising the synthesia needed and/or getting a framework/interpretation around their experiences. 

Inwardly, that framework is about understanding who you are, what is inside of you i.e. the psychology of you, and differentiating between psych inside input and stuff that is outside. It’s hard to relate authetically, when we come from a place of not understanding the hidden things in your makeup and why you’re responding the way you do.

Outwardly, this framework is learning to see/view/intake the world for how it truly is rather than how you think it ought to be. Its about learning your blindspots, being able to put yourself grokily in anothers mindset. it is also about having an adequate language for describing things you’ve experienced.

This whole process of inward and outward framing is one of the hardest things to create on ones own without a great deal of exploration, testing, and reading. Just waking up to things this is incredibly hard to do, especially in western culture’s explicit lack of support for authentic non-material experiences.

 

 

 

*I use woo things to encompass the many different varieties of magical practices, spirti workey activities, deity relating, witchy things, otherkin abilities, etc etc

Getting Started: a birthday present to me!