Another thing I absolutely LOVE about Creating Change is the way that we take over a hotel and turn it into a very, very queer space for those 5 or 6 days. I love the way the hotel sports bar/restaurant becomes a queer bar…and yes queer bar, not gay bar, because there’s this beautiful mix of queer folks spanning ages/identities/orientations/gender etc. etc. etc. that are all hanging out in there.
And yes, I must admit, I do love the shocked look that I sometimes see when someone I’m coding as straight walks in to watch the game and sees this massive gathering of a totally diverse group of people that they code as lgbtq. It’s pretty awesome to take such a gendered, straight space and queer it up.
Of course, lets not leave behind the space at the forefront of so many battles…the bathrooms. I love, love, love having gender neutral/gender blind bathrooms. I love the way the bathrooms that have anything to do with the conference are all gender neutral/gender blind. I get spoiled by it. The one time that I did venture out beyond the hotel I was in a gay bar and often those spaces become gender neutral because we just decide we’re going to use what we’ve got. Especially when folks gather at a bar that only has designated “Men’s” rooms.
I love that folks are friendly and say hi to each other walking in and out of the bathrooms. I love that instead of staring at the floor and bee-lining for a stall hoping I don’t accidentally look the wrong way at someone and get beat-up I can walk in at a regular pace and feel safe heading into that space.
By the fourth day of the conference I usually begin to take it for granted, because, really, shouldn’t I feel safe going to the bathroom whenever and wherever? I know some folks disagree with gender neutral restrooms and I don’t want to negate that. I’m just speaking from my own experience here.
That said, on Sunday at the airport I had an interesting experience. Airport bathrooms are sort of their whole own other issue, especially post Larry Craig. I’m about ten thousand times more anxious when I go into an airport bathroom than any other bathroom. I find the performance of masculinity and heterosexuality in airport bathrooms staggering and terrifying. You better believe I am staring so hard at the floor that I sometimes injure myself walking into a door.
It was early (for me), and I was kind of stressed out due to travel issues and all kinds of other things. When I finally got through security and found a bathroom, I walked in and happened to be amongst a couple of military officers, some businessmen in their late 50s and some other men I coded as straight. I didn’t realize until I was washing my hands that I felt REALLY WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE. It was an extra level or two above normal bathroom anxiety for me. Whats that about? I thought. A minute or two later I realized that I was in TOTAL culture shock after Creating Change.
This always happens, re-entry into mainstream every day society is always a shock after CC or any other lgbtq conference. But wow, it was intense. I ran into my friend Vince who was flying back on the same flight as me to Colorado and I asked him “Hey, did you feel really really weird when you went to the airport bathroom?” He said no and asked me what I was talking about and then he said you know, you’re right actually, I did feel really weird but I didn’t have words for what was going on, it is pretty intense now that I think about it.
Anyone else? What other spaces are you finding culture shock in? I have been finding it at the grocery store, school, the school bathrooms , target and really everywhere I’ve been. I’ve even felt weird at the gender neutral bathrooms by the GLBT resource center on campus, I think because I know that not all the folks using those are queer. I’ve gotta do some personal exploration on that.
It keeps making me think back to the war on drugs panel I went to and Gabriel saying “queer bodies are battle grounds for cultural wars.”
And please, what’s up with the signs?? can we PLEASE get rid of the triangle dress? This pic is from a queer group and I still don’t like it.