Creating Change 2010

Some Thoughts on Self-Care at CC

We activists talk a good talk about self-care, but we often forget to walk the walk.  Which really means, we forget to take a chance to slow down and rejuvenate/debrief/*eat*/*sleep*/do something fun if it’s been a hard day etc.  I keep saying that we should include “nap time” or “break time” during Creating Change.  The Lunch on your-own time is great, but it’s not enough time to eat and take a nap in a lot of cases.  Why am I writing about this? Well, I’m interested in lgbtq health- physical, spiritual, mental, and in keeping this active, passionate community going!!

Activists suffer from burn-out a lot.  In a way, Creating Change is a micro-example of that.  Step back for a minute and think about how early you’ve been getting up, how many workshops and meetings and networking events (all of which are awesome, don’t get me wrong,) that you went to each and every day before finally hitting the bed to catch some shut eye and waking up what feels like a second after you got in bed?

How many times did you meet people in the hallway/elevator/lobby/wherever and say “how’s your conference going?” and hear “it’s great but I gotta say I’m really, really tired.”  We are so excited about being here and connecting with all of our awesome fellow social justice activists that we do the same thing we do in our every day lives, we go go go and then a lot of us burn out from sheer exhaustion or catch colds from each other, etc.  A wise community leader just told me “a dead activist isn’t a good activist.”   It sounds kind of harsh, but he’s exactly right.

Does it mean the conference would have to extend a day longer maybe? maybe… but, if each day there was a larger chunk of time for self-care, where you were encouraged to go take a nap in your room or rehydrate and eat or take a chance to step outside the hotel and explore the city you’re visiting and that in turn kept you healthy and rested, don’t you think it’d be worth it?

I do, and I definitely think it’s worth having a dialogue about considering for future CC conferences.  We gotta keep each other healthy and strong ’cause we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

That said,  as exhausted as I am, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Many thanks again to the LGBT Tobacco Control Network whose generous scholarship allowed me to attend my second Creating Change.  I look forward to the year ahead and hope to be seeing many of you next year at Creating Change.

Take good care of yourselves & your fellow activists!

Creating Change 2010

Be on the lookout for…

1)a post about the AMAZING mas-queer-ade youth event tonight, with a special shoutout to fellow scholarship recipient Julian’s AMAZING spoken word piece that blew my mind and resonated deep inside

2) a post about the fascinating data that just came out about HIV rates growing in the lgbtq populations of people over age 50

3)more bi and trans networking with Robyn Ochs and members of BiNet DFW and BiNet LA

4) impromptu activist discussions in hotel sports bar during a lunch break about campus inclusion practices

and  maybe more…

these blogs will be posted over the next 24 hours as internet access is available.

woot cc2010. AMAZING!  so thankful to the network for sponsoring me. met so many amazing people and love the powerful recharging activist energy high!!

Creating Change 2010

House/ Ballroom Scene 101

OMG! the best workshop!total plug in from the attendees.
Interactive doesn’t begin to describe the scene in that space. It was overfilled with attendees, and it was good that the session next door got cancelled because this workshop took over the empty space filling it too!   Vogue Evolution. THANK YOU. I love that you remind folks where Voguing and “glammor” come from.  The Black,Asian and Latino; marginalized,excommunicated,displaced,kicked out homeless, MORE than Queens created it! Straight(not) out of urban areas dating back to the roaring 20’s and the historical era we now refer to as the Harlem Renaissance came a movement forged from displacement and marginalization. From homophobia and love turned conditional came fierceness. HONEY. “Snap snap”– Vogue Evolution provided a facinating historical perspective, and a view of current trends into this world that replaces or stands in for biological family.  A given family that the displaced are welcomed, fed, housed and the conditioning love is about how fabulous you are and not who you do it with.
The next time you see a runway model work it, see the coolest fashion piece, hear the def-ist music, learn the latest dance ask yourself what House that came from.
Remember that it was probably a fierce, fierce queen of color. Remember, remind and CLAIM IT…if you don’t someone else will and we don’t want that do we?
Vogue brought it for sure and they better be a CC next year!

Creating Change 2010

First Nations Collective Caucaus

wow, I am speechless that the 1st Nations Collective organized a Native Talking Circle.  It was great to met some of the important players representing at the table for the conference.  The same group that was on stage during the Opening Plenary were at the gathering.  It felt great to personally met all of them in person.  They expressed some of the work that they do during the conference and also with the planning process.  They make sure there is Native representation at the Creating Change Conference.

I expressed some of my concerns with the group such as stats not reflecting Native American populations, not enough Native sessions and having a Native representation at the higher level of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  I also asked the group, “Why they chose to be called First Nations?”  They had a great response for my question, which was good.

It felt good to actually speak my Native tongue as I introduced myself to the group.  It really felt good to identify as a Native American Transgender among my Native brothers and sisters.  I wish I could be able to do that introduction at Chapter Meetings back on the reservation or stand up in front of the Navajo Nation Council as a PROUD Native American Transgender.

Some of the discussion we had was around the term, “Two Spirit.”  It was great to get feedback from the group.  I shared, as a Navajo, it is hard to comes to grip that that term.  As a Navajo raised on the reservation, I was not aware of the term, until I moved to the city.  I mentioned to the group, identify as a naa’dlah’.

Tonight is the dance for the evening event.  I am looking forward to shaking a leg.  #cc2010 #qnet

Creating Change 2010

Bi & Queer organizing with Trans inclusion!

Several activists from across the country gathered in the bi hospitality suite to informally discuss more of our experiences and desires that have come up during the conference.  Matt who leads BiNet Dallas firmly believes that trans identified folks and bi indentified folks should band together and do work on inclusivity, visibility and networking. 

College students shared their desires to create bi affirming groups on their campuses.  Some parts of the country have chapters of Bi Net that are close to 20 years old.  Boulder, Colorado has nothing in the way of a bisexual organization and neither does the University of Colorado.  The University does have a trans group, which puts us ahead of the curve of some places, but I’d really like to get a bi/queer/fluid group going. 

We need to keep working on including the “B” and the “T”.  Creating Change is a great place to network and get ideas from other folks.  The hope is that next year’s Creating Change will have a bi organizing section.

Creating Change 2010

Accessibility, Sovereignty, and Liberation

These are things I’m thinking about a lot throughout this conference and in my community work back home. The day-long institute, Accessing Our Liberated Bodies, was really powerful for me on a personal and political level and helped to ground me in my life experiences of working toward justice and liberation.  Many thanks to the brilliance and great work of our fabulous facilitators, Lucia Leandro Gimeno, Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, Coya Artichoker, Melissa Pope, and Paulina Hernandez as well as all the other folks connected to the Racial Justice Institutes, First Nations Collective, and Disability Justice Collective. I have a ton of respect for all of you, your vision and politics, your passion, and your fierce dedication to liberatory and transformative work.   #cc2010 #qnet

Creating Change 2010

Queer Youth and Out of Home Placement

Went to this workshop. Discussed issues of LGBT youth in the foster care system and the challenges young people face in accessing these services. We discussed some of the case law precedent as well as some of the common issues young people face once in foster care. I didn’t learn a ton of new information, but I’m glad this workshop was offered because queer and trans youth homelessness and the connection to the foster care system is often overlooked as an important issue in the queer community.  #cc2010 #qnet

Creating Change 2010

Beyond Binaries: Identity & Sexuality with Robyn Ochs

If you want to have your world rocked and your life changed, go to a workshop by Robyn Ochs.

I know, it sounds kind of cheesy right? Robyn is *amazing* and her workshops truly are life-altering.  Check out the website and see what other folks have to say.

This morning I attending her workshop “Beyond Binaries: Identity & Sexuality” which is the same type of workshop she did last year where I first met her and she definitely changed my life for the better.  Robyn’s favorite thing to say in her description is “like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike.”

She starts out with a basic explanation and history of the Kinsey scale and two other models that have been used to study sexuality/sexual orientation and behavior and the limitations of those models. The biggest?? They’re all operating on binary systems!! Binary systems of gender, and binary systems of sexual orientation.  Male or Female.  Straight or Gay. That’s it.  No, that’s definitely not it.  Robyn has folks fill out a survey tracking how they identified over the years, how they did or did not behave in terms of making out and being sexually active, who they were attracted to, who they fantasized about, and what their close friends and family think is the appropriate label for their sexual orientation.

That might sound kind of scary, but it’s all anonymous.  When you’re done, they shuffle all the surveys together and then collect a random sample and pick people based on the month they were born to get a piece of paper and go to the front of the room to represent that person and their identity.  We then watch as people move along the scale answering each question and you see a powerful visual representation of how truly FLUID people’s sexual orientation is.  She jokes about the people who get an aerobic workout going back and forth along the numbers of the spectrum for different answers to different questions.  There was only ONE person out of over 100 people sampled who stayed in the same category for the entire set of questions.  Everyone else moved either a little or a lot.  Straight to gay to bi to a little bit closer to the middle and all over the place.  People don’t end up standing only on 0 for totally straight, 6 for totally gay and 3 for totally bi, they end up all over the place from 0 to 6.  It’s really powerful to see how much of a continuum and diversity there really is.

An even cooler thing is when people answer the question “where on the scale do you wish you were?” and why?

We find out that people say they are totally gay when they actually inwardly feel more bisexual because they fear stigmatization and rejection from their gay friends.  We find out that straight identified folks are actually not so straight.  Some people say they wish they were totally gay or totally straight because it would be easier.  Some people say they wish they were more bisexual and could be open to more possibilities.   Some people say they are perfectly happy with where they are on the spectrum.

Robyn always asks “how many people have ever been made to feel guilty for being sexually active?”  and everyone raises their hands.  Then she says “how many people have ever been made fun of or feel guilty for not having sex?” and everyone raises their hands.  Then she says, okay, so who is winning here? and everyone says- no one! we live in a culture that stigmatizes sexual activity or a lack of sexual activity and that is obsessed with labels.  What does this workshop show us about the labels? They don’t really work for us.

New labels get thrown out into the crowd- heteroflexible, homoflexible, bicurious, omnisexual, pansexual, trysexual, androsexual, gynosexual etc etc I can’t remember them all.  And then Robyn says “labels are tools of convenience, but they don’t work for all of us!” and it’s so true.   She asks if you’ve ever been attracted to someone’s voice and almost everyone raises their hands.  “Well, then I’m a Tracy Chapman-osexual” or what about tall people ? Tall-0-sexual? or smile-o-sexual…the different things we are attracted to about people.  “intellectual-o-sexual” she says and smiles and the room murmurs with people shouting out more contributions.

You leave that workshop feeling energized even though it’s 9 a.m. and you may not have gotten much sleep, and after the first time and each time after that, if you’re me, you leave feeling better about yourself and not quite so queer for being not gay not straight not quite bi, but queer!

Definitely check out her website (no I don’t work for her, she really is just my hero) and if you can, bring her to your school or community organization.  I worked like crazy to bring her to our campus after meeting her last year and the event was a huge success that generated tons of positive feedback and good energy.

Creating Change 2010

Queer Youth of Color Plenary Panel

The best part of the conference has definitely been the queer youth of color panel today. The young people who spoke were on point and amazing in their analysis of the current pressing issues facing queer and trans youth of color today (homelessness, criminalization, incarceration, gentrification, etc…). They called for a shift in the priorities of the mainstream agenda away from marriage and other assimilationist politics toward a liberatory politics in which those who are most marginalized and oppressed within queer and trans communities are centered. They also made a strong push for more youth organizing models that support the leadership development and political consciousness raising/education of young people. I could not agree more with their “spot on” analysis and critique.  Word! #cc2010 #qnet

Creating Change 2010

Trans Hospitality Room

I met some wonderful Trans people at the Trans Hospitality Room.  They are all very friendly and welcoming.  I was invited to a Drag Show last night at one of the local clubs, but did not end up going, since I did not want to travel alone.  The Host Gurlz are planning to take some gurlz out tonight and show them around.  I mentioned, I would return and possibly tag along.  These Dallas gurlz sure know how to treat outsiders.

I had a very interesting conversation with one of the gals.  She talked about, doing fundraisng shows for HIV/AIDS organizations within the Dallas METRO plex.  She explained the show, “Dallas.”  I was not aware the Southfork Ranch is located in Plano, TX.  I was also not aware the Dallas Cowboys Stadium is located near the airport, plus a Disney Park.  So much to see, but the State is sooo big!!

The gals made me feel welcome and they are great ladies.  Thanks for the snacks and food.  #cc2010 #qnet