I am in town for one short day, and it doesn’t feel right to be here and not hold space with you. Join me tonight for a special, all-levels class to hold space for mourning and grief.
Special All-Levels Class tonight
Wednesday 6/15 at 7:30 – 9pm
ADF Dance Studio: 721 Broad St, Durham
Free / Any Donations will go to support local POC Queer and Trans efforts
Let us hold space together
for Mourning and Meaning-Making in this Crucial Moment
I invite all trans, queer, and LGBTQIAA folks to come, as well as those who are truly interested in being in solidarity and allyship with us. We will do a sweet, all-levels, yoga practice in a circle, physically and symbolically centering those most affected by this latest tragedy. Those who will to show up with us can help hold a container with us by circling around us. All are welcome. Bring a mat if you have one, there will be some available as well.
This is a free event, but I will be “passing the hat” to support the Queer and Trans People of Color Collective, Southern Vision Alliance, and SONG. 100% of proceeds will go to supporting the work of these organizations fighting at the intersections of identity and injustice, for collective liberation.
I am in despair right now, as so many of you are. Having been out of town and offline for the past 3 weeks, I arrived back to Durham last night just in time to hold space alongside many of you in the wake of the #PulseOrlandoMassacre. We gathered in the most human of ways, under increasingly commonplace circumstances: to mourn the tragic and horrific theft of the lives of our kindred. We convened to hold space for the full range of emotions that we are feeling–or trying not to feel, or wishing we could feel when all we feel is numb–rage, exhaustion, shock, helplessness, fear, defiance, resilience, anger, isolation, a dull ache of knowing that this has happened before and it very likely happen again.
This is a powerful and potent time for our community, for this country, and for our world. It is essential to hold space right now for mourning and grief. This attack is a violation of one of the few spaces in which gay and queer and LGBTQIA+ folks have been able to make home, have felt held, have sought visibility and an expression of resistance and resistance. We are once again asked to hold more than anyone should have to hold: the reality that this was a targeted attack on Black and Brown people, on the Latinx gay community. That it was spawned by partriarchal violence and a hate which knows no boundaries, which is not the domain of any particular sect or nationality. Even in our grief we must also be vigilant and not let our pain and this tragedy be an excuse to fuel greater Islamaphobia and spur an increase in violence against other sectors of our community. As we shudder with the inexplicable capacity for causing harm that humans possess, we also quake with determination to stay the course of collective liberation. This path of freedom invites all of us in–EVERY SINGLE ONE–and does not allow room for separation, isolation, for hate or fearmongering or the reductionist idea that one more violent, racist, patriarchal, white supremacist policy will make us safe. Only we can do that, and only when we’re in our fullness.
As we mourn we have to clearly state, through our tears and our trembling and our tenderness, that we stand with our Muslim kindred just as we stand with our trans and queer and LGBTQIA Latinx kindred, just as we stand with all those who are threatened by misogynist violence, hatemongering and scapegoating, which is all of us.
Contrary to how many people approach it, grief is not an illness–not something to be cured from, to power through, or to let pass. Holding space for grief is an essential step toward making meaning out of these important experiences–as well as minimizing the corrosive effects that unattended grief can bring. And this new grief touches on and unearths old grief, which swells up in powerful and sometimes immobilizing waves. Now is the time to hold each other tenderly. Now is the time to bear witness to each other’s humanity however it shows up: grief, rage, sadness, fear, anger, numbness. Now is the to time to keep breathing, together, while so many others can’t.
Right now we are grieving not only the loss of lives but also the continued loss of, and threat to, the sense of autonomy, access to justice, sense of safety and the sanctity of our bodies, and perhaps even a loss of faith in humanity itself. This grief therefore is truly something that we must treat with reverence and honor, for it is a way of honoring the significance of what was lost, and a very concrete way of making way for what is to come. It is a gift we can give our future selves to hold space for it now, and our ability to do so collectively will contribute to our capacity for collective meaning-making, resilience and a renewed commitment to struggle.
What will it take to build a safety many of us have never experienced? What would we need to call on each other instead of the police? What would it take to have saved every person inside of Pulse? How do we hold the cultural and political architects of this oh so deliberate tragedy accountable? – SONG statement, http://southernersonnewground.org/2016/06/pulse/
Join me tonight for an unexpected moment to hold space together. I have been on sabbatical and am in town or a brief moment…I couldn’t let this moment pass without trying to make a space for us all to be together.
We can do this. We are stronger together.
Please follow some of the links below to learn more about the people we lost in the tragedy, as well as ways we can respond with our whole hearts, our whole selves.
Statement from the Latinx Queer caucus in Durham, from last night’s vigil
Queer, Cubanx writer José Esteban Muñoz wrote, “Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative, and toiling in the present. Queerness is the thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing.”
For Muñoz and anyone who has moved their bodies with others in a queer nightclub knows: queerness is a belief in futurity and the possibility of utopia. Otro mundo es possible. We glimpse this utopia in queer spaces like the drag nights at Chino Latino, Legends, The Pinhook, the Bar Durham, Visions, and countless others in between, where we sweat, we dance, we kiss, we flirt, we fuck, and we feel wild, free, and full of life in our queerness and jotería. The gay club has been, and IS, a place where we imagine possibilities for queerness, community, and safety beyond the constrictions of the present.
Tonight we gather to mourn each of the fifty plus brown and Black people killed and injured by the shooting at Pulse Orlando. We name and remember each beautiful body, and each of the baby queers, lovers, and papis who danced there that night. Tonight we gather to mourn, too, the safety, communion, and joyful co-creation of queerness that is generated at every gay club. We mourn the wounding of the sacredness in the simplicity of lights pulsing, hips grinding, sweat, and the being together that has been violated in this attack. We make this space for grieving so that we can carve out meaning and futurity in the face of this innumerable loss. We do it because we need it for our collective resiliency. We do it for our ancestors and the emboldened and brilliant youth they helped make in this moment.
Our mourning is interrupted by the rising tide of institutionalized fear and hatred being spoken by right wing media and politicians mobilizing this moment for their imperialist and racist agendas. So we take this moment to say: We do not accept using the tragedy of the massacre of brown and black people in a sacred space to instill anti-immigration policies and sentiment, fuel Islamophobia, or otherwise build a right wing agenda. Not in the name of our safety.
We know how to make ourselves safe. We know the strength in togetherness, the power of our voices, and the practices of care we extend each other, each day. We learn it again and again at each dance party, drag show, potluck, and rally. We practice our collective safety in each couch we offer, each plate of food saved, every homework we help with, and every time we look in each other’s eyes and say, “You are welcome here.” “You, jotxs, queer, trans, brown, Black, asian, indigenous, accented, person with disabilities– you are beautiful”
We can feel our trans ancestor and leader of the Stonewall Rebellion, Sylvia Rivera at our sides tonight; she whispers in our ears, “Vengan, mijxs, let’s show them, it’s been our turn and we won’t stop now.” Sylvia Rivera, José Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa, Leslie Fienberg, every spirit at Pulse Orlando, and all our ancestors stand at our sides and remind us that our jotería is sacred, we are all connected in this struggle, we make our resiliency in mutual aid and support, and we won’t stop now.