going deeper

I shared my recent post on racism in the queer community with this… My hope is that many folx will not only read and share, but really listen and do some deep inner work.

That’s my ultimate desire for all of us, that we do our deep inner work. It’s not always easy or pleasant and yet the rewards are big. Unpacking our baggage really does lighten our load and make life more bearable. It’s the key in all relationships – with self, family, friends, community.

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Looking at my thought & behavior patterns at all the intersections has been both important and enlightening in the unpacking of my internalized and externalized homophobia, sexism, classism, racism, and ableism; the ways that I am oppressed and the ways that I oppress myself and others.

I know that being asked to go deeper can stir up some fear, anxiety and other emotions. Take a deep breath and notice what you feel in your body. Can you give it a name, shape or color? Once you acknowledge the feeling(s), what do you notice in your body?

Unpacking our stuff is kind of like riding a bike… in that it’s really hard at first and we’re wobbly and all over the place, and then as we strengthen our skills it gets easier and easier. And like riding a bike, we don’t really forget how. Even if it’s been a long time, we can likely still get things moving in a forward direction without too much challenge.

What thought/behavior patterns are you willing to look at today?

in love & liberation, xo

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racism in the queer community

Yes. It has been months since I’ve said anything here. I mentioned changes… lots have happened in life, little here.  So let the writing resume. First a disclosure- I am Queer. I have been an “out” member of the central Ohio community for 20+ years. I use the pronouns she & hers and I also identify as Dyke and Lesbian… as I’ve grown into them. More about that another time.

Dear white hetero-normative (straight) readers, this is where I ask you to take it in, learn, and discuss among yourselves. Take what you learn and spread it far and wide in your own community. If you’re NOT a GLBTQ+ person or a person of color (PoC) the particulars of this is NOT your lane for commenting. In other words, take the education and don’t comment on what some call “in-fighting”. We are not “sides” as one straight-identified woman said earlier. We are a family with millions of members across the globe, and like any family, we have our difficulties and disagreements. Thanks for not swerving. And stay the hell out of my oxford commas too, I like them.  😉

For anyone who didn’t know, Philadelphia added two stripes to their pride flag this year…

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Philadelphia’s amended LGBT pride flag
Source: Kordan N Kaleb/Facebook

At it’s worst this is merely a display of inclusion, and at it’s best it’s a promise to center black and brown folx in the QTBLG+ fight for equality. Yes, there are lots of opinions, and only time will tell. Yes, those letters are “backwards”. Because Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman asks us to be as disruptive in our thinking as possible.

PoC folx in cities across the country stood up at Pride marches this year, demanding recognition and inclusion. In our town, protesters were seeking 7 minutes of silence- one for each bullet that struck Philando Castile. You might remember his name. He’s the man killed on a fb live stream by a cop during a traffic stop… in front of both girlfriend and 4 year old. This protest – this call for awareness – less than 24 hours after the shooter’s  acquittal, led to four arrests, the resignation of Lori Gum, Pride Festival Coordinator and Program from Stonewall Columbus, and upheaval within our community. According to their fb page, “Stonewall Columbus is reaching out to the larger community to ask for their involvement in a critical dialogue about racism and homophobia on July 17, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Columbus Health Department, 240 Parsons Avenue.”

Intention is not Impact and Conversation is not Action

Okay, now that you’re up to date on what’s happening, take a moment to stretch, wiggle, check in with your body. Hydrate, put your feet on the ground,  breathe in love… pee, whatever you need to do… if you need some herstory on Stonewall you know where google is. I’ll wait…

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Good job. We have to remember that self care isn’t self-ish, it’s self-love. It’s a marathon not a sprint and all that jazz. The rev-o-love-tion needs us all in for the long haul.

How do we move forward? What can we do to make real, sustainable change in our community? What changes need to be made? So many more questions, so few answers. Conversations are the first step, and today, 100+ folx gathered together at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church to take that step and face some difficult conversations. The room was full of nervousness, defensiveness, confusion, and other stuff as people willingly shared their experiences, thoughts, feelings and vulnerability trying to sort out what happened at Pride and how that leaves our community. People of all skin tones were brave enough to admit their complicity in racism, to look at their own parts in the machine that is the racist system we all live under. Because that’s the thing folx, we are ALL in the same boat here.

The first step to overcoming racism is to recognize

Let me repeat myself. The first step to overcoming racism is to recognize that we are all born into systemic racism. Here’s how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: wealth gap, employment, housing discrimination, government surveillance, incarceration, drug arrests, immigration arrests, infant mortality… don’t believe me? Research it yourself. Don’t want to see it? Even within the colorful alphabet soup family that we are, the shit is real. Racism exists. Not wanting to see it is a whole other and I understand… go read my post on rose-colored glasses.

Once you get step 1, really get it, unpacking racism gets much easier, I promise.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the ocean, but it’s one of my favorite places and favorite analogies for racism, thanks to Nedra Johnson. Now, some of you will want to hurl insults or acronyms at Nedra for some her unrelated opinions. Not here. I hold space for ALL of our complexities. White folx, my dear skin-kin, we are the snorkler in this story. Even as we are marginalized for being QTBLG+. Even when we want to be a big fish. We are still the snorkler. We still have skin privilege. And some of us have class privilege.

Check in time. How are you feeling in your body? What do you need in this moment? Do you need to stretch, to pause, or to plow on?

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The next step is all about laying it down. Let Go… of the guilt. defensiveness. fear of doing and/saying the wrong thing. All of it.

One of the unpacking racism stories I share comes from the first YWCA Fireside Chat I attended. I will never forget hearing Suzanne Roberts easily say “I am a racist.” I was instantly filled with big tears, and a huge desire for the liberation that was clearly apparent with the ability to own that shit. It became my mission to let go of all the ego-related bullshit that was holding me back from the change I so wanted and needed. That the world needed. Needs.

What’s holding you back? Lay It Down

Lay it fucking down. Lay down your resistance. your guilt. your defensiveness. your fear. whatever it is that you need to let go of. Exercise your empathy muscle. Not sympathy. Empathy. Watch this for a brief refresher:

Step 2 = Listen. Keep listening.

Now that we’re working on letting go of that pesky defensiveness, step two is to listen. Actually, actively listen… to all the members of our community who feel like their voices aren’t being heard. Listen through all the emotions that come up and without all the ways that we whyte folx suppress PoC voices. It takes practice. Keep at it.

 

Step 3 = See. Everyone. As Human.

I know… I know that your initial reaction to that involves a scrunched up face and some side-eye. Trust me though, for most of us, this is still a thing. And as much as I love technology and texting, I own that they impact how we see and treat each other. And then there’s the layers and layers and generations of slavery and racism. We are all hurting from the trauma and hurting each other. This wound needs to be cleaned out so that the healing can truly begin. Getting out the festering infection is vital, and the steps I’ve identified here are only the beginning. And an ongoing process until racism is eradicated. Step, rest, step, rest, step.

If you’ve made it this far you’re doing great. Here’s a treat and then we’ll do a quick review and call it done for the day…

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Okay, it’s been a lot of reading and absorbing I know, especially if you clicked all the links. This post isn’t going anywhere so take your time and refer to it as you need.

Review

step 1 = understand systemic racism

step 2 = actively listen

step 3 = see human

 

You’ll fuck up, I promise. Be gentle with yourself and keep working on it. Like body awareness, it gets easier with practice.

 

 

cleaning closets

 

e nina jay, an Amazon i am blessed to know in person, recently wrote a book titled body of rooms that inspires this post… she says this and more about the book:

body of rooms is a reckoning. a conversation with myself and the parts of me i find reflected in the eyes, the pain, the secrets and the lives of all the womyn that i am drawn to and love.

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This post is about rooms within rooms. Closets. Sometimes the only messy spots in the house. From the beginning I learned about hiding things in closets. My mom was a high school senior who didn’t mean to get pregnant in 1967. Before Roe v Wade.

Shhhh… what will we tell the neighbors?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m cleaning closets or cupboards I have to take everything out first. Every fucking thing. And this time I cleaned every fucking closet. In the past three years, I have completely gone through my entire catalog. Looked at every cobweb, habit, belief, behavior and dog hair.

Turned the lake upside down. Emptied every closet. Identified and re-examined the bits labelled victim, abuser, addiction, racist, homophobe, sexist, ableist, classist, codependent, anxiety, depression, martyr, squirrel chaser, privilege, survivor.

Breathing and calming the chaos.

Deciding what stays and what goes.

Reminding myself of who I Am. Determining who I want to Be.

Remembering I am Enough.

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I didn’t plan this deep cleaning… well, not the method anyway. I’ve been on a conscious journey of self discovery for quite a while and sometimes the Universe has a funny way of showing you yourSelf. And I mean funny painful, challenging and what the fuck self, you couldn’t get and give these lessons in other ways?!

Nope, apparently not. I can be pretty thick-headed and coarse. Not thick-skinned though dammit. That could have been helpful in working through the white fragility and some other stuff… or maybe not…

Anyhoo, as I organize the mess and recognize that writing really has been helping, I know I want to do more… and use this platform to do that. So expect to see tabs/categories/pages and other changes as I move forward. Hmmm… seems like a good time to reach out to Kelli Wise of Pint Sized Sites for some guidance. She is an educator and website designer I met in person at the AMTA Convention years ago. That’s American Massage Therapy Association for those unfamiliar with the acronym.

Alright loves, time to get showered and on with the day. Tell me, have you cleaned out any of your closets lately?

 

 

 

quiet and still

 

quiet here the entire summer. stillness on this page.

resting… breathing…

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reading. listening. feeling…

staying in the now. gently

looking within

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reclaiming I. finding Me. loving Self.

striving

to soften, learn more, do better

every day. connecting

with Self & Sisters.

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cleansing. clearing. moving

forward. more awake

more aware. every day.

seeing Me & seeing You

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An Amazon Today

A few days ago I shared a poem by e nina jay; this is a piece from that beautiful gift…

watched truth drip down her face in water

cuz she still knows everything they taught her

no, an amazon today

cannot be yesterday’s daughter

 

This syster has seen me cry. Felt my pain.

As I hurt her with my words and behaviors. Told my truths.

Felt her pain.

iPhone 11.11 to 3.12 976

 

 

A FB friend mentioned something about my skin-kin the other day and I realized most of you may not have heard the term, or have even considered the idea that all White people are family. In White culture we are raised to be individuals within our nuclear family, and although held accountable to represent that specific family well, there is often no indication that we could/should concern ourselves with how we reflect Whites as a whole. (That’s privilege by the way.)  We commonly see this play out in mainstream media when the mass shooter is white and called a “lone wolf”. Get this now folks, if you think one Muslim, Black, Latinx, or Jew reflects the whole, then you must recognize the same can be true for Whites. And even if you don’t feel that way individually, please see that many whites do. Given this, it makes sense that we are labeled as skin-kin. Do I like it? Not necessarily anymore than I like being identified as cis-gendered… and yet I’m in it. Striving to soften, learn more and do better every day.

An amazon today cannot be yesterday’s daughter. We must find center in today. Sometimes we don’t realize the ways our family’s or our lives are racist. Sometimes we do and we don’t know what to do about it. Every thing we do makes a difference. Start by looking at what you were taught AND what you weren’t. Read books by non-white authors. As my friend Latrice recently advised: Invite a Black person over for dinner. Get to know them. Listen.

Rose-Colored Glasses

 

Over two years ago I fell in love. Head over heels, every fiber of my being, talk for hours that feel like minutes, raise the roof kind of love. With a womyn of color. I really had no idea what that meant.

Sure I was raised in white neighborhoods, sent to white Catholic schools, and knew that there was some racism in my family (we all know the “jokes”, etc). But I was educated, I knew about and was appalled by slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, white flight. I had protested with People of Color, Native and Indigenous People. I had friends, family members and colleagues who are people of color. As an out queer womyn, I understood oppression.

I thought I had a clue, I really did.

As someone who grew up with emotional abuse, sexual abuse, family alcoholism and addiction, I understood trauma.

I thought I had a clue, I really did.

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I maybe had a clue, but I had no fucking idea. No real understanding of skin privilege, skin kin, or whitewashing. I mean yeah, I got it. Not the skin kin thing. I was an individual, all white people are not my family. The rest I kinda saw.  And didn’t want to.

Yesterday she asked “Why is it so hard to take those privilege blinders off?”

Sit with this for a minute. If you fit the social construct of Caucasian or White,  you’re wearing blinders. You may not know you’ve got them on. You may know they’re there, like your favorite pair of dark shades. Protecting you from the bright light of reality. Cause that shit’s harsh. Me? Mine are rose-colored glasses that I have to remember to take off every day because they distort the truth. Sure, it’s really pretty looking through them, but only seeing that one color gets fucking boring. Oh yeah, and then there’s that little thing about people dying because of their skin. And many other reasons.

Be willing to own where you are when we talk about this stuff. We only know what we know, and when we know more we can do better. I am grateful for those who are helping me learn to own my racist behaviors. Sure it’s painful sometimes. For me and loved ones on the other end of it. And it’s so worth it. Breathe through it.

This blinder thing isn’t working. In our DNA, in every beautiful cell of our beings we know. We remember. We hurt. All of us. Some are willing to feel the feels. Most are not. Why do you think we are a culture of zombies, using TV, drugs, shopping, alcohol, working, working out, video games, any number of things to keep us zoned out? Out of our body, out of our hearts, out of our minds. Cause reality’s harsh. How often do you see a meme or post about not wanting to adult today? No shit. I can barely get out of bed some days and I walk in the world with skin privilege. I can’t imagine the amount of armor it takes for a womyn of color to move about it this world. I think I can, yet yeah… not a clue.

And so I practice looking at my privilege every day. I listen to people of color. I observe our community, I talk and write about privilege. I’m learning to interrupt. I feel the feelings, the defensiveness, the shame, the guilt. And I move through them. It’s hard to take the blinders off because, according to Brene Brown, “we cannot talk about race without talking about privilege, and when people start talking about it they get paralyzed by shame.”

Practice allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to feel guilt and shame. And remember, “the critic we see 99% of the time is us.” Shine a light on it and then be a Light.

~~~

“There is no waiting in healing, only being. Be still, be steady, be watchful, be present. Be right where you are and know that you are worthy, lovable, secure and all that you need to be in this moment. All you have to do is pay attention to the moment. Healing is in each and every moment that you are present, even if that moment is filled with fear, anxiety, anger or disruption. As long as you are there to witness it, healing is happening.”

 

 

a womon like her

this poem was gifted to me by the talented

e nina jay

read it and then we’ll chat…

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she carried the sun in her arms

spent a lifetime resisting the charms

of womyn like her

she carried the sun in the light of the sun

if it needs to get done, she will get it done

there are womyn like her

clench my teeth every urge i get

just in case love means the same as forget

to womyn like her

but yes, into me she’s moved

so i’m absolutely blessed or screwed

damn womyn like her

~

watched truth drip down her face in water

cuz she still knows everything they taught her

no, an amazon today

cannot be yesterday’s daughter

~

a red & gold sun in her two white hands

the red in case she don’t

the gold because she can

build a castle that can stand

with already crumbling sand

~

i wonder if she is

a womon like her.