an introduction / by Hope A

20170301_160955.jpg

My friend Bear gives great introductions. Whenever I meet one of their friends, they introduce me with bits of what I do now, a little bit of where I live and have lived--so much more than my name and relationship to Bear but a briefing about why maybe we should get to know each other. For a variety of reasons, it was once difficult for me to be open to meeting new people. Bear knows that and gives us a chance and a reason to be more open, more willing. 

Bear also used to have a business card with their name on the front and, on the back, a list of all the jobs they were willing and able to take on. We all have a variety of identities. Sometimes we favor one roll over another. Or we quiet part of our identity at work, with our families, in public. Sometimes because we are afraid, or feel unsafe. There are real threats to queer, trans, black, brown, muslim people in this country. Some of us may never feel that. Or we can hide those parts of ourselves that would make us feel vulnerable and pass as white, straight, Christian. The challenge for those of us who want to support communities that are threatened, is that it is easier to not say anything--being a witness, engaging with people who look like us about people who don't, in a caring productive way takes patience, and a willingness to be vulnerable and open.  We can feel like we don't know enough or that we should let someone else speak. I think, in light of the urgency of the times, that time has passed. We must engage. 

One way to start is to let our differences show. To share different opinions. To listen. I look like a straight white lady who makes greeting cards. I am not straight--I do have a long-term male partner but he is not the only kind of person I can love.*  I never came out because I didn't have to. Because I didn't really tell my parents a lot of things. Because I come from the privileged position of it not really affecting my job, my housing, my public life. I've never wanted to marry. I still cried when the Supreme Court made marriage legal for non-heterosexual couples.** But my trans friends still struggle. And are attacked, killed, harrassed. 

I lived in Seattle during the WTO protests, on 9/11  and I remember the protests during the invasion of Iraq. Whatever you think about conservatism and liberalism, tea party or anarchist,  what is happening right now is different. It feels different. The fear is real. The struggle is real. My dad tried to tell me once that everything was better before people started making a big deal out of things. I think he was trying to tell me that everything was better before people started fighting for equal rights, to be treated with the same respect and protection as any other person. But I turned it, and asked him if he meant that everything was better before people started making a big deal out of people demanding equal rights. That the backlash to the North Carolina bathroom law isn't about special treatment. It is about being seen as human, as the same.

The political atmosphere feels different and while I want to keep making postcards that help people stay in touch, I want to facilitate dialog too.  If you are a new subscriber, welcome. There is some basic information about this project here.  I usually keep my beliefs a little more subdued, but I think this is important. So, know that when you buy from me it may indirectly (or directly) support equal rights, protection and health for all people--immigrant, lgbtq, latinx, black, brown, muslim, women and any combination of.   My introduction, is hello, my name is Hope. I am a queer white woman working towards dismantling racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia in myself, in my community, and beyond. I make mistakes. I am always learning. I will not be silent.*** 

*to be honest, a friend once described my sexuality as "boy crazy" and that seemed most accurate for my late 20's so I understand why I am seen as straight. plus my 8 year monogamous relationship

**Bear and I also cried on election night 2008 ..."It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states..."

***I can't say most of this out loud without crying. I am not sure why. It makes discussion difficult. But I am working on it.

For the first 100 days of the 45th Presidency, I am donating all money raised from selling subscriptions to the Keep Writing Project. In January, I donated $802 to the New Orleans Abortion Fund. Through the end of March, I am raising money for Youth BreakOUT, an organization that empowers queer and trans youth in New Orleans. So far I have raised over $300. If you want to subscribe, renew or give a subscription to a friend as a gift, you can sign up here.  Feel free to contact me with questions.