Thoughts on Creating Change: On Solidarity in Community, Part I
Posted by Sarah
February 5, 2013
The high of sharing space with thousands of activists has since tapered off, and I’ve had time to wash the remaining glitter from my hair and reflect on what I gained from those five days of institutes, workshops, and collaboration with queers and allies from across the nation.
There’s something to be said for this conference taking place in Georgia, my home state. I’m all too familiar with our ongoing fight for marriage equality, not to mention the Southern state’s problems with homophobia, the KKK, and abortion access. While Atlanta is one the most gay-friendly cities in the US, a short drive into neighboring rural communities will let you know that much of Georgia is anything but. This year’s Creating Change took place in a city which is accessible to activists from other Southern states who are facing similar issues. I cannot thank the Task Force enough for this. Too often, our progressive messages are drowned out by the Northern state’s marriage equality chorus. Our activist voices might have a bit of a drawl, but believe me when I say that they exist.
Obviously gatherings like Creating Change matter because they further activism, but also because they forge huge safe spaces for gender and sexual minorities. I’m privileged to have many wonderful and supporting allies in my life; many queer people have less than that. And because I constantly find myself in the company of straight people, I often forget that being LGBT is an exercise in isolation. When I casually reference being a lesbian in social settings, I often receive glances of the scandalized or curious variety; very rarely are they they all-knowing or indifferent like the ones offered at Creating Change. Because of this, we were able to move beyond the mainstream narrative of what it means to be gay and tackle the intersections; of race, desire, social class, economics, militarism, and so much more. Truly, the only “post-gay” environments are those where being LGBT places one in the majority rather than the minority.
When I’m attending events like Creating Change, I frequently catch myself thinking, “This is what it must feel like to be straight!” Obviously this sentiment is problematic – we should all be able to navigate society with the same sense of equality, safety, and dignity regardless of who we desire. This shouldn’t be a pipe dream or utopia relegated to our straight and cisgender counterparts. What’s more, we shouldn’t feel pressured to assimilate into a heteronormative model of what a relationship is. While garnering the 1,000+ social and reproductive rights denied to us by DOMA are of utmost importance, we have our own radical ideas about what relationships should be: Consensual, respectful, balanced, moving beyond traditional definitions of virginity and drawing attention to our own unique experiences with assault and healthcare. Some of these ideas may even prove beneficial to our straight allies. Not only are queer people working to procure marriage equality; we’re working to loosen the harmful restrictions which patriarchy has imposed on all relationships.