The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

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!

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | | 1 Comment

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

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

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.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

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

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

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

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

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.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 3 Comments

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

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

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

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

fabulous Trans session

I attended my 2nd session called Train the Trainer-reaching Transgender inclusion for LGBT orgs.  The session was really awesome.  The presenters covered employment and Trans employees.  It also explained how organizations can try to be Trans inclusion by offering gender neutral restrooms, include Trans non discrimination  policies.  This session really got my mind spinning, since it taught me strategies to approach my employer to help implement Trans inclusion policies within the organization that I work for (Native Health).

The presenters gave a very good overview of various steps to take to make a workplace more Trans friendly.  The presenters were from Transgender Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  #cc2010 #qnet

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

Queers and The War on Drugs

About 40 or 50 people gathered to attend a workshop that was originally entitled “Beyond the Meth Monster: Queer Strategies For Ending The War On Drugs.”  Due to some travel problems and double bookings, the format of the workshop turned into more of a brainstorming session and really great conversation about the war on drugs, the lgtbq community and intersections, and even prison reform. 

Gabriel Sayegh who works for the Drug Policy Alliance said that “the bodies of queer people often become cultural battlegrounds,” especially in the war on drugs.  There is a disproportionate amount of impact on the glbtq community from drugs and the war on drugs.  The glbtq community has significantly higher rates of substance use and abuse and complications, a  lack of good mental health resources, little to no inclusivity in climates for residential treatment facilities and almost no inclusion of substance abuse issues in the policies of national organizations. 

We had a great round-table style discussion about the intersections of homelessness, drug use and being lgbtq identified.  Many people shared stories of suffering from addiction after being kicked out of their homes for being lgbtq.  Others talked about incarceration and how difficult it is to be released from jail with little to no resources to keep from getting caught up with drugs again.

A different need that was discovered when they asked us why we were attending was that many, many college campus activists were at a loss as to how to tackle the issue of students and friends using drugs with zero tolerance policies on their campuses.  We have this problem at my school- we don’t have any resources or information to refer people for illegal drug use treatment and we don’t want to get our friends in trouble.  If you are caught using drugs on our campus you are arrested by the campus police and expelled from school.  How do we help our friends without getting them in trouble? We came to the session hoping to find resources and heard from many of our peers across the country that they are having the same problems. 

This was only scratching the tip of the iceberg and we ran over-time in our session.  The best thing we could come up with so far was trying to advocate for schools to switch to “harm-reduction” models that focus on providing resources to our students and communities instead of penalizing them for seeking/needing help.   Being able to refer people to lgbtq competent drug treatment is really important and would be really great.  We ended the session by saying that next year at Creating Change we’d like to do some organizing on this issue.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: