Travel: the time when you reflect on what happens when you’re at home. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about what I want to do when this trip is over. About what’s important, politically. I had this feeling in Thailand in January — a sense of dissatisfaction, maybe some regret about not giving energy to the political practices that I feel are most important. But then I came home and everything resumed. A good example of this: last year I wanted to start an autonomously-run gender/trans drop-in centre, and so did other people. That vision was rejected by some of those who got involved, leading to a huge conflict (as yet unresolved) about the vision, but the project itself has kept running, even in the absence of a clear manifesto. What I originally envisaged was a shopfront with genderfucked banners everywhere, a zine library, skill shares on all sorts of crazy shit, art making, computers for people to use, a one-day-a-week counsellor and a space for ‘activism’ to incubate, initiated for and by the lumpen queers and trannies. A place where bodies can be temporarily free from gender regulation, but which acknowledges that gender regulation is all about other forms of regulation, too. A lot of the other people involved in this gender centre project envisage something really different, something far less politically confrontational. Most recently, it looks like the project will be moving into an office space rented out by one of Melbourne’s mainstream gay and lesbian charities. This is not a bad thing, but it may not be what I want to make.
Perhaps part of the issue is that within identity-based organising, it’s hard to have conversations about class, or race, or strategies for coalitional resistance, or gentrification, or how and why the state sucks and should be avoided if possible, or how we need to rethink the concepts we use to talk about healthcare itself. (This is so even within ‘trans*’ networks, despite making an effort not to police participation along identity-based lines.) But maybe I need to be working on a project that deals with those larger issues, as well. Maybe I need to work with more people who can challenge me, rather than me trying to challenge others.
This is all a bit vague, but I just know that I’m not sitting right with my current level of political engagement. It’s not a panic along the lines of ‘omg we’re not doing enough, we have to act or die!’ either. What I’m feeling doesn’t issue from that black, icy despair everyone expressed around 2002 when the War of Terror really got started, that sense of absolute hopelessness. The world is getting more fucked up by the day, it’s true. But there are already so many people working in the cracks of the glittering cold machine-edifice. I just want to make more cracks. Sex-positive, genderfucked, sequiny, ebullient, hard-edge marxian cracks.
Anyhow, here are some things I’ve been doing in North America so far: talking trash in fag metal bars with new friends; taking a tour of Mattilda’s beautiful 7th floor view and comparing our experiences of global gentrification and rent craziness; cooking up ideas for kink skillshares back home; getting my tarot read by a posse on a ridiculously expensive kitchen floor in the Mission; meeting people I’ve known online for years who tempt me into eating amazing icecream, and having great conversations; not writing conference paper much, but feeling like I have my shit together enough to wing it.
Finally, have an awesome May Day. When I arrived in Seattle this morning I noticed big signs on the airport bus — apparently on May 1st a large march will be disrupting downtown traffic. Yeah like that. Or maybe like this: hundreds of topless taxi drivers converging on the city, demanding an end to [often racially-motivated] violence: