Just Practice – Workshop Series 2015

53ed2b23e4b0cbe8da4956afJust Practice, a training series started last year by Shira Hassan, will be resuming next month. The series focuses on strengthening activists’, youth workers’ and community members’ harm reduction and transformative justice toolbox. It is committed to providing concrete skills for oppressed community advocates, and generating creative alternatives to the criminal justice system.

I’m excited to announce that members of the Radical Faggot team will be providing a workshop for this year’s series! Based on voguing workshops we have been leading here in Chicago, we will be facilitating a session around physical movement, creative community empowerment and transformative curriculum. We can’t wait to be a part of this unique project, and hope to see you there.

The roster of workshops and registration are available here. Sliding scale payment is available for all sessions. Make sure to check out all the amazing workshops that will be taking place!

 

Vogue Studies: Using Community History to Inspire Action

March 4th

6pm – 9pm

24 E Congress Pkwy

Chicago, IL

In this workshop, participants will examine a concrete example of how the history, experiences, and traditions of community can be harnessed from within for collective empowerment. Engaging in a movement workshop based on the Black and Latin@ queer dance form known as voguing, participants will feel what it is like to use aesthetic movement to inform struggles for justice. Participants will be walked through the workshop, examine its components, and then have a chance to map out some of their own ideas for specific curricula that might empower their unique communities of learning and organizing.

Note: This workshop is open to People of Color only.

Watching the Watchers — And Other Great Upcoming Events!

FIT1As amazing action continues to happen around the country challenging state-sanctioned violence, there are several upcoming gatherings here in Chicago that represent an unprecedented connecting of movements and radical organizations that everyone who can should come out to:

The Chicago Teachers Union is for the first time formally joining in current conversations around policing with their event Racial Profiling: From the Classroom to the Street on January 22nd. This meeting will put students, teachers and community members in conversation with one another about present shifts in our approach to policing, and how those must be understood and directly applied to school settings as well.

Secondly, Watching the Watchers, a free, all day conference organized by Project NIA and We Charge Genocide will be taking place on January 24th. The schedule features workshops on an array of strategies for actively challenging the policing system, and ends in a planning session for further direct action. Members of the Radical Faggot team will be there co-leading a workshop on queer and trans resistance of policing, so we hope to see you!

Finally, INCITE! is hosting their 4th Color of Violence conference in Chicago this March, and early registration has been extended to January 15th! Come join an amazing national gathering of Black and Brown feminists organizing against violence in all its forms.

Please check out the registration for all of these exciting events below, spread the word, and be there if you can!

 

Racial Profiling: From the Classroom to the Street

January 22nd, 2015

SEIU Healthcare — 2229 South Halsted Street

7pm to 9pm

FREE

Register here

 

Watching the Watchers: Strategies for Ending Police Violence

January 24th, 2015

Roosevelt University — 430 S. Michigan Ave, Congress Hall, 2nd Floor

9am to 5:30pm

FREE

Register here — required for attendance

 

Color of Violence 4

March 26th – 29th, 2015

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place — 2233 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Rester here — early registration closed after January 15th!

Can We Build an Anti-Policing Movement that Isn’t Anti-Police?

In 2013, when Thai police laid down their riot gear and allowed protesters access to the presidential house, many questioned whether it was a show of solidarity or government strategy.

In 2013, when police in Bangkok laid down their riot gear and allowed protesters access to the Government House, many questioned whether it was a show of solidarity or sly strategy.

Last week my immediate family came out with my friends and me to their first protest since the fatal shooting of Mike Brown. They were interested in getting involved in the movement, and my younger sister in particular had tons of insightful questions.

At one point the rally spontaneously broke out into a chant heard many times over the past months:

The whole damn system is guilty as hell!

Indite! Convict! Send those killer cops to jail!

My sister turned to me in the middle of the chanting and asked, “Don’t those two lines contradict each other?”

Since I was a young person I have been uncomfortable with the anti-police rhetoric of many leftist movements. Plenty of times I have been harassed, targeted, threatened and assaulted by police with no provocation. I have never been unfamiliar with the racist state violence that police represent. What always complicated my feelings was the number of police in my own family.

All of my police relatives are poor people of color. They have their own histories of military service, lack of access to education and resources of all kinds. They have all struggled with anger, depression and partner abuse. They are most of them ultra-conservative, despite their oppressed experiences. Though their backgrounds and political views are complicated, almost all of them represent the exact populations for which the movements in which I am currently involved claim to advocate.

In recent anti-policing actions and organizing that have been taking place around the country, I feel we as a movement have done an exemplary job of drawing connections between struggles—both in the present political moment, and historically. Black communities and their allies clearly understand and articulate policing as a tool used primarily to protect the rich from the poor, the white from the Black and Brown, the privileged from those upon whom their privilege is built. What I still feel is missing from our analysis is who police are and how they arrive at their position as the buffers which preserve the capitalist class structure.

Leaders of the movement have correctly illuminated the inexorable connections between the current policing and prison systems, and their roots first in chattel slavery, then in the policing of newly freed slaves during reconstruction. A crucial point of this history, however, is that it was historically poor whites, representing the interests of the wealthy, who took on the roles of slave catchers, overseers and government-backed militiamen. By instructing poor whites to invest in their whiteness, economically oppressed people were bamboozled into identifying with the state, instead of with other socially and economically oppressed people, conveniently keeping the hands of the wealthy clean as the poorer classes clashed, and avoiding the larger insurrections that might have been possible had they united. This element of the policing system has also survived into the modern era.

What might a movement against policing look like if police themselves joined in on a large scale? How can we shift our target so that we consistently take aim at the larger structures which oppress us—structures which often oppress the working, the unionized, the police themselves?

Having asked these questions, working with police is not necessarily a tactic I advocate. This fatal mistake is how countless global movements have been disbanded, infiltrated and even militarized.

For example, a co-worker of mine who identifies as trans refuses to work with the police precisely because she has done it before. Part of a radical collective that attempted to educate officers on trans identities and issues, the group disbanded when, instead of curbing attacks on trans people, police used the information they had learned to more effectively target, manipulate and intimidate them. The anti-war movement has long advocated for the human rights of troops, and created powerful bonds between itself and military vets. Yet, as many critics have correctly pointed out, these bonds are much easier to make when the activists involved are not the ones being bombed, shot and terrorized by the troops with which they organize.

Having cops as relatives, I know all too well that they are prone to violence, and carry dangerous prejudices towards queers, women, immigrants and other groups in struggle. I also know intimately that it is policing itself which has engendered many of these attitudes and tendencies within them. The capitalist state first denies us resources and agency, teaches us we are without worth or power, then promises to return our agency to us if we become its violent representatives. Countless oppressed people in my family and community have fallen into this trap, and military and police recruiters know exactly how seductive the offer is. Anger and violent rage are valuable to these systems, and excessive force is encouraged and even demanded by them. If we are to truly understand who police are and how to most effectively combat policing as a system, the realization that policing does deep harm to those whom are coerced into participating in it must factor into our organizing strategies.

I am not arguing for a shift in our tactics and rhetoric because I am worried about mainstream portrayals of our communities. I don’t ask that we change our tone to make our movement more palatable, or more welcoming. I certainly don’t want a movement that is less militant. I actually believe we can go deeper, do more damage, and lead more effective actions if we have a broader understanding of exactly what it is we are fighting for. As my sister correctly noted, our message is getting confused, and wherever we do not provide our own clarity, the state and others will intervene to turn our views against one another.

I don’t believe justice for Mike Brown, or any other oppressed person murdered or tortured by the state, will come from locking up the individual law enforcement agents involved. I do believe it can come from a radical redistribution of resources in our society, one which could greatly aid in making policing obsolete, and might even benefit those who currently occupy the roles of police officers. And it is much more threatening to those in power that we demand they give up their hoarded wealth than it is that they lock up a handful of police who were, in fact, just doing their job.

In many ways our movement is still condemning racist cops, failing to understand that the individual prejudices of police are not the issue: As long as there is policing, there will be people charged with keeping the oppressed in their rightful places, with violence as they see fit. We rally for indictments, for charges, for prison sentences, forgetting that the criminal justice system exists to jail us, and that as long as we continue to invest in it, we will overwhelmingly be the ones who fill prisons. We must use the incredible force we are beginning to see in ourselves to demand justice for all our people, for ourselves, and not just for the individual names who may have sparked our movement. We need to identify the structures that oppress us—not its individual representatives—as the targets for our action.

We have—and must stay committed to—a well-organized movement that confronts and disrupts the state apparatus militantly. This means that, by definition, we will continue to go head-to-head with police in our streets, our neighborhoods and all the places we gather. This means, without question, that we will experience more racism, more transphobia, more sexism, classism and direct violence in the months to come. Police will see us as their enemies, even if we work to remind ourselves that they are merely the public faces of ours.

How do we heal from this violence, and hold those responsible for it accountable, while maintaining our struggle in its complexity, and focusing it on those who represent the true barriers to justice? How can we build a movement with a long-term vision of solidarity and unification, even one that is not possible now?

Black Lives Don’t Just Matter: Or; This Moment is the Result of Black Militance

As we look to the future of a budding movement, let's talk about Black power

As we look to the future of a budding movement, let’s talk about Black power.

This past month I’ve been realizing how long it has been since I felt proud to be Black.

I’m not talking about hating myself, my family or other people like me. I’m not talking about disdain or self-loathing, the poisonous things I’m encouraged to believe about my own community.

I am talking about depression. I’m talking about exhaustion. The constant sensation of voicelessness. The draining task of continuously reminding yourself that you have value, knowledge, power, when every system you are a part of is teaching you the opposite. I’m talking about the kind of fury that eats you from the inside, that makes you lash out, makes you do dangerous things because you are tired of being the only person who tells yourself you are important. These have been the primary associations I’ve held around my own Blackness for longer than I understood.

I work at a community center for homeless queer and trans youth. The majority of those who access our space are Black. Recently during our weekly community meeting, youth mentioned wanting to discuss the false rumor that filming the police had been outlawed in Illinois. This discussion led inevitably to the riots and looting in Ferguson that have sparked a national movement, but have also received much scrutiny and spin from mainstream media. Youth wanted to know if, given the poor image already held of Black folks in the U.S., it made more tactical sense for a movement to demonstrate that Black people could protest peaceably.

“We need to stop acting like barbarians,” one young person argued. “We need to stop acting ratchet the way they expect us to. We need to show them we can be articulate and professional. That’s the only way we are going to win this.”

Many agreed with this general sentiment of respectability, until another youth stepped in:

“I think we have been respectful and peaceful. That’s what a lot of our history is. A lot of people out here dying now weren’t carrying weapons, even had their hands up. I think respect isn’t the issue, because they’re never going to respect us.”

The conversation which ensued remained remarkably thoughtful, even as community members challenged one another’s ideas. Youth discussed their own experiences with police violence, and debated about best strategies for protecting and advocating for Black queer communities given its reality. We entered into a nuanced analysis of looting, in which young people drew a line between attacking Black and community-owned businesses, and large chains and corporate outlets, which many felt much less conflicted about targeting. Even more powerfully, by the end of the talk, the room had almost unanimously arrived at supporting militant direct action in place of peaceful protest.

There are conversations occurring on an international level that, in the very recent past, I feared I would never witness within my lifetime. They go far deeper than police brutality; Our movements on an immensely large scale are drawing the connections between policing, militarism and the inherently racist order they work to enforce. We aren’t calling for reform; We are collectively recognizing that as long as there is policing, there will be anti-Black violence; As long as there is capitalism, there will be anti-Black violence; As long as we look to the state, the judicial system, the prison system to protect us, there will be anti-Black violence. There is one primary reason these realizations are becoming mainstream.

There are beautiful and bitter names of Black children, Black women, Black men, Black trans and queer people on the lips of millions this month. Many of them are not new names. Few of their stories are new or unprecedented. There is one reason, I believe, they have not been forgotten, buried or lost like the countless others that precede them: When Mike Brown was shot by law enforcement, poor and working Black people in Ferguson rioted against the police.

Black people took aggressive, combative action to confront a state we have always known is racist and violent. In so doing, they didn’t just start a movement; they set that movement’s tone, its energy, its convictions. Radical actions, large scale disruptions and threats to the daily functioning of consumer capitalism have been made possible not by academia, not by non-profits, not by the classic “Black leaders,” not by media. They are happening because of—being led by—Black youth, families, neighborhoods, community organizations, and their myriad allies. They are acting out of the simplest conviction: That their lives have value. No fact has made me prouder to be Black in my entire lifetime, and in this moment I am learning from my community that my voicelessness comes from trying to speak through the channels meant to demean me. Fury turned outward and backed by community is not destructive, but transformational.

Black lives don’t merely matter: They exist at the crux of capital, a class caste system, the hoax of prisons and policing, the erasure of the colonial legacy, the destruction of the earth. Black lives don’t just matter: They are the voices of struggle, the vision of a more balanced world. Black lives more than just matter: Their organic responses to the systems that attempt to destroy them teach us all that aggressive tactics gain footholds for our movements that legislation, litigation, electoral politics and peaceful protests rarely have.

If we are to honor Blackness, honor our ancestors, honor those whose courage has given us this movement, then militance, direct action and a commitment to the risk-laden disruption of these interwoven systems must stay at its core.

Escape the Academy: Militancy and the University

Has the true impact of the university been to make direct action impossible?

Has the true impact of the university been to make direct action impossible?

I was lucky enough to share a meal a few weeks ago with a current student at my alma mater, who was embroiled this last year in a struggle over gender-neutral bathrooms on campus that received national attention.

After she and a group of her peers forcibly removed gendered bathroom signs from the walls of the student center, several of them faced serious fines and academic sanctions for their actions. The battle came after extensive conversations, petitioning and meetings with administration had failed to get queer and gender-nonconforming students any of the demands they had put forth.

I found so many of my friend’s insights profound, as she shared with me everything from the strain that direct action and its consequences can put on the personal relationships of those involved, to how study abroad programs and mental health leave can be leveraged as tools to fracture student organizing and halt political momentum. What surprised me most, though, was when she expressed her feelings of frustration with the ultimate outcome of the action.

After all the hubbub, Wesleyan University still failed to set up gender-neutral bathrooms for its students. (Though, my friend informed me, the signs remained down for the remainder of the year, and the bathrooms were continually faced and de-faced with permanent marker by students of various political persuasions.) From her perspective the action had not achieved its intended goal. I shared that from my perspective as an uninvolved alumni, it had been incredibly powerful to see realizations about the university’s priorities become a mainstream discussion, rather than just another opportunity for Diversity U to paint itself as progressive while continuing to alienate poor, Black, Brown, queer, working, immigrant and first generation students. As we mulled the events over together, we realized an important question we were beginning to ask about them: Was the purpose behind this direct action, however small, to transform the university, or dismantle it?

I left for college with the expectation of freedom. I couldn’t wait to be among other Brown, queer people who shared my passions, and gain tools for social change I believed I had been barred from in my home town. What I arrived at was something totally different: Instead of being empowered to advocate for my communities in ways I had thought myself previously unable, I found myself inculcated into an insular sphere that, even as it claimed me as proof of its own progressiveness, isolated me from the communities from which I came. It connected me to privileged networks and new accesses that estranged me from much of my family, friends and the spaces which had raised me. In order to fit in and survive I had to take on whole new forms of language and communication, ones that rarely offered me new insights into my experiences as an oppressed person, but taught me that those experiences only had meaning and value if they could be expressed through academic jargon. It became ingrained in me that writing, critiquing, analyzing were the highest-order skills, and that somehow the more of this analysis I produced, the closer I would get to liberating myself and people like me.

Living under this jarring new set of values, much of the activism I attempted as a college student looked very similar to my academic work: I gathered with other students to share readings, to teach ourselves on various radical topics, to discuss, to debate. Some of the work I did I was very proud of. But precious little of it was based on targeting the needs of my community with other members, plotting a course of action, and accruing the resources we needed, regardless of what permission we’d been granted. In retrospect, and in light of recent events at my university, reflections on this academic activism reveal to me a crucial new understanding: That the values I was working under, the new things I was learning from the academy, didn’t contribute to my movement building, but in reality ensured that movement building was impossible.

JOMO, a member of the revolutionary Black Orchid Collective, unveils in their landmark piece Queer Liberation is Class Struggle that the strategic gutting of labor and other grassroots, militant community movements in recent decades is what has lead to the current investment on the part of radical activism in the academy and non-profit sector:

The result…is that our movement is left with a shallow analysis of “intersectionality” rather than a full strategy by which the oppressed—people of color, women, queer folks, people with disabilities—can unite to fight our common enemies.  Among progressive circles, the idea of “intersectionality” has been taken up by the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC). In the absence of working class organizations like revolutionary organizations and thriving unions, academia and the NPIC have become the dominant progressive institutions today. The theories they espouse understandably have lasting impacts. — JOMO

When placed in a historical context, our reliance on academic institutions and non-profits is not an organic arrival at welcoming spaces, but an exodus from our ravaged community movements to the best shelters we’ve been able to find—ones neither made by us nor for us, and which have no intention of fomenting nor sustaining movements for transformational social change.

What are the lasting impacts JOMO predicts, in which our investment in these institutions in place of our own communities has resulted? I feel this point cannot be overemphasized.

The ‘intersectionality’ JOMO refers to speaks not only to the individualistic identity politics that have largely replaced full-scale community movements, but also academic vocabulary. An element as seemingly simple as the language we use to discuss radical change has been wholly hijacked by institutions that have constantly represented the undermining, discrediting and intentional destruction of radical change. We know this language is elitist by definition, yet we continue to employ it to organize our intimate relationships, political alliances, and the futures of our collectives.

Yet it’s not merely elitist language we’ve ironically adopted as tools for social justice, but the larger frameworks and values which generate it. Huge sectors of our activism are based almost solely in critique and analysis, preoccupied with terminology, debate and theory. Our work has become focused on making the most airtight, politically correct arguments, and calling out the flaws in the arguments of others, instead of having messy, complicated conversations with the goal of direct action in mind. How often have we had our own experiences belittled or denied because we did not have the right vocabulary to defend them, lacked access to the buzzwords and frameworks of the moment? How often have we been discouraged from or unable to speak for fear of what analysis we had left out, what holes would be poked in our thoughts? This style of activism—so deeply inspired by the academy—often alienates the exact communities for which it claims to advocate, and ignores the fact that so many of us who are engaged in it are also at the fore of gentrification, consumption and the privatizing of oppressed communities—conversations which occur much less often than ones about ethnic studies and queer theory.

Because the academy and the resources it commands dominate our movements in the current moment, we are continuously coerced into seeking its approval and reinvesting in its values. We are rewarded for doing so—with scholarships, with salaried positions, with accolades, with clout, with publications, with degrees, with grants, with tenure, with fellowships. We are reassured by the university that the accruing of these honors and privileges will result in our commanding of our own resources, ones that will aid us in the service of our visions for justice. The reality is that the university and the NPIC gain incredible influence and control over what our movements look like, who is considered a part of them, and what kinds of organizing and action are condoned. We are dissuaded from any action that would threaten the institutions which grant us these privileges, and the more dependent we become on them, the more we fear for our livelihoods in organizing in the ways our communities truly need. Conferences, gallery openings, articles and pre-approved protests become the only outlets for us to make our voices heard.

The debacle over gender-neutral bathrooms at Wesleyan University comes at the same time as questions about sexual assault on campus and the university’s reactions reemerge yet again, as well as student protests around the insulting lack of support for the African American Studies program. Will the university respond to these struggles in ways that aid and empower oppressed communities, or ones based on preserving its own power and control? Will justice for women, for queers, for Black and Brown people, ever come from institutions which have only welcomed us when it has been convenient for themselves?

As a young, oppressed person who wants militant movements which unite my communities, I do not oppose critical analysis, community discussion, and studied planning for the ways in which we build together. I believe all these things will be crucial in generating struggles which are sustainable, inclusive and effective in threatening the systems which destroy our lives. The issue is that the academy has taught many of us not that these are steps in a larger process of direct action and militant organizing, but that they are the entire process in and of themselves. Moreover, it has taught us that this process can only be carried out on the university’s own terms, with its language, its values, its frameworks, and not the already-existing ones of the communities being affected, those doing the actual organizing.

I believe the struggle of queer and trans students at my college is powerful because in an attempt on the part of oppressed people to make the university more welcoming and inclusive, they uncovered something much more potent: That the university is unwilling and unable to include them; That the academy has roots that will always serve as its foundation, and that these have always defined, confined and rejected our struggles for autonomy; That the destruction of property—the literal and not figurative dismantling of our oppression—is exactly what it may take to gain our liberation; That the best way to advocate for ourselves and our communities is to work within them, not removed from them, and that the tools we already collectively possess are the most effective ones for gaining the resources we lack and regenerating community movements; That the university is yet another face of the same structures we must oppose, confront and destroy if we are to be truly free.

Club Life: Consumption, Addiction and Being Queer

As queer people, who determines our relationship to alcohol?

As queer people, who determines our relationship to alcohol?

I first started going to strip clubs when I was about nineteen years old, ushered in by my close high school friends who had begun working there as dancers. This was my induction into an awareness of club life, the sex trade, and other cultural touchstones that have long been at the core of the experiences of my queer elders, family and friends. But one of the most impactful new elements this transition introduced into my life was alcohol.

As a new initiate at the clubs, I watched the ways in which alcohol became a tool for creating atmosphere, generating revenue, and relaxing clients. I also saw it used as a form of medication, a more affordable and readily available means for workers to manage their lives, survive their schedules, and cope with the structural difficulties that for many had led them to the sex industry in the first place.

I had never had the same access to alcohol as I suddenly did, nor found its consumption so tied to interacting with and making connections to other oppressed people. Though I come from a family that has struggled with addiction for generations, observing its role in largely queer, Brown, poor spaces taught me new insights into its unequal consequences in the lives of different kinds of people. This shift in my understanding, brought on by observing queer club life, helped me come to view the role of addiction in my own family through new lenses.

During my childhood, when my Black, working class uncle spent all of his money on a drug addiction, it destroyed his marriage, lost him his kids, and severed many of his ties to the family. This I was painfully aware of as a young person. It wasn’t until I was much older I came to understand that my white, middle class grandfather had been struggling with alcoholism my entire life. It wasn’t merely different cultural practices around disclosing addiction, nor the unequal social and legal penalties tied to different substances, but also my grandfather’s access to healthcare, financial stability, and the privileged perception of his professional status that made his addiction much more manageable, and my awareness of it almost nil.

All of these revelations have reemerged for me recently, being a part of a new scene, a new city, and confronting them yet again in my newest community. Clubbing and alcohol are central to my social circle, meaning I spend a great deal of time around drinking, being bought drinks I don’t want, watching how relationships change under alcohol’s influence, and explaining to people why I choose not to drink.

Talking about alcohol in queer communities, particularly in relation to our social lives, is a daunting challenge. It’s hard to speak critically about something so undeniably integral not only to our modern culture, but our collective history. Clubs and bars have for decades been some of the only safe, welcoming and community-controlled spaces for us to gather and socialize. They are places where our movements have organized, our lives have been affirmed and our history has occurred.

Moreover, that history has taught us that the regulating and policing of our bodies is a red flag, a reoccurring tool of the state, the nuclear family and other oppressive social orders, in quelling our resistance. This is important to acknowledge. It’s also important to acknowledge the multiple uses of alcohol, and the host of reasons that many–like my friends who work as strippers–might claim its consumption as self-care, part of their survival tactics. Yet, while celebrating our history in clubs and bars, I also think it is worth discussing how the need for such spaces may have changed, be changing, and how our reliance on alcohol–one encouraged out of historic social practice, but also out of racism, classism, local geography, and aggressive marketing–has a wide range of impacts on our communities, and does not affect us all in the same ways.

In our era of corporate pride, where capital and consumerism are more heavily tied to queer identities than ever before, alcohol and club culture are heavily marketed to our communities. The companies that target us as consumers are often lauded for doing so. Yet by branding these elements as something inherently queer, something innate to our spaces, the invasive corporate world makes the same tacit assumptions that we have been battling for decades: That queerness is uniform in class, race, geography and gender.

Defining queerness around a culture of consumption assumes that all of us can consume at the same personal cost. Friends of mine go out to clubs and bars and can spend a week’s salary on drinks and entrance fees, making a much greater personal sacrifice to participate in queerness than some of their wealthier counterparts. For those of us without healthcare, or struggling with undiagnosed physical, mental or emotional traumas, the potential to become addicted to alcohol is much higher, and our ability to overcome addiction and its effects on our bodies–without access to expensive therapies and treatments–is more greatly inhibited. The simple issue of living far away from the clubs and bars–which are often in wealthier neighborhoods–means that finding one’s way home at the end of the night can be a much more treacherous project for some than for others. And leaving a club drunk when you are trans, Black, Brown means you are much more likely to be stopped, searched or harassed, and end up in legal trouble and facing violence others can more easily avoid. DUIs and other alcohol-related charges don’t mean the same thing to queers who can’t afford lawyers, time off of work, or who are undocumented.

The discussion I want to have is not one about prohibition, morality or health. I believe what people need to feel well, safe and protected varies, and cannot be universally determined for all spaces, all times, for all communities and all people. But I do think we can look openly at the effects alcohol has on our community–especially those across it who experience multiple forms of oppression–and think about not merely what its role has been, but what its role will be as our movements and lives struggle onward.

We are wary–as we should be–when others define health, define normal for us. Having resisted it for so long, we are critical whenever we are told what we should do with our bodies, what is good for us and what is not. So I pose the question to my own community: Do we need alcohol/club culture to be queer? Can we imagine a queer culture without alcohol, or one with a different relationship to it?

The Basics: BYC Voguing Workshop

workshop posterBeginning today, Tuesday the 20th, the Broadway Youth Center will be hosting a free weekly series teaching the basics of voguing. Over five sessions, the series will cover the foundations of the styles of New Way and Vogue Femme, with a focus on ballroom scene history and youth empowerment, culminating in a presentation/performance at Chicago Dyke March on June 28th. All folks age 24 and under are welcome to attend. Please spread the word and feel free to come through!

 

The Basics: BYC Voguing Workshop

Every Tuesday from May 20th – June 28th Finale

1pm – 2:30pm

Broadway Youth Center

615 W. Wellington

Chicago, IL