AN OUTWEEK 2015 ZINE BY THE PRIDE COLLECTIVE AT UBC & FRIENDS
♥ cover art thanks to Savannah and Andy!
The Pride Collective would like to acknowledge that this zine was produced, published, and distributed on the occupied, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples – specifically on the lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. All of our Outweek events are also taking place on these lands. As we share our stories, learn together, and celebrate Outweek, we need to be mindful of the historical and ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous peoples across these lands. WHAT IS THIS? This is The Pride Collective at UBC’s first ever zine! This zine is separated into two sections. The first, “Sowing Seeds and Setting Roots,” is the theme for Outweek and Queer U 2015. This section explores communities, growth, identities and intersections, and spaces within a queer context. The second section, “Exploring Outweek,” discusses queer student/youth organizing, its history, and its importance. This zine was created to celebrate Outweek, which is our annual week of laughter, (un)learning, and love. Outweek 2015 runs from February 6-14, and we hope to see you at our events! We would like to thank everyone who was involved with this project in any way, whether you wrote a piece, designed the cover, edited, printed the zines, or simply offered support and care throughout the process. Every role is important and valued! WHO ARE WE? The Pride Collective at UBC is a student run and volunteer run resource group that offers peer support, social spaces, skill-sharing, activist opportunities, and healing spaces for the queer and trans communities at UBC and their friends. We are located in the Resource Group Centre (SUB 245C) at the UBC Vancouver campus, Unceded Coast Salish Territories. Come visit us – everyone is welcome!
SECTION 1: SOWING SEEDS AND SETTING ROOTS 3 4 5 7 8 11 12 14
you are impossible // being impossible stunted reconciling whom i love with where i love practices in forgiveness IV: radices aeternae ‘you must have photoshopped your picture to look more white’ sowing seeds, setting roots no sunlight // in the sun intersecting identities: queerness and athletics SECTION 2: EXPLORING OUTWEEK
15 17 18
OUTweek careful the things you say / children will listen love letter
you are impossible // being impossible by Yulanda [cw for swearing, survival stuff, anxiety] i, like everyone, do not know everything. i am sharing what i am learning. let us figure it out together. thank you to those who share with me. thank you to the ghosts who share with me. ghosts are not curses. ghosts cannot be thrown around and pinned to a single story. ghosts are more complicated than that. we are more complicated than that. i do not know how to do queer right. i do not know how to fit the story. i like kissing dudes too much. will flirt my way out of things, into things. doesn’t give a shit about marriage and babies. won’t settle down. won’t sit down. fucks too much, too little, too many, too few. too femme, yet not femme enough. won’t buy all the rainbow gear and won’t dance in the parade. i do not know how to be queer. ghosts don’t give a shit i could always sense ghosts. i always knew they were there. i spent years trying to make them fake, make them imaginary. for a while, i thought everyone could sense ghosts. sometimes, i still think everyone can. when i learned to love ghosts, i learned how to start to love parts of me that are impossible. parts of me that the book, the story doesn’t work. parts of me that are wrong, maybe not always wrong, but will always be sometimes wrong. my sadness, my anxiety, my anger, my struggles with processing, with surviving, all makes me feel very impossible. but the impossible is very much real, the rest of the world can be very much wrong because i know ghosts are real as much as i know that i am. however much this is (i think realness/fakeness are not 2 categories but rather a spectrum to fall upon and move within), i do not know but they are very much connected. people tell us that we are impossible. that we do not exist. that we cannot exist. ghosts will teach you to own it. make them fear you. make them struggle to put you into one box, two boxes, any boxes. make them pretend that you are not of their world. own the fuck out of it because you are impossible. and the impossible is unknowable and it cannot be defeated. we cannot be defeated.
Stunted by MK Low I chew through waking hours confusing time with growth— becoming a better / worse? version of somebody based on omissions of what I am not. They ask me, “How did you become this? We’ve known you all your life and never noticed the becoming.” Years spent eluding myself, how the days melt together like wax.
Reconciling Whom I Love With Where I Love by Matthew Ward My name is Matthew Ward and I’m a nêhiyaw napew from Driftpile Cree Nation in northern Alberta. I identify as a queer Indigenous cis-gendered man that prefers ‘he’, ‘his’, and ‘him’ pronouns. I am currently studying at UBC in the First Nations Studies Program with a minor in Political Science. When I first heard about this zine coming out I knew that I wanted to be involved. Being familiar with a number of people involved in the collective, and attending events such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Harlan Pruden’s presentation on Two Spirit people, I felt that their contributions to the community I have been witness too should be reciprocated in the best way I know how. This is what I’ve decided to write. I thought I would take this opportunity to speak about intersectionality in the context of being Indigenous, queer, of mixed identity, and living away from my community. More specifically I want to look at how these challenges have made me have to think critically about the ways in which I see my relationship to myself, my family, my community, and my work. This should be prefaced with an acknowledgement of the multiple privileges I hold in this conversation. My family’s support of how I choose to live my life and the work I do is something I do not take for granted. I have the opportunity to live, learn, and play on the beautiful territory of the Coast Salish peoples. I also have the opportunity to receive an education from one of the best Indigenous studies programs on the planet with some of the most brilliant minds in the world. I am so thankful for all of these things in my life that have brought me here with my understandings. A lot of the work I do has been dealing with identity politics. As an Indigenous person who grew up near their territory
but without much context, culture, or language, I spent a large portion of my life trying to ‘prove’ I wasn’t like other Indigenous people. I wanted to do well in school, go to college, get a good job, and have a beautiful family. For ‘some’ reason I grew up thinking that if I was ‘too native’ that these things couldn’t be a reality for me. The older I got and as my struggles with my sexuality came to the forefront of my life at school, I decided that I needed to move to the big city, Edmonton in this case. While there I was able to deal with a lot of my struggles surrounding being a young gay person in a mostly conservative province. I met other LGBTQA2+ people. I learned about the struggles they faced in Canada and around the world. I learned about love. By the time I graduated, I felt I was ready for another adventure, cue UBC. While at UBC, my father encouraged me to take an Indigenous studies course. I was hesitant. I felt I knew what I needed to. I thought it might be depressing and truthfully I was scared. My good friend and writer, Samantha Nock, mirrored many of these feelings on her university experience. “I wasn’t going to major in Native Studies because I didn’t want to be that Native kid”. Little did I know that taking that course would put me on a path of self-discovery, self-love, antioppression, and decolonization and that this would significantly change the way I saw and continue to see the world. While I won’t go into the details of the coursework per say (GO TAKE A FIRST NATIONS STUDIES PROGRAM COURSE! IT WILL CHANGE YOU!), I will say that I’ve had the opportunity to think about the world with an understanding that has taught me not only why I felt the shame I did growing up (hint: its called internalized racism, and its often experienced by Indigenous people!), but also that I am part of a strong,
resilient, and beautiful community among hundreds of other distinct, beautiful, resilient nations that have been fighting for Indigenous rights and sovereignty on this territory, and across the globe since colonization began. Now that I am coming to the end of my time at UBC for now, I’ve had to have that dreadful conversation one does in their last semester where for the first time ever, you really have to answer that question, “So what are you gunna do with your degree?” Only this time it’s a whole lot scarier because it’s coming from inside your head and not from across the dinner table over the holidays. My first instinct was to find ways to reconnect with my community. A small community of roughly 1200 members, most of which do not live on our reserve. While in theory, I should be acknowledged and accepted as a member and feel safe being on my territory with my people, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t necessarily the case. Despite my membership and ties to my community, as a gay man, it turns out the coming from an urban space and into a small, tight-knit community with familial tensions and, I would argue fairly conservative values, isn’t that easy. I don’t know if I can say for sure that living there at this point is a reality for me. An Indian with a community he can’t visit. Of course this isn’t uncommon (hell, it was written into legislation for native women who married white men until the 1980’s in the Indian Act), but what
does this mean for other LGBTQAI+ and Two Spirit people? By having the opportunity to acknowledge all parts of myself, I’ve found myself trapped with the call to my territory, and simultaneously the fear of violence in those spaces. How do I reconcile whom I love with the place I want to learn to love again? Of course many people will tell you that Two-Spirit people were always revered, respected, and held power within Indigenous communities, but many of these stories, teachings, and traditions have been lost over the years of colonization and residential schools. This piece isn’t meant to invoke pity for me. It also isn’t necessarily meant to provide answers to these difficult questions. I’m a happy guy, learning every day and trying my best to decolonize the places I call home. I instead wanted to problematize the ‘pan-indigenous’ experience that settlers often cast on Indigenous peoples. The intersections of our identities through race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, etc. all hold real implications in our lives outside the Indigenous vs. non-Indigenous binary. I’m not interested in oppression Olympics, but instead creating spaces that acknowledge the diverse experiences within marginalized communities. It is through this acknowledgement that we are going to create real spaces of decolonization that challenge the racist settlercolonial heteropatriarchy state and all its manifestations.
: Samantha Nock. “Garbage Baggage”, A Halfbreed’s Reasoning. April 30th, 2014. https://halfbreedsreasoning.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/garbage-baggage/
Practices in Forgiveness IV: Radices Aeternae by Sabrina Rivera [cw for swearing, gendered slurs] All underground synapses with their practical staccato rhythm lost their sensibility under the spell of your proximity and allowed you to lay claim to skin under your heavy palms -even the sacrum, even the templesThere are aches and pains there sometimes now singing together like an unrehearsed chorus When they do, I don't quite feel like forgiving you. here is an interlude for brief beginnings like hello was an offering you made at an altar of a god you loved but didn't believe in I didn't feel anything when I saw you that day even less when you touched me that evening you used your hands the same way like my body was the same here is an interlude for those mornings of your shampoo (and which I can't use now) But still that phantom smell, for better or for worse, reminds me how big the night sky radiated through our fragile windows on those evenings we just had nothing to say to each other except all the words that were born, and just as suddenly, died in our throats in the same breath I'm not as sensitive, or sweet your little bitch I can tell you all the things I'd never do to you And still an interlude of gratitude for the night the body remembered the bones it buried, you laid with me, quiet like my forgetting, as I gave it a name This is an exercise for apology and forgiveness between all our crossed wires your utter fuck-ups, mine to you leaving these shores.
‘You must have photoshopped your picture to look more white’ My Story, by Silenced QPOC [cw for homophobia, racism, fetishization] As a young man I struggled with the concept of being gay. This was in large part due to my ethnic cultural heritage and upbringing. At home and in the family it was clear that homosexuality was a foreign concept. I felt that the gay world was totally represented by white tall men with perfect bodies that were present in posters for events or pornography. These were the only images that I was exposed to about gay culture growing up. In these formative years, it became clear to me that I would need to choose between my culture/family and my desires to be with a man rather than a woman. What emanated from that was a very unhealthy relationship towards these images of white gay culture. Like many other gay youth of colour, I idolized the white gay man. I constantly felt insecure and unable to find anyone non-white attractive. I turned into someone who was convinced he was attracted to ‘white only’ (something which couldn’t be further from the truth now!). I can forgive myself now for this by understanding the root cause. I was a product of my environment in a white dominated and advertised gay culture that had no representation for young Queer People of Colour (QPOC) that I could access. I was conditioned at an early age from these experiences to think in a certain way and it made me realize that my own filtering according to race in choosing potential partners and enactment of sexual discrimination towards other non-white minorities (including my own) was a product of this white majority system. I had a deep feeling of insecurity in not being good enough. The limited interactions I would have with the gay community would reinforce this white privilege. For many gay white men in the community they could not understand how my culture impacted on my ability to come out.
They thought our struggles were the same but they were not. They looked through my experience through the eyes of a majority white culture that had very little representation of minorities. They described my culture and family as ‘backwards’ and being naturally oppressive simply because we were not white. They condoned their own sexual racism with the misconception that I was also being racist with my dating practices, missing the point that racism is defined by decades of systemic white oppression (hence the whole idea of reverse racism is nonsense). This experience made me feel isolated and deeply insecure. This feeling was a product of not belonging. Not belonging to my own culture and not belonging to a predominantly white gay community where I was expected to assimilate. There was a choice that was very apparent (but in retrospect mistaken), be gay or accept my culture and I chose to live by my cultural expectations for a long time, trying to subdue the natural urges to be with guys. In the end it turned out to be an easy process as a combination of insecurity and my experience of extreme ‘no Asian’ sexual racism against me, made me think no gay man would ever find me attractive. I was unable to find even a casual gay partner till the age of 23 and only after a bout of extremely unhealthy weight loss that made me feel somewhat acceptable to sleep with. After many more years of not being able to accept in any way that I could interact with the queer community, I was finally given the opportunity to move to Canada and live publicly as a homosexual away from my family. I still am not out to my family and hence the anonymity of this article. I found the move to Canada very intriguing in terms of how I was perceived because of race. Everywhere I looked (online or
otherwise) the sexual racism was again directed at ‘no Asians’ but in Canada it was not directed against my ‘type of Asian’. Racism was more directed toward people who derived from a different part of Asia. This made me think about how it is a very telling phenomenon that the sexual racism in any localized queer community tends to be directed at the largest minority population that is perceived as being the annoyance within the local demographic. In the U.K. it is directed at Indian/Pakistani populations, in Canada the perceived ‘Asian’ population and in the U.S. towards the Black or Latino populations. What was also interesting is that the other smaller racial minorities were often fetishized as desirable. Suddenly, I came to a continent where finally my type of Asian guys were not seen as undesirable but very much desired by a some of the queer community. I began to enjoy my new popularity, seeing people message me because of my race ‘I’m into your race’, ‘you must be a great top’ and other false compliments. However, I came to understand eventually that this fetisization (‘I’m into Asians,’ ‘I love black people,’ ‘I love brown people’) was often coming from a position of privilege. The white people who desired a particular race were even given discriminatory and derogatory self-assigned racist labels (‘rice queen’ and ‘curry queen’) and disturbingly this was encouraged by people of that race and is common parlance in the gay community. These derogatory queens would often be falsely desired as the trophies amongst the minority population clambering to finally get approval by the white dominated community. This abuse of privilege took on many forms. People not acknowledging that it was wrong to perhaps desire a race and stereotype a race as desirable. Some did not realize that they had a lot of power within the sexual dynamic and so they at no point internally tried to
address the issue that they were falsely popular. Some even encouraged an abusive power dynamic with big events designed to draw in people from certain races that they deemed desirable. In a throwback to the colonial era people would tell me of the ‘rich rice queen daddy parties’ where food and drink ran ample and selected Asian guys would come to be chosen by their white matches. The youngest white guys got first pick and then the older less desirable guys got their chance at the supply of young beautiful gay Asian men, all hoping to be chosen. There were white people who told me they had help set up whole queer person of colour organizations simply to have access to a particular race for sexual gratification! I slowly began to realize those who desired me and my other friends of the same race were slowly moving through us sequentially till they found the one they wanted. I also found that I did not live up to the stereotype of what a man of my race should be in the bedroom or in life. I had grown up in a completely different cultural perspective to what they expected. This was highlighted further when I started somewhat playing with my appearance for example dying my hair a lighter shade. I suddenly didn’t even appear like I ‘should’ for a typical person of my race. This provoked confusion and opposition because I did not fit into the racial stereotype that people had come to build in their minds. Someone even told me that I must have photoshopped a picture of mine to look ‘more white’. People would ask where I was from, and as I experimented with different answers, I found that they would actually alter their decision as to whether or not they were into me. This brings me to a point of realization that is often misunderstood and used to defend sexual racism practices. “It is just a physical preference not a racist thing.” This doesn’t hold true in any sense as race is NOT a physical characteristic on which to base attraction. Straight away, by even suggesting this, you
are assuming that everyone from a particular race will look (and often behave) the same way. There are a billion people in China, if you are not into Asians because they are not this, they have that, they behave like that (I’m not going to repeat all the many mistaken stereotypes I’ve heard), I guarantee you there are many Asian individuals out there that will look and feel different to how you imagine. In India there are some people that practically look white, in Iran there are people that have blond hair and blue eyes naturally and all of these things are malleable with cosmetics and time. Race can NOT be a preference without that statement being inherently racist. You are more than entitled to find whomever you want physically attractive but you should base it on that person and that person’s features and not on their race or what you perceive that will mean. You can’t exclude and dismiss people based on
a stereotype. It is the equivalent of someone suggesting they don’t like gay people because they all shop too much or take too long getting ready. These stereotypes do not represent the whole gay community and they are ridiculous to base assumptions on. I have for a long time felt silenced. Experiencing this feeling, I can understand better what people have faced throughout the years in undergoing and fighting against oppression. This feeling of being silent persists and is encouraged by white dominated gay communities that seek to stop your voice from being heard. Through courage, determination and self-reflection I have gained the voice to speak out and I hope in listening to my story, you may understand a different perspective and learn a little about yourself and how you may interact with others.
Sowing Seeds, Setting Roots by Syrup Seeds excavations ruminations HQ section of the stacks you could pound the walls closed on me here i’d still be seeking out these histories musty signatures love notes left for me in the evolving struggle of terminology every queer zine that’s ever talked consent language every opening round’s pronouns, how are you, accessibility till and plant, new and old techniques Soil fecund isn’t where we are at first this seems concrete seems like no one has ever been here before felt here before so we fertilize we give grind ourselves so we can sustain the rest careful, though we are the soil we’ve had to learn new learn fresh still not quite nutrient balanced but Roots growing strange sapping strength from this world shifting and manipulating turning stories and slurs half truth half power entangled we are all entangled keep entangling to learn better Time again again again rediscover existence rediscover legacy again again again roots soil seeds cycles simultaneously again
No Sunlight // In the Sun by Melicia This one time in tenth grade, a girl I was not too friendly with came up to me and suddenly asked, "Mel, have you ever dated anyone?" Puzzled, I answered no. She probed again: "Really? You've never had any boyfriends?" Looking back on it now, her question was a thinly veiled: "Spill. You are a lesbian, right?" But fifteen year old me was supremely naive, and only confirmed her suspicions with a very confused "No, never." Let me give some context: all throughout middle school, I was that weird girl in mismatched rainbow socks (I also called myself rainbow girl a lot, without realizing all its queer connotations). I was also very vocal about equal rights, both in person (I convinced two of my friends to do Day of Silence with me despite not having a GSA) and online (my twitter was 50% #omglol and 50% #NOH8). Despite having a huge metaphorical flashing rainbow sign on my forehead exclaiming "I'M HERE AND I'M QUEER!", I was still terrified that people would call me out and judge me, or even stop being friends with me just because I didn't fit in their cookie-cutter mould of who I'm supposed to be. I slogged through tenth grade in a daze that was part: "Ohmygod, I'm in love with a girl!" and part: "OhmyGOD, I'm in LOVE with a GIRL?!" (to be fair, it was my first major crush on a girl). It was a huge mishmash of emotions; it was exciting (to discover this side of me I didn't know existed), it was sad (to realize that she'll never return my feelings), but above all, it was lonely. This huge, life-changing thing just happened to me, and I had no one to share it with. I grew up in a country where queer issues are continuously suppressed by society. Queerness was something taboo, something alien, something that only happened in Glee. I had no one I could really relate to. No one I knew was 'out', and I didn't even know anyone who was in the closet. I felt distanced from my friends because I was too scared they'd find out and think I'm a freak. Plus, there was no way I'd tell my religious and somewhat conservative Asian family, however open-minded they seem (and claim) to be. I felt lost in a swirling sea of my own jumbled-up thoughts and feelings. This is the part where I segue into a less cheesy, less cliché version of: And that's when I discovered Tegan and Sara (and an equally less cringe-y version of: Tegan and Sara saved my life!). But yes, in a completely (un)expected turn of events, these lesbian twin sisters really did help me mould and shape myself into a person I can (almost) love. I married in the sun (tell me where, tell me where) Against the stone of buildings breaking past You and I were born (start again, start again) And to my heart’s confusion rose against One song of theirs that particularly stood out to me at the time was “I Was Married” from their album The Con. I discovered it when I was a sullen teenager, filled to the brim with tears and confusion and self-hatred. I felt like I didn’t belong in my own skin. I was unsure of who I am, and why I am the way that I am. I grew increasingly detached from my surroundings, with my family and friends, but most importantly, from myself.
My muscles fought so long (fought so long) Tried to control the pull of one magnet To another magnet To another magnet My limbs were growing exhausted of fighting with myself, of throwing punches at my soft, malleable flesh. Up until this day, I’d listen to this song and think to myself: I don’t want to hate myself anymore. I don’t want to fight against who I am anymore. I want to surrender, I want to accept, I want to love myself. Now we look up in (tell me who, tell me who) Into the eyes of bullies breaking past They seem so very tough (it’s a lie, it’s a lie) They seem so very scared of us I guess one of the things that hurt me most was the realization that bullies don’t always come in the form of big, menacing upperclassmen like in the movies; sometimes they take shape in a friend calling you a slur “as a joke”, a tiny ten-yearold cousin exclaiming “Eww! You’re disgusting!” after seeing Marceline and Princess Bubblegum fanart on your phone, or even yourself, as a train of self-hating thoughts run you over with incessant “Why the fuck can’t I be normal like everyone else? Why am I the way that I am?” I look into the mirror (look into) For evil that just does not exist I don’t see what they see (tell them that, tell them that) This song never fails to make me tear up, or at the very least, push a small smile at the corners of my mouth. I spent so long hating myself for who I am. I spent too long trying to beat it out of my system, too long trying to stand upright with a spine I’d broken myself. Evil that just does not exist. Nothing is wrong with me. Try to control the pull of one magnet To another magnet To another magnet To another I wish I could say my story has a happy ending. I mean, of course I’m happier now than I was back then; I’ve opened up to my friends and fortunately, they have all been very accepting, I’ve found a group of friends in university who are very supportive, and I am continuously growing every day to be a person I can love. But it’s not always easy (though it is generally easier to be queer in Canada than Indonesia); I still have difficult days, and oppression is a hurdle I – and plenty of others – still have to face day by day. Though I am very lucky (and very, very happy) to say that this time, I don’t have to go through it alone.
Intersecting Identities: Queerness and Athletics by Allison Everyone has multiple identities, often to do with race, sexuality, gender, or other identifiers that have to do with privilege. But something that is sometimes forgotten is that identities can have to do with other aspects of one’s life as well. You could identify yourself by the fact that you love photography, or, as in my case, that you are an athlete. I’m proud of this part of my identity. But for most of my life, I’ve felt that it is somehow at odds with being queer. Athletics has always been a part of my life. I got my first pair of skis at nine months old; my first long outdoors trip happened when I was four. I spent most of high school competing on a ski team. Sports have helped shape who I am. Unfortunately, these environments were overwhelmingly heteronormative. Queer people were often talked about as objects or oddities; not necessarily with hatred, but with a definite lack of understanding that queer people could exist outside of the stereotypes. On the other hand, to my friends within the queer community, my love of intense athletics was a little odd. I was often referred to as “the athletic one,” as no one else was particularly interested in sports. While their confusion wasn’t exactly harmful, it still helped keep these identities firmly separate. Maybe the disharmony between these identities is due to the fact that there’s a tendency to form incredibly close ties with the people on your team, especially those of the same gender. Your teammates are the people with whom you suffer, the people that share your successes and your failures. Given the heteronormative environment, and the “locker room” stereotype, closeness with people of the same gender gets interpreted as attraction. Meshing identities, no matter what they may be are, can be difficult. Society expects us to fit within certain lines based on certain identities, making it highly unlikely that someone would not face this dilemma. I haven’t quite figured out these two parts of my identity, and how they fit together, but I won’t be readily abandoning part of myself any time soon. As much the discrepancy of these identities bothers me, they are still both part of who I am. And for now, despite the discomfort, accepting my queerness and my athleticism is worth it.
OUTweek by Syrup [cw for queer/transphobia, slurs] facts and trivia from the archives the first outweek, or rather gayweek, happened in 1980-81. Or at least that was an early outweek. Gay People of UBC (Pride back then) dropped corks from a little plane that were imprinted with “get corked, gay week 1981” o i mean the paper says ‘they weren’t officially affiliated with gay people of ubc’ but c; in one of the early Outweeks, members at a booth in the SUB were harassed and threatened for having by donation pink triangle buttons o (there is a long history of harassment that seems silly or laughable now but is kind of still happening to us) ● you can find, over the years, multiple letters to the editor saying how if there is a gay week why isn’t there a str8 week ● once we did a mock ubyssey all about the LGBTQ2IAA++ community, our office now has big laminated blow ups of it ● we, along with members of the women’s centre, used to sit on an AMS safety committee. that committee no longer exists. We must be safe now. ● names throughout our history: Gay people of UBC, Gays and Lesbians of UBC, Gays, Lesbians, and Bisexuals of UBC, Pride UBC, Pride UBC Collective, Pride Collective @ UBC ● we ran a youth mentoring program in the late 90s ● one of our longest running events circa early Gay people year’s — a queer valentine’s day dance o also our monday evening discussion group (On the Q(uie)T) ● if you look at the Ubyssey archives from the 80s you can chart the outrage we’ve generated ● someone carved the word fag into the wall outside the larger resource group center last week, next to a bulletin board about language and homophobia I spent a portion of my 2012-early 2014 immersed in trying to drink all the pieces of history there is too trace of Pride. log books and diaries in the office, digitized ubyssey’s, old black and white group photos tucked in drawers. These are some pieces that have stood out to me. If you meet me at just the right party, it’s likely, if I like you, there is no way I won’t end up rambling about the Pride Collective, about student power, about the resource groups about the histories of us and vancouver and this land and our siblings at SFU, downtown. When we think about setting roots, sowing seeds, part of that is looking for the seeds that haven’t sprouted, or maybe, a better metaphor, is searching for the way the soil was, the other nestled plants. How have our landscapes shifted, or how long have they been like this exactly? “The struggle of memory against forgetting”. (Milan Kundera) Our histories and stories matter, the thoughts we are having in each moment, the big moments like a first out week but also the little moments, the infinite little moments and thoughts, accumulating and being washed away over time.
some facts and trivia about my time in pride I joined because a babe who was anger and powerful and equal measure knew I could do it o they lead me into facilitating label free Fridays I met 4 hours a week in spring 2014 to restructure pride, to look at all of its informal and formal relationships and do better feeling overwhelmed is a thing— especially when there is so much space to push yourself and push one another to learn the skills, to get good at the things part of organizing in this context has been learning it’s okay to not be polished, in fact, I don’t want to be polished o I want you to see that I only kind of know how to do this, but I want to constantly get better organizing involves all of the peer support, queer support, self support. I have successfully passed on maybe 1 tradition for every 2 I’ve (un)intentionally abandoned with pride I present both of these series of small thoughts to gesture, hopefully, to the ways they are both about my histories of navigating my relationships to organizing, to ubc, to this ‘community’, and the ways the past meets the present meets the future and also how they never meet
careful the things you say / children will listen by Marlee [cw for family, family violence, queer/transphobia, abuse, trauma] my first outweek was outweek 2k14, with the first official day being on family day. we had our opening ceremony, discussed the importance of outweek and the importance of each other, and ate too much rainbow cake. when thinking about this day (and also thinking about “children will listen” from into the woods because i have a lot of feelings) i think about what it means to have outweek and family day coincide. careful the spell you cast / not just on children sometimes the spell may last / past what you can see for so many queer and trans kids, our families are chosen. too often, it’s because our “families” (the ones who are “connected to us by blood,” our so-called “real families”) are unsafe. too many of us are unable to come out, to live, to thrive. too many of us are homeless, abused, and in dangerous situations because of them. with them, we are unable to experience the closeness, the bond, the “family ties” that we deserve to experience. for those of us who are further marginalized, this impact may be even greater - i’m v excited for the outweek 2k15 family discussion with anna soole to go deeper into this. how are we supposed to navigate our trauma, our marginalization, our identities, without that support system? does the “blood is thicker than water” idiom not apply to us? sometimes people leave you / halfway through the wood do not let it grieve you / no one leaves for good you are not alone / no one is alone that’s why choosing our families is so powerful - we find who we love and care for, and we receive that love and care back. never underestimate the power of queer youth organizing - incredible work is done by one big strong gay family. i didn’t expect to find family when i first walked into the pride office in september 2k13, but five months later i was eating outweek cake with the folks who saved my life, and continue to do so. family comes in different forms, and mine comes in bright hair and long meetings and checking in and radical love. it’s a good place to be. guide them along the way / children will glisten when we’re together on family day, we can reclaim and define what family means. we can create community. we can hold space for all kinds of families. when we live together, work together, and play together, that is a radical act. surviving together is a radical act. sometimes it’s all we have, and often it’s not enough, but we’re trying and we’re trying together. the world doesn’t give a fuck about us. we are misgendered, mocked, murdered. we have every slur spat on us like we are a sidewalk. artists won’t survive, but art will. we must continue to make the spaces and families that we need to keep going. check in with each other. support the folx having difficult days. allow the space for them to say that they’re struggling. it’s fucking hard being in a world that wants to destroy you - let’s keep each other safe while we can. we can. we can.
Love Letter by Syrup Dear You, Dear Pride, Dear everyone who has ever helped me believe community is real, I keep trying to write a love letter to Outweek. I keep gasping it out in the midst of organizing in the midst of frustrations, talking a lot like the writing I wish I could pour out. I have more feelings than words really. I have so much thanks for all these youth all these students going back 40 years here and more. existing. we’re here, we’re not supposed to be. thank you for creating this space, for existing. Thank you for giving me all the space to grow as much space as we could ever need. There is as much space as you need here to grow to learn how to code a website, facilitate a meeting, how to say thank you, how to say I’m sorry and I mean it and not make that mistake again. Having the space to grow together, entangling our roots together, sharing nutrients, amongst the current generation, and then also, reaching back and forwards. I learned a lot about love with Pride, and maybe that is most crystallized in Outweek. The brilliant tangents and thoughts and organizing lessons that happen when you run yourself raw and ragged in meetings and calls leading up to the week and then in striving to attend it all the week of. Attaining particular altered state of clarity. I learned that organizing has so much to offer when it’s also your family also your community also the place where you’re going to be raw and a mess and have to do the work anyway, but don’t worry. We’ll be here with you. We’ll show you what we know. We’ll talk through this again and again and again. We will never stop processing — its one of the only ways to grow. I see you and I know the rest of this campus is about being able to put on the facade, to be together, but not here. Here is figuring out what means when the facade is crumbled and we are holding hands and we are answering the emails anyway. I think what love is, it’s that most of us many us together we do the work. it’s messy and it’s hard and it’s painful and it’s resting with the feelings. it’s learning to do the work when we are all broken when we all are barely here. when we’re all working and doing meetings and trying to remain principled. It turns out when you’re only accountable to each other and to principles you’ve spent months fine tuning and burning into language — you can do it. It’s hard and it’s only possible because we’re going to get sushi because we’re going to relax together and heal together too. But, still. I think it’s possible to do this. I don’t know if ‘this’ is out week or queer student overworked burnt out organizing in general or just being alive but I think it’s possible. or maybe at least we can harness our own impossibilities. That is what love is, that is one of things Pride is to me. lean on each other where am i strong, where are you strong, can you facilitate this meeting today, also i need to blast loud pop music and treat this email thing as party we’re going to do drunk.
coping nested within coping nested within coping within coping nested within love across time love is work love is work and it is also the way we learn to create rest and fun and joy and pleasure. Queer organizing is also about pleasure about breaking down categories between volunteer and student and human. work and play. life and work. Queer is i am so much myself here, maybe not all of me, but also Iâ€™m working on it. We can hold all the contradictions of ourselves, of being alive of our work here. Care and pushing. self and community. play and struggle. joy and pain. This work is all about the relationships. relationships to self, and to all of us and how strong we can make, strong enough to hold all of these contradictions. Care and love for my folx who have stuck out the work are sticking out the work are doing the work. Care and love for the ways we have to move on and keep going too. itâ€™s hard to be pushed, mostly i am grateful for it, glad to be in the dirt with you. When I was younger, newer (maybe now a veteran of this organization) I remember looking and pouring through the archives and feeling so incredible possible. I hope this sings to you like those words did to me murmuring: you can exist you can exist, the struggle is not over and it is not easy but you are not alone. Can you feel the support in my hand reaching out to yours, the past resting under us? Let us continue to nourish one another.