Monday, March 26, 2007

Maybe what openness is about

I'm at Carrie’s apartment in Brooklyn where I’m staying, exhausted and totally emotional -- that’s what touring can do, of course I wouldn’t mind skipping the exhaustion part but the emotional access is incredible. This is after my event at Wagner College on Staten Island.

The place where I’m staying in Brooklyn is already pretty far South, but it’s amazing how much further there is to drive through Brooklyn in order to get to the bridge to Staten Island. Once I’m there, first I have an informal dinner with a few students -- the heads of the queer student group, amazingly enough it’s called Allies, and a few students in a program that links them to a Lutheran divinity school. One of those students, Diane, has a lot of questions and it’s fun talking to her -- she’s a middle-aged black woman and the rest of the students appear young and white, except for the other divinity student who is also young but a person of color. Diane wants to know about my coming-out experience, about how I came to writing, and of course I’m also talking about radical queer anti-assimilationist politics. It’s interesting what Diane has to say about tenant organizing, how she wanted to fight gentrification but mostly tenants wanted something done about the rats, plumbing and heating problems. She says I realized I had to meet them where their needs were, first.

Meanwhile, I want to know how on earth does a queer student group got the name “Allies.” Apparently they inherited it -- Shayne who originally contacted me to bring me to Wagner (and whose hair is an even more brilliant shades of fuchsia then when I met him at the Bluestockings reading) says at least it’s not called a Gay Straight Alliance. That’s a good point.

My talk is in an old-fashioned lecture hall where the seats slope dramatically upwards. I want to get a photo of the audience and I ask Shayne to take one after he introduces me, but the camera freezes and I’m not ready to take one right at the beginning.

This talk reminds me a bit of my talk at USF, probably because the room is very similar but also maybe because it’s in front of a sociology class at a school that is maybe similar too (this class is called “The Family”) -- very white and I’m guessing relatively conservative, also in a big city but separate from it -- the architecture is similar too, turn-of-the-century buildings mixed with ‘50s institutional. People respond well to my anecdotes, it’s funny how I used to hate using microphones but now they make everything so much easier -- I can alter my voice with more subtlety, it’s fun. This is another reading that I wish I had videotaped, I need to make sure to get some more video footage in the future. This time my delivery is the slowest yet, relaxed except I’m always wondering at the end of I’ve spoken for too long.

So many questions, it’s amazing -- one about how don’t I believe two people can love one another (responding to my critique of marriage), several about how to articulate politics around people’s basic needs (housing, healthcare, food, the benefits now procured only through citizenship, etc.) instead of just trying to access privilege, how to respond to people who say marriage is a step in the right direction, my critique of hate crimes legislation, how to win those basic needs I spoke of earlier (I wish I knew), the politics of adoption, then personal questions like how to get to a point of actualizing radical queer politics.

Afterwards is when I feel so emotional-- talking with students individually, then sitting with the co-chairs of Allies and Jean Halley, the professor who brought me. This incredible intensity of touring and then it’s over, I mean this event-- the tour is still going on. Jean gives me a ride home, and it’s great to talk more one-on-one --she’s so incredibly smart and sweet and dedicated to a radical critique in an environment where such a critique is rare, much more common among students than faculty Jean says.

Back at Carrie’s house, I’m sitting here all upset that I didn’t take a photo, I mean I’m kind of choked up about it -- that’s where this emotional access leads, I’m immediately missing people who I don’t necessarily know which is maybe what openness is about.


Blake said...

I'm shamefully commenting an address that I want you to check out, so you can have the address on file.
Bless your bones!

News podcast for Whores, Hustlers, Independents, Rent boys and girls, Dommes and Strippers.

love, blake

Shayne said...

Thank you X 3092258 for coming to speak last night. I think it really made people think, and I certainly enjoyed your talk.
Sorry about the camera freezing. I really meant to take that picture for you, but I was a little bit overwhelmed... you know.
Anyway, thanks again, and it was a pleasure getting to meet you! Good luck with the rest of the tour =)

mattilda a.k.a. matt bernstein sycamore said...

Blake, thanks for the link and hope you're doing well! And Shayne, great to hear from you and of course don't worry about the camera, and think YOU x 3092258 +1.

Love --