Have you ever run headfirst into your people? After unconsciously shielding and censoring your speech for people who you didn't feel safe around, after dressing yourself down or "less loud" to avoid being asked ignorant questions, or for some of us, wondering if we "pass" with anxious tension, there they are, like a big fucking rainbow cake. Like a gay fairy tale, you walk into a family of incredible humans that accept you in all your queerness and polyness and with all of your kinks AND they are so fucking queer (and poly! and kinky!) you can barely handle it AND these magical bastards think that every word of passionate discussion on gender politics you utter is the sexiest thing they've ever heard. WTF. You people exist? You mean you've been here the whole time?! Oh Los Angeles how you spurn me! Theatrics aside, the experience reminded me of a conversation I'd had recently with a dear friend.
My incredible, life changing, ally, Lyneonme, once described the bittersweet experience of having visited Brooklyn for the first time. She grew up as one of the only black women in her neighborhood and at the schools she attended. She said that it was the first time she felt like she didn't stand out for just walking down the street, almost baffled that she wasn't being tokenized, and also one of the first times that she lacked the constant haunting isolation of being the sole black face in a community, as she went about her daily business. This is when she introduced me to the concept of "finding your people" and how important it was for her personal growth, to surround herself with a healthy community of people who identified with experiences she'd had. Her words stayed with me as I visited Oakland on my recent road trip.
Everyday I was introduced to a series of incredible individuals who could discuss gender politics, trans politics, and sex workers rights, and each conversation left me feeling more and more affirmed and confident in my identity and in my life choices. I saw personal style that reflected mine. I met a variety of polyamorous folks and was absolutely enamored with their ability to give each other real constructive feed back and validation during challenging life events. The experience was powerful and transcendent and to be honest, it initially left me bittersweet, like Lyneonme described.
It made me resent Los Angeles for it's materialism and vanity, and especially for it's fragmented queer communities. If Oakland has families of poly, kinky, and queer folks, Los Angeles has a series of estranged cousins, who are missing the shit out of one another. Jealous and bitter, check...but once I set aside my catholic (possibly genetic) martyr complex, the experience left me overjoyed that such supportive, inclusive communities existed. It also left me pondering a few questions regarding community building.
If I were to move north in hopes of building a chosen family in the Bay Area, would I be abandoning the growth I am making in Los Angeles by facing adversity? Would I be robbing myself and Los Angeles of the possibility of building community and creating my own chosen family here. Fighting to build a kinky, poly, queer friend circle in L.A. would then provide a space for others who are feeling isolated, to feel affirmed. We all deserve a chance to be held in the arms of a community that provides nurturing and safety, that is obvious. Not to mention, through the process of searching for affirming alternative lifestyle comrades in So-cal, I have built a small family of incredible allies of different backgrounds, who have educated me on the struggles of other marginalized communities. I also know that these allies have supported me and loved me for who I am, in every phase of my growth and when they didn't have the information they needed to affirm my life choices or gender identity, they had genuine curiosity and open arms to learning that information. I've heard great activists say, "You can't build a movement if you move" and I've also heard great activists say, "Surround yourself with your people," The question remains then, what is the importance of settling into a city and building community and alternately what is the impact of moving? You tell me bold spirit.
-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,
Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.
"The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot."
**ATTENTION QUEER, KINKY, POLY FAMILY** COM|PASSionate REVOLT will be at the Contemporary Relationships Conference in Austin, TX on May 15 + 16, 2015 doing a workshop on Queering Consent: Navigating Consent Outside of the Hetero AND Homo Normative.
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