lighting candles for orlando, and for all of us

lighting candles of liberation and nirvana for the 50 souls in transition from the pulse nightclub in orlando. i hope they are holding each other in the journey.

lighting candles of inner and outer healing for the injured, may they recover and be supported from the trauma of what they survived.

lighting candles of grief for the queer, trans, latinx and black communities of orlando for this massive loss – we are family, i mourn with you. what a massive loss.

lighting candles of protection and solidarity for my muslim and arab beloveds as this country does its favorite thing – using one phobia to feed another, deflecting blame after creating the conditions for nothing but hate. grateful for those who reached out to me today in love, and who received my love in return.

and lighting candles of fierce love for all of my friends and family who participate in major religions that espouse homophobic beliefs. however you call god, the weight of hate crimes against QUILTBAG people is partially yours, the struggle falls on your frontline. i extend my warrior energy behind you as you fight the ignorance and hate mongering within your sacred houses.

lighting candles under the asses of anyone who still can’t grasp the need for deconstructing the gun/violence-worshipping culture of this nation. you sound unworthy of the miracle of life you have been given.

lighting a candle at the intersections, that we may all see that we are not separate, we cannot separate. last night i gave a speech on abortion at an undisclosed location, kept hidden for security reasons that root into the same violence that was wrought in orlando. i am abstaining from sugar in solidarity with jasmine abdullah richards, who is behind bars for standing up against the violent policing of this country which disproportionately devastates the same communities that were targeted in orlando. i am grieving comrades who have been killed in the line of their work to push back against hate. all of this is connected, us – black, queer, trans, differently abled, immigrant, woman, arab, indigenous, asian, fat, nonbinary, nonmainstream in any way – wanting to live and love as we are – and those we are up against seemingly dissatisfied with disagreeing and leaving us alone. they must take everything, have everything, and kill what they cannot understand. we must hold tight to each other and grow, become indivisible.

lighting a candle for myself, that in this moment of rage and grief i can stay in touch with the truth and beauty of my precious, sacred and very queer life. i choose to live my life guided and motivated by love rather than hate. i know i am free. i know love is what sets and keeps me free.

i found this helpful – some practical tips from suzy steffan via my sci fi sister lisa bolekaja:

A few things straight cis or trans and non-straight cis people could do today and every day to support LGBTQIA people:

1. Listen to queer people.

2. Listen to queer people of color. This hate crime happened in diverse Orlando at Latinx night at the Pulse. That very much matters.

3. Text us, snapchat us, tweet us that you love us (do not include “no matter whom you love”) and you’re thinking about us today.

4. Don’t deny that this was a hate crime.

5. Don’t make this about Islam. It’s not. It’s about transphobia and homophobia. Oh, and access to AR-15s.

6. Ask local LGBTQIA groups how you can help.

7. Don’t accept one nanosecond, not ONE, of victim blaming from friends, relatives, or religious representatives.

8. If you go to church and your pastor doesn’t mention Orlando or does it in a hateful way, speak up right then or walk out at that moment, and find a new church. Same for any religious organization. You can help your religious organizations be better.

9. Donate blood *AND* tell the FDA to lift the ban on “men who have had sex with men” donating blood RIGHT NOW, as in RIGHT. NOW.

10. Trans and L/G/B cis people of color get killed at disgustingly high rates. You, yes, you, straight/cis people, *have to* speak out against HB 2 and all the other transphobic “bathroom bills” out there.

11. If you have money, you could send it to Orlando (if you don’t live there), or you could help fund your local QUILTBAG organizations. Some links in the comments.

12. If you don’t have money, which I *certainly* understand right now, get books by authors who identify as LGBTQIA out of the library, and recommend them to others.

13. You might, as I have this ugly awful morning, try to get your local politicians to support a vigil for the LGBTQIA communities.

13a. But when that vigil happens, listen to the community to see if we need you there. We might need you as a buffer zone. We’ll be holding each other and crying and singing. You be our security.

13b. Be sure to ask those politicians to get the buy-in of local grassroots and “official” queer/trans rights groups. It’s important for cities and states and the country to support us, but not without our organizations as well.

14. Read up on LGBTQIA herstory and history. (Some suggex in the comments, eventually.)

15. Post about Orlando. You don’t have to share the news stories, you don’t have to share the details, but show us that you see us and that you care about us. We see you when you don’t.

16. If you have QUILTBAG employees – and you do if you have employees! – check in with them today and in the next few days. Have their backs. Be prepared to help them out, to fill in (without asking them to give up paychecks).

17. If you have QUILTBAG students – and you do if you teach! – give them extra love and space to process. Not by singling them out, of course, but by publicly mentioning your horror at the hate crime and privately letting them know that they can take more time as they process.

things i think i said at eso won books

the other night i got to do an artist talk at eso won books, in leimert park los angeles. super grateful to cultural shapeshifter lynnee denise from international locals who organized the event, which included an artist talk with the sci fi writer nature grrrrl homey lisa bolekaja, and a book signing. it felt like a portal opened up, and i said some things. below are those things. afterwards i got to sign their big book of famous signatures where octavia butler’s signature from 2005 was on the first page! then i was told that one of my future wives, queen latifah, had just purchased octavia’s brood the night before.

!!!

so here are some thoughts:

as you do anything, as you write new stories, you are either moving towards justice or away. there is not a neutral space actually, you’re either perpetuating the existing paradigm of power, or you are disrupting it. that’s why visionary fiction is important, fiction that intentionally disrupts existing paradigms of oppression.

writing sci fi, writing futures we want, is a mindfulness practice. we need mindfulness practices to intentionally grow a future up through our collective and familiar cycles of trauma.

time is non-linear – octavia butler’s stories or nina simone’s music are good proof of this, as relevant now as when they were writing and singing it.

(in response to a question around what and how we create in a world that doesn’t want to acknowledge and celebrate our work…referencing hugos, world fantasy, oscars, etc, i stood up and turned around and said:) look at me. look at my body. i don’t have a body that is seen and affirmed in the mainstream space. i see some reference to it now in people like nicki minaj, but still nothing quite like all of this. so learning to love my body has been choice after choice after practice. it has included self documentation, self pornography, not engaging lovers who want my body to change, learning how i like to look and feel, learning what health is for me. my mind is as divergent from the mainstream as my body is. all of our minds are. which means we can’t look to mainstream systems for affirmation and approval – that’s why we created octavia’s brood. that’s why there are anthologies, and malkia cyril’s work and center for media justice are fighting to keep the web accessible to all, so we have room to create our own spaces and celebrate ourselves. our self love and full realization are dangerous to the mainstream.

capitalism has skewed what we think is enough. everything doesn’t have to be huge bestseller on mainstream markets for everyone. figure out who you want to reach and measure success against that.

we have rituals for collective trauma – we spread the word, and our outrage, on social media where you have to be careful, the trauma is on auto play. we create a hashtag and seek justice and take action and then when justice is often not send we have a next round of grief. we listen to music and sing and numb ourselves. we have less ritual for collective healing. black zen teacher angel kyodo williams pointed that out to me, how technology is connecting our pain so fast, but we have to develop the individual and collective capacity not just to respond, but to evolve together beyond this paradigm.

(in response to a question of the difference between black sci fi and afrofuturism). i see black sci fi as a literal thing, black people doing sci fi – it includes anything, can be the regular old tropes, action narratives, can be conservative, heteronormative, misogynist, etc. whereas afrofuturism to me implies a worldview beyond the western paradigm, being explicitly distinct, born from a different perspective from the mainstream white male American sci fi stuff.

create create create. find people to read your work and get feedback and let people see and hear and engage the part of the future you hold.