Motor City Pride: A Speech Unspoken

I wrote the following words as a speech to introduce Tunde Olaniran, the headliner for motor city pride. Then I got caught up in feelings and just spoke from the heart. But I wanted to share these written words anyway, they represent my Pride feels.

Hello beautiful queer lesbian gay pansexual bisexual questioning Detroit. And family! Allies!

I’m so glad those 12 nazis didn’t stop y’all from coming out today. When they go low, we get high, get fabulous, get freer! We deserve to celebrate – look at all we have survived and are surviving, just to love.

Finding ourselves, finding each other – finding our fight and our joy – that’s what this moment is about. How remarkable it is to find the safety and celebration of community, to find our real selves in spite of all messaging to the contrary. To find the pleasures outside of forced heteronormativity.

We are a sign of biodiversity in our species! It’s not just the same longing in every heart. We might even be the adaptation that gets us in right relationship with the future…We are the stunting mushrooms and the dandelion weeds, the fecundity!

We have to continue to give each other permission and pressure to queer our own lives. We have to continue to queer society, to question and disrupt uniformity, economic slavery, any attempt to own each other, to own love, even to own god.

Each one of us carries part of the divine within us. That divine spark, that energy or gift or presence has pulled us through all the violent efforts that want us to deny ourselves. God, change, spirit, source – the creative impulse of our universe cannot be denied. God persists, in the light and in the dark.

We refuse to be denied. We refuse to be erased. We refuse to be scared away from the truth of love inside us. You cannot legislate away the desire we feel for each other.

That’s because there is nothing wrong with love between two (or more) consenting adults. Those before us carved out space for us, survived, died trying to survive, died being free. And those that survived carved out an even more fantastical, compelling space, a yas-queen over the top queerness that has influenced every aspect of arts, adaptation, and community. It is now our responsibility to do the same for those who will follow us. To normalize the reality that there is no such thing as normal, there’s just this manypath life.

Solidarity is our greatest tool in the work to growing a world in which love is safe. For instance, while it is still scary and dangerous to be anything other than straight, it is even more dangerous to be non-binary and/or trans – so many people still don’t know the basic identity differences of gender and sexuality, and fear it all. It is dangerous to be a gay immigrant in a country hungry for a wall and practicing the heartless work of deportation, or a lesbian Muslim in a country hungry for the combined acts of war and othering, or a disabled asexual in a land where health is an industry, or a poor pansexual in a nation that believes you have to earn and buy your basic human rights. Sexuality is just one of the ways we are targeted for discrimination and attack, and the queer community should absolutely be a place where we learn from our own pain to end discrimination, rather than perpetuating it. We must always orient to protecting not just each other, but those most vulnerable in our beloved communities.

Let us love each other into the light. Let your subversive queer self infect your whole life, do not live in compartments that allow ignorance to feel safe and comfortable legislating hate. Transform yourself so that you cannot be ignored, denied, or made complicit in your own oppression. Let your experience, the truth of your queerness, free us all from any collective ignorance based in false superiority.

Let us cast a spell of queer solidarity.

Let our love
Reach over your borders
Through your prison walls
Under your temples, churches and mosques
Right past your judgment

We are of nature
Let our love free everyone it touches
Let us lift each other up
Let us have each other’s backs
Help us push each other onwards

I am a miracle
You are a miracle
We are miracles

What I actually said, roughly:

“We are here cause we love Tunde! (mad festival screams)
Fuck those 12 nazis. We they go low we get high and fabulous and free!
Let us cast a spell.
The first part of coming out is loving ourselves more than we love anything that makes us lie to ourselves, so first yell it out: “I love myself!”
The second part of finding pride in our queerness is finding community, family, our people. Turn to the person next to you and say “I love you! I have your back!” Now the other way, “I love you! I have your back!”
Now let us yell it out so the detroit police escorting nazis around pride, and anyone else who wants to deny or scare us, can hear it: we are your miracle. We are your miracle! We are your miracle!!
Y’all ready for the brilliant Nigerian Michigan miracle that is Tunde Olaniran??!!”

More screams, and then Tunde snatched the Motor City Pride wig right off.

Protection Spell

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The following spell was commissioned and produced by Tunde Olaniran as a prologue to his headlining performance on New Year’s Eve at El Club in Southwest Detroit.

Listen to the Protection Spell

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to manage the grief
we tie our roots together
trading sorrows

to speak when there is danger
we learn to hear heartbeats
as drums

to speak of what no one has seen
we create a whisper
of hurricanes

to make a world that can hold us
we teach each other
every small imperfect part of love*

we will protect you
we will hold you
we will be protector
we will be protected

i will protect the skin you were born in
i will protect your right to love
i will protect your right to pray
i will protect your right to choose
i will protect your however-body
and i will protect your total
and radical
liberation

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images of the incredible night (courtesy of the star himself, Tunde Olaniran) include an altar built by edgeslayer (new orleans dj who spun at the party), natasha beste and kevin eckert of gold house media, an ice sculpture (tunde said “i’m not kidding someone randomly reached out and asked if they could create an ice sculpture for the party”), and a crowd going buckwild <3 IMG_3302

the * means: a portion of this spell will be printed in Walk Towards It, an anthology of urgent writing, lists to remember, & love letters to carry with you. Released on inauguration day January 20th, 2017 <3