2 vigils for Orlando on 1 Detroit night.
The first was politicians, nonprofits, clergy, and even a cop as speakers-at-you. It was party-festive multicolored balloons as backdrop for media photo ops and playing to the camera. And Marxist-leaning guy handing out his newspaper and someone else leafletting for a picnic-event. It was staged tableau, flat on feeling and big on hollow reasoning for this homophobic slaughter: hate versus love, hate unexplained and thus inexplicable, as if from thin air, as if unrelated to history, structures, socialization. And so we were urged to “Vote for love.”
But queer dreams will never fit in their gender binary boxes or bathrooms. Or bars. They never have. Genderfuckingqueers of all colors who don’t fit comfortably on rainbows, and never want to or will, have had to create their own spaces with misfitting others — secret, illicit, and illegal spaces, DIY and autonomous spaces, fabulously fierce and liberated spaces, spaces of rebellion or temporary joyful refuge. Brave spaces. Spaces even, especially, too frequently, in which to grieve.
The second was just over two dozen queer and trans folks, mostly of color, mostly the bodies daily targeted, mostly those who’ve already lost so much to the complexities of social relations and social organization structured (twisted) by patriarchy, gender binary, heteronormativity, white supremacy, and a militaristic-authoritarian masculinity. It was a close circle of people, many strangers, holding space and hugging each other. It was ritual in a windswept park on the water dividing nation-states and policed by border guards and identity papers, so the tensions and suffering of this world, too, swirled around us. Forty-nine names of those murdered handwritten on paper, in big bold black script, passed from one of us to another, read aloud, heard. Impromptu tossing out of feelings and thoughts, raw, real, new and yet old. It was sage lit, grief tincture and tea passed around, rose petals scattered at our feet, grief not skipped over but stayed with.
The first: big, publicized, produced, as if some opportunity, as if something to tweet out or check off a to-do list.
The second: a small group of queers, drawn together by a few discreet texts and centuries of wounds, to a spot away from TV cameras or even our own impulse to social media(te) our experience. Mourning laid bare, made shared, made ours, even as so much in this world tries harder than ever to steal away all.
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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, #ArtOfResistance, #ArtofRemembrance, #ArtOfMourning, SW Detroit, June 2016.)