“After” and “before”: a tale of two sides in the present-day US uncivil war.
After spotting some transphobic, homophobic, and fascist tags alongside a well-traveled foot+bike path, some folks decided to take antifascist action. But instead of doing it under the cover of night, they engaged in “queer joy” during a sunny day on stolen Anishinaabeg lands.
When the first can of spray paint came out of the bag, they hesitated for a moment, seeing a passersby headed toward them. Yet the passersby instantly thanked them, saying how much the hateful graffiti had bothered them, too, when they’d noticed it earlier.
So more cans came out. The murderous tags were covered up and anarchic sensibilities—ones gesturing toward gender euphoria and liberatory lifeways—took their place. And more passersby slowed to offer praise and gratitude, thumbs’ up and smiles, and other affirmations of “somebody needed to do what you’re doing.”
Hours later, after the folks with spray paint had long left, someone else brought a rainbow flag and duct taped it to the concrete wall, where it fluttered gayly in the breeze.
Maybe there are three sides: those genocidal elements who would see trans, queer, and so many other bodies suffer and die, and increasingly are actively doing just that; those anarchistic elements who recognize that people must do-it-themselves directly in order to love and protect each other, and show time and again that they’re the only ones who actually fight for, envision, and try to enact a world without fascism; and those passersby or bystanders who sometimes are friendly, but at best, are passive in terms of demonstrating their tangible support of antifascism, and at worst, end up being complicit in letting fascism get a tighter and tighter grip on society by doing nothing, or out of fear or self-preservation, sticking by the fascists when push comes to shove. And the United States is well past the “shove” stage.
Not all antifascism can be done openly, of course. Yet how queerly joyful it is—whenever possible—to be loud, proud, and public about it, giving others the courage to hopefully also take the side of antifascism with love, rage, mutual aid, and solidarity.