There were new faces at our Occupy Austin OccuQueers meeting 2 weeks ago. One was Mac, a former housemate from Patton Asylum, the hippie flophouse I lived in at the beginning of my return to Austin. When I asked if anyone had agenda items, Mac said, “What about doing something for Harry Hay’s Birthday on April 7?”
“Who’s Harry Hay?” I asked.
The fact that I can ask this question shows how poor our history knowledge is. One of the questions we hope to discuss will be why we don’t know our activist history, whether queer or straight. I remember the biggest revelation for me when I read the book Lies My Teacher Told Me was about the real history of Helen Keller — that after she triumphed against her handicaps, she became a tireless & important activist for women’s suffrage, labor rights, and socialism. When our culture picks its heroes, it chooses the ones who fit the conventional, capitalistic, heteronormative mold and then files off any rough edges that don’t fit into the history books as neatly.
It’s the same with how the mainstream media treats Occupy. On a regular basis I get told that if we just wore business suits (or some other token act) we would gain the respect of the mainstream media. But our goals do not match theirs — the systemic change Occupy Wall Street demands as a movement threatens the owners of the same media outlets we’re supposed to court for attention. At some point, they have to turn against us no matter how much we engage in their narratives.
I’m thinking about my life too though. The theme of our April 7 teach in is ‘Be Who You Are & Win,’ because Hay resisted becoming ‘just like everyone else.’ We choose what role we play, and how much we attempt to conform to the dominant culture.
Today is Occupy Austin’s 6 month anniversary. I’ve occupied for about 5 months and it’s been a time of profound change for me — reevaluating what I want from life, from relationships, from the world. I don’t have answers here, just that I think I’m becoming a new version of myself — just as I did 12 years ago when I discovered the Burning Man community. This transformation is leaving me feeling distant from that community for many reasons, but I hope to integrate my love of the Burn back into my life with the coming of Burning Flipside next month.
I think its natural after a time of transformation to find a time of integration comes next. In the last 5 months I’ve rediscovered a part of myself; after my family raised me as an activist, that side went dormant for many years with no cause to attach it too. Now that I’m an activist again, I need to examine how my other sides — how does Kit the Burner, Kit the writer, & Kit the kinky poly sex toy reviewer fit in? This post is a bit formless because that process is very much ongoing.
I’ll close by saying if you can get to Austin come to our teach-in, general assembly, and 6 month anniversary party tomorrow at Austin City Hall!
- OccuQueers teachin: Be Who You Are & Win! Starts 5pm, snacks & drinks provided but bring utensils.
- Occupy Austin General Assembly, 7pm.
- After general assembly… the party wagon rolls!
- Dress fabulously as your most ‘true self!’