Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mr. Lacy Campos goes to Washington

So, I am on the Bolt Bus on my way to Washington, DC. The world is full of wonders in that I am traveling at 60+ miles per hour and have free wireless internet on the bus. These new fangled inventions and technological progress never cease to amaze me. Hey glory.

I am actually on my way to Washington, DC to do a three week federal lobbying fellowship with Consumer's Union. I am deeply looking forward to this experience, as it will be both personally and professionally exciting. Public policy, in general, gives me a woody. The ability to not only craft it but the point of sale moment is what I thrive on. My recently released article framing DTV as a social justice issue is one example of how you take a particular policy viewpoint and then translate it into language and imagery that allows it to resonate with the population in general. Public Policy is meaningless if it can not be popularized and translated so that the young and the old can understand it with equal ease.

I also had the honor, last week, of talking about my article on the syndicated radio program, CounterSpin. Check out and click on CounterSpin to listen to a podcast of the broadcast.

I started this fellowship trip by flying into NYC. Between Mrs. Harris passing last week, work issues, and relationship issues, I needed to see and spend time with and make love to my partner. I did those things, and I felt at peace. There was no drama...even when I had to spend time alone with David's ex-boyfriend. Tildon the Wonder Dog broke into his creepy yet sweet doggie grin when I walked into the room. As a matter of fact, he wedged himself against me for most of the time I was there at night. And he definitely gave me the reproachful, "you are a bad Step-Dad," eyes when I wheeled my suitcase out today.

I love my partner. I am going to see him in four days, yet the weight of our separation and the short time spans together (this staccato visits) are both necessary and torturous. Necessary in that I get to breathe in the scent of him that drives me insane. There is something soft and visceral about his skin. I love it. It is torturous because as soon as I get centered with him again, we have to jet out. I know in the next few months that this will be resolved as I am moving in with him. But between now and then I must own the suckage with the grace.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

British DTV Article

I was quoted in this article, and I didn't even know it ;-):

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's Not About Ugly Betty: The DTV Transition and Why It Matters

On May 3, 1963 the North was stunned as it saw broadcast images of Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Connor,turning fire hoses, dogs, cattle prods, and billy clubs on peaceful black protesters that had organized a campaign targeting the local business community. The response was immediate and profound. The public outcry forced President Kennedy to send a negotiator to the city. By May 10 the campaign was ended, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had won, and television was catapulted into the national arena as a tool for social change.

Over the next decade, images of violence from the Civil Rights movement and from the Vietnam War entered U.S. homes on the evening news. For the first time in U.S. history, people far removed from the realities of the South and urban black communities, people that could not find Vietnam on a map, found themselves staring at images of violence, death, destruction, segregation and apartheid. And the nation was moved. A national consciousness, begun by community organizers working in the streets and fields, was broadened and deepened by the family television set.

The right to information is a fundamental human right. More than 80% of American households still receive the majority of their news and the issues that impact them through their local television broadcasts. Anything that threatens easy and bountiful access to timely and accurate news and information has very real impacts on the lives of American people. The Digital Television Transition, ill conceived and corporate focused, is poised to strip millions of Americans of their ability to receive the information they need to make decisions about their lives.

Although Congress passed legislation changing the digital television transition date from February 17th to June 12th, 491 stations are choosing to switch early. Combined with those stations that have already made the transition, there will be more than 700 television stations broadcasting in digital after February 17th. And yet, at least 21 million households are either completely unready or will have significant problems when the switch happens. Indeed, already, the DTV Assistance Centers created by the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) in partnership with the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, have received hundreds of phone calls from families that are experiencing major difficulties, and some, after having followed the esoteric instructions for connecting the DTV converter boxes, are finding that they are still left with black screens despite their best effort and the promises of a smooth transition.

Fundamentally, the digital transition was ill conceived. From its inception it was focused on corporate media giants. Scarce resources were allocated for the transition, and poor outreach was done to ensure that those most impacted by the transition--people of color, low income communities, people with disabilities, and the elderly--were prepared for the switch. The federal coupon program ran out of funds more than two months before the switch. National retailers, looking to profit from the underfunded federally mandated switch, refused to carry the $40 converter boxes, creating an undue economic burden during a time of economic crisis. And local community organizations, already cash strapped and overworked, were left to pick up the pieces and develop solutions to problems created by Congress.

And, unfortunately, the public discussions about the switch have either been complaints with few solutions or have dismissed the switch as unimportant in the context of the current state of the U.S.A. From the left and the right, people have exclaimed that “TV is not a right!” And they are absolutely correct. TV is not a right. This transition is not about ensuring that folks get their Ugly Betty fix. This is about the fundamental human right to information and the the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that right is protected for the least as well as the privileged. And this right is directly tied to economic and racial justice.

When a transition occurs or a decision is made, and those impacted or left behind are people of color and working class people, it is clear that there are race and class implications to the decision. As we move forward with rebuilding our economy, those that have ready access to the most current information will be those that succeed in getting newly created jobs and finding new opportunities to support their families. When millions of low income people and people of color are locked out of the information system, they , too, are locked out of economic opportunities. As we continue with massive corporate consolidation, radio stations run remotely, and disappearing newspapers, television will continue to maintain its hegemonic place as the common green.

But it is not too late to close the gaps in this transition. There are solutions. MAG-Net is launching a national Socially Just and Responsible Transition campaign. The campaign is targeting electronics retailers with the aim of having the major national chains in multiple metropolitan and rural communities commit to providing a $40 converter box with analog pass through capability and closed captioning. Each retailer will receive a certification that they have taken the Socially Just and Responsible Pledge and will receive a designation indicting such.

Congress has included funds in the economic stimulus package geared at making sure that the coupon program is sufficiently funded. In addition, Congress must also provide significant funds to support the grassroots organizations across the country that are providing direct assistance to their communities to ensure that the 16.5% of Latinos that are currently unready in Phoenix and the 13% of the households in Albuquerque are prepared for June 12th.

Further, Congress should work with the FCC to create impact guidelines for future major shifts in communications policy. President Obama is committed to building a broad band infrastructure, the digital switch is opening analog spaces for public consumption, a battle is being waged over free speech rights on the internet with regards to content, “net neutrality,” and as new media and communications systems are developed new communications policies will be developed. The FCC and Congress should create guidelines focused on the racial and economic justice issues of major transitions. Questions should be asked, in advance, that will ensure that low income communities, people of color, immigrants, elders, and people with disabilities are not left scrambling to catch up. And resources should be allocated to ensure that government and community partnerships are able to make sure that America and not just corporate America is ready for these changes.

We now have the opportunity to rectify one of George Bush’s many mistakes. The work is happening on the ground, in San Antonio, Oakland, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis, Kentucky, and elsewhere. Community organizations are stepping up to and doing work that they can ill afford to do. As we make our break with the corporate values of the Bush administration and re-center the value of the people in the national consciousness, we must act proactively, with vision, and use this transition to lay the ground work for future communications policy that works for the people instead of including the people as an afterthought. The air waves are a public trust. And the public should be able to trust that they will have their full use by June 12, 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Letter to the Harris Family and "Mona"

The world lost an amazing woman this week. She changed my life. Here is a link to Mrs. Harris' obituary. After the letter is a poem I wrote to remember Mrs. Harris.

Dear Harris Family:

For 17 years, you have welcomed me into your lives, and into your home. I have spent Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters with you. I have met Grandmas and Aunties, cousins and siblings. I can remember Marcus before Shelley, Shane before potty training, and Nicole when she started dating Erik....the first time.

I remember the first time I met Mrs. Harris. It was after the regional speech tournament. I had just won a medal for storytelling and Mrs. Harris gave me a ride home from South High School. I think I talked non-stop through the entire ride from S. Minneapolis to Camden. That poor woman.

Over the last almost 20 years, your family has become my family. If I didn’t show up for a holiday, I heard about it the next holiday...from the entire family (including new relatives that I hadn’t even met yet).

When I heard Mrs. Harris was sick, I wasn’t worried even a little bit. I had just lost my cousin to cancer. So I refused to believe that God would take away two people that I loved from the same disease. Plus, I thoroughly believed that nothing short of the second coming would move Mrs. Harris from here to Heaven. That woman was a force of nature. But, God had other plans for Mrs. Harris, and, as happens more often than I like, his plans and my plans weren’t the same. Good thing He is running things and not me. When I got the call from Noodle last weekend that Mrs. Harris was in hospice, I quite seriously was unbelieving and stunned. I had just spoken to her not too long previous to that. I had just spoken with Mr. Harris more recent than that. When Noodle called to tell me that Mrs. Harris had gone home to her King, I was walking down the street. And I felt like the world had gotten colder and darker. A great light was taken away from all of us on Monday.

I believe in God. I believe in his mercy, his love, and his justice. I don’t understand Him sometimes. And I don’t undestand this. Perhaps I am selfish. But I want to hear Mrs. Harris’s laugh again. I want to see her smile. I want her to hug me. She once came to visit me in the hospital. I had been with friends all evening, and I had not cried. But when the nurse said that she was there. When I saw her. When that beautiful spirit walked into my darkness, the glory of God was made manifest and for a moment, I had hope and the darkness was blasted away by the power of her spirit. She held me as I cried. She made me believe that I would be ok. Mrs. Harris knew all my secrets and she still loved me. She taught me that I didn’t have to hide anymore. That I was worthy of being loved. I never really got to tell her what that meant to me. She was the angel God sent to me that day. She never treated me any differently. Her heart and her home opened wider to me. And I thank God that Mrs. Harris allowed me to be a part of her life.

I wish I could be there with you all today. I wish I could hug Mr. Harris and thank him for 17 years of laughter. I wish I could hug Marcus and tell him thank you for the years of joking and welcome. I wish I could hug Shane and thank him for being a part of my family. Most of all I wish I could hug Noodle, my big sister, my friend, and give back some of the love and warmth that she has given to me since I was 14 years old.

I never once called Mrs. Harris by her first name. I was raised old school by my Mom. And the parents of friends are Mr. and Mrs. Period. But, I thought, this one time, Mrs. Harris wouldn’t mind.



I remember her smile, can call it to memory
like her laughter
like her phone number
the only one
besides my lover’s
that I have memorized

I remember the angel
that walked in a mother’s clothing
in a minister’s robe
in a sister’s body
in a wife’s spirit
in a friend’s embrace
who cooked banquets
fed spirits
til they swelled
with blessings
til they filled
with hope

I remember the woman
who loved me
when I was too lost
too alone
too scared
too broken
too heart worn
too burdened
too wounded
to love myself

I remember the gift
that opened her home
and her heart
her family
and her life
to an awkward boy
who loved her daughter
who laughed too loudly
who stayed away too long
who left a voicemail
to say goodbye

I remember the teacher
who dedicated her life
and her body
her wisdom
and her strength
to tear down obstacles
to clear paths
to build roads and bridges
into brighter futures
for Northside children
that the world
tried to ignore
or throw away

I remember Mrs. Harris
the woman
the gift
the teacher
the bridge builder
the wife
the Grandma
the Sister
the Mother
the friend
the angel
that God called home too soon

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-Oakland, CA
-12 February 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fuck It! We're Going Live:

So you think the digital television transition is simply about better quality broadcasts and ensuring you get your "Ugly Betty" fix?

Think again.

It's about access to information and a fight for public space. Upwards of 80% of the American people say local TV news is their prime source of information to make decisions about their lives. And, at least in theory, the airwaves belong to the people.

With up to 20 million people, including seniors, low mobility, low income, people of color and rural communities unready for the transition, we must ensure a no cost digital transition in the interest of democracy and the common good, not corporate profits. is a media relations blog advocating for a just and socially responsible transition, brought to you by Media Action Grassroots Network.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mrs. Mona Harris

Today, the world lost a beautiful spirit. Mrs. Mona Harris. She was there for me at times when my own Mother was unable to be there. I love you Mrs. Harris. I love you Mr. Harris. I love you Nicole. I love you all. Thank you for the gifts you gave to me Mrs. H. Thank you for the gifts you gave to us all.

You are at Peace now with your King. You believed in him and his mercy. You believed in his grace and his love. He has prepared a place for you at his table. There is no pain and no tears, no more suffering, and there you can watch over us all.

I love you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Moving Right Along...

I am excited. My brother of choice Rodrigo is on his way to Oakland. My friend Lorena is with him, and my partner will soon be in the skies on his way to me. I feel as if I have hit the jackpot today. Except for the bubble guts. Lord, my ass just exploded in the coffee shop. I was afraid that the force of the expulsion was going to shatter the porcelain.

Last night I had a jealousy moment. It came on suddenly. I was upset because my brother will most likely not be here this weekend. I had already packed away two glasses of wine, and a man that I personally think is very attractive started a dialogue with my partner on Facebook. It was innocent. My man assured me that any freaky dicky that happened with this particular person would only happen with me as part of the equation. But I was emotionally raw and St. Jealousia escaped her Hell bonds and ran amok.

But this time was different. I was still a minor asshole. But I was able to reign myself in without completely losing my mind. Unfortunately, David got the brunt of my drama, and he was dealing with drama of his own, and those wonder twin powers combined, form of Dramatron.

Today I have my hater blockers on. I sprayed on an extra helping of bitch begone. And I have No More Drama incense burning in my bedroom.

Now I am off to fetch Makeeba from her date with the oral surgeon. Poor girl is having all four impacted and infected wisdom teeth snatched up out of her face as I type. At least they are giving her some good ass drugs.

And me, I am praying that the ominous gurgling in my stomach does not turn into an anal reenactment of the scene from Aliens when the spawn erupts from Sigourney Weaver.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kenyon Farrow's Speech on HIV/AIDS From Creating Change 2009 in Denver

Kenyon Farrow is an organizer, communications strategist and writer working on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, prisons and homophobia. A current Policy Institute fellow with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Farrow is working on a report about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black gay and bisexual men in the U.S. This is a copy if his speech from the 2009 Creating Change Conference.

PERSONAL NOTE: Kenyon Farrow is a friend of mine, an inspiration to me, and a great and powerful asset to our work and this movement. He also works at Queers for Economic Justice.


In 1991, nearly 18 years ago, I was 15 years old when my mother, who was working 13 hour days, 6 days a week in Cleveland, OH, sat me and my two sisters down in front of the television to watch history.

It was not unusual for her to do such a thing. For, we had been made to watch the Civil Rights Documentary "Eyes on The Prize" in its entirety. We also watched "How the West Was Lost," the documentary about White American expansion into the "Americas" and the genocide of First Nation peoples--to understand what we perhaps weren't learning in one of the worst school districts in the country.

But that night, in 1991, my mother--after right-wing Senators Jesse Helms and Arlen Spector tried to protect "American Families" from being able to view it public television--sat us in front of the television to watch Marlon Riggs' breakthrough film on black gay men, Tongues Untied.
Apple iTunes

The film, and the poetry of the men in the film, particularly Essex Hemphill, was for me the example of the possibility of a Black gay life, of an aesthetic, and of a radical, sex-positive, pro-feminist politic. They were, quite literally, the men of my own dreams.

Though they would both make more films, more books, they would both be dead of HIV-related causes by 1995, within one year of each other. And just short of the first anti-retrovirals to hit the market. And half of the people in this room don't even know of the two names that I speak.

Despite their examples as two of many who spent the late 80s and early 1990s literally writing us into the history of the planet while they were being dragged from the face of it, we have largely lost the layered, nuanced, and multi-issue nature of their brilliant work, which very clearly demonstrates the social conditions of Black working class queer life in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Theirs was not a politics of inclusion--but a politics of sexual liberation in a decidedly Black gay context.

These men, and many others who died from HIV or from violence, were not only cultural workers but were in fact movement-minded folk--starting and running organizations, writing and creating, and making political alliances with Black lesbian organizations, other radical third-world people of color artists and organizers.

Their work that gave the public health world, and the mainstream LGBT movement a body of work with which to fashion ideas around the context of HIV/AIDS among Black "men who have sex with men." But instead of looking to that work as insight and inspiration, we have built a public health, Black, and/or LGBT movement response to HIV/AIDS among Black MSM with the decidedly ignorant assumption that we don't know what's going on with Black "men who have sex with men" and that there is no Black queer leadership that currently exists or could not be further nurtured and developed.

Despite major advances in treating the virus, the HIV/AIDS epidemic seems to be getting worse for people in our community. At the International AIDS Conference, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stunned the international AIDS community by announcing that the richest nation on earth had over 56,000 new infections in 2006. This revision also included a back-calculation revealing that, for the 15 years from 1991-2006, infection rates were approximately 25-50 percent higher than the long-held 40,000 annual estimate.

Not only have we been undercounting the growth of the epidemic, men who have sex with men (MSM -- that public health category that includes gay and bisexual men, and transgender women) continue to bear the greatest increases in new infections. In 2006, 53 percent of all new infections were among MSM.

More stunning, it found the number of new infections of black MSM ages 13-29 to be the highest of all MSM groups. Even though CDC officials are typically conservative in its public statements, CDC scientists are stating publicly that black MSM are the only group in the U.S. with HIV rates similar to Sub-Saharan African nations, despite similar or lower rates of risky sex or substance abuse than white MSM.

Though transwomen are counted in the "MSM" category, some data has shown Black MTF transwomen have an HIV prevalence rate of 56%.

While black MSM certainly bear the brunt of the virus, gay and bisexual the virus disproportionately impacts men and transgender women of all races.

There are many policy changes that we'd like to see, many of which are encompassed in the National AIDS Strategy, and those are likely to happen. So I am going to focus on what we in this room, as activists and organizers in the LGBT movement, need to do.

First and foremost, the time where we can pretend that there is no viable, credible or visible Black (or other POC) queer leadership is over. While we certainly need to be developing leaders, leadership per se, is not the problem. We have lost of leaders, but leaders with no base that they're accountable to. Because what little Black LGBT infrastructure that exists, is largely due to HIV/AIDS service delivery, we are able to reach lots of people in our organizations as "clients", but are rarely engaged as potential leaders, organizers or members of our organizations. We need the investment of both progressive philanthropy and LGBT funders to help build the capacity and infrastructure of organizations to move from strict service delivery to doing community organizing, leadership development, and base-building.

Lastly, as long as the White-led mainstream LGBT movement is invested in seeing itself as the only credible leadership or it's organizations the only ones doing "the real work" or having "real impact" we will continue to invisibilize the work that Black and other POC organizations are doing on the ground, in spite of real material obstacles. So every time the gay news media and organizations promote ideas of the gay community vs. the Black community, Black queers will continue to remain invisible, and assumes that Black queer people are not engaging in a battle against homophobia and transphobia in the Black community.

Phrases like the Advocate's recent "Gay is the New Black" which has surfaced in stickers and T-shirts in gayborhoods as well, is racist, dangerous, and ignores the reality despite having a Black president, Black people in America continue to suffer a vast array of health, and socio-economic disparities, even when you control for all other factors. Not only that, it also, once again, presumes that to be LGB or T is to be white and usually male.

Just yesterday at this conference, a major figure in the same-sex marriage movement told a young queer person of color that "there are some people in our community who are fit to lobby, and some who are fit to sing and dance."

These kinds of comments are simply disgusting, particularly since many people of color and transgender people in white gay male spaces are only allowed in to do as much. The sad thing is, for too many people of color in this movement, the line between being asked by white-led organizations to lobby, or to sing & dance, is far too thin.

I think a lot about Marlon Riggs, Essex Hemphill, Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde and many others, as artists and organizers and activists who have led the way for me to be able to stand here on this stage, and it seems sad to me that in my work as a writer and here with the Task Force & Queers for Economic Justice, with my comrades in the room and in various movements around the country-- having to make the arguments, they'd been making for decades.

And we can have all of our policy wish lists items and services around HIV met--but without movement building from the grassroots of people most vulnerable to serve as the place where real change happens. And so long as no cure is found we will not see an end to the epidemic and the disproportionate impact it has on people of African descent globally.

I would hope, that after the decades of efforts to make visible the work that Black LGBTQ people are engaged in directly or indirectly related to HIV/AIDS, not another person has to stand here, decades from now, having to justify or make visible that work, ever again. We are beyond the point of benign ignorance. The bodies in this room, and the graveyards many of us are carrying on our backs, tell a different story.

And so now, should we.

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Open Letter to Myself on the Possibility of Radical Love

An Open Letter to the Possibility of Radical Love

This weekend, I attended a polyamory/non-monogamy caucus at the 21st Annual Creating Change Conference in Denver, CO. I attended because, theoretically, I believe that a single human being can have multiple partners and multiple loves. I also believe that an individual can have a sexual connection with another human being, outsides the confines of his or her primary relationship, that do not take away from what is being built with a life partner. I am also a slut. I came out and was raised by a queer youth community, at the end of 1990s, that was politically and sexual radical, embracing polyamory, non-monogamy, and ethical sluttishness as celebrations and re-articulation of what it means to be sex positive.

I also, for the first time in my life, find myself in an open relationship. And all of the practiced rhetoric around sex positivity, all of my confessed beliefs around the possibility of multiple loves, and all of my talk about the beauty and raw sexual connection inside and outside of my relationship have come screaming up against the reality of my past. I grew up desperately abused. I grew up mentally hammered by parents that were working out their own hurts on their children. I survived sexual assault in college. I have a Father that could not be there for me, a Father that could have been there but instead beat me and then left, and a Father that could not survive the recession of the mid-80s and when things got difficult--abandoned our family. The three men that I called Father have all contributed, in their way, to a very real blockage in my ability to embrace the life that I know is right and true for me.

So the question becomes, how do I stay true to myself? True to the beautiful slut and openly loving human being that I am and that has chosen to live a life that embraces the ways in which sensual and sexual pleasure can enhance ones life instead of being a secret shame force within it. 

To begin with, I have a ridiculously patient partner. He is older than I am, and he has had a decade more time to deal with his own issues in this particular area. He is careful to maintain his boundaries of terms of being able to exercise his right to have some fun now and again outside of our relationship, but he balances that with making sure that the fun he is having is not causing undue harm with us. We don’t always agree. There are very real limits that I draw in my play and in my flirting with other people that are not there for him. They are a grey area where neither of our approach is right or wrong. He puts me first and as long as that remains true, then those grey areas become less important to define. And this coming from the queen of rules, regulations, and clearly defined borders. There are and will be areas that will need definition in our relationship. Communication is one of our strong points, and it is something that we need to continue to work at. But, the truth remains that there is only so much he can do when it is clear that the real work is internal to me.

A strategy that I have chosen is to externalize my thoughts, feelings, and struggles as much as possible (while still respecting the intense need for privacy of my partner---something that I, obviously, do not share. My friends call me IRA: I Require Attention). I have found that when I am faced with feelings of jealousy, with feelings of insecurity, with feeling threatened, if I stop the moment and say out loud what it is that I am thinking and feeling. If I just put it out in the air, then I am able to look at it and let it go. The emotions can run their course and I come out the other side feeling fine. When the emotions arise, and I ride them. When I let them work their way into my psyche unchecked that is when knee jerk and deeply programmed self-protection behaviors kick in that served a very real purpose in literally keeping me alive and safe as a child but that now hinder my advancement as an adult.

There’s the kicker. The ability to recognize potential threats is intensely heightened in abuse survivors. It was once at the core of our ability to know when to exit a scene, (room, car, park, home) in order to reduce our chance of mental or physical harm. As an adult, that has translated for me into subconscious reactions designed to distance me from any and all individuals that would otherwise have the power to deeply wound me as my emotions and feelings for them grew. In the context of a deeply loving and supportive relationship, particularly one in which safety and feelings of support are freely given and nurtured, the threat of losing that is sometimes overwhelming and short circuits any and all attempts to cut off the deeply ingrained protectionist mechanisms of the past.

I am also going to therapy---what I can’t figure out how to fix on my own--I am unashamed to turn over to a professional. Also, zoloft helps ;-).

The one area where I need to give myself grace, and also ask for more grace from my partner, is that I am attempting to heal and reverse what amounts to roughly 28-31 years of abuse (self inflicted and otherwise). I am asking myself to unlearn and dissect almost three decades of behavior and feelings and ways of being. And I am foolish if I believe (and lately I have been trying to make myself believe) that after roughly eight months in a loving relationship, I should have or even could have moved any further along than I am and have with this process of healing and renewal.

Patience with oneself while at the same time pushing oneself ever forward and onward is the key to unlearning and letting go of those things that once served a purpose but now serve only to keep you from being loved and loving in return in the way that you so choose. In the way that I so choose: in a committed, deeply loving, beautiful open relationship with a partner that is lover and friend. I am doing this not for us, but for me. And by doing this for me, I make us stronger.

Creating Change

Creating Change this year, as every year, had its problems. Evan Wolfson, a “prominent” leader in the movement---particularly of the marriage “equality” movement told an activist that some queers are fit to lobby while others are only fit to sing and dance. Recalling historic representations of people of color (particularly African-Americans) that are hurtful, painful, racist, and white supremacist at their core. There were again no workshops on non-monogamy and polyamory. Some young people felt that the conference was reformist and not radical enough (I agree).

But, there were some also fairly stunning moments.

To begin with, the conference was opened and closed by the Two Spirit Collective--recognizing that this conference is held (wherever it is in the U.S.) on stolen native lands. Rea Carey, demonstrating phenomenal leadership, stood in front of the conference and acknowledged that by forgetting to name bisexual people in her state of the movement address, she contributed to making them invisible. It was an omission on her part caused by nervousness as she made her first major address as executive director of the Task Force, but she recognizes the impact and did what was necessary to heal it. Thank GOD that the leaders of the late 90s radical queer youth movement are now the ones taking the reigns of leadership of our national organizations.

The speeches by Kenyon Farrow and Bishop Yvette Flunder smashed through the room and made present and visible and powerful people of African descent as leaders in this movement. The performance by The Kinsey Six Dragapella group was entertaining, political, and brilliant---as was their call to support the cultural arm of the queer movement. An arm of which, as a spoken word artist, I am a part.

And then there were the people. A surprise appearance by friend and former youth agitator M’Bwende Anderson was a deeply amazing encounter. Her daughter Ella is stunning. Reconnecting and supporting my friend Debanuj Das Gupta through a spoken word performance with Asha Leong was also a deep moment of love and solidarity in the face of our fucked up immigration system. Hanging out with Asha and driving to the mountains followed by burgers at the campy Hamburger Mary’s was also pretty awesome. Asha and I grew up in the movement together--particularly in the Southern queer youth movement, and it was nice to reconnect with her...even if it was at Buffalo Bill’s grave site and resulted in me getting altitude sickness.

Of course seeing Russell Roybal, and Marta Alvarado, and Carlos Molina, and Scott Pegues, and dozens of other people that have played real roles in building who I am, was also pretty amazing. And, it was a warm reminder that I am well known, well regarded, and loved in this movement.

I was honored to hang out with an connect with some of the fierce younger folks from Fierce that are doing the damn thing and making change happen. I danced last night at a bar packed with beautiful brown and black queer folks. I even spent a moment on the street laughing with Coya.

My one regret was that my partner, lover, and friend David was not able to be with us. I get him in Oakland this coming week, but I wanted what Ryan Li and Sara had...someone to go back to the hotel room with....lay side by side...and talk about the day, discuss what we learned, debrief our experiences, and take those moments deeper and broader. It will happen, but he was missed at this conference this weekend.

Creating Change was a good experience this year. Not perfect by any means, but I know personally and trust the leadership of NGLTF. Russell Roybal and Rea Carey are old friends, mentors, and they get it. We grew up together in this movement, and for once I know that the movement is moving in the right direction.