Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deluxx Collective QUPOC Campaign Call to action

Dear community members,

It is indisputable that we are living in historic times. We have had our first black president. Which in many ways for people of color(P.O.C) was a huge symbolic step of progress for the advancement of us. However the glamor soon faded, the intoxicating stench of hope wore off, and I like many others felt the sting of what it meant to be a P.O.C in the United States. I think I was beyond a little naive in that capacity on the amount of progress I was and we as a collective community were hoping to see unfold. I and other members of The Deluxx Collective have continued doing anti-racism work in the community and have become enraged. This rage for me comes from the fact that I still have to have humiliating conversations with white folks about why the segregation of people of color and niggers is offensive to me as a bi-racial person. It is then aggravated when I have to justify my humanity as a gay identified person in P.O.C communities. I am enraged that in this day and age P.O.C and lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) folks are working separately. I am angry that there is STILL no space for me at the divine table of justice and people like me.

I am the first to admit that my sense of justice to mainstream LGBTQ culture is something that is scary and viewed as being to radical. I can understand why. Because it is farther reaching than just having lavish expensive dinners to raise funds, schmoozing with big donors, hiring lobbyists to "advocate" for pro LGBTQ legislation in the political system. And because it could detour the "big" donors. My sense of justice is rooted in dedication to non-violent resistance and biblical calls of justice as well as liberation for the oppressed. Much like my fellow P.O.C family members did when they sat-in at lunch counters, advocated for the right to vote, to get marriage equality, to sit where ever they wanted on bus lines. That type of hope, justice, and liberation is what LGBTQ folks have been seeking in regards to our liberation on the rights to serve, marry, job protection and many other things. I know I sound way off base because these are two very different forms of oppression. One is based off the thought that P.O.C are inferior to non-P.O.C. The other is based off the notion that heterosexual people are superior to LGBTQ folks. The ways in which people experience the oppression of either is vastly different. However for many of us in the LGBTQ and even P.O.C community it is so interconnected. For LGBTQPOC our justice and liberation will not come from our communities continued segregation on these fronts. Instead it has got to come from gaining an understanding of the inter-working of both. Not just come to an understanding but collectively realizing how these affect us not only as LGBTQ folks but as P.O.C. Only when we have done that can we tend to the needs of our LGBTQPOC community members. For decades people of color and LGBTQ folks have been told to "Wait, your time to seek justice is coming and to not challenge the status quo". However from conversations with P.O.C and previous experience doing anti-racist work with white commrads in struggle that the time to reclaim our dignity, justice, and space at the table is now! No longer can we ignore the call of justice for LGBTQPOC. When violence from privileged and other oppressed communities seek to stomp us out. When racism, homophobia, transphobia, and bi-phobia run rampant both internally and externally in these communities.

If not us, who? If not now, when? We can no longer sit idly by as LGBTQ organizations build movements for only a small privileged facet of our community only serving white, cisgender, affluent men and some women. They celebrate their pride, the gaining of their rights, morn the loss of their rights and people lost. White LGBTQ folks only celebrating their white gay pride and resisting to advocate in solidarity with communities of color as well as other marginalized communities are continuing to erase the face and silence our voices for LGBTQPOC community members.

They erase us when they refuse to have conversations about racism and anti-racist work because it makes them uncomfortable. Or because when they have conversations with people of color they get a glimpse of our anger and they "simply cannot have a conversation with someone who articulates them-self in such a way". It happens when white and P.O.C communities do not rally around each other when our community members have been slain. It happens when we allow white cisgender gay men to become immortalized in cinema and anti-gay legislation. But ignore the violence towards members of our LGBTQPOC community members. Lastly P.O.C it happens when we do not lift our truth and challenge LGBTQ communities on their "inclusive" practices. When we allow people to call us creatively offensive terms of "endearment" that we do not like. When we allow people to make horrible misappropriations and comparisons of racial struggle and LGBT struggle. When we allow white people to stifle our anger for feelings of racial injustice. Gay is not the new black.

We have spent decades seeking and being relentless in pursuit of justice in holding predominately white heterosexual folks accountable for their ignorant actions towards the white LGBTQ community. While ignoring our own, when we ignore our own ignorance and injustice in the community/communities we are apart of we are only reinforcing it. Not just reinforcing what the injustice is...but condoning it and their continued violence as well.

The solution to The Deluxx Collective committee members is an easy one. Go to the root of suffering and seek dialogue with them. To put a name, face, story to people of color who are LGBTQ, and hold them accountable for turning their backs on their community members. We have came to the conclusion that there is a lack of exposure in P.O.C communities to LGBTQPOC folks. So, first we want to expose people of color to LGBTQPOC in hopes to lay out a framework that will lead to us creating and tending to safe spaces for us. As well go to the larger cause of suffering in future action and continued conversation. I am calling for the support of our white commrads in racial struggle, our straight allies (especially straight folks of color). I need you...The Deluxx Collective needs you. This journey of putting a name and face to LGBTQPOC oppression is going to be long and expensive, but probably the greatest labor of love I have yet to be apart of. It is going to take coalition building, dedication, training, and education. Doing community outreach in these communities. Not just metropolitan communities of color...but Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) and first nations schools. Seeking to have conversations about being LGBTQ and P.O.C. Then to empower students young and old to take what we have taught them, step out of their own way, and allow themselves to be a vessel for justice. We are going to need a vehicle and places to stay. We are taking a page from both LGBTQ and P.O.C justice histories and paying homage to them by doing a national tour unlike anyone has done before. We are not staying in some cute moderately priced hotel. But seeking to be housed by our community. We are not asking for a luxury liner bus, but a 15 passenger van and storage tow. In turn we will give you 15 predominately queer people of color, trained by the best activists and facilitators in the country ready to hit the road seeking relentless non-violent dialogue and direct action(if it comes to that) about LGBTQ folks and P.O.C on October 1, 2012. This campaign has came to be known as QUPOC, or in long form Queers Uniting People Of Color.

To be completely honest in writing this I have been filled with a profound sadness that comes from three places. The first that the task at hand is going to be so arduous that it seems to be crushing not only me, but other Deluxx Collective committee members from the very depths of our being. The second, is that such a task is needed. The third, is probably what scares me most because I know that in order to pull this off. We have got to draw on community members in new and more intentional ways than I have and we have ever done before. I am and we are hoping to utilize our community in a way, that is taking taking a page from direct action over Section 504 of the american disabilities act in the regional Department of Health, Education, and Wellness in San Francisco during the late seventies. Where disabled demonstrators sat-in on the sixth floor of the UN Plaza for 25 days. For support adn strength they called for the whole community to aid them in their pursuit of justice. It is in that jest that I call upon all of you to aid us on this journey. Because much like their survival depended on their community aiding them. I and The Deluxx Collective needs you to aid us.

I am going to start of this next portion with,

The people I have come to know as "The Keepers of community," The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, leatherfolk, bear communities, vogue houses, radical faeries, Dykes On Bikes, two spirit folk, trans folks, Gay/Lesbian choruses and old school activists. You all have been here and tending to the community before I was even manifested here on this earth. You have taken the burden on yourselves to be beacons of light in a long time of darkness. I have and other committee members have had the privilege to have some of your knowledge passed on, build relationships with, explore ourselves, open ourselves up to love and seek truth by the lessons you have given us. Your fervent conviction to this has been so integral in maintaining order, balance, cultivating safe space to then in turn extend that safe space you have cultivated to others, and defending our individual expression for decades. You have tended to our collective wounds and lifted us up in times of devastation when we did not know how. The leather community has taught me and my co-coordinator a lot of lessons about consent and submission that have been integral to my and our examination of, fostering, tending to, and being of service to the community for the last seven years of my life. Even though I myself do not identify myself as a member of that sub-culture. Without those lessons and loved ones from the leather community I would not be where I am or know what I know today. Old school activists I will and we will be forever indebted to you for not only your courage, strength, and will to survive in the face of militant oppression, death, and when chronic illnesses have tried to stomp you out. Without your anger, will to hold on, and advocate for a better life, I would not...WE would not be here without you. To the old school activists who I have and we have had the opportunity to seek justice with. Thank you...your wisdom that you have passed on and instilled in us will aid us on this journey. Thank you for investing in me and us. The specific needs I am coming to you with oh great keepers of community are not to be taken lightly. From you we need your continued extension and cultivation of safe space. To aid us on our journey by spreading the word, opening up your spaces, radical faerie sanctuaries, and other facilities to shelter us from the storms we are are going to encounter on this journey. As well as tending to our wounds if we are met with physical violence, Tending to our mental and emotional wounds when met with those types of violence as well. You can do that by allowing us a safe space in which to process all of our emotions (including anger), organize, and rest. We need your affirmation, the road ahead is going to be a tough one and if it comes to the point we are so beat down by the task at hand and our strength, courage,and conviction are fleeting...remind us of the importance of our work and lend us your strength for the duration of the journey. We will return it when this portion of the journey is over ten-fold. Lastly, continue to challenge us constructively on this journey to look for more profound meaning in the lessons we have already been taught and in ones we have yet to learn once revealed to us.

To the deaf/hard of hearing, disabled/differently-abled/handicapable, blind and chronically ill community. I come to you as a fellow community member. I need you and everything you have to offer on this journey. I need you to put the skills you have to use for us on this journey. I need you to research, help with crunching numbers, logistics, using digital tools to help us advertise and whatever else you can bring to the table. I need you to boldly, courageously, and authentically come out from behind the veil we have been forced to hide behind. To get on board, and become a part of this journey. I want you to apply! Our history is rich with people like us coming out and demanding equality, visibility, and heeding the call to justice. I come to you as a physically disabled identified person with personal needs from you. My first personal need from you is love. Love me on this journey. Love on the other disabled/differently-abled/handicapable, deaf/hard of hearing, blind and chronically ill folks who are courageous enough to apply for this. To further challenge me constructively and hold me accountable in advocating for accessibility and a movement based on interdependence. I need you to remind me of our history rich in radical justice seeking when I feel like giving up hope on this journey. Allow me and other blind, disabled/differently-abled/handicapable, deaf/hard of hearing, and chronically ill riders a place to process and express all of our feelings including anger. A space to caucus, decompress, and foster interdependent relationships between able-bodied and disabled/differently-abled/handicapable, deaf/hard of hearing, and chronically ill community members. I know that what I am coming to you with is scary. I also know that we cannot hide behind our fear anymore. But instead move boldly from behind the veil into the light and claim our rightful place in ALL the communities we exist in. It is scary, and I know you can do it.

To the up and coming activists also known as youth. You all set my heart on fire so hard. Every time I get the extraordinary honor to seek justice along side you it is such a profound experience. You all are going to change the country in amazing ways we have not witnessed. You existing every day being happy and functioning when a world is out to stomp you out is a victory. Your bravery, courage and thirst for knowledge, to lay claim to and defend our community is unparalleled. When I felt like giving up, you are what have given me strength to continue heeding the call. What I need from you all is to apply. I know that you all will be very quick to call me out on the ageist component of this venture. The committee and myself have toiled for hours to come up with a way for folks who are 16-17 and interested to apply. However your education is top priority right now and that trumps everything. We need you to finish school so that we can utilize your amazing brains in the future for this venture. What we need from you right now is your support in facebook, twitter, and other social media blasting us. Communicating with your parents about donating some time with us if we are coming to your community. Communicate with your friends, post comments and words of encouragement on the site that will be up and running. Serve as a youth liason for your local LGBTQ youth organizations in the communities we are visiting. There is a space for you, even if it is unfortunately not in the capacity in which you are wanting right now. I need and we need you to continue being watch towers of injustice in your communities and heeding the call of justice on the home front.

To people of color communities; including but not limited too, african american/black, asian, asian pacific islanders, indigenous american/native american/ first nations/indian/nDn, hispanic, south american, mexican, latina/latino, chicana/chicano, spanish, bi-racial, middle eastern, mediteranean, and multi-racial. Please open your spaces up to us so that we can serve you. Allow us community service projects, put us in touch with community members, and open yourselves up to dialogue. Bring people you think would benefit from our message. This is for you. This is our shot at putting names, faces, and stories to LGBTQPOC. Lets not let those who need to witness and experiencenus most down.

To other members of my beloved communities I have and we have neglected to mention. Please come forward and make your presence known as well as put a stake in this movement we are creating. We need you. We need your strength, conviction and for you to aid us in creating a rallying cry so loud, the U.S. will have to take notice. Aid us on our journey by fundraising, showing up at events, doing community service with us, provide us with contacts, and places of refuge for our time in your cities. Pray for, meditate, or intentionally think of and for us. For continued guidance, strength perseverance, and courage.

Even though only 15 people may be chosen to represent us on the journey. It is going to take all of us coming together as one.

In justice,

Colin Daniels & John Panganiban
Co-founders/Program Coordinators of The Deluxx Collectives QUPOC campaign

Monday, August 23, 2010

"The end is not near"

Hey Folks once again I would like to introduce myself. It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this and I am reaquainting myself with it because the person that I was when I posted those things earlier this year is mosdef not who I am now...

That being we go!!!

My name is Colin I am a disabled cisgender queer person of color and queer person of religion my gender pronouns I go by are gender neutral which are they/them...

I was a 2010 Equality Rider earlier this year and I have not had the moxy to begin writing my experiences, what I learned and how I experienced them on that journey...That is not until now. I have been very busy since then and have not even had the courage to sort through what I am thinking and experiencing as I process the ride. So lets start off with the beginning...

I have had the most glorious privilege in the entire fucking world. That privilege was to get on a bus for two months and talk about faith, gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation to college students who had very limited voices on campus if they were allowed to have that voice at all. Through this experience on the 2010 Equality Ride...I had the privilege to see the very image of God revealed ot me by so many different people. I have seen God in places where you least expect them to be. In little conservative communities in the south where just a lone affirming congregation exists. That have had their house of worship shot up, set on fire, death threats and more.

I have found God revealed to me in a little church community in the northern woods and fields of Houghton New York. When the students who were working at our hotel greeted us with smiles, hugs, cookies, and volunteered to get us food from their cafeteria after 1100 at night because we hadnt had anything to eat. I found God in their smiles, in their eyes, in their laughs and hope that they had with our visit.

I found God in a beautiful man that drove Soulforce 1 every single time I got to talk to him it was like church holy scriptures flowing out of someone that will probably never know the profound affect they have had on me! I found God in experiencing his warm hugs that he gave us every time we got back from a rough day at schools.

I found God in my familial atheist and non-christian brothers in sisters who constantly showed me what christ is through every thought and deed. I saw God in the corn fields of Nebraska and Iowa. In the stillness of my room by myself. I found God in the face of prejudice and discrimination of counter protesters in Phoenixville Pennsylvania, in the faces of 4 beautiful clergy members as well. When they allowed us to enter their houses of worship and fed us. when tehy offered us the opportunity ot have communion and a short time of worship.

The Equality Ride has taught me so much. I am still finding out ways in which it has changed me. This is what I have discovered thus far...

I am no longer some kid who talks about justice, what it looks and feels like, how it could be emplemented...but I do it!!! It resonates from my inner being. I am no longer this shy confident person who uses my extroversion as a mask to cover up my insecurities...I am a confident, divinely crafted authentic person who is worthy of love and to love other people...I am stronger and more convicted. I dont take peoples justifications as to why they are oppressing other people...

as a result of the Ride I have seen amazing things take place on the campuses we have been campus took all of their recommended resources for reparitive therapy down with a week of us going. I have seen students use their voices and be vessels of change on college campuses. I have seen students mobilizing and organizing for QSA's on their campuses to start taking place and start carving spaces out on campuses that are going ot be safe places for them to come and talk about their faith, gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation.

I have seen people and have done things I would never have thunk that would be possible in my entire life...It has been such a humbling experience to be a part of this experience.

this is where I am now since have allowed myself to let the process begin!!! you may see more...this has been

Colin and im sigin off!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

wait! what!? Why!?!

With only one month left till the ride starts I thought now would be the perfect time for my second post...Since I have been informed that I was going to be able to do the Equality Ride, people have been asking me why? Why do I want to do the Equality Ride? Why go to these schools? Just Why in general. I am wanting to clear some of that up so that there is no longer any question as to why. Let us start with first question...

Why do I want to do the Equality Ride?: I think that to in order to understand my want and conviction to do it you first have to understand somethings about me first...I grew up like a lot of these students did. I grew up going to church every week and being told that if I was a servant of God I had to do this, that, and this. That I must take off my rings and blend in and go unnoticed. But more importantly that I was to be a light for God and get people into the church and to know god. Needless to say the way I was brought up by mom was a little less restrictive than that. I was always the outcast at church. I went to public school when model Seventh Day Adventists sent their children to good SDA schools, to get a good SDA education, and to stay away from the evils or public school where there are people listening to non-christian music, wearing jewelry and kids were having sex. With all of this in mind and being labled outcast as well as the realization of my sexual orientation I made the decision to go to an Adventist academy for my freshman year of high school. (some of it was because I wanted to see what was so special about an adventist education...some of it was pressure from the church community)

The day came that I went and the school year was off to a good start. I was 14 and adjusting to dorm life quite nicely. I got made fun of and picked on a lot because I was not one of the guys. I was not masculine enough, rough and tumble enough, my voice was not deep enough and so on and so forth. But the main reason I was not like the rest of the guys was because I knew I was gay...I intentionally put up this wall to try and pass as straight. I did this to get by and to go as unnoticed as possible. But the day came that I told someone that I trusted who asked me if I was. Then there was a viscious rumor that went around school and one day I was at work and was requested that I go to see the dean and principal in the boys dorm office. My dean and principal were both there and they drilled me for 2o minutes asking me personal questions and then my dean looked at me with the most intesity I had ever seen him have and said "Colin, are you gay?" immediately my eyes glassed over and my heart sank. I hoped he and my principal had not noticed that I was holding back tears and I sat there in the most deafening silence I have ever felt in my was that type of I cannot believe that you are asking me this type of silence, that type of I know what you want me to say but I cannot deny this with out lying and I know deep down that both of you know and I know that I would be lying through my teeth kind of silence. That we are going to shove you and stifle you so far back in the closet because you would be a threat to the general school population and we cannot have that...type of silence...I looked them in the eyes as tears were beginning to slip out of my eyes and then the calm took over...I looked them dead in the eyes and uttered the most degrading thing I have ever said about myself "No...I am not gay"...the silence became even more deafening and started to shatter my inner being with ever second. I saw there eyes scanning me for any sign of weakness to give way to my lie. Finally they said "ok thanks. you can go" and I started to walk out but I had to know...I turned around and asked them what would happen if they were to have had a person say yes to that question...what would happen to that student. they explained to me that if a person says yes they are taken away from campus to intensive therapy and their parents were called. They would only be allowed on campus after their therapist had signed off and said that they were no longer gay.

That night I went up to my room and cried my eyes out. I hated myself for lying to them and denying myself to them. But I had to...or so I thought. That night I vowed to myself that I would never let anyone put me or anyone else like me back in the closet. But instead I would blast down that closet door and shine a beacon of light and hope to others. That it was ok to be gay and totally head over heels in love with god. Now back to why I want to do the Equality Ride...

I want to do the Equality Ride because other students on these campuses that are scared and suffering in the closet by themselves need to know that people love them and most importantly that God loves and affirms them with out reservation. That they do not have to do this alone. That there are people willing to step up for them and talk about it because this is something that is still so taboo to talk about. That people are willing to talk about it.

so now to the question of

Why go to these schools?: All we want to do is talk to these schools. Talk with them about what some of their students on these campuses are going through and what it feels like for them. (because in some way a lot the riders have been put in a position like these students in the past) How the policies that this school put in place about their LGBTQ students are damaging to them. How ex gay therapy is harmful for people to go through and all the twain in between. The conversations around those things and all the things in between are so important to the students on these campuses because for a lot of these students they have had very limited conversations around this issue outside what is taught in church on well as highlight the fact with my pink search and spot light that god loves and affirms them with out reservation...

If you stuck around and finished this I a applaud you. Thank you for stopping by and I will see you on road...

-Colin <3

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Queer Right Here

Hey everyone. I would like to introduce myself. My name is Colin and I am not much of a blogger however I figure that after I hit the road for equality this would come in handy. I have been selected for the 2010 Soulforce Equality Ride.

I got back from training in Austin Texas a week ago. I cannot tell you how empowering and humbling it was to be in a room with 24 other rockstar people who were just as convicted about equality as I am.

In March we are hitting the road for a nation wide tour of schools seeking conversation about the intersectionality of sexual orientation and religion. I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the best things I have done in my life and I cannot wait to meet amazing new people in the communities we will be visiting and talking to people who want and need to hear our message.

but let me back up for a hot sec and give you some history about me...I am 21 years old, a pisces on the cusp of aquarious. My prefered gender pronouns are gender neutral. I am an avid knitter and why is my blog is called stitchin for equality? I am going to try and make some sort of knitted good to give to a student I talk to on my journey with the Equality Ride. I am from Kansas City Missouri. I have been involved in community/student organizing, non profit work, and volunteering since I was 16. I am a person of color. I am Irish, scottish and african. I have crazy fly away hair and love big mirrored aviator sunglasses. when not involved in activism I am a huge music nerd. I am literally a human jukebox if you ask me to sing a song and ive me just he title there is a big chance that I will be able to sing some of it. I Have a huge collection of shirts from volunteering that is taking over my closet. I need to get it in check. I am a free spirit and enjoy flying by the seat of my pants. I have a boistrous laugh and I love giving and getting hugs...what can I say snuggling is also a hobby of mine as well.

there is so much that I could say on here but in consideration of your and my attention span I shall cut it off there for now. I am so excited that you are going to be following me on my journey on the ride! look for more updates once the bus has pulled out.

peace with lots of love