what was his name? MARK CARSON.

19May13

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First of all I want to preface this by saying, I know this happens every day in places that are not one block from Stonewall.

I know it is a cliché to be a white person who is outraged by a gay-bashing happening in their own backyard when this shit happens all the time, in a lot of places.

I want to say that every time I read about another trans woman or queer person getting killed, my heart stops beating for a few seconds.

And I have read about too many of these killings lately. And counseled friends who have been harassed and beaten on the streets for being queer.

Let’s be even more specific : most of these bashings have been directed at faggot-identified people.

Two nights ago it happened to Mark Carson, a young gay man being out and alive in the West Village on a Friday night. A person who should be educated, not imprisoned, followed Mark, harassed him with homophobic slurs, ultimately shot him in the face and killed him on the spot.

Right in front of Gray’s Papaya on 6th Avenue. A few short blocks from Stonewall.

Earlier in the day, after helping install the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s benefit art auction at the Judson Memorial Church, I took a leisurely walk through Washington Square Park and remembered what it felt like to be a repressed teenager on Long Island. To me, the Village was the absolute epitome of cool. I used to cut school and take the train into the city, wander around these streets wondering when my life would get better. Once I ran into Wigstock, inadvertantly, and was fascinated by the queers and queens with a sense of wonder that was hard to put into words.

It got better. I have words now, like “queer” and “trans” and “fuck the patriarchy.” Now I go to the Village to see my friends perform, to hang out at Julius or Marie’s Crisis or visit the queer archives at NYU, to support amazing performances like last night’s thunderously brilliant Ballez at St. Mark’s church. It is a part of the fabric of my adult queer life.

When someone I relate to gets shot and killed in a place that has been safe for me…. My feelings are less about fear of personal risk and more about shock, solidarity, helplessness, anger, outrage, action, grief, community. Love, anger. Anger, love.

This place has a history that means something to me, and now that space has been marked again with blood. Every time I stand outside Stonewall smoking a cigarette I think about the queens who sparked the revolution there. I think about the spark that is true revolt. I think about danger, and community, and safety. I think about clarion calls and when that moment happens that forces you to say –

Enough is enough.

This shit is real.

It cannot happen again, and it will happen again.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

Walking to the subway from last night’s vigil with my lady friend, we stopped to embrace on a red-light corner. A jolt of fear that I’ve never experienced before, in that place.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

And I myself have been guilty of misusing language, perpetuating hate in the guise of irony.

A few nights ago, I guest-curated a very queer event that has been called Pussy Faggot! for years. I was feeling fiery about the gender balance and wanted to emphasize the talents of femme-identified performers for the night, and came up with the mantra more pussy! less faggot! for the evening. While it was intended to be provocative within the campy context of queer language and this very specific event, I now regret perpetuating a slogan that could be (and was) easily taken out of context as fag-bashing.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I am fre quently compelled to be trangressive with my language, especially when so many of the words I was taught do not serve my needs. But eliminating hateful speech from my language is feeling more and more critical, and not something to be light or ironic about.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I’ve been thinking about something Berlin said in an interview published this week, about brown queer love. “in short: brown gay love heals,” he said, and I’ve been stuck on it ever since. I think about how we provide shelter for each other in our queerness and how even white Jewish love heals : and yet : it is different. It is a different thing to be in a more trangressive body than my weird white androgynous one.

Us queers and the people who love us need to stick together.

I need to remember, always remember, the experiences of others I care deeply about, and fight for their liberation because (as it is often said, because it is always true), their liberation is bound up with mine, and we are all in this together.

ACT UP, FIGHT BACK.

I am losing my thread here, but I just want to say : tomorrow is Monday. There is another vigil and march for Mark Carson at 5:30pm. Afterwards, my friends and I will be at Hotel Chantelle for a birthday party and fundraiser for Silas Howard’s video project, which we all need to help make happen, because it’s about trans history and besides that, it’s a brilliant and amazing song sung by our fearless Queen Mother, Justin Vivian Bond.

Please come by afterwards, from 8:00 onwards.  92 Ludlow St, just below Delancey. There will be plenty of time for us to talk, to process, to hold each other. To think about our history and where it has brought us in the present. To talk about the future, the queer feminist future that it is possible and real for us to build with each other, in community. To think about sustainaibility and how we can hold each other over time. And most importantly : to dance, to celebrate being alive.

Queer love heals. I’ve never felt it more strongly than now.

Love and strength and solidarity to you today.

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