The spirit of Sylvia haunting the stage of the Bowery poetry club.
photo of quinn with sylvia rivera at a protest at city hall, taken by rusty moore.
from SRLP on Chelsea Manning, the realities trans & gnc people have to navigate daily while incarcerated and how we can support people on the inside!
getting excited 4 the best art event of the year!
May 18th // Sylvia Rivera Law Project Collective // Judson Memorial
8th ANNUAL SMALL WORKS for BIG CHANGE!
Venue: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square S., NYC *Wheelchair accessible*
MC’d by Chanel International
Music by DJ Tikka Masala
Fabulous art (see list below)
Fantastic raffle prizes – 16GB Ipod Touch from Tekserve, a gift certificate for 10 joe coffee beverages, Amy Ray concert tickets & a $500 publicity package courtesy of Riot Grrrl Ink, event tickets from La Mama Experimental Theatre, and books from NYU Press!
more info here
This week was my first time having an entire blog dedicated to shit talking me because I wrote both to a press website and on my blog asking for the labor I put into making this new STAR zine materialize not be erased, especially because I had to deal with transphobic, ableist and racist violence while doing that work. The response to that has just been toxic and included this person saying:
I WENT TO A LIBRARY. WAAH.
Social Justice politics are sickening.
ON UNTORELLI’S “NEW” BOOK (BLAH BLAH BLAH, I CUT OUT ALL THE BORING SJ TALK -FA)
CITATION PRACTICES ARE NOTHING, ANARCHY ISN’T ABOUT WHO GETS “CRED” AND MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT IDENTITY. FUCK. Plagiarism; if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.
“Like seriously, Eric, Reina, y’all were presumably on the clock while you engaged in this spectacle, which would be a pretty admirable feat in unworking if I didn’t already think really poorly of you. Us “privileged” trolls usually can’t post on tumblr from our “jobs” if we even have them.”
“If someone does something you don’t like, it’s much easier to write an entire diatribe calling them out publicly and get pats on the back from all your buddies than it ever would be to open a discourse. It’s also VERY hard to talk about oppression politics when you are literally an academic or an non-profit employee, so make sure to do it at every chance you get.”
The assumption I made about these people were that we probably share community, and by community I mean people who believe in trans liberation, who believe that they are working for revolution and know that labor expectations are damaging, inhumane, capitalist, and extremely political.
I also assumed they read my blog because the material in their zine came from it.
I made those assumptions and then witnessed how outside these shared beliefs it is for them to do the responding they’ve done, play that anti-identity bullshit, and assume that having any job at a nonprofit means that all work you do on my blog & in my own research and everything is somehow a function of that job—- its just such harmful up absolutism.
I wrote, both directly to the press website as well as a thoughtful open letter to the press, about the kinds of politics that underpin the idea that its that’s okay to repost a blog without citing the source. After all, these folks that copied my blog posts, word for word -typos and all-, and didn’t think to even acknowledge me, but did think to acknowledge the other quotes in the essay with a citation.
Since then I’ve received anonymous hate mail and been non stop blog posts, I’d link but its really oppressive over there.
What I learned from this is apparently when a black trans woman names the process of erasure then that’s playing into “identity politics” and “call out culture” rather than actually naming how oppression can function even within movement space. This person has no idea what it means for me to have a job, what kind of work I do, and what I get paid for.
Asking for words to be attributed to the process and people who helped put mold them is not about cred. I’m not mad because someone reprinted the words of STAR and now they are cooler or realer than me. Libraries and other public institutions are huge sites of violence, sometimes you need degrees to get inside, other times you get clocked by security. I want more people to have access to all these materials. That’s why I put them on my blog!
It’s not about credit. It’s about acknowledging the labor that went into unearthing, collecting and archiving something. And in this case labor means exertion, production, time, pain, sacrifice, and creation.
So when these folks claim naming who I am, trans, black, policed, disabled, employed, hustler, as identity politics, and that we should not be doing identity politics; it’s just a way to acquit themselves of having to actually deal with oppression that it itself perpetuates.
It’s not anarchist to ignore race and gender, it’s anarchist to dissemble them. And you can’t do that by just going off on someone who names their experiences as identity politics and telling them to get to work.
Its wild to me that acknowledging the work of fellow thinkers/writers/researchers is anti-anarchist rather than solid loving movement building practice.
There is too much at stake not to name ourselves in the stories we pass down. because this is our time, this is our life.
STREET TRANSVESTITE ACTION REVOLUTIONARIES:
survival, revolt, and queer antagonist struggle
Untorelli Press presents a compilation of historical documents, interviews, and critical analyses of STAR, a group of street queens in early 70s New York City who self-organized for survival and revolt. Contained within are pamphlets distributed by STAR, as well as interviews with and speeches by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Additionally, we are excited to include a critical essay by Ehn Nothing on STAR’s legacy, the enemies of queer insurrection, and the war against gender.
[For Reading][For Printing]
(the interview below discusses forced psychiatric institutionalization, gender coercion, self harm and the prison industrial complex)
ISSUE SEVEN **A BULLETIN OF THE HOMOFIRE MOVEMENT** Nov, 14, 1970
CHRIS: GAY PRISONER IN BELLEVUE
(GAY FLAMES: Chris Thompson is a black male transvestite who went to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of his asthma. Because he was gay and a transvestite, he was transferred to the psychiatric wing, where he could be “kept under control.” Chris has found brutality and ridicule at Bellevue, not medical attention and is now threatened with transfer to a state mental hospital, from which he might never return. STAR’s Sylvia Rivera and GAA’s Arthur Bell conducted an interview, a part of which is printed here.)
Q: Do you feel that you’re being held prisoner here?
A: I feel that I am a prisoner and have been mistreated. They claim they are trying to help me but I dont think they are. I think they are just bull…just playing with me, just because of my homosexuality, wondering whether I want to have an operation, and asking me all these questions which doesn’t concern them. They claim they’re treating me because of my asthma. They said they thought I may have tuberculosis, so they did a biopsy and they found it was congestion of the chest. THen they told me they was going to send me home. I asked the doctor three weeks ago if I could have a pass that I could take care of finding housing , and seh said “No.” And I asked why and she said “Because we can’t let you out by yourself.” She said she was going to ask for an attendant, but then she said she couldn’t find no attendant that ould go with me.
Q: Do you think they’re going to keep you in here perhaps forever?
A: Well, she told me if I can’t find a place to stay they would have to transfer me straight to state hospital. But everyone tells me that here you can file for a lawyer; they can’t send you to the state hospital…they have to give me some welfare assistance.
Q: Would you want us to support you if they continue holding you here?
A: Yes, I would want full support.
Q: One of the things we’d like to know is how are the people around here — the doctors and the nurses and attendants?
A: Well, I only get funny cracks. They say you’re still a man and they still are always low-rating me and saying funny little cracks and putting me down and making me feel bad all the time. I had a nurse get very nasty with me. She said, “we’ve had faggots here before” and she treats me very nasty and snotty and she says, “DOn’t mess with the hand that feeds you.” She’s told me that I would never look as good as she looks, “so don’t get your high horses up.” I felt that she felt some jealousy, something against homosexuality and she got very evil with me. When I came into admitting office, I told the doctor I had congestion and asthma. Because of me wanting to be a woman so much, he asked me did I ever have a fear of cutting my penis off. I didn’t tell him one way or the other, but on my record they have it down that I have a fear of cutting my penis off, to become a woman. I want to become a woman that bad, so they asked me these questions — do I still have a fear of taking a razor and cutting my penis off and I told them no, and if I did decide to have a sex change I would go through the legal procedures and go to the proper physicians and have it done.
Q: Do you feel that you’re being treated worse than the other patients?
A: Yes I feel that I’m treated much worse because of my femme tendencies and I’m always criticized about my hair or I’m always criticized about my face or something like that. MY doctor told me as long as my make-up wasn’t too noticeable that I could wear it but then the attendants said that the doctor said I couldn’t wear it…so it’s just like they bull..they’re saying this and saying that.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I don’t do anything. I have usually been sick so I just stay in the bed and they get very angry. I go to all the group therapy they have here, drama therapy, and all that.
Q: Are they trying to make you straight? Did they get into that?
A: They haven’t been really trying to change me, but they make me feel bad by ridiculing me.
Q: Not the doctors, the other patients, right?
A: No, I have no problems with the patients. The patients accept me quite highly. It’s the staff that really bugs me.
Q: Is there anything else that you can tell us about your stay here that might be interesting?
A: Well, as I told my doctor, I wasn’t here to tempt any patients, I was only here to get medical help. She says that they can’t transfer me. One reason is ‘cause I’m homosexual, and another is that they don’t transfer psychiatric patients. Also, they made me sleep in the hall because they were afraid that the males may get interested in me.
Q: Chris, just looking at you now, it doesn’t look as if you’re wearing any make-up at all, and you certainly can pass for straight. What I don’t understand is why they’re so down on you. The only thing I notice is that you have your hair a little longer than average.
A: It’s just the fact that if I look any kind of way effeminate, they get up tight about it. I had some jeweled eyelashes which were given to me by a patient here, and they took them from me. They took my hair rollers away, they locked up all my female attire, they said I can’t have it until I leave the hospital. I wanted to set my hair for an Afro; they wouldn’t let me set it because it attracts the male attention, the males would get uptight.
Q: They’re afraid of having anybody go to bed with you while you’re here.
A: I think they fear that I will have a homosexual affair here if I look too effeminate.
Q: And that’s worse to them than the rats in the hallways?
A: Well, I think there’s rats on the staff! And they say when I blow my top and tell them off that I am crazy, but I am only standing up for my rights…because I am human like anyone else.
Q: Do you have any plans for when you get out of here?
A: Yes, I would like to go back to school and finish college and become a dance therapist, an activity therapist. That’s what I want to be.
Q: Were you a dancer before?
A: Yes, I was.
Q: Are you interested in the SREET TRANSVESTITE ACTION REVOLUTIONARIES movement?
A: I’m interested in anything that has anything to do with the gay activities. I’m all for it all, and I want to fight for it. I willing to go all the way as far as I can go — if it means even my life I’ll do it.
Q: What do you feel about the sort of thing that Sylvia is into now. (Sylvia is an officer or STAR. —ed)
A: I think its beautiful. I think that if we can help our people — when I say our people I mean gay people — I think I’m all for it.
Q: Have you had any thoughts about how you can help gay people, what you might be able to do once you’re out of here?
A: If I obtain a job and work, if it’s for any gay person, I dont care who it is, I would give fully. I’m all for gay people that’s my feelings, this coming straight from my heart. And I mean it.
i found this document -the first statement released by STAR during the NYU gay liberation front occupation- at the new york public library in Arthur Bell’s papers.
for more context i wrote about it last year here for Sylvia Rivera’s ten year memorial blog
GAY POWER WHEN DO WE WANT IT? OR DO WE?
This is the question that is running through our minds. Do you really want Gay Power or are you looking for a few laughs or maybe a little excitement. We are not quite sure what you people really want. IF you want Gay Liberation then you’re going to have to fight for it. We don’t mean tomorrow or the next day, we are talking about today. We can never possibly win by saying “wait for a better day” or “we’re not ready yet” If you’re ready to tell people that you want to be free, then your ready to fight. And if your not ready then shut up and crawl back into your closets. But let us ask you this, Can you realliy live in a closet? We cant.
So now the question is, do we want Gay Power or Pig Power. We are willing to admit that we need pigs. But we only need t hen for crime control. We do not need them to beat and harass our gay brothers and sisters. The pigs are not helping the people who are being robbed on the streets and being murdered. How can they when theyre to busy trying to bust a homosexual over the head. Or theyre to busy trying to catch someone hustling so they can arrest t hem. But they do give us an alternative. All we have to do is commit sodomy with them and they’ll forget they were saw us. Until next time that is. So again we ask you, do you want pig power or gay power? This is up to each and every one of you.
If you want gay power then youre going to have to fight for it. And youre going to have to fight until you win. Because (striked through) once you start youre not going to be able to stop because if you do youll lose everything. You wont just lose this fight, but all the other fights all over the country. All our brothers and sisters all over the world will return to their closets in shame. So if you want to fight for your rights, then fight till the end.
We would also like to say that all we fought for at Weinstein Hall was lost when we left upon request of the pigs. Chalk one up for the pigs, for they truly are carrying there victory flag. And realize the next demonstration is going to be harder, because they now know that we scare easily.
You people run if you want to, but we’re tired of running. We intend to fight for our rights until we get them.
For Gay Power
[images of trans symbols on bottom)
Today is the anniversary of Sylvia Rivera’s death, which I blogged about last year. Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of Chloe Dzubilio’s passing. The video above is Antony Hegarty at Chloe’s funeral talking about diminishing systems of care for trans people w/HIV & AIDS, which I edited into my lent blog. With my former co-worker Brandon Lacy Campos and former SRLP collective member Stella Aztlan both passing within months of each other Antony’s wards are still very much echo the reality of our lives and deaths.