Wednesday, February 4, 2009
"I think I screwed up."
"I think this was a mistake. I think I screwed up."
A president who admits he screwed up after only the first day. Talk about transparency in politics! I think we're getting somewhere. I think I really, really respect Obama for his candor, and for his ingenuity.
I'm excited to be living and working in a time where these kinds of politics are out in the open, are being discussed and debated. This is the same president who mentioned gays and lesbians, disabled people, and seniors in his acceptance speech. It made me think of Harvey Milk's politics in 1973. This shit is amazing, and it's happening to us right now. I just feel lucky that I'm at a point in my life where I can situate myself within these powerful currents, where I can really pay attention and make critical decisions--and the spectrum of politics to engage with right now is incredible, exciting, charged, and important.
But in my hometown, I see all sorts of homicidal politics, slashes to social programming, visible poor-bashing, failures to protect sex-workers and provide living wages for people who work in all sorts of marginalized private sectors in global cities like Vancouver. I see the passage of Prop 8, and the enormous wave of pro-queer sentiment that was rallied and emerged as a result, like something bright coming out of blood and ashes. I see the quiet, largely unremarked-on passage of the tenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard's life and death in Laramie, WO. I also see new AIDS and oncology research, and online protests transmitted through blogs, and the rise of a strange and amazing counter-culture on sites like Youtube (and Xtube). I see my queer friends and colleagues doing exciting, inspiring work in a diversity of fields. Banal as it sounds, I even see online photographs of the wedding of Ellen Degeneres and Portia di Rossi, and Gavin Newsom asking us "what people we want to become" by voting to annul same-sex marriages, and therefore "writing discrimination into the constitution."
And I think, it's a fucking great time to be writing and teaching. I'm the luckiest queer in the world. We're all the luckiest queers in the world, and hopefully, we can do cultural work and make art that will change the spectrum of human rights. We'll do that. We have to, right?
Let's try to be kind to each other in new, even critical ways. Critical kindnesses. Remember what the fox says in Exupéry's Le petit prince. "Tu deviens responsable pour toujour de ce que tu as apprivoisé." You are responible, forever, for whatever you tame. But once you let yourself tame and be tamed, everything changes. "Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde." You'll be unique to me in all the world; I'll be unique to you in all the world, like the little prince's golden hair in field of wheat. Like Butler says in Precarious Life, there are ways to organize politics around vulnerability, around not knowing. It's scary, but it probably makes us better humans, since we act most honestly when we're facing pain of all kinds. Being vulnerable and naked within your politics is hard, and I'm not good at it yet, but I think I'm getting less afraid with the passage of time.
One hopes, anyways.