Monday, 30 April 2018

I want to see colours!

More and more, when talking about racism and gender issues, I hear people say, "Oh I like everyone - I don't see gender or colour."


Why the hell NOT? Are you f-ing loopy? Or are you just trying to be nice and non-political, perhaps - politically correct? I'm sorry - I'm not trusting of this kind of statement anymore... been hearing it too long without the actions that follow to tell me you really mean that gender, colour, etc., really aren't things seen, taken into consideration...

I just can't take stock in notions that people can pretend skin pigmentation, remarkable eye shapes and cheekbones and such things don't exist and don't matter.

In saying you see no differences or that differences don't matter, are you trying to see an amalgamation of everyone into some kind of mixed grey and total androgyny?

Or... are you just kidding yourself?

I think the ideas about not seeing a person's colour and instead seeing them as human beings - likewise for gender - um, sorry - screw that - it's dream thinking. Can't we see people as human beings without being this strange kind of colourblind??? (Race-blind and gender-blind, too?). I don't think pretending not to see race, gender, colour, etc., is a progressive idea anymore... it's making us backtrack and not work at our curiosity about, acceptance and respect for others. If we can pretend not to see these things, aren't we ignoring a person's features? If we say these things don't matter, overall, aren't we somehow, at least in small part, saying parts of people don't matter? (Very tricky... very covert, colonialists!)

Labels? Bring them the pluck back! (I want to be able to describe how awesome you are... and for that, I need some of the words BACK that have been taken away by political correctness).

I WANT to see your colours, your gender or non-gender being. Your gender fluid or non-binary you. Your butch or femme or dyke or grrl or boi, cis-normative-whatever. I want to know that androgynous looks like "this" or "that" for you... and that it differs from masculine or feminine or femme or other things.

Then, what I'm going to do is... accept you.

...In your masculine look with your white skin or your reddish brown skin or you, too - with your almond shaped eyes and your black as night hair.  Or hey YOU - with your porcelain skin and freckles, your female curves with buzzed orange-red hair. And also YOU - with your long, braided hair and boy lines with your awesome Iron Maiden t-shirt, volleyball shoes - painted nails to match your shoes! I mean - how cool can this get???

(come out Dirtbags! Let's go see Iron Maiden!)
(Mary Lambert covers Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag")

Tell me your pronoun - that's good with me - I'll use it - but please be visible and don't pretend there are not labels and infinite ways to describe you. I don't want to like everyone for or under the same "no colour, no gender" rule. I hate that rule and think it's unreasonable and stupid.

I think the rule is a way for priviledged people to say they don't see marginalized persons and labels or that they don't make a difference when, in fact, people are discriminated against ALL THE TIME based on looks, gender assumptions, skin colour, etc... THAT is what needs to stop - not peoples' ways of describing themselves.

Having a rule to not see difference and uniqueness is a shitty way to deal with acceptance.

Why can't we accept all colours, shapes, and such? THAT makes sense to me.

I swear you are NOT going to be invisible to me - because I swear I will see your skin colour, clothing preferences, use the pronoun you tell me to use, etc.

Your colour means something to me.

(Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag)


You are an awesome colour, shape and design. I see you!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

How to stop queers from having sex in homeless shelters

I heard this topic being discussed while I was on the C-Train recently and didn't feel I could engage due to perceived safety issues. The main part of the talking was against gays in shelters because they will have sex, give everyone STDs, etc - very energetic talk (including a comment that the Calgary shelters aren't being used properly and COULD BE used to just "gas unwanteds and be done with them already"), raised voices, and about 4 people joined in to share the same homophobic viewpoints.

Strangely, though many people acknowledge that shelters are used by people overwhelmed by tough times, financial and family issues -  even violence - shelters aren't very safe places for vulnerable people to go! Especially for queer people.

If you are queer (LGBTIQAT2S+), shelters are usually really, REALLY UNSAFE places - for real.

At worst, queer people may experience intense homophobic language and verbal (or body language) threats from both shelter staff and guests. In the least - innappropriate and invasive questions nobody would ask "straight" people. (Who's the boy in your lesbian relationship? Who's the girl in your gay pairing? Is scissoring a thing?) OMG Shush!

Oh yes and also... the assumption that sex is, for sure, going to happen because there is a queer one in the room. Strangely, homophobic ones think queers are SO POWERFUL that it only takes 1 queer person to make coupling happen in almost any given space.

LOL - silly homophobes :) Thank you for the perceived power... but no.

In my opinion and experience, frankly - shelters are made for straight people. When barriers are made within to have male areas and female areas separated - that is for the idea that separation will be safer for women (maybe) and also keep the genders separated. Strangely (if you've ever been a shelter resident, you know this is largely true), these barriers don't make women much safer inside and they also don't always keep the genders separated.

Again - let's mention the wide-spread assumption that queers, at any given time, in any given space are going to be getting it on... and

GROSS... in common rooms, even common same gender rooms... wtf is with the assumption that queers don't like privacy?

Homophobes, please get a freakin' grip - and low-income serving/homeless serving agencies... learn about friggin' DIVERSITY!

There are already people inside your shelters that you cannot TELL ARE male in female areas, and females in male designated areas. There are transitioning persons and other identities in shelters today, and they are NOT concerned with screwing right now in the least. They are farkin' terrified a clothing piece will shift and they'll be found out (wow, and found out to be who they really are, no less - a non-whatever-normative in society!) and discriminated against. They are scared their purse or bag will be agape too long and someone will see something other-gender in the bag and start to ask questions.

Even more importantly, there are people transitioning, as well as people who are queer and stable in their identity who are worried about the same things straight people are worried about - how to get out of the gawd-awful crowded shelter, how to get working, how to get proper health diagnoses to deal with health and mental health issues, how to start life over - or resume something interrupted.

How to stop queers from having sex in homeless shelters?

First off - don't. Instead, ask why you are asking about this in the first place...
  • Who cares? 
  • Why is this an issue? 
  • Is it really as big a "threat" as it's made out to be? 
  • Are you mistaking intimacy for sex?
Pregnancies are unlikely... and it is extremely ignorant of some people to fail to know that non-hetero couples might actually become homeless and already be a long-term couple when they reach a shelter. In this case they will usually have NO INTEREST whatsoever in anyone but their partner. I know of couples who have been split up in Calgary shelters whereby one person stays at one shelter and the other at a different shelter. During my stays over a decade ago in Calgary shelters, I knew at least a 7 or 8 couples in this terrible situation (some were simply being appropriately INTIMATE...hand-holding and hugging - and were NOT having anything near to sexual encounters). I'm still hearing that this discrimination is happening and I currently know same-gender couples who are split up in Calgary shelters. Heck I know of hetero couples who are split up, staying in different shelter locations!

Look around and find out how many straight people are having breeding sessions (lol sorry, I had to type that just once) in shelters. That happens, too. Sex and intimacy are human things. Nooky (omg I used a thesaurus for that one) in shelters for hetero is probably roughly the same stat as for queer. I'm sure sex happens in homeless shelters sometimes... and is a freakin' STUPID ISSUE TO WORRY ABOUT when related to the fact of the existence of HOMELESS SHELTERS within cities of wealth in the first place.

Again - how to stop queers from having sex in homeless shelters?

I don't really know... maybe ask the couple to be more private!!! OMG what a revelation.

...but why is this queer sex thing a bigger worry than all the other issues people are having who are in homeless shelters? Couldn't we focus on at least fifteen dozen other important things that will help decrease homelessness and oppression?

I've heard a suggestion recently in a discussion about how to make sure gays/queers don't have sex in current shelters:

Make a queer safe/space shelter.


Bad answer. That still and further marginalizes non-hetero persons and says, "Hey, go over there." Also - that's just another way to create a situation of "Hey, send queers away from the space hetero-normative persons have claimed and feel comfortable in."

The best answer, to me, is:

Conquer homophobia and tackle oppression to reduce homelessness and the need for homeless shelters. Then everyone can celebrate and have a home and have sex and intimacy whenever they want without people freaking out...

Queerness isn't about sex...


Sunday, 18 March 2018

STOP With the Expert Label Already!

Cut it out, already - with the label of "EXPERT" given to people with lived experiences of poverty. Please stop providing this label when including such people in events about homelessness, poverty reduction, community building, etc.

Having lived in a homeless shelter or in another way that low-to-no income persons survive does not make one an expert in poverty topics... (this kind of living means that a person is living under multiple forms of oppression - let's also just add the word TRAUMA here, okay?). Therefore, persons marginalized to the point of being in survival mode at least some of the time are traumatized, not necessarily experts - okay? Clear?

Saying that a random poor person is an expert in lived experience is some kick ass faulty reasoning... and would be denied in any other "industry," save for the homeless services industry!

Aside from arguments involving the definition of the term, "expert," which will come soon enough, I'd like to present an argument rarely heard...

Stop marginalizing me MORE with the expert label:
Giving a person of poverty lived experience the label of "expert" makes regular or poor person voice even more marginalized. If you can't listen to me/us (persons with poverty lived experience) under our own title of my/our name and as a regular person, you de-value the words and experiences of a person, a citizen in a democracy where all voices are supposed to be important and heard. Giving out the "expert" label is an attempt to put me/us into a status/hierarchy made and maintained by oppressive forces and persons. This is the same structure where status quo forces and persons can judge my/our value, the value of our words and experiences...

SCREW THAT! I'm me - we are we - and we have lived experiences of living in and with poverty dynamics...


That is all I/WE need to know, say, be.

If you want to hear about my/our experiences, do so - listen.

Sometimes we are SHOUTING our truths exactly from this perspective and society can't even hear us... but slap the label of "expert" on us or one of us and then important policy-makers and authorities can hear and understand us?

Ffffffuck you for that!

If you cannot value my words and experiences without giving me a label YOU feel comfortable with or that designates value from status quo sources, then screw you - that is YOUR problem.

My story - our stories - the stories of persons living in poverty situations and lifestyles are chock full of importance, value, and truths that warrant my/our names being our main title. We don't need to be called experts for any reason and the word expert doesn't add anything to our importance, value or to our truths.

Stop using the expert label to separate me from my peers:
In fact... sometimes the term "EXPERT" has a way of SEPARATING US from each other in a way that persons not living in poverty might have trouble understanding.

If I am introduced for some public speaking event and the M.C. announces that I am some kind of expert on poverty and lived experience, then my newly donned title sets me apart from other low income peers. They didn't ask to be separated from me and I didn't ask to be set apart from them, either - PLUS - I am NOT an expert!!!

I am a person with poverty lived experience.... that is pretty darn clear as a phrase, isn't it? There's no need to try to elevate me or my experience. If you can't understand this, you aren't going to understand this phrase or my story any better by slapping the expert label on me.

Stop the Stanford Prison Experiment already!
AS WELL... I have seen the label of expert do nasty trans-formative things to peers in a way that brings the Stanford Prison Experiment to mind. Damn near EVERY time I hear the word "expert" paired with a low income person or person with poverty lived experience, I feel I am witnessing my peers attempt to take on a status and persona they are usually railing against - THAT authority figure who doesn't understand low-income-ness or the actual daily stress of living in poverty. THAT role involved in regular oppression of lower income and lower status persons...

The Stanford Prison Experiment proves that power corrupts... and the word "Expert" is a power title word...

In this study, the researchers, as well, had trouble maintaining understanding and maintenance of their roles! The research "subjects" are not the only ones surprising behaviour was recorded about - the researchers - those with ultimate power, had difficulties - psychologically and behaviourally.

From Oxford Online living dictionary...
The definition of "Expert":  a person who is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area.

Since this is a really simplified and brief explanation of the term, I will supply you with some of the listed synonyms for Expert - from the same source:

  • Specialist
  • Authority
  • Oracle
  • Adept 
  • Master 
  • Accomplished
  • Talented 
  • Professional
  • Practised
  • Qualified
  • Competent
Those are just a few other words Oxford suggests you can insert in place of "expert." I'm pretty sure persons with lived experiences of poverty, possibly homelessness, and low income living aren't considered "specialists." If this is true, then people living on low incomes are "qualified" for poverty...?