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Queeries: Revolution on my mind, part 2
It’s been a minute, a month, a couple of months, an eternity. I have been trying and flailing and failing to find the right words to describe the highs of recent personal & collective victories, as well as the lows as we witness a global colonial catastrophe unfolding in Palestine. There probably is no right way to say the things I want to say—a contradicting mix of good and terribad things, like trying to combine water and oil—but I can ensure you that this edition of the newsletter is full of hope.
Because despite everything, I write these words to you as a practice, a discipline, of hope. Mariame Kabe, abolitionist organizer and author of We Do This Til We Free Us, put it this way in an interview with Intercepted in March 2021 (emphasis mine):
I went to a talk many years ago, and there was a nun… [It] was a talk about having a commitment to social justice, a lifelong commitment to social justice. And they were talking about what sustains them in their work. And I’m not even sure if the quote was exactly this, but I remember her saying something like, “And what keeps me going is that hope is a discipline.”
And I heard that, and, I just, like, I perked up right away — and it stuck with me. Then I continued to work and do all this other kind of stuff. And it would keep coming back to me, this idea of hope being a discipline. And I was like, hope as a discipline; I’m like, what does that mean for me?
And that became a mantra for me in terms of when I would feel unmoored. Or when I would feel overwhelmed by what was going on in the world, I would just say to myself: “Hope is a discipline.” It’s less about “how you feel,” and more about the practice of making a decision every day, that you’re still gonna put one foot in front of the other, that you’re still going to get up in the morning. And you’re still going to struggle, that that was what I took away from it.
It’s work to be hopeful. It’s not like a fuzzy feeling. Like, you have to actually put in energy, time, and you have to be clear-eyed, and you have to hold fast to having a vision. It’s a hard thing to maintain. But it matters to have it, to believe that it’s possible, to change the world. You know, that we don’t live in a predetermined, predestined world where like nothing we do has an impact. No, no, that’s not true! Change is, in fact, constant, right? Octavia Butler teaches us. We’re constantly changing. We’re constantly transforming. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good or bad. It just is. That’s always the case. And so, because that’s true, we have an opportunity at every moment to push in a direction that we think is actually a direction towards more justice.
People are doing work all the time and consistently and constantly. And I don’t know where that’s going to go. I don’t know what the end result is going to look like. But it’s part of a long legacy, what we call la longue durée. This is a long term arc of work and I’m not a progress-narrative person, so I think everything happens at the same time. So we’re resisting and we’re being crushed at the same time always, like they’re parallel tracks happening. Let’s just do what we can where we are within our capacity to the best of our abilities. Like, that’s really the best we can be hoping for. And let’s learn from the mistakes we make. Let’s study together so that we get sharper and develop better questions — not come up with all the answers, but just develop better questions so we can build off of those over time and keep growing and keep moving in a direction that we feel is the right direction to have, as we think we know it in the moment that we know right now.
I learned from my father that you may have big dreams and big visions. And, you know, you have to prepare for the day after the revolution. And even when you do that, it’s not guaranteed that things are going to go as you had hoped. So what’s the next best thing you can do from where you are? For you, in this moment, in this possibility space that you have, what’s the next best thing? And it’s such a grounding question. Because it doesn’t tell you: What’s the next 17 things that you need to do to get from where you are to where you need to go? It’s: What’s the next best step to take?
And that just is what I think we do. We don’t know. But we’ll try. We’ll make lots of experiments. We’ll work with lots of different kinds of people. We’ll build movements, not clubs. This is what we’re going to try, and we’ll do our best.
Get it? Got it? Good!
First things first: free Palestine!!! Ceasefire now, as the bare minimum!!! Let Gaza live!!! End settler colonial occupations worldwide!!! Abolition means no more war!!! Isn’t it crazy that the U.S. government suddenly has $14 billion to support violence when there are countless failing systems at home? A partial list of things that must go: Apartheid. Hamas. Islamophobia. Anti-semitism. Occupation settlements. Border walls. Unchecked military spending. Blockages and sieges. Proxy wars. Terrorism. Genocide. White / Western supremacy. Fascism. Defense of indefensible acts. (Yes, I typed out an Instagram post - source below!)
Educate yourselves now———please let me know of other resources via email or in the comments:
Resources for Palestine, including videos, articles, and where to donate: Google Doc
Heartbreaking pins & notes on ‘Queering the Map’: Time Magazine article
Archive of teach-ins, many with a focus on architecture / the built environment: bit.ly/learninglisteningP4L3STiNE
Second, a bunch of queers in the field of and adjacent to architecture co-edited and co-authored Out in Architecture, a book dedicated to bringing visibility to the voices and experiences of LGBTQIA+ architects and designers, while aiming to propel conversation into action and institutional change!!!!! We set this year’s National Organization of Minority Architects Conference in Portland, Oregon, as the deadline to publish the book and we did it!!! We had a panel discussion called “Out in Architecture: Witnessing LGBTQIA+ Joy to Build Just Futures” that was SOLD OUT—there was a line out the door of people waiting to get inside! Click here to learn more…
Or click here to purchase your copy!!! Buy copies for yourself, a friend, a classroom, a library, a book club, a waiting room, a coffee table (it’s absolutely beautiful—if you don’t believe me, check the Out in Architecture Instagram for a view before you buy!). Help support our mission—and the possibility of a second volume (or more! 👀).
Third, to continue your antiracist education (remember when that was a “trend” in 2020??? Hint: it’s not a trend), please read The Dark Matter Issue of ARCHITECT Magazine (October 2023). It’s not the easiest thing to do because ARCHITECT switched to their mostly digital format awhile ago, but here’s the link—read and learn from my incredible Dark Matter U colleagues, whom I had the pleasure and privilege to co-edit, co-design, and co-write with.
Let’s zoom back out to think about hope again—hope in the context of revolution. As I wrote earlier this year, Grace Lee Boggs says that revolutions are not singular events, but ongoing processes of evolution. And with every process—of unlearning, of waking up, of rebirth—there will be pain. Nobody said a revolution would be easy.
But nobody said it would be lonely, either. In collective grief and rage, I find solace that these feelings are shared across the world. I lie on the couch wearing my hybrid sleeping bag / dress / blanket, chest feeling heavy, taking deep breaths, knowing that I am one of the lucky ones right now, safe and warm and typing away on a computer, an endless string of words that may or may not be reaching the hearts and minds of readers—thinking about the children being pulled from the rubble of their homes, the entire villages flattened, the incomprehensible scale of mass death, the injustice of it all spanning decades and decades and decades. And I know I am not alone.
Growing up, a dominant feeling I felt at home was complete and utter loneliness. I was well-fed and my basic needs were met, but I was otherwise floating through emotional darkness. I did not have the language to express how I felt or who I was, and so I could not connect with others who were experiencing similar things. I had not even the slightest inkling of what to hope for. A huge part of the journey of healing came through finding the words to describe my world, and then finding language and communities to form alternate realities that were better, more expensive, more full of love and life and support in the ways that I needed. I found home in other places, in queerness, in other people, in the absence of loneliness. My own evolutions; my own revolution.
A queer reading of home is all about the land, the right to access and live and thrive on land. Sometimes I wonder what we have done to this planet, with all of its water and its land, chopped up and scarred by nation states battling for power and resources. Is this collective uprising and shared pain part of our (r)evolution as people of the world?
Can you tell that queer visions of home have been on my mind a lot, recently?—nonconforming, polyamorous, intergenerational, anxious, joyous, genre-busting, stereotype-debunking visions of home as evolutions of traditional notions, as revolutions in themselves.
We’re a little less than two weeks out from the opening of CFA Lab: Seeing Refuge and Making Home in NYC, where Queeries will be making its three-dimensional debut (if/when I finish designing and installing the exhibition 😅). The design is actually mostly blank walls waiting to be filled in—just like how defining home can be a continuous, evolving process, minimal installation at the opening leaves space for documenting images and quotes from storytelling workshops. For people who cannot attend the in-person workshops, there will be a storytelling station in one corner of the exhibit, designed to be a three-dimensional loom through which people can “spin the yarn” of their own experiences. (And for those not in New York City, I’m planning on designing an online components—watch this space!)
Ultimately, queer visions of home dreamed up by participants will actively insert everyday queer and trans voices into the architectural discourse. What better way to queer architecture in realtime?!
If you’re in New York City on November 16th, I hope you can swing by the exhibition opening and add to the gallery walls! Click here to register - it’s free and open to the public, so bring your queer friends, too!
Once again, thank you for reading this newsletter. It really would not exist without you.
I hope these words inspire in some way, shape, or form.
Until next time, in solidarity,