This year of Creating Change is my third and unlike the previous two conferences, I went in with a very unfocused and very busy mindset because this year it happened to be held in Philly, my lovely city and I had to work and take care of my home and my pups and cats.
My bubble of Creating Change started with Queer API Day Long Institute on Thursday, 1/19 9-5PM. The session was led by folx from NQAPIA (National Queer Asian Pacific Islander and Alliance). I feel that NQAPIA as a national group has grown and continuously expanding their understanding as well as their body to include the definition of Asian and I really appreciate and proud of that because as a Steering Committee member of hotpot!Philly, I am an extension and part of NQAPIA. In their session blurb, they include Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Pacific Islanders for attendees. The Middle Eastern part is new for me but I’m glad that NQAPIA has included Middle Easterners because I have long thought of them as being Asians based on geographically.
Friday morning, I started with a session called Jeh Johnson, Can You Hear Us Now? led by Sasha W. (NQAPIA) It’s basically a session that talks about how the Department of Homeland Security and the head, Jeh Johnson, refuses to ban profiling and surveillance. We talk about the impact it has on our lives as queer and trans folks, as immigrants and what we can do to fight back and to dissect and change policies as well as building movement across our communities. We watched a video and talk about how NQAPIA in DC *profiled white people as part of their strategy to make people realize of their white privilege as this was done during the day, at lunch time and some people got it right away and reacted positively but some was mad, not sure if it was because they were hangry or something else.
*When we talk about profiling, the questions being asked are usually: Where are you from? No, really where are you originally from? Where are your parents from? Do you speak English? Wow, you speak English so well! Is English your first language? Does your children speak English? Does your grandparents speak English? You speak English with no accent, or almost with no accent at all! Insert eye rolling.
We ended the session with a much fiery desire within me to have that same profiling to happen here in Philly with my fellow hotpotters!
PS: Sasha, please train us!!!
Mapping Our Desires was next. It was presented in such a way where you listen to stories by the presenters first and you think about your own desires and write 3 things that you desires. Anything you like, sexually. Then you pick someone and talk to them about those 3 things for 3 minutes. After that you work on your breathing as the presenter talk and guide you to think about those desires, and then you write one thing you want the most but not the one that could traumatize you because they are not therapists and there’s not a therapist on hand. After 10 minute, pick someone you haven’t talk with and share if you want. Because this is a mini session, only 90 minutes, you don’t get the full effect but it’s pretty useful to work on at home.
Advanced Polyamory/Nonmonogamy Caucus was the last session for Friday. I guess being really tired, and lacking sleep really didn’t help as I wasn’t aware that the title of the caucus started with “Advanced…”. I was just exploring and wanted to know how people who were already in alternative relationship structures deal with jealousy, time sharing and safety. I had a really good time chatting and learning from folx although it’s mostly white folks, but Alex was great into explaining something to me, “if you throw in power dynamics and race into it, it would be messy and could somehow develop into micro aggressive behavior where the two other people ganged up on you because you are “the other one”.”
I ended my Friday night with the dance party Love Ball and Friday Night Cruise which basically is a speed dating. It was fun and I was exhausted!
Next morning, my first 3 hours Academy session on Saturday. Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum. I actually had something similar last year during a Racial Justice Day Long Institute but it was just 90 minutes. Here we learnt how sex and gender was oppressed by colonialism and white supremacy. Throughout the history of U.S and all over the world when white cisgender folks maintain the hierarchy to always be at the top and look at other people based on how light or dark your skin color is. We also talk about how gender binary was started by colonialism when they conquered the country and they forced it upon the culture, anything they deemed unsightly will be banished. But what is the basis of the gender binary itself that started all of this? It’s the religion. Catholicism to be exact.
My second 3 hours academy session was Sexual Liberation at the Intersections. We talked about how culture, race, religion, class, and social experiences impact us as queer people. We were asked to one by one, do one movement or sound or just be in one place for 10 minutes in the beginning of the session when thinking of our own queerness and desires. After everyone were set in their place, we were told to look around and from my own perspective, it’s not looking great. We seemed to be depressed and oppressed, the opposite of liberated.
Then we break into small groups based on themes for 45 minutes discussion, mine was body image/self image. There were only 2 people in my group which was great. We talk about how various identities impact our experiences around self image and which identities are more salient and which one gets left behind. We also talk about the cultural message we get and how they resonate with us. As a group, we then talk about goals and intentions, some of them are: Trans people and desires, to liberate self, communicate needs, identify needs, healing trauma, non binary/gnc bodies, claim self as creator of sexual desires and many more.
When we talk about what is Sexual Liberation to us, the answers were so many and in variety: Satisfaction. Deep self love. Purposeful great sex. Independent. Access pleasure. Excited. Happy. Decriminalized. Exploring shame. Talking and exploring. Defining who I do and how. Saying no. Getting attention I want without harassment. Asking for what I want without___. Being vulnerable and soft.
I really love this session because it enable me to be real with myself and open me up and be vulnerable in a way I had never been before and ask for my sexual needs, when I had not been able to.
In closing, this year of Creating Change is not like the other years. I have change as a person, older and more mature, my way of thinking and looking of the world definitely have changed a lot so going to a Conference such as Creating Change was different. My expectation was that I would experience something like a queer bubble and a lot of emotional feelings but in reality I did not. I was mostly just happy and very busy while learning a lot. So, thank you so much for the experiences!!