Welcome to the Edit
Yes, it’s very original
Hello and welcome!
Here I am, day four of isolation after really trying very hard for two whole years to not get covid, finally starting the newsletter I’ve been tinkering with in my head for a while.
I read a lot of links and collect a lot of things - most of which end up as a series of screenshots in my instagram stories (or briefly on a little micro-blog I quickly forgot about - though remembering it now makes me want to use it again)
I’ve been thinking about how to share what I’m reading, how to share the screenshots and the notes in my phone - and maybe other people would like to read them?
And isolation feels like the perfect time, y’know?
‘What’s valuable about your life is your ability to desire beyond even your own wildest dreams.‘
The article that spurred me to actually starting this tonight is this fantastic interview with Jules Gill-Peterson - whose Substack you should definitely go subscribe to now.
I first consciously encountered Gill-Peterson through this post about the Cis State, which also ended up screenshotted on my stories:
Two longstanding observations are merging in real time:
Cisgender is a fiction that gender tells itself to organize its binary and coordinate the biological anchor of political governance in the individual and population.
The modern state is a fiction it tells itself to authorize its political domination of social life.
The result of this merger? The state is trying to add a cisgender identity to its fictional biography.
After subscribing to her Substack and following her on the socials I realised she’s in Framing Agnes, an incredible piece of trans filmmaking that engages with historical medical files, using trans voices to tell trans stories - I ran a screening of Framing Anges’ initial release here in Ōtautahi, and it’s now got a feature release at Sundance.
But this interview - with health justice scholar Bea Adler-Bolton - jumps through and past the cis state and sheds austerity to talk about organising through desire. It’s just essential reading, okay?
Can we flip the script for a second and talk in a purely affirmative way? “Rationality,” and “feasibility,” and cost benefit analysis be damned: what is the world that you want to live in, Jules, and how do you see us getting there?
Yes. Yes! I wish everyone could see how I’m cheering right now. We have what we need here right now: all the ingredients that we need for a good enough world. We don’t have to completely tear down the world that we live in, nor do we have to wait for the second coming or for a utopian world that doesn’t exist.
Power is very anxious all the time. So is the ruling class. They aren’t happy. They know very well how weak their positions are; they know how much stronger we all are together. I’m glad we don’t have to invent concepts bigger or newer than solidarity and collectivity. Those still work. That’s been true for a really long time, and that makes it even more true today, not less true than it used to be. It’s not just comforting, it’s actually galvanizing. We have what we need here to start with the “good enough”—as Argentinian travesti activist Marlene Wayar might put it—and then to let our desire guide us to what is even better. And perhaps that isn’t entirely rational. Perhaps it requires a certain level of trust. Trust in one another, trust in our desires, trust in what is unruly and ungovernable about us.
A meme I made
What’s on my mind
Last week we held our second Pride Ball here in Ōtautahi - 600 rainbow rangatahi from across the motu gathered in the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū for such a gorgeous, perfect night - it was so special and I’m so grateful to get to do this mahi.
The ball was healing for me, particularly after the week (weeks) Aotearoa’s rainbow communities have had - significantly culminating in the suspected arson of Gender Dynamix and Rainbow Youth’s drop-in centre in Tauranga. It’s part of a string of events, hopefully isolated, but all of which have a common thread of imported far-right rhetoric from the states - particularly around the narrative that rainbow people are “grooming” children.
For more on that, read David Farrier’s Webworm.
Look on, you heroes who punch down on kids, both those of you who are out and proud, and the ones who tell yourselves it’s only a snide joke. Look at these two. May their delight - and my love - burn glitter-sized holes in your miserable souls.
All genders are joyful, are infinitely colourful. Cowardice is the same shade of brown every time.
And ashes are meant to be risen from.
And to leave you:
On Saturday I watched hundreds of Waitaha’s rainbow rangatahi dance in pure, unabandoned queer joy - to everything from Cotton Eyed Joe to Gangam Style to Robyn (which didn’t hit as hard as we thought it would - tastes are changing!) to My Chemical Romance (just as hard as last year). They posed on the gallery’s marble staircase, took very music-video-style photos against a projected rainbow flag, and sat and talked with queer elders.
The ball was all ages and pay what you can - accessible to all, an opportunity for intergenerational connection, intergenerational celebration, intergenerational joy. We sold out in a week.
This, again, from Jules Gill-Peterson:
The goal of wanting things isn’t just getting them. It’s also teaching yourself that you’re deserving and teaching yourself that the people in your life are deserving. And therefore, thinking bigger and bigger about what you know, would allow you to have a life worth living, not just to be alive instead of to be dead, not just to save people whose lives are under attack, but then to turn around and say, enough is enough. Enough killing, enough letting die and here’s our counteroffer: lives worth living on our terms.