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August 5, 2008

It has been almost two months since my last posting! I intended on posting while in Canada and France, but I never really found the time to do so. While not much has changed since June…except for one thing: Roberto and I made it official on 18 July 2008 and registered as domestic partners! We did not make a big deal of it, and we don’t really intend on having any ceremony or stuff like that, but we have certainly enjoyed the shift in reception we get from friends and family…its like taking 20 minutes out of our life to fill out some papers and pay $40.00US suddenly further legitimized our relationship. But, hey I am not complaining 🙂 We didn’t do it for anyone else…we did it for security.

After we made the step to solidify our present, I am preparing to look forward and currently in the midst of  preparing for a huge change come September: my second-year of graduate school 🙂 This has been one of the first relaxing summers in a long time, and I will be sad to see it go. But its time to return. I have a task to complete…now the issue here is: what form the product take?

As I discussed with you all a few months ago, my intentions for the next year of study were to return (volver) to my roots: Cuba. I proposed a thesis project on Queer Cuban Nationalism, and while the proposal passed…the project no longer seems feasible 😦 I have not had any luck securing access to university libraries and state archives. Considering that my project will be based in historiographical research, it is imperative that I employ primary sources. I KNOW they exist…but I have to accept that I will not have enough time to locate and analyze the sources.

This is where the shift…the change begins to come into focus…(or somewhat)

In Montreal, I visited the Gay Archives of Quebec and attended the Symposium on Queer Feminisms. These experiences provoked me to look north…and in a way return to a topic that I have been interested on studying for the past decade: Sexuality and Quebecois Nationalism. It is a perfect fit 🙂 I fear speaking at length on the possible topic, as I don’t want to jinx this possibly.

but I will share with you another research project that I intend on pursuing independent of my work @ Sarah Lawrence. As most of you know, I am a native of the Bronx. I have lived elsewhere, but the Bronx (and specifically Parkchester) has always been my home. And in the past 10 years since I’ve “come out,” Parkchester and many parts of the Bronx have exploded with queer visibility. The Bronx now has Bronx Pride, a Gay and Lesbian Center, two HIV/AIDS organizations, a feminist/queer arts space, various queer nites at bars/clubs and damn, Roberto and I even registered our domestic partnership in the Bronx! Yet, in light of all these positive changes, a dense air of homo and transphobia continues to linger in this borough. I want to document queer lives in this borough…I want to engage with a history and enthnography of the queer Bronx. So if any of you have any resources, or directions for this project…please let me know.:-)

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Un été à Paris

May 20, 2008

Because that is exactly what I will be doing–or rather, where I will be!

My first year of graduate school has officially ended, thereby my summer has finally begun!

I have not been able to go on vacation for some time, due to various financial and personal circumstances, but this school year certainly warrants a brief departure from the monotony of new york city. so, i’m escaping new york city for the entire month of june 🙂 I may seem gloat-y, but, fuck it, I deserve it. I need a break 🙂 For now, my homework is practicing French, Dutch, Spanish and learning some Catalan, since I will not be speaking much English for over a month! Here’s my (tentative) schedule:

27 to 30 Mai: Delaware and Washington D.C.–I will be attending one day of the NAFSA conference to network, find Ph.D information, etc.

2-10 Juin: Montréal, QUÉBEC–this is my second home: I will be conducting some light research at queer and feminist archives, and (hopefully) sitting in on the Queer Feminisms Symposium at McGill University. But, it will not be all work 🙂 my Dutch roomie will be meeting us in Montréal from 6 – 8 June!

11-30 Juin: L’EUROPE!

Paris, FRANCE will be my home base, but I will be making day and weekend short trips to:

Barcelona, ESPAÑA

Provence-Marseille, FRANCE

Fez or Marrakesh, MOROCCO

Amsterdam, NEDERLAND

30 Juin: Arrive back to Montréal, QUÉBEC

1 Juillet: La fête nationale du Canada!

2 Juillet : Return to NYC

3 to 6 Juillet: Independence Day in Dover, DELAWARE

and for the rest of the summer…who knows?

If any of you are in these cities, please send me a note. I’ve been to most of these places, but it is always nice consulting with a local or expat about must-sees’ 🙂

I am so looking forward to it! 🙂

and, btw, I will definitely be photo-blogging this séjour au QUÉBEC et L’EUROPE!

a bientôt!

PREVIEW!:

Ambitious Child

April 20, 2008

Ambitious Child

My grandmother kept two small birds in her kitchen. As a child, I remember being completely in awe of birds. I did not understand how or why they could fly…or rather why I couldn’t. I, unlike those other stupid children I knew did not attempt to fly. I knew it was impossible for a human being to achieve self driven flight. But…I suppose the real question is: how did I know this? Although I did not break my arms, legs, head, neck or any other part of my body in any foolish attempt to soar with the birds, I carefully observed everyone else who did.
I suppose the ambitious child really had a fear of flying…

Without Notice

April 14, 2008

I just read some speeches by Maurice Bishop, the former Prime Minister of Grenada assinated after the U.S. invasion in 1983. I was provoked to respond directly to Bishop and the United States. If you want to read up on Grenada, wiki it–i support democratizing knowledge.
—-

Without Notice

I.
I am the voice that remains lost in your revolution.
I  cannot be explained in objective or subjective terms: I exist beyond that limited understanding.

I am the wo/man who does not know
of my fellow sisters
of the struggle
of who I really am.

This voice remains absent from your revolution and
I am not cognizant of the possibility of  my own liberation.

Your ties beyond this space
Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq
provoke to me wonder:
where do your interests lie
what is your revolution?

The revolution lies in my body
I gave birth to it
and there it should begin and end with me.
my body lies present with a voice
an open womb bleeding for your revolution.

disease, illiteracy and famine
do not mark the parameters of my struggle—it cannot be explained in a material vision of
development.
your image of
development
remains colonized
and my voice does not have a space.
it is imbedded in
silence—
silence
so sharp that the dogs howl in misery each fortnight.

On your second and third anniversaries
will you wish to hear my
voice
as you blow out the fire?
Oh, dear Bishop,
you can only see a connection to your colonizers:
their sneeze
develops
into your cold.
yet, Bishop, in your revolutionary position of authority and oversight,
cannot see that when you cough
I choke and suffocate while warm trade winds speed through my naked hair.

Your revolution has improved the condition of my being,
but has not addressed the substance.
I now live:
longer, healthier, richer.
but my voice continues
lost in your reforms.

The crisis you speak of truly affects us all
and yes, affects us like a leech—
but I no longer have any more blood
to feed its hunger for raw materials.

Your Revolution seeks to deepen
individual and collective
consciousness.
and you call us, your local congregation to move
forward ever, backward never!
I remain lost somewhere in between.
Your Revolution seeks to deepen
international consciousness
rendering me lost before I reach the ears of interpreters.
I know not of my sisters elsewhere, because I know not of my sisters here.

Your jewel, with its sheer brilliance
transfixes
and
renders me silent.

I have no voice.
I have no elections.

II.
I mourn for the 17
but from bereavement
I now have my voice:
or so I believe.

Hello All,

It has been a while since my last post. I have been really consumed by work these past few weeks, but I hope to get back as soon as possible–better to post quality work, then just copious amounts of trash, eh?

Please take a look at these upcoming events. I will be present at all of them. Please come out and support the work of these amazing activists, organizers, intellectuals and fabulous people.

In Solidarity,

Pablo

——-

InterSEXtions

http://intersextionsconference.eventbrite.com/

In the upcoming election, “Change” has been thrown around as a bit of a buzzword among the Democrats. This “change” promises to restore hope in government and address the neglect of citizens of the United States by the current dictatorship. For generations, the right wing has used divide-and-conquer tactics to impede liberation for women, people of color, trans & queer people, immigrants, youth, poor and low-income people, and countless others. For too long, this imposed division has prevented our movements from recognizing the points at which we intersect. At organizing at the InterSEXtions, we hope to focus and build upon these points of intersection – for example: educational inequality, gentrification, legislation that diminishes both the rights of LGBTQ people and immigrants (ie. Marriage rights and the REAL ID act), HIV/Aids as a health, socio-economic and political epidemic, and the war on Iraq. The SEX in interSEXtions is a commentary to copulate the issues, to rub our activisms and identities against each other, to grind together, to flirt with other political discourses, and to make love to the movement!

InterSEXtions is on a mission to create a “state” where NYC activists, students, and movement leaders of tomorrow come together from their distinctive backgrounds, with their diverse perspectives and skills, to investigate social injustices at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, “citizenship” and ability and learn tools for grassroots organizing to develop a vision to further their activism. A central tenet to this conference is to build a network and solidarity among activists and students involved in intersectional social change. organizing at the InterSEXtions will be invigorating, critical, multilogical, and groundbreaking for movement building in NYC.

This conference will be held on April 19th and 20th, and will be a part of the larger “Building the Movement Weekend,” working in solidarity with ARKestra: Arts for Advocacy and Social Change and Zami, Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER.

Saturday

8:30-10am: Registration: Conference Resource Center, Lang Cafeteria

9am: Breakfast, Invocation and Libation: Julia Rhee, Leadership Academy Fellow with Young People For (YP4), Jamila Thompson, ARKestra and Women of Color Organization, Educator and Healer in training.

10a – 12:30p: Session 1

a. “Everyday Sexism and Modes of Resistance.”, Jamila Thompson, Women of Color Organization, ARKestra, Arts for Advocacy and Social Change.

b. “The Unexamined Whiteness of Teaching: The Challenge to Social Justice Education”, Bree Picower, Assistant Professor/ Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Teaching & Learning, Steindhart School of Culture, Education and Human Development, NYU., Core Member, NYCoRE.

c. Afro-Asian Relations: Hip-Hop as a Platform*”, Julia Rhee, Leadership Academy Fellow with Young People For (YP4)

d. Uses of the Erotic: In Activism and Scholarship,” Aih Djehuti Herukhuti Khepera Ra Temu Seti Amen, Ph.D.

12:30-2 p:

Lunch

and

Keynote: Kaila Story, Ph.D. The Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, Assistant Professor Women’s and Gender Studies and Pan-African Studies, University of Louisville

and

Reflection and Harmonization: Jenn Ghost Bear

2p-4:30p: Session 2

a. Learning & Media Pro(e)d(u)cation @ the Intersection of Literacies and Difference.”, 2008 Cohort, Educational Video Center.

b. “First, Class: Economic Justice and Class Issues in the LGBT Movement*.”, Kenyon Farrow, Board Co-Chair, Queers for Economic Justice, New York, NY

c. Moving from Prevention to Intervention: HIV/AIDS Activism among Changing Times“, Michael Roberson, Executive Director, People of Color in Crisis (POCC), Frank Leon Roberts, Doctoral Student, New York University & Research Fellow, P.O.C.C..

d. Local Anti-War Movement Building: Students for a Democratic Society

4:45-5:45pm: Organizing Mixer: A meet and greet, mocktail hour for conference attendees.

6p-9p: Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER

*Tentative workshop title/subject to change

Sunday

11a-12:30p: Roundtable Discussion: “Academic Justice: A conversation with folks who seek it and fight for it.” Aih Djehuti Herukhuti Khepera Ra Temu Seti Amen, Ph.D., Jan Clausen, Greg Tewksbury

12:30-2p: Lunch

1p-2p: “Love=Peace: Spirituality and Social Justice.”, Maya Hatch and Kumiko Endo, Love=Peace Project

2p-4:30p: Session 1

a. “We know what we’re “against” but what are we “for”? Defining our vision for a progressive future.“, Dennis Chin, Program Associate, Movement Vision Lab, Center for Community Change, New York, NY

b. “Using Independent Media to Support Grassroots Organizing: Eugene Lang and Beyond.“, Eleanor Whitney, Lang Alumni, co-founding editor of New School Press Press (formerly Inprint), co-editor of riffrag.org, museum educator and freelance journalist, Irene Villasenor, youth organizer with P.O.V./American Documentary, Vani Natarajan, young adult librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library and member of Radical Reference.

c. [Re]Visions of Public Schooling: Grassroots Organizing for Educational Equity.”, Amita Swadhin, Sunset Park Education In Action Community (SPEAC) Collective

d. “Queer Diaspora: How might the cartography of a queer diaspora offer alternative narratives of globalization and its effects on subjectivity, culture, and kinship?”, Sadat Iqbal, Queer Union, NYU

5p: Closing Ceremony, Julia Rhee, Jenn Ghost Bear, Jamila Thompson, Maya Hatch

6p-9p: Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER

*Tentative workshop title/subject to change

questions? email us at intersextions@gmail.com

conference produced by Joaquin Sanchez Jr and Harper Keenan,

the women of color organization, New School’s OPEN, Lang Student Union, Lang Dept of Education Studies, Lang Office of Community Activism and Participatory Citizenship

illustrations: Martin J. Fitzpatrick

and for a breakdown of Zami Like Me: Queer Womyn of Color CipHER:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/101221757/emailinvite

“Does our sexual or racial identity compel an activist intersection with such a horrifying status quo or not? Is it sexual or racial identity that will catapult each of us into creative agency for social change? I would say, I hope so.” – June Jordan

Put on by The CipHER Project and co-sponsored by the New School Women of Color Organization and OPEN, the gay/straight alliance at The New School, Zami Like Me is a social, political, activist, artistic, educational and entertainment two day event that will serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, non-conforming, and two-spirited women of color and allies in celebration of our multiple identities, works and talents. It will be a one to two day women’s cipHER, a sharing space of skill, wit, talent and gifts that will run full circle, 360 degrees, with love and support. In reaching out to the New School community as well as the outside community, I hope to bring in artists (in many forms) and academics, youth and elders, to join in this two-day event to educate and learn about the issues that are prevalent to these women. This event will be on Saturday, April 19th and Sunday, April 20th.

[Please join us Saturday April 19 from 5:30-9 pm and Sunday April 20 from 6-9pm.]

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 5:30-9PM

3 FILM SCREENINGS:

black.womyn.:conversations with lesbians of african descent by tiona.m.

I Look Up to the Sky Now, created by Barbara M. Bickart and 11 young queer activists.

Like a Boy, Like a Girl by Ash. S. Tai and Cleopatra N. LaMothe

FOLLOWED BY 3 SMALL CIPHERS AND THEN 1 LARGER CIPHER LED BY KAILA A. STORY, AUDRE LORDE CHAIR AND ASST. PROFESSOR AT LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 6-9PM

ART EXHIBITION BY LGBTQTS WOMYN AND ALLIES!

LIVE PERFORMANCES!

LIVE ART BY THE AGYTATORS!

$5 to $10 suggested donation will be requested at the door. All proceeds are going to the Audre Lorde Project and the Youth Enrichment Services (YES) at the LGBTQ Center. NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY BECAUSE OF MONEY. There will also be a raffle foe a gift bag of goodies!

Zami Like Me

Considering my upcoming master’s thesis on Queer Nationalism in Cuba, I was ecstatic to find this essay I wrote in 2003. I suppose that even five years ago I had some idea that I wanted to pursue this topic deeper, but my analytical tools were certainly limited at this point–I was only a sophomore. Although this essay is too broad to fit under the purview of my thesis, I may decide to clean this essay up a bit and present it at a conference. I know the essay is a bit long–and requires a lot of editing, but any comments would certainly be appreciated 🙂

By the way, I couldn’t post the citations. If anyone wants them, just let me know.

Read the rest of this entry »

Over the past few weeks, I have been conducting non-stop research for my thesis prospectus and I came across a really interesting article on AIDS Activism and Feminist Theory by Katie King. Although the article does not fall under the purview of my project topic, I felt impelled to draft a brief intervention, namely because I’ve been feeling starved for work on the intersections of feminist and queer theory.

I remember a time at Hamilton College when Chandra Mohanty insisted that AIDS is a feminist issue. She proceeded to advise the class that in order for us, as feminists, to begin to understand the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we must think trasnationally and translocally in the same moment. For Katie King, AIDS activism presents potential shifts in feminist theory. King notes that “feminist as theoretical agents are both accountable to and shaped by these shifts that are radically altering transnational locations of power.” What King refers to as “global gay formations and local homosexualities” and their subsequent connections with HIV/AIDS that presents an apparatus for “the construction of political identities.” These identities are engendered within the postmodern cultural conditions that are currently enveloping our world through commerce and globalization. Yet, within this context, a process of glocalizing is also occurring through the hybridization of sexual identities with local and western sexualities at it core.

In October 2004, I attend a symposium entitled Homosexualities, HIV/AIDS and Hivos in Amsterdam. One of the main purposes of this symposium was to discuss possible strategies for creating new alliances with queer and feminist theorists on addressing HIV/AIDS. On this particular day, no new strategies were created, but certainly new epistemic networks were formed. One possible reason that no strategies were created that day is because within our postmodern cultural conditions, strategies stabilize identities, create new binaries, and in turn are counterproductive. King notes that “in such activist engagements and political realliances, overlapping AIDS activisms [must] challenge the simple binaries and the misleading charges of essentialism that academics use to process, categorize, and taxononomize political identities, struggles, and literatures and to manage political alliances in U.S. feminism. Is King suggesting that we return and rearticulate identity politics? King asserts that the global gay formations and local homosexualities are in fact creating three direct consequences for feminist theory. The first is “a new appreciation for ‘cultural feminism,’ which [she] claims is the proper name for our apparatus for the production of feminist culture: a sometimes essentialist and sometimes anti-essentialist synthesis of identity politics and sex-racial productions of feminist and gay culture.” Many believe that identity politics is a failed political project, but I am not so quick to disregard its accomplishments. The second is the destabilization categories to re-define HIV/AIDS. Is this best accomplished through a return to consciousness-raising groups, cultural analysis, or art theoretical agitprop activism? The third consequence King mentions “comes new visibilities created by such activism…that suggest directions for gay/lesbian/feminist/gender studies in a global gay formations and local homosexualities.” But, would Barbara Kruger’s appropriation art of a hand grasping the words, “I am out therefore I am” translate or transliterate transnationally and translocally?

In order for us as feminists to understand HIV/AIDS as a feminist cause, we must reevaluate several issues. First, we must recall the fundamentals of our struggle. The global gay movement first theorized sexism as the root cause of homophobia. This exhibits a fundamental alliance that can be reestablished between queer and feminist theorists. We must understand the layering of identities, and evaluate whether performative politics of identity are applicable to HIV/AIDS activism. We must, as Mohanty advised, think both transnationally and translocally, while also considering the borderlands. Finally, we must, as Sandoval proposes envision a democratization of oppression to engender an “identity politics…mapping across classes, sexualities, religions, nationalities, and ethnicities.”

Sex or Gender & Histories

February 28, 2008

Last night I was thinking about gender and history–and yes, I think about these things at home. This was prompted by a promo for an upcoming episode of Taboo on National Geographic. The focus of the episode will be on Sexual Identity, and while the program was quite interesting (its a rerun), I remember being disturbed by the their constant shift between the terms: sex and gender. While there is already amazing scholarship on this subject, I want to offer a succinct intervention.

Why gender as an analytic alternative to sex? Sex is a biological construct that relies upon reproductive capacity as a foundation for sexual difference. It creates a mutually exclusive binary structure that render as in invisible other histories that exist outside of this dualism. A number of “third-wave” and French feminists dispute the biological-natural status the distinction imputes to sex, arguing instead that both sex and gender are culturally constructed and structurally complicit. I am not yet familiar enough with this stance, but I do believe that it certainly warrants mentioning.

But at this moment I still understand sex as an analytic concept is subject to ahistorical forces which do not portray the altering circumstances of our social condition(s). Study of historical records reveal that the social conditions constructed vis-à-vis sexual difference—gender—has lead to hierarchy, inequalities and a number of other inequitable circumstances.
Gender offers a contextual variable that shapes to address social conditions.Through integrating gender as historically specific analytic concept, we can broaden historiography to include gendered personal and systematic experiences as equally valid as conventional means of recording history. Historical analysis is particularly useful to feminists who aim to develop a gender-based foundation to their social critique. Gender provides specifity to activist projects. Considering these advantages, we can easily see the relationship between gender and history is not an exclusive hierarchical setup, rather it is the feminist alternative, a mutually inclusive symbiotic partnership that will allow us to finally broaden our intellectual scope to fully understand our social conditions.

What do you think?

During a housewarming this past Saturday night (23 Febuary 2008), amidst great music and a flowing bar of drinks, I had a fabulous political conversation with three of the most brilliant people I have ever met. And Joaquin, Angelica, Jamila and I were definitely not talking about the upcoming presidential election–at the nexus of our conversation was simply how fucked up binaries can be. During the conversation I concluded that even the discourse we employ when speaking about politics can completely reinforce an mutually oppressive binary apparatus.

Example: Dialogue. We often think this term can lead toward progressive ends, but even within (di)alogue we can see the construction of a binary developing. Di is a greek numerical prefix meaning two or double. We hear of monologues and dialogues, but what about triologues or multilogues. Are our progressive (queer, feminist, womanist) politics flawed from its foundations?

In order to move beyond binaries, we should begin with considering the condition of binaries. Within an oppositional binary system, two items are juxtaposed with each other in a hegemonic cold war. One item aims to surmount the other…and in turn gains social value while the other is subjected to demonization. In this process, other items are (purposely) alienated from this system. This is best exemplified our hegemonic gender binary.

I cannot help but consider at this point, what is the purpose of gender. As it now stands, we are socially programmed to recognize two genders: male and female. Like every other binary structure, it is discursive and hegemonic in nature. Derrida (I love Derrida!) explores this discursive relationship that exists within our construction of social definitions. At the foundation of the definition of an object, we consider its meaning through juxtaposition with the object’s polar opposite. This process is exclusive and does not consider the conditions of other objects that live within this system. This is why I cannot identify as male. In the gender binary, male is valued over female. I cannot agree with this system. In this gender binary, male/female is the only acceptable structure. This rejects the existence of trans, gender-queer, two-spirited, and intersexed people. I cannot agree with this alienation. Binaries produce borderlands.

The borderlands are filled with knowledge and histories…but when will we finally open our minds to open the borderlands into conversation?

Ottinger