“Examine the Complexities”
Video + Speech Transcript
20th Anniversary San Francisco Dyke March
- Krys Freeman, theDefinition.org (Founder)
by Krys “bLaKtivist” Freeman, Carrie khoLi + the homies that teach me everyday
Intro + Thank You Ayana + Dyke March Committee & Advisors
Wuttup Dyke March! It’s so beautiful to see yal. So… so I was tryna livestream this, that’s not gonna happen, so I’m gonna try and get a video of some sort.
Before I do anything, I want to start by thanking Ayana Smythe (like Smith) and the entire Dyke March Committee.
Your tireless work and commitment to our communities helped make this possible today. Can we show some love for the amazing folks? Its the 20th Anniversary of the Dyke March?
[PAUSE for Applause and CHEERS!]
[To Audience in Person + Watching Online]
And, I want to thank all of you for being here — that means those of you here in person, and hopefully the folks who’ll get to check this out online later. ::chuckle::
Thanks for being supportive and vocal, and present and OUT and proud and visible. Thanks for representing the beauty that weall love and see here inthe Bay Area!
I’d like to begin, by officially greeting you…
[Move to greeting]
Good day, Dykes!
Good day, Dykes! And good day lesbians and transdykes | hello to all of the MTFs and FTMs, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, gender fluid dykes. BUTCHES wussups — Shoutout to BUTCH VOICES!
How you been Bulldaggers ;-) Where all my Gentlewomyn at? Where my Genderqueers the tombois, tweenies, and my twin- and two-spirited folks?
What’s good to all my AGs | Doms and STUDS |bois and Masculine of Center women? – Where my BROWN BOIs at?
Good evening to all my femmes, fat femmes, high femmes, aggressive femmes - whatever feels good on you — even and especially for those of you whose names I do not yet know, or to those of you who prefer none of it — and prefer I get on with what I’ve got to say [Chuckle]
It is wonderful to SEE… you.
Year in Review
Good day… in what is to be a great summer, in a great year (!!) for us - believe it or not!
I say believe it or not, because I recently discovered that if you search “Gay” in Google News… the most consistent thing you’ll find is “Gay Marriage” | as if it were the only issue effecting us
And yes, it has been a big year (and a great year), in a number of ways for gay marriage.
· Prop 8 was overturned in California back in February [Cheers]
· Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington, Maryland [Cheers]
· DOMA was ruled unconstitutional [Cheers]
Obama and Gay Marriage
And then… Barack Obama made history by being the first sitting president to endorse marriage-equality. [Cheers] That was big.
But you’ll have to excuse the skeptic and the radical in me | that feels like I need to remind all of us it IS an election year and that we deserve much MUCH more.
The Nuances of “Marriage Equality”
To be honest, I was grateful that the President stepped out on faith. But I (myself) felt the need to dig deeper … So | [pantomime?] I’m reading a few things on facebook, twitter — skimming blogs … [POINT TO SELF] “tech geek.” And I get to this piece on The Huffington Post - essentially saying that, “Gay Marriage isn’t enough.” [AHA Moment!] … IT ISN’T!
But then… it gets hella real in the comments. This white guy is catching HEAT (!!) for his response to it. As he puts it, at the “end of the day all [he] want[s] is to ‘emulate the anachronistic norm of patriarchal, economically productive homes.’ … [not] to dismantle the system, [but instead] to join it.” MM. [STANK FACE]
[DYKES ON BIKES in the Background]
But… in the onslaught of folks grilling him, my friend Carrie khoLi (Rutgers PhD candidate, also a bit of a tech geek) chimes in with a pinch of nuance, and a big scoop of compassion. Almost halfway in his defense, she adds:
“I think the desire for belonging in a society in which you live, participating in its dreams and narratives, rather than necessarily having to destroy all of the above to exist, is something to be paid attention. … not everyone is a warrior. Not everyone wants to fightfor the rest of their lives in order to say they’ve enjoyed it. There’s something very real about stating, ‘I deserve to have what you show as being possible, merely because I exist.’”
DYKES ON BIKES Get Louder]
In other words – there’s a place in the movement for civil rights for people of varied interests and commitments. And I’m not sharing these points to say yes or no to gay marriage — or marriage of any kind. I’m not here today to make any decisions for you. I’m here … to encourage you, to encourage us, to stay compassionate, to explore the complexities, to think before we act … to think before we just accept any and everything.
Same-sex marriage is NOT a cut and dry issue for many of us. For instance, for the black queers in the audience, Mattie Udora Richardson reminds us that:
“as a people, our continued search for American inclusion is a tragic one… until we as black queer people speak our own truths, what passes as gay rights will do very little for us.”
For those of us who are not black and queer, there’s a message in there for YOU as well. I’ll restate it –
“until we as [AS A PEOPLE] speak our own truths, what passes as gay rights will do very little for us”
Because word, it’s been a great year in gay marriage. | Yes, strategically | our President’s endorsement of same sex unions is a nod to the LGBT community. | Jay-Z and the NAACP saying yes, it’ OK for gays to get married, might actually mean something to a boatload of straight allies and allies to be. But … explore the complexities.
… to be clear, our lives are more than endorsements, right? [PAUSE]
Our lives are more than ballot boxes and legislation and licenses and ceremonies, right? [PAUSE]
OK, cool. No shade. Sometimes I just like to explore them complexities OUT LOUD.
Our Lives Are Complex
I see our lives as complex - not just because we’re queer, and transgender and gender-variant dykes. More so because our lives are the accumulations of our joys … as much they are as our sorrows.
It’s been mad long since Katy Perry kissed a girl. Azealia Banks is openly bisexual. Ellen’s been popular for some time now, and we (still) claim Queen Latifah (even if she don’t claim us back).
It’s been 20 years since dykes started marched on Washington greater visibility, more than 40 years since the clash at the Stonewall set the first Pride marches in motion and yet…[i]
· young queer and trans people like Sakia Gunn and are still being killed for being out, proud and self loving
· other young queers are taking their own lives because of isolation, stigmatization, and lack of support in communities they’re expected to call “home”
· that is, if those same young people haven’t already found themselves on the streets
· women, female bodied people & trans people still earn a lower income than most white straight men (and white gay men too!)
And even as progressive and politically activated as we are here in the Bay Area, we are still keenly aware that people like us are subject to hatred and violence
· Last month - Brandi Martell was murdered just blocks from where I live in Oakland, and in what most assume to have been a hate crime.
· On Monday (June 18, 2012,) a woman was brutally raped a few blocks from the home of a friend of mine here in San Francisco
So ya, we’ve adjusted to getting a little more shine in the mainstream media. But as a colleague of mine likes to say “Check the premise.”
The political (and social) climate is still complex.
The rent I pay is my activism
There’s this quote by Alice Walker that was brought to my attention recently, by my friend Monet Sykes.
“Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.”[ii]
She said it reminded her of me:
A lot of why I’m active (mostly online) is because I have a vested interest in helping marginalized people tell their stories. That’s why I started the Definition – my social site for Masculine of Center women, transmen and our allies. That’s why I wanted to be here… Because we all have a right to have our stories told from our persepectives. That’s what so great about San Francisco and the Bay Area.
It’s great that all of us here are walking testaments to the strength of our blood ancestry—just as much as our queer, trans and SGL foremothers, fathers and elders - who’ve walked paths similar to our own.
While we’ve made a huge symbolic stride in attaining the affirmation of the hetero-patriarchical society - that we live in- we still need to push for better, for more. Because evolution is not our option, it’s our necessity. And with that evolution, we are radically revising who and what and how we can be represented.
Because as Cherrie Moraga once wrote:
“We are the colored in a white feminist movement.
We are the feminists among the people of our culture.
We are often the lesbians among the straight.
We do this bridging — by naming our selves and by telling our stories in our own words.”
We are all of what Cherrie says and every day becoming more.
I thank you. [END]
What I didn’t say (The Part I cut due to time constraints)
Yes. We are ourselves as we stand here today. Still, we are an assortment of “boys who discovered themselves despite being born in a female body,” dykes who when talking to loved ones still refer to their partners as “friend” out of respect. We are Masculine of Center people who still keep dresses in the closet, just in case. Figures who are outcast or unaccepted. Figures who go without remembrance – or who are acknowledged only in the footnotes. We’re here to celebrate all of us today.
This was hard to write
And so this when I do the obligatory “this speech was really difficult for me to write” thing. But it’s true. Knowing that I wanted to remind us all that we march for more than a yes or no to marriage, and knowing that I’d be standing alongside the likes of Cherrie Moraga, and in front of women who inspire and encourage me daily, It felt difficult to identify what I had to add to any ongoing conversation.
I mean there’s been some loooong lines of conversation … before anyone even knew my name, let alone thought me a good choice speak before you today.
I was originally overwhelmed by what eventually presented itself to me as an incredible privilege. To stand in the midst of a series of intersections, crossings of Black and Xicana womanisms, 2nd and 3rd wave feminisms, Brown Bois and BUTCH Voices, and femme voices and trans voices, voices of those of you who have never identified as a dyke, but have often been labeled one — voices that haven’t asked for me to name them and voices that will later need to be named or recognized, or called upon … to stand in the midst of all of this … to be up here, called upon to act for and with, and speak for and with you … this, is my greatest granted privilege.