“The Good News is You”

This speech by Sarah Schulman is a must-read for queer writers

As we make our work, we also have to model behaviors and ways of having personal and social relationships that can facilitate a whole new and completely different way of living, a kind of – to be old-fashioned – liberation way of living.  And you know that for me, as I expressed in my most recent book, Conflict Is Not Abuse, part of liberation means a community ethic to stop shunning, pick up the phone and talk about your differences, get together in person with the people you’re in conflict with instead of enlisting your clique or community or religion or corporate shield or race or nation to obliterate them. Stop being mean to a person or a group because someone you identity with told you to hurt them. Instead, ask the contested person what they think it going on. Why do they think this is happening? And whether that is your friend’s ex-friend, or people excluded by the Muslim ban, hear what the excluded person is experiencing. And we have to stop calling the police as a way to cover up our own unjust anxieties. Because what we have got in America right now is a system that is just cruel, in which the people in power are criminals, and people’s basic needs are ignored, and lives are ruined at whims of political game playing. So, any queer individual making it in that system is not a signifier of actual change. It’s great for that person, which has its own value, but it’s not enough.

Sarah Schulman, Publishing Triangle Award Speech

Blistering critique followed by uplifting hope.

Read the whole thing!

Soundtrack to the Week

Album of the Week

LP

LP, Lost on You (2016)

LP has been around for ages. My girlfriend saw her play live about twelve years ago. She finally seems to be getting some traction as a purveyor of upbeat, lesbian pop/rock. I’ve been listening to this all week. It’s more bluesy than her last album and is full of catchy tunes like ‘Muddy Waters’, ‘Lost on You’, ‘Other People’ and ‘Strange’. A lot of fun.

Top Track, ‘No Witness’

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Lesbian Protest at the BBC (1988)

Nice piece from BBC Witness about the moment a group of lesbian activists stormed the Six O’Clock news to protest about Section 28.

protest

I was eleven years’ old when this happened and I remember it vividly. I wasn’t the kind of kid who always knew they were gay, but the protest really affected me and stuck in my mind. On some level, I seemed to know that it mattered and it had something to do with me.

I’m constantly amazed by just how different the world has been for LGBTQ people who grew up in the UK after the repeal of Section 28.

Soundtrack to the Week

Pixies

The Pixies, Complete ‘B’ Sides (2001) 

This is a great compilation, which includes the first Pixies song I ever heard, ‘Wave of Mutilation’ (UK Surf). Top tracks for me are ‘Into the White‘ (oh my god, those drums at the beginning before Kim Deal starts intoning “And there ain’t no light”), and this fantastically ominous cover of Neil Young’s ‘I’ve been waiting for you‘.

tindersticks

Tindersticks, Curtains (1997)

I probably never would have come across this band, but my college housemate, who was into them, used to put songs on mixtapes for us. They have since established a place in my music collection with their lush, romantic, and slightly seedy dirges. Top track, ‘Rented Rooms’.

murmur

REM, Murmur (1983)

Still sounds amazing (and incomprehensible). Top track ‘Talk about the Passion’ 

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The Malignant Melancholy

Individual loneliness is a fickle, nebulous sensation. Like other emotions, it is deeply situational—it makes a difference whether you feel lonely because every time you walk down the street a slur is shouted at you or you feel lonely because the spouse you beat every third night has finally left you. As individuals we are not owed freedom from loneliness any more than we can demand love from those we want it from. But collectively we can recognize patterns of loneliness as symptoms of awful structural injustices. And we can use our loneliness as impetus to work toward systems that ethically meet our social and emotional needs. The way to help alleviate the loneliness of the oppressed is to continue to destroy oppressive structures and support organizing and resistance. The only way to ethically survive loneliness is to look at labor: to ask who performs care work for me, who I perform it for, what systems are viable and where I transmute being abandoned to resistance.

Amba Azaad, New Inquiry