I have been wanting to write about the experiences which have made the last two weeks particularly transformative and inspiring, but I have constantly found myself in conversation instead. This is often the case for me; I am more comfortable in conversation than I am in writing. This is part of what made the week of March 4 so particularly powerful. Just on the heels of my first comprehensive examination defense (a conversation about writing, mine and others; itself worthy of a post), I was fortunate to be surrounded by the courageously shared words and embodied presences of my colleagues and comrades in various parts of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, and Toronto’s broader intellectual and activist communities. From queer theory to queer (and intersectional) practice in one dense week! I do not want to go another day without acknowledging the extent to which these folks and collectives have illuminated a path to politicization and collectivity just as I was wondering where I might direct the urgency and energy emerging both from my comprehensive exam and from my recovering from a long period of emotional trauma, deep uncertainty, and introspection.
As I race to finish work before this weekend’s Feminist Theory Workshop at Duke University, I want simply to name and to thank the collectivities and people who have shared their courage and their activism in the last two weeks. These people are ancestors, leaders, advisors, colleagues, supporters, and spiritual teachers. Perhaps it seems awkward for me to use this blog, which has
too so often been devoted to fragments of high theory or loose reflections on the ongoing project I call queer urban ecologies, to swerve into ‘an appreciation.’ But I feel that my gratitudes are often held quietly or privately expressed, if they are expressed at all. They are often attached to a particular accomplishment, like a paper or a presentation, at least in academia. I want to break with that practice, at least performatively, in this forum.
In a way, I am using the mode of appreciation to cast ahead of myself, to thank people who may not know me (and may not read this blog) for the accident of our meeting, for the intention of their words and actions, above all for their support and solidarity, knowing or unknowing, past and future. I appreciate as a way to set an intention and to cast a wish, to tell a story of before it is tellable, and to acknowledge the incredible work others have long been doing. My intentions are to find ways to stand in solidarity, to support in radical care, to take risks alongside, to help to build collectivities, to celebrate, and to challenge injustices with these incredible people and organizations:
I appreciate Accessibility, Community, and Equity Committee at York University, which is hosting an incredible series of events in which I was (somewhat inexplicably, but with great honor) invited to participate alongside Loree Erickson, incredibly sparkly and brilliant queer artist and self-described femmegimp porn-maker, Jin Haritaworn, Associate Professor in Gender, Race, and Environment at YorkU Faculty of Environmental Studies, and radically amazing voice for equity, justice, critical intervention, and reparative alliance building, and Cate Sandilands, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Culture and Sustainability, not to mention, queer ecologies pioneer, as well as unbelievably hardworking, dedicated, tenacious, insightful advisor to me and many other students at FES, including members of our Queer Ecologies Reading Collective, Peter Hobbs and Elana Santana.
I appreciate the students and teachers of the Critical Disabilities Studies Program at YorkU, some of whom I met at the ACE workshop and still more whom I met in a radical space they are organizing for queer and trans voices, bodies, and politics in their program and the university more broadly.
I appreciate the organizers, known and unknown to me, of the Contemporary Urgencies of Audre Lorde’s Legacy series, now in its second week at York and University of Toronto. These include the inspired and inspiring Honor Ford-Smith, with whom I sit on the Faculty’s Equity Committee, and Ciann Wilson, my PhD colleague, ACE founding member, and with whom I was pleased to serve as PhD Environmental Studies Students Association Co-Chair.
I appreciate M. Jacqui Alexander, whose inspiring and incredible presentation as part of the aforementioned series, “Medicines for our Survival: Indigenous Knowledge and the Sacred,” gloriously brought together so many strands of thought I considered disparate or impossible to embody at once: queerness, sacred will and wisdom, and plants. Prof. Alexander thoughtfully inscribed my newly bought copy of her book with a message that will inspire me and challenge me to be courageous in my work, whatever form it takes. I am still vibrating with her provocation and question: “I have come here to do my work,” she said before asking, “Are you doing yours?”
I appreciate the filmmakers and organizers of the screening of Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years at University of Toronto and I appreciate Audre Lorde for giving her life as she did.
I appreciate my friends, mentors, comrades, allied colleagues, and lovers whose care and kindness feels boundless, even if I know it isn’t, and who have continually supported me. I appreciate that they may not want to be named individually, but that they will know without doubt who they are and how much life they have given me. I hope I have given them some in return.
I appreciate my mother for her courage, for being feminist in her own way, for being a survivor of addiction and prison, for being a tireless voice for truth.
I appreciate my sisters, crusaders and survivors of our youth, filled as it was with uncertainties and traumas even alongside our joys and our support of each other.
I appreciate my family, queer and blood, alive and beyond life, whose many lessons and courageous paths I struggle to emulate with courage in my own way and my own time. (I would appreciate it if they sent fewer emails…)
I appreciate those whose land I now dwell upon: the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
I appreciate anyone who took time to read this note, which feels a little indulgent when I consider those who might not know my sincerity, and who might engage in an appreciation in their own way.