People say the new year is a time for fresh beginnings. While I’ve been a pretty unapologetic person as far as my aggression for cishet people is concerned, I’ve been trying to study pacifism as a tool for understanding. I tell myself I’m ready to turn over a newer, kinder leaf in 2016.
If every coffee date I’d gone on in 2015 with a cishet male solely for the purpose of explaining queer aggression and identity politics in relationship to the Savannah DIY scene had been an actual date with a queer babe, I’d be a player. But in a lot of cases, the proposal of a chai tea latte and conversation won’t convince some of the more aggressively insular people in my community to talk about their straightness. Oh how quickly can I abandon that newer, kinder leaf.
On a smaller scale, this cishet insulation is something every community experiences regularly—groups of like-minded people stick together, play music together, book other bands together, and generally, attend the same kinds of shows together. But what happens when that division gets identified? What happens when that division is socio-politically contextualized by a queer person concerning heteronormative culture? What happens when that queer person isn’t nice about it?
Forget calling out cishet folx on Facebook. They delete things and block you.
Forget showing up in the front row of their shows wearing a defaced version of their band t-shirt. They stand ten feet away and talk about you.
Forget asking them to come to community meetings. They victimize themselves.
Forget calling them in. They spread rumors to everyone.
Forget trying to hold people accountable. They use misogynistic language to deny their own internalized misogyny.
And YES, while all of these things are micro-aggressions on a very large scale of violence enacted against queer people and gender variant people throughout the world, they’re still on the damn scale: Like threads woven into a blanket of privilege that caters to white, cishet people and their morbid misunderstandings with queerness that perpetuate oppression nonetheless.
[It often seems like] we’re socialized to avoid confrontation. Even people who love it love to hate it. But as a queer person, as a trans person, I’ve learned that all the “let’s just love each other” sentiments in the world don’t mean shit when you’re angry—especially when that message is coming from the mouths of people who have chosen to cut off communication with you. Extra-specially in a community where general access to the internet is available—where people can afford to take care of themselves and still have free time to teach themselves, to learn, but instead they wait for you to post the good articles and ask you insensitive questions. When they preach their allyship to the queer community and then misgender you without apologizing. When they preach their allyship but draw a line in the sand when you raise your voice. When they preach their allyship but only if you’re nice to them. When they validate their own spaces as safe “for everyone” but don’t understand why queer safety is prioritized in a queer safe(r) space. Honestly though, leave it up to cishet people to assume their education concerning queer issues has to come from you and not by their own fruition.
"...as a queer person, as a trans person, I’ve learned that all the 'let’s just love each other' sentiments in the world don’t mean shit when you’re angry..."
So I know that the new year is supposed to be about fresh beginnings, but for me its really about no beginnings. I’m tired of seeing queerness in Savannah aestheticized and appropriated by cisgender heterosexual people so they can seem “alternative.” I’m tired of watching cishet men benefit from violence as an aesthetic in the punk scene and then get signed to bills with bands who write their songs about men like them. I’m tired of hearing people in my community generate narratives about the importance of queer visibility in a city where queer people get ostracized for being too visible or “always making it about being queer.” I’m really, really, really tired of everyone name dropping their “gay friend” when conversations get tough. And while I’m not tired of talking, I’m really tired of engaging in dialogues that end with us contemplating the fragility of your ego and admiring the lines you’ve drawn in the sand away from me.
You’ve never come to any of the shows we’ve had at QuoLab, Savannah’s only DIY self-proclaimed queer safe(r) space. You say its because you’ll feel uncomfortable and that’s “not cool,” but I think you’re confused. QuoLab is not the Friendly Portal to CisHet Education you keep articulating our space should be. Before you act so afraid to come to an event where you might feel like the odd person out, sit down and imagine us queer folx going up to bat with your toxic heterosexuality and neurotypical shit in most spaces. And then show up for an event, observe, ask people’s pronouns if you don’t know them, and learn something like you want to so badly, RIGHT? If you forget any rules, there’s a sign on the front door.
Besides using early 2016 to focus on booking shows for the queer clubhouse, 2016 is my “Year of the Clothesline.” Sort of the end of “fresh beginnings” and the beginning of “freshly ended.” It’s the part where we stop wasting time running circles around aforementioned dialogues concerning your internal phobias. We’re BOTH gonna live up to the expectations that you’ve created about me and the ones I create for myself. (And Yes, I’m The Violent Kind Of Anarchist.)
So, here’s a written exam to find out if you’ll make the cut:
Do you like to mosh to punk music? Do you like to aestheticize alienating mindsets about trans people for your EP? You want us to get together and incite revolution against “the man?” You wanna put a mask on and have people contextualize you as a “serial killer” for your set? You wanna “play a caricature of yourself” and that’s why your lyrics are misogynistic? You wanna use someone’s mental illness to contextualize their aggression but use my mental illness to villainize me? You wanna delete posts created by trans people about the lack of visibility for queers in your community? You wanna throw someone up to crowd surf and get mad at me when I want to talk about accessibility concerns? You wanna put your hands on me without asking when you KNOW I hate it? You wanna laugh about it? You wanna practice cognitive dissonance and militarize the identities of other queer people in the process of me articulating my struggle? You wanna book bands that sing about confrontation and physical violence but you don’t like it when “actual people” confront you and wanna hurt you? You wanna question the validity of my anger and individualize my experience for the sake of dismissing it? AND you wanna do all that, unapologetically?
My autonomy is no longer up for question via the articulation of my experience that you only choose to engage with when you’re silencing me or talking shit about me. PSA: I am not here to walk you through apologizing for misgendering me. I am not here to hold your hand while you figure out what the fuck cisgender means. And I am no longer here to pat your back when you realize your heterosexuality is suffocating. But I am standing over your shoulder. And for those of you “violence isn’t the answer” people, just make sure the door closes behind you on your way out.
Bottom line: If you didn’t pass the test, I wanna throw some bows. Please, call me up or PM me so we can rock out on that violent aesthetic you love so much. Remember when you said you wanted “all of this” to go away? It won’t. So if you are one of the people calling me a “bully” you haven’t met the Raine of 2016. This angry queer is here to stay and this time they’ve got their arms out: Its the “Year of the Clothesline.”
Rainé is an agender trans person and drag princex with House of Gunt. They co-facilitate QuoLab, a queer safe(r) space in Savannah, GA.