Colonization, Liberation and our Queer Bodies

Let me start by saying this, my synopsis of last night’s keynote at the Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference will not even be able to come close to capturing the power with which Coya Artichoker, Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz and Susan Raffo successfully wove together stories of colonization, movement building and a daring vision to liberate our queer bodies.

I sat in the center of the room wide-eyed as I listened to these three incredible women describe their journeys, their histories and how they came to understand how inextricably bound their liberations were, both with one another and with everyone in the room.

To call what these three shared with us last night a keynote would be doing it a disservice. It was story telling, it was movement building. Their story began by reminding us that this land we stand on has a bloodied and painful past. The ground Augsburg College was built on is Lakota and Anishinabe land. Before Minnesota was colonized, before the founding of the United States a whole history and culture was being shaped; since colonization it has been slowly and systematically chipped away at.

These three dared to dream with us about a bold vision for liberation. A bold vision that is rooted in the reality that we live our days on colonized land, a vision that refuses to exclude any body, regardless of how complex it may be.

They dreamed with us about a social justice movement based on universal design where those most marginalized with complex histories set our agendas. They shared that when we center those complex experiences, “all boats rise.” We all stand to benefit when we build a movement based on liberated bodies.

The story challenged us to think about what liberation looks like and how we can transform our LGBT movement into a broader based more inclusive struggle toward justice.

Coya, Lisa and Susan called us to return as a movement to community organizing and base building. We’ve lost sight of what it means to build a vibrant and mobile network of people that stand in solidarity with one another. Instead, we choose to be shortsighted focusing on narrow single-issue politics.

Like I started with, my words and reflections cannot even come near the powerful story telling these three did last night, but if you want to explore their work more, check out these links and join me in pondering these questions:

How can queer folks explore more deeply the implications that colonization has had on our LGBT movement?
In what ways can we create spaces to dream a bold vision for social justice based on collective liberation and interdependence?
How can we move our work back toward organizing and base building?

Lisa’s writing on Bilerico
Susan’s writing Bilerico
Coya’s writing on Bilerico

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