Sunday, June 10, 2012

Because The Ocean Rising is Totally Political

Radicalizing Netroots Part 2.

This is the second in a two-part review of Ian Awesome's adventures at Netroots Nation. Click here to read part 1.

The next day started off with chuckles. Daniel introduced me to the most ridic spoof of Jem (remember? From the 80s?) on YouTube that could ever be made.

Warning: extremely offensive. Do not play around children. Do not play around elderly people. Do not play in the workplace. In fact, you probably just shouldn't click play.

This, in fact, turned out to be the highlight of my day. After spending all day going to panels and trying to find fellow revolutionaries (and Tweeting an insane amount of Tweets about the Radicals' Caucus the next day) I headed out to a couple receptions (one of which was about marriage equality. I, while welcome, definitely drew some curious looks. Why was I there again? Oh yeah. Free booze) and then joined Joe Jervis and co. for the Providence JoeMyGod meetup. Hilarity and more drunkenness ensued.

The next day was definitely far more action-packed. We started off with the LGBT caucus, which invited a politician (no, I don't remember who, politicians kind of bore me) to speak. Note: "He has a 100% equality rating with the HRC!!!" isn't exactly a shining endorsement. We also received official White House copies of Barack Obama's pride proclamation.

Zach Wahls and myself. Photo taken by Jamie McGonnigal.

Also, Zach Wahls, famed for his impassioned speech to the Iowa legislature on behalf of his two moms (and the most Tweeted about, swooned-over member of the LGBT caucus) called me a cutie pie.

We had our unofficial, unsponsored Radicals' Caucus, and I'm happy to report it went well. We started by identifying our key issues (police oppression, decolonization, anti-capitalist organizing) and then brainstormed how we would support each other in our blogging efforts. We agreed that we would push for more politically challenging content at the next Netroots conference, shook hands, exchanged information, and promised to keep in touch.

The highlight: I was not, surprisingly, the only out-and-proud anarchist at the conference. Neat.

After the Caucus I stepped out for a smoke and a chat with FarmerChuck of the Daily Kos. This was cut short, as a member of Occupy Providence ran up to me, breathless. Her comrades, she explained, had been marching through the nearby mall. Arrests were happening. I was needed. I took off at a run, ducking into the hotel and sprinting through the skyway bridge connecting the mall to the Westin.

As I hurtled through the doors, sweating, panting Occupiers were running the other way. "Don't go in!" they warned me. "Is shit going down?" I responded. "Yeah. They're arresting everyone."

So of course I went in.

The arrests, it appeared, had been completed, and all I had left to do was take pictures as Occupiers were being dragged into the mall security office. This wasn't appreciated by Providence Police Department. One large cop, who probably thought he was intimidating, immediately started shouting.

"Leave the area immediately."

"No sir, I don't think I will be."

"Leave the premises at once or you will be arrested."

"I have as much right to be here as you."

"You have been given two warnings. If you don't leave immediately, you will be spending the night in jail."

"Fuck off."

I left. It galled, but I had no intention of missing my evening's plans. Grrr.

Evidently taking this picture is a crime in Providence. I hate cops.

Turns out that the arrestees weren't actually arrested; they were merely banned from the mall for the year and then released. It pissed me off that the cop had succeeded in running me off. 

I relaxed after my near-miss with the Providence Police Department and took a walk to blow off some steam. Note: Waterfire is a great little festival that happens in Providence in which they put a bunch of bonfires in the middle of the river and eat a bunch of fried food. Neat. 

I went to the Daily Kos party that took place, danced my ass off, then retired to the hotel. The conference was done.

The next day I packed, swore over the debit card that I had drunkenly misplaced the night before, and scrambled down to wait out front for my ride to the airport. I looked across the front of the hotel, and who do I see?

Jesse LaGreca.

I stared at him for a moment, and thought, should I?

Of course.

"Jesse. JESSE! Anarchists rock! Stop talking shit!"

"Uh... well, you see... they..."

"THEY NOTHING. I rock! Stop talking shit!"

".... Okay."

Mission accomplished.

I got to the airport, got on my plane, and flew away. Goodbye, Providence.

Looking back over the week and the events that took place, I am for the most part, satisfied. Did I meet a lot of fellow revolutionaries? Hmmm. No. Did I reach out to my less radical friends? Did I get them talking about the issues I cared about? For sure. 

Over the next year, it will be interesting to see if the foundations laid by myself and my fellow radicals will give rise to something new. Will Netroots remain a primarily mainstream Democratic conference? Most likely. Will I and others continue to try and push a more radical agenda? Most likely, and I hope that our work impacts the blogosphere and the conference itself in more concrete ways. I'm not giving up on it anytime soon, and I know others who agree.

So, thank you Netroots. I'll see you next year in San Jose. Brace yourself.

Radicalizing Netroots

Netroots Nation.

This is my second year participating in the gigantic Netroots Nation conference, a big event billed as a "progressive" bloggers' conference put on by blogging giant Daily Kos. I was lucky this year, like last year, to get a full scholarship to go, with all expenses except for food paid for through the LGBT Netroots Connect program. 

Last year was an incredible experience in which I finally got to meet a lot of my blogging heroes and connect with other writers in my field of LGBT activism. I thought my head was going to explode; all of the writers I had been reading and admiring all under one roof, talking about the issues I cared about. I was there to learn, but to my surprise, other people there with reams more experience than I as writers were interested in learning what I had to teach them. As progressives, our sharing was intensely valuable and I went home having accomplished a lot of goals; namely, learning how to be a better blogger and networking with others in my field.

My goals this year were different. In the interceding months, my focus of writing and organizing had shifted. With the advent of Occupy, income inequality and issues beleaguering the working class had taken over my life. I now assist with the social media and press aspects of Occupy Seattle, as well as organizing on-the-ground actions. As that work went on, I suddenly found my politics and ideologies shifting even farther to the left. As I was presented with the endemic problems facing the working class, I began to question my faith in political process. I found myself loathing the concept of government. Capitalism, I had come to realize, was perhaps the worst and biggest enemy to Occupy's work globally.

In short, I had become an anarchist. 

This presented a few problems for me, internally, when I applied for this year's scholarship. This conference overwhelmingly is centered on the idea of reform. In every panel and workshop, we talk about how to accomplish our goals legislatively and how to elect the candidates we want. 

How, then, would I fit in? I don't believe in our legislature; I don't recognize the legitimacy of political candidates. Had I become too radical for this group of people that I loved so much?

I tried to come up with goals. One of my first, and this was merely a personal one, was to confront Jesse LaGreca. I know, this may seem petty, but LaGreca rocketed to fame at Occupy Wall Street with a now famous video denouncing Fox News and had become something of an Occupy superstar. As happens so frequently with internet stars LaGreca started to view himself as an authority in OWS, and since published diaries on Daily Kos denouncing "black bloc anarchists", in effect ordering them to leave the movement.

In my mind he had no such authority, and I would tell him so.

Other, more important, goals were simple: find fellow radicals and radicalize my peers. At a time when my LGBT comrades were celebrating recent victories and pushing hard for marriage, would I be able to find fellow revolutionary thinkers? Would I be able to convince people that queer issues were being prioritized ineffectively? 

I arrived the night before the LGBT pre-conference, met up with friends, had a beer or two. Some of them had watched my radicalization over the past year, and knowing looks were exchanged at the bar when I mentioned corporate corruption and its effects on queer communities; a member of GLAAD I hadn't met before looked at me knowingly and said "Oh. I know who you are."

... this was going to be interesting.

The first day's activities took place in the LGBT pre-conference, when everyone who had been working on queer issues got together and brainstormed new challenges we were facing and hopefully came up with solutions.

Bil Browning, Adam Robbins, Me, and Seth E. Kaye. Photo taken by Jamie McGonnigal.

The first half of the day was fairly boring; we all introduced ourselves to each other. Most of us knew one another but it was nice to see new faces. 

After lunch, things got interesting. We had three panels on the issues of marriage equality, immigration, and LGBT health. During the marriage conversation debate was heated both out loud in the room and in the Twitter storm that ensued. Some in the room (like myself) objected to the prioritizing of marriage equality over other, perhaps more important, issues such as health care and ADAP funding. My question regarding the assimilation of queer identity into heteronormative institutions was rebuffed; a panelist responded that just because we had a different sexuality from straight people we weren't really any different. 

I objected to that of course, but that's fine. 

The next panel was regarding immigration, and I was stunned, as in last year, with the bravery of some of the activists who had been trying to get the DREAM Act and similar legislation passed. Simply identifying oneself as undocumented is to risk deportation; some of these amazing folks had actually risked arrest in order to work on their issues. 

One panelist said something that drew immediate applause from my table: "Among LGBT immigrant youth, marriage is a white, middle class issue. We're trying to survive, not get married." The applause drew a rash of glares from around the room, I was quick to note that the majority of those who objected to this statement were indeed white. 

Finally we had the LGBT health panel, of which I was invited to take part in as an HIV-positive individual. Interesting highlights: the number one killer of LGBTs in the US is smoking. HIV/AIDS actually accounts for a small, small portion of the overall healthcare costs of LGBTs. There is a noticeable lack of prevention education for HIV. One question that seemed to raise a lot of questions: is bareback porn to blame for the spread of HIV? I argued that it wasn't; if we had more education about HIV/AIDS and its consequences, people would relegate bareback porn to "fantasy" instead of "a fun thing we should do."

We wrapped up, had a mixer with the Netroots Women's pre-conference and then dispersed for the evening.

The next day started with a treat. I have the privilege with organizing with an amazing woman who writes as Just Jennifer on the Daily Kos and she e-introduced me to her fellow radical colleague, Allison, who writes as UnaSpenser on that same site. I met with her and two others for breakfast; much to my suprise (I didn't find out who he was until I was halfway through my french toast) one of the two was famed OWS livestreamer Tim Pool.

After breakfast Allison and I brainstormed. We had similar goals; we wanted to find out who was radical and what we could do to promote a more radical agenda at an overwhelmingly Democratic conference. We picked a time two days hence, on Saturday, and began Tweeting about a Radicals' Caucus meeting. I was helped with super damn awesome gay blogger Daniel Villarreal (follow him on Twitter, @hispanicpanic79, you won't regret it) and we hoped to have a solid turnout. 
Daniel V. and myself. Photo taken by Joe Jervis

Uh. Maybe. 

Occupy Providence had set up shop outside of Netroots Nation so I went over to introduce myself. They lacked a legal observer and so, having taken the National Lawyers' Guild training in Seattle, I offered my contact information and hustled off to an amazing panel about sexual liberation. Interesting (if not disturbing) observations: If you have three or more condoms on you at a time, this can be used against you in a prostitution investigation in New York City. Many teenage girls don't use condoms not because they don't know how to use them, but because they're afraid they will fall out of their purses and they'll be labeled sluts. If you have been fired for taking a sex-positive stance, you can contact the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Nothing much happened after that, unless you count the thunderstorm that suddenly broke over the building when I walked into the marriage equality panel that took place that day (evidently someone up there knew it was trouble) and the riot act I read an SEIU rep at a mixer that night. Note: it's not classy to yell at an SEIU rep while drinking the free booze provided by... the SEIU. Oops.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sarah Who Again?

Mama Bear is back after a relatively long and (happily) quiet stretch where we didn't have to pretend that Sarah Palin was an actual person with ideas that we should listen to and stuff.

By now we all know that Shah Walker of Wisconsistan has not been unseated and will be renaming the governor's mansion to "Scott's Pleasure Casbah" where he will be executing one civil right a day just because he can.

Sarah is taking this opportunity to get her Bumpit on national television, as she is relating Walker's victory to Barry O's inevitable defeat. Also, something about his goose being cooked. Or something.

As she denounced Obama’s “hopey changey stuff”, the former Alaska governor continued: “More and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote … is the complete opposite of what president Obama and the White House represents today.” 
Palin predicted that the Obama administration will try to downplay Walker’s victory and distance itself from the GOP’s win in Wisconsin.
“Jay Carney — can’t wait to see how he spins all this and ignores it, and President Obama himself,” she said. “They’re going to really try to distance themselves from this despite the fact that they, leading their lapdogs in the leftist media, made this a front page story for how many months? Months and months.”
Mama Bear-- or is it Bulldog with Lipstick?-- is going to cook a goose for some lapdogs. Or something. You heard it here first.

.... And I'm Back?

Not only have I made a temporary return to OneAngryQueer, but I have returned to the fabulous Netroots Nation blogger's conference. After the usual shouting and hugging and saying "I missed you so much!" to all of our comrades that we haven't seen since last year (as well as meeting new colleagues) we are now settling down to the LGBT pre-conference in order to brainstorm future strategies for our communities.

Of course, my politics have definitely changed since last time in the last year. Not only have I done a crazy amount of IRL organizing, my politics have (like my hair) gotten a lot more radical. I have a feeling that there are some people in this room that I love and respect... who I might be yelling at a bunch later on in the conference.

Anyway. I'll post a few things on OAQ, sometimes about Netroots and sometimes about other shit. Yay! A week where I get to do nothin' but blog!

Oh, and drink. And flirt. And annoy people.