When we work from a place of visionary organizing, we fast forward ourselves to a prophetic future and transcend current politics. We create moments for transformation instead of conflict. In Phoenix, we recently did a messaging workshop for a group, third space, that emerged out of the US Social Forum convergence and the movement moment of the SB 1070 fight. In itself an act of visionary organizing, third space opens new ground for queer migrant and people of color to “move and shake” and be their whole selves rather than be constricted to either gay spaces filled with white chauvenism or racial justice spaces with unexamined heterosexism. Third space is born to create new ground.
In the messaging workshop, we used the upcoming Phoenix Pride as the example to center our training around. The group had rightful critiques of the corporate and commercial nature of Pride, it’s focus on buff white male bodies, and most importantly it’s sponsor Budweiser, a boycott target for the company’s role in funding SB 1070. As we roleplayed the various scenarios of confrontation, we quickly fell into a familiar dynamic of being the angry outsiders attempting to shame the event organizers and participants for their wrong-doing. In the practice we had strong and sharp arguments but envisioned delivering them in head-on collisions. We got angry. We felt powerless. We felt marginal and prepared for scenarios of being kicked out of Pride or just ignored.
Then something shifted.
What if instead of centering the messed up aspects of Pride in the action, we centered the fabulous aspects of ourselves? By putting ourselves in the spotlight we make the same political points, the same argument. But instead of being the annoying mosquito that Pride would swat away, we could be the life of the party. By celebrating our greatness that surpassed the narrow definitions of Gay Pride, we could both highlight their contradictions and invite them to the more expansive place we already exist in.
We have more to be proud of than what Pride offers. Suddenly, the workshop became joyous. Instead of kicking rocks at Pride, people affirmed what we like about ourselves. For the march, Third Space donned t-shirts with various messages: “I’m proud of my size. I’m proud of my raza. I’m proud of my femmeness.” And also highlighted the problems. “My boyfriend crosses borders: Boycott budweiser. My gender crosses borders: Boycott Budweiser.”
Across the country people are planning events questioning whose pride Pride has become? In an act of visionary organizing, Third Space shows that we can do more than just shame the capitol G Gays, we can show that we all have more to be proud of.