Compassion at the heart of all things — Queer politics matter more than ever

In the normal run of things I like to push and challenge myself, seeing life as the competition pitting me against an idealised version of what I hope to be. In my youth I would berate and chastise myself for falling short of my personal expectations, almost to the point of never accepting that failure is part of the process. One of my personal joys of getting older is understanding that failure is not a full stop, rather a chance to learn and grow. I still enjoy the challenge of being better, learning more, applying my skills and engaging in see how far I can go, but I have more compassion for myself. Going easier does not come naturally, though as competitive as I am, I understand that allowing myself the grace to stumble gives me just as much room to grow as if I always succeed. My queer lived experience was born out of the compassion of others, those who talked through issues with me, wrote amazing articles and books, and helped shape the very core of my identity. For me, it is this compassion at the heart of our queer communities that makes us stronger, bolder, and able to lift up those who have been cast aside. We are queer as fuck, we rise up against injustice, and we intersect every level of society.

Queer spaces derive their power from a sense of collective whole, and while granted there is plenty of politics and issues that do drive wedges, our ability to pull together and find compassion for each other makes us stronger. One of the things that current US and global politics is that queer folks of all stripes are under every increasing pressure with hard fought and won rights being attacked. It is not easy to see why compassion with ourselves is needed, why the good fight is raising the right fist in solidarity but self-reflection even more so. All the battles we fight, all the allies we gain, all the victories littering our walls come to nought if LGBTQI+ rainbow communities are pulled asunder by forces that seek to roll back all rights, not those of the few.

Being queer has always been political, especially in times when queer rights were a solitary personal experience in the teeth of societies that refused to even mention queerness without sneers and criminality. We had the burdens of shame and guilt — shame because society pitched us as the great Satan causing all social ills, and guilt for our very existence. To this day both are still carried by many rainbow folk, and unless we are very fortunate they linger to the end of our days. Many a queer person lived shadow lives because they could not be themselves, and our martyrs are many and mourned. From World War Two mathematical geniuses forced into chemical therapy to Iranian loves hung from gallows, the world builds in that shame without remorse; or, rather, that remorse is retrospect because we communally forced that apology.

To unite against the shame took, and take, the rainbow patchwork. No one aspect of LGBTQI+ is loud enough to fight against gender and sexual tyranny. When AIDS scourged the land it was lesbians who stepped up to care when straight folk would not. When miners struck for better conditions LGBTQI+ peeps marched in solidarity. Whenever equal rights are on the line it is a broad compassion based coalition that stands firm. Compassion is crucial, as while you may not be able to relate to another person’s lived experiences you know fundamentally they matter, and their rights are just as potent as yours. Equality is not a synonym of money, power, or prestige; rather, it is entwined with intersecting identities that lead from the homeless trans kid kicked out for daring to identify as themselves all the way to prime ministers mansions. We are a proud, broad, rainbow church that must not allow outside forces to divide us.

Thus, as our songs play, as our flags flex and flutter, as our voices raise, it is solidarity that matters more than the differences. Compassion is not just about marriage rights or being able to adopt, it is proper funding for shelters, for education, lobbying representatives and elected officials to pass equitable laws that bring the State’s grace to all, not the lucky few who happen to fold within acceptable queerness.

In the end it is not about me or you, it is about us. It is about us pulling together and knowing that in our united compassion for one another who have a loud, resonant voice that carries over sirens and dog whistles. We are a rainbow family that argues and falls out like any other, and while none of us are perfect it is through unity that we affect change. Shoulder to shoulder in march, on picket lines, in petitions, and lock-step in court cases we win and confirm our rights. It is in the compassion we show each other that we find our grace, our collective peace of mind. Life is not perfect, and we all stumble, but together we catch and raise back up those laid low, and remember those who gave their all along the way. This is why it is vital our voices are heard this 2020, that we vote, we march, we acknowledge, and we give space to those who need their voices heard. In our compassion change happens, and in change equity is found.



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Writer, researcher, and generally curious