When We Rise – Cleve Jones

Cleve Jones is a well-known labor and gay rights activist and his recent memoir, When We Rise: My Life in the Movement, follows his activism and life as a gay man during the 1970s and 80s in San Francisco and on. He worked with Harvey Milk and State Assemblyman Art Agnos, created the AIDS Memorial Quilt, cofounded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and now works with the hotel, restaurant, and garment workers’ labor union, UNITE HERE. When We Rise is a powerfully authentic memoir about his life, travels, work, and experience with HIV/AIDS and offers an amazing insight to a rarely talked about piece of US history.

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Newsletters.

Keeping up with all that’s going on in the world is daunting and overwhelming. I made the mistake of putting my phone down for a couple hours awhile back and came back to the news of the UC Berkley protest over Milo’s scheduled talk and a whole lot of other stuff. That’s why I’m so thankful for newsletters that compile news and much more. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorites:

  • Bim Adewunmi’s ‘…the fuck is this?’ – okay so this one is less news related but this (sporadic) newsletter is always a joy to read.
  • Bitch Media’s Weekly Reader – this newsletter is a collection of different recent pieces about feminism and pop culture. If you have any interest in feminism and pop culture, I definitely recommend this one.
  • Buzzfeed’s Another Round Newsletter – as if Fridays weren’t already great, this newsletter comes out weekly on Fridays and in addition to sharing relevant links, there are animal gifs, things to read and watch, and random internet ephemera.
  • The Daily WTF – this one is from WTF Just Happened Today? and specifically collects the daily things that Trump and his administration are up to.
  • In Other Words newsletter – this is a feminist community center and bookstore in Portland, often known for the basis of the Portlandia “Women and Women First”. (Although, the show and center infamously split ways.)
  • Guerrilla Feminism: The Newsletter – Guerrilla Feminism is an intersectional feminist nonprofit and this newsletter is sporadic but remains a great way to find out what’s going on with GF.

Are there any newsletters that I missed? I feel like my email is mostly just newsletters these days but with such great content, I’m alright with that!

‘Queer’ Revisited.

I’ve written about my own struggle with using the word ‘queer’ – it’s something that I personally struggle with regularly. There are a lot of discussion online (and I’m sure offline as well) about the use of queer to be a universal term for the LGBTQ+ community. In the below video, Kat Blaque takes a question from one of her viewers about a club on a college campus using ‘queer’ as a universal term and the club essentially saying that if you don’t like it, you’ll get used to it. (The previous video Kat mentions in the below one can be found here and I definitely recommend watching both videos in relation to this conversation.)

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Actions.

There is so much going on in the world today, especially with all that the current administration and Congress is pushing through. In the midst of all this chaos, it can be easily to get overwhelmed  – I know I have been. But it’s important to keep fighting, to keep resisting, and to take care of yourself. Self-care and taking a deep breath is just as important as being on the streets and making calls.

With all the issues going on, there are plenty of ways to resist and not everyone’s activism is going to look the same. People have different abilities, resources, and schedules, which means that not everyone can march in protests but there are so many things that need to happen. With this, I thought I’d find some great and different ways to join the fight.

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Not Normal.

With Trump officially in office and already starting his term off to a bang, it’s important to reiterate that all of this is not normal. The censoring of government employees and scientists? Not normal. The Press Secretary blatantly lying about the size of the inauguration crowds, despite the fact that there is clear photographic evidence to contradict him? Still not normal, no matter if ‘alternative facts’ actually exist. The Press Secretary has even started to print out tweets that Trump has issues with and holds them up at press briefings, which is incredibly bizarre and definitely not normal. Trump and those in his administration have proven several times in less than two weeks that they are willing to lie to the American public on numerous issues.

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Last Saturday.

The Women’s March on Washington and related sister marches around the world happened this past weekend and honestly, I have some mixed feelings about it all. On one hand, it was incredibly amazing to see all the crowds that showed up in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, and more. Hell, there was even a (tiny) protest in Antarctica! And I’m not going to lie: seeing the dramatic contrast between the inauguration on Friday and the march in DC on Saturday was spectacular.

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Existing Online.

Last night, I was thinking about why I get anxious over visibility and hypervisibility in any sort of context (but especially online) because any sort of unusual uptick in blog views or retweets on Twitter or anything like that gives me a ridiculous amount of anxiety. This has happened to me for years and when I really started to deeply reflect on it, I realized that it’s in large part because I unconsciously associate visibility in any sort of context with harassment and bullying.

When my blog does start to get views, when anyone retweets one of my tweets, when people notice my existence online, I immediately think that the harassment and bullying is not too far behind because that’s what has happened to me time and time again. And the potential harassment also brings a massive amount of anxiety for me.

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Know your rights.

Protests have become more and more common place in the past few years, or at the very least I’ve been more aware of them in that same time. These actions can be effective in bringing the conversation around to important issues and for voices to be heard. But riot police are often used in response to protests around the United States and dangerous tactics have been used against protesters in Ferguson, North Dakota, New York City, Seattle, and more. For example, water cannons sprayed cold water at #NoDAPL protesters in North Dakota in the middle of a winter night and tear gas has been repeatedly used against protesters in various cities.

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