ContagiousQueer was a project started in the summer of 2013 as a way for me (Charlie) to be angry while also learning more about the world. It started as a way to learn about oppression and injustice and sharing that journey with others.
This project has grown and changed over the last five or so years. I’ve written about different things in the media, police brutality, being mentally ill, politics, and so much more. Over the last year and a half or so, my commitment to this project has wavered as depression and life have taken over. But my commitment to learn more about the world hasn’t left. I still want to learn about all the issues that influence the lives of individual people and want to share all the ways in which I’ve learned how to be a better person.
The goal of ContagiousQueer was originally to be a collection of resources on social justice. I hope that this will still be a place for people to learn and grow but now, I hope this project can be more focused on queer life/history, mental health, and a few other things.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling unworthy in some fashion. I’ve been visibly and openly queer for quite awhile and fat for even longer. I now know that neither of those things make me inherently unworthy of life, love, and respect but 26 years of fatphobia and queerphobia has meant that I still struggle with feeling like I’m worth nothing because of who I am.
It surprises a lot of people but I was actually really active as a kid and I’m still pretty active nowadays. When I was in middle and high school, I did all sorts of sports throughout the year and many of these activities would overlap. I did cross country and soccer during the falls, track and field during the spring in middle school, skied regularly during the winter, and even spent a couple years horseback riding.
Nowadays, I’m not quite as active but I still walk almost everyday and hike semi regularly. But I still feel this immense amount of shame around exercising and being active. I often get comments that are meant to be encouraging but often come across condensing and shameful. Honestly, I can’t really explain why but these comments often make me wish a black hole would just sallow me whole.
And there’s still a part of me that feels like exercise is a punishment. Because I’m fat (and have always been varying sizes of fat), exercise after a certain point was only a way to lose weight. It was only ever something I need to be doing to punish my body and there’s a part of me that still feels like that. So while exercising has all these immense other benefits, there’s still all this other shame and hatred that’s tied up in it for me.
Growing up, autumn was my favorite season. That time of the year still holds a very special place in my heart, as I love Halloween and the whole aesthetic of the season too much for it not to. But I realized recently that I do love spring a whole lot. This time of the year is a reminder that even after a period of darkness and cold, it’s possible that the sun and light will come back and plants will grow. Spring, for me, is a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that there’s hope even in the midst of darkness.
This year, like 2016, seemed like a continuous garbage fire (and in some places, there were actual fires…). It’s been hard to stay strong, to be positive about the kind of future we have in store. Plus, with winter officially upon us in the northern hemisphere, these cold, short days are perfect for negative thinking and depressive attitudes (at least for me). So in light of all of that, I wanted to write about some of my favorite things to come out of this year.
Years ago, I started this blog because I was angry. I was angry at all the injustice in the world and at all the oppression and hatred that we still deal with. And I was angry at my own ignorance. I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with this project but I knew that I wanted to learn, to be challenged, and to have my voice heard in some way. Writing somewhat anonymously over the years has allowed me that.
Since then, I’ve written hundreds of posts, read books and articles that expanded my understanding of the world, and watched movies that have challenged me. I’ve spent a lot of time writing, reflecting, and then writing some more. But I’m not the not the most consistent blogger and I’m marginally adequate at writing. I’ve made more than a few mistakes but there are many other things that I still stand behind. And I’m always trying to challenge myself and then bring that back to this blog in the hopes that maybe one other person can read this blog and be challenged in the same way I was.
I have spent most of my life desperately trying to take up less space. I’ve stayed quiet, gone to public spaces during times they’d have the least amount of people, worn dull colors. My entire life goal is to draw the least amount of attention to myself in an attempt to have people forget I exist. There have been more than a few times in which I’ve actually had some success in that department – I’ve scared a few folks while we were around camp fires because I moved and they didn’t notice at first and I’ve regularly surprised people because they didn’t hear me enter a room. On more than one occasion, people have forgotten that they were giving me a ride home. That’s right – while in the same car, people have forgotten about me.
I strive towards this invisibility because I know just how little space I am to occupy in public as a fat person. I aim for anonymity in so many spaces because I know what happens when I am visible in any way. I know that being visible online as a woman, as a fat person, as a queer person, as anything that is labeled as ‘other’ brings a litany of hate and trolling.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been digging into part of my family history – something that I’ve been meaning to do for years but never really had the time. I’ve always loved learning more about my own family and hearing the stories of others doing the same. The story of the House on Loon Lake is one of my favorite episodes from This American Life and I’m really excited to hear more from the podcast Family Ghosts.
I grew up on the opposite side of the country from the rest of my mother’s family and the trips back to visit were few and far between. Those trips, much to my own disappointment, slowly stopped over time as more family moved out west and grandparents died. It was always hard and really expensive traveling thousands of miles with two kids so I don’t fault my parents for not going back as much as I would have loved to.
Self-care can mean a lot of different things – it can mean taking the time out to watch some stuff on Netflix with friends, going out to lunch, taking a nap, going on a hike. In a time of uncertainty and stress, being able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally and making sure that you’re doing okay is important. As Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism:
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
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!