For the past year and a half, I’ve been pouring a lot of time and energy into Queer Canada Blogs, my blogroll project of Canadian queers and queers in Canada. It’s been an amazing experience, especially for those moments when I’m feeling too low to blog myself: I love reading about the daily lives and loves of such a huge variety of bloggers. The project has also provided me with an outlet for my activist energy, because I get a boost of inspiration from publicizing and celebrating the radness and diversity of what it means to be queer, and what it means to be Canadian.
However, as great as online activism is, I still need to feel connected to people in my own geographic region, to build community among the people in my social scene and peer group. This need of mine used to be pretty much met by my niche with the bike nerds: I volunteered at the community bike shop every week, and hung out with other kids obsessed with bicycles, bike polo, bicycle-themed dance troupes, etc. Sure, we all share a lot of non-bike interests, but it usually comes back to bikes.
Nowhere was this more obvious than when organizing our annual bike party weekend, which has historically drawn dozens of revellers from all over the western provinces and states. Over four years, the size of the party has pretty much expanded exponentially, with last year’s event selling out at around 350 people. A note to those readers who are also event organizers: When this happens, it’s time to take stock, otherwise the growing pains are going to be fatal.
Overly-enthusiastic bike nerds that we are, we completely neglected to do this. Guess what? A lot of shitty stuff went down, and some friendships were irrepairably damaged. Beyond that, I believe many of us lost our sense of belonging in the bike community.
I’m not going into the faults and follies of our organizing collective, because that’s not my point. Instead, what I want to tell you in this: Going through such a tumultuous experience made me realize all the ways in which I exist in this world differently from people I’d previously taken for granted as like-minded community members. It was painful, because a lot it came down to the simply fact that at the end of the day, I’m queer, and they aren’t.
There is a happy ending to this story, or at least a happy new direction: After the bike party fiasco, I was feeling like I needed to spend more time among queers. So, I contacted an old friend, and got the info from her about the next meeting of the collective that puts on the local queer dance party. In a town with only one gay bar, and a massive GLBTQ2SQ population, the radical queer dance party is even more of a hit than it is in the bigger cities. In fact, during the past 6 months that I’ve been involved in putting on events, we’ve built up enough of a float to cover our own costs, and have managed to donate hundreds of dollars of our proceeds to community projects.
I’m not so naive as to believe that there aren’t also huge problems in this other community… There are! However, I think they’re more likely to be talked about, and actions taken to resolve conflicts. This is important to me, and I feel like the work we’re putting into creating safe spaces for gender and sexual diversity is really important as well… Even if to to the casual observer it looks like we’re just partying.
So the community I found in 2010 was my local queer community, or at least a small corner of it. All I can say for the upcoming year is that I want more of this: More queers, more dance parties, more games nights and talent shows and long meetings that turn into dinners and giggle fits, more chances to connect and feel like I belong.
[This is my post for Day 7 of Reverb 10, which I’m posting on Day 10… Tsk tsk, such disappointingly lax behaviour, especially considering how Amak just commended me for my blogging commitment in his comment on my last post… Ah well. It’s been a crazy week. I’ll try to keep up from now on.]