Molly and I just got back from ten days in San Fransisco. She was teaching at an LGBT summer institute held at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and I was able to attend the institute and get inspired to be the best Intro to LGBT Studies instructor I can be — which is nice, since I am teaching Intro to LGBT Studies online right now, and I was teaching it during the trip. (Online teaching is amazing: You can travel while you teach!) At the conference, Robyn Ochs led a really transformative workshop on identity that has already led me to change how I teach my students about the supposed gay-straight dichotomy.
It turns out we were in San Fransisco — staying in an apartment in the Castro — the day the DOMA decision and Prop 8 were struck down. There was a street party in the Castro that evening, and the energy was amazing. I’ve never seen so many jubilant people all in one place — there must have been tens of thousands of us! A couple days later we marched in the San Fransisco Pride parade, part of the Chelsea Manning contingent. Manning had been chosen by a committee of former grand marshals to be an honorary grand marshal of the 2013 Pride parade, but under pressure from conservative community members, the Pride committee had rescinded the honor. (Note: the articles linked here refer to Manning by her deadname; she was not publicly out as Chelsea in early 2013.) Many queer activists — myself and Molly included — saw the rescinding of the honor as an insult to Manning and an affirmation of San Fransisco Pride’s status as a corporatized, un-radical, sellout, anti-activist, capitalist, elitist, pandering-to-wealthy-gays bullshit event. (Here’s an article that pretty much sums up how I feel about SF Pride, and Pride parades in general.) Because of these issues, Molly and I weren’t planning to attend Pride. But a few days before the parade, a stranger we chatted with on a crowded Metro told us a bunch of activists were planning the Manning contingent as a protest march. We marched with them, and it felt great to engage in a little bit of activism. I made signs! It turns out the Manning contingent was the largest non-corporate group of marchers in the parade.
We managed to squeeze in some relaxation, shopping, incredible meals, socializing and some city park hiking during the trip. And, of course, my thesis was a presence, too, always being thought about or tweaked or obsessed over. Working on my thesis in a cafe on Church Street on a sunny afternoon was a writerly experience I’ll treasure forever.
Now it’s back home, kitties, the dog, the overgrown thicket that is our garden, and, of course, that thesis deadline looms…