Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My personal reflection 2007

I’m aware of how important gay marriage is to us politically and socially but on an everyday basis I’m painfully aware that in our community there are homeless gay folk, unemployed, underemployed and uninsured gay folk. There are LGBT young people who need foster homes.

I’ve given up the illusion of Utopia and I’ve especially given up the illusion that our government is “for” the people. With the heat of the occupation in Iraq, the weakening of the dollar and the lack of appropriate response to the re-building of New Orleans by the thugs who occupy the White House, it’s clear we must take care of our own.

History has recorded that it has been done before and we can do it in this day and age.

I reflect now, on the loss of some of our leaders in the community who did great things before they left this planet. For example, Audre Lourde who said “your silence will not protect you”, and Gloria Anzaldua who co-edited the groundbreaking work, This Bridge Called My Back, Writings by Radical Women of Color.

I especially want to remember the untimely death of Yolanda Retter Vargas, fierce Latina Lesbian activist, Head librarian of the Chicano Studies Library at UCLA for the last 4 years of her life. In the early 80’s Yolanda had a vision that she spoke about in conversations. She would talk about the need for a lesbian archive. It was a far fetched idea at the time. But it is a reality today.

Something I’ve had on my mind for a while, and I mention it whenever someone lends an ear. In our community I think our most pressing need is for transitional living homes. Why?

How many times have we had to change homes or cities due to a change in a relationship or a job or any number of reasons? I think of how many times as an adult I had to go back to mom’s after a breakup or job change. We need a home, a safety net just in case we just need a few months to get back on our feet. Does this sound like a far fetched idea? Perhaps, but it can be done. For now I want to close with a quote from the introduction of This Bridge Called my Back about how they got the book published in 1981.

How do you concentrate on a project when you’re so worried about paying the rent?

We have sorely learned why so few women of color attempt this kind of project- no money to fall back on. In compiling this book we both maintained two or more jobs just to keep the book and ourselves alive. No time to write while waiting tables. No time for class preparation, to read student’s papers, argue with your boss, have a love life or eat a decent meal when the deadline must be met. No money to buy stamps, to hire a lawyer “to go over the contract,” to engage an agent. Both of us became expert jugglers of our energy and the few pennies in our piggybanks: Gloria’s “little chicken” and Cherrie’s “tecate bucket.”

From page xxv of the introduction

This can apply to any project or idea or dream we attempt? How can we put our collective resources together to take care of our own?

I’m Vivian Marie Varela