If you are at all familiar with events in Oakland, you might be aware of the monthly, First-Friday event (often called Art Murmur), where a portion Telegraph Ave is closed off and made public to support local artists and vendors. First Fridays bring in masses of people from all over the bay to enjoy what Oakland has to offer including bars, restaurants, car shows, and other creative demonstrations. However, what you might not know is that First Friday events can often be a place of hostility and danger for queer and trans* folks, especially of color. Such violence, and policing against queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color (POC) are carried out by First Friday visitors, as well as an increased policing by law enforcement. This contributes to an unsafe environment, which is detrimental to the well-being QTPOC community. In resistance to systems of oppression through white supremacy, which have allowed for a homophobic/transphobic, racist toxic environment surrounding the events in downtown Oakland, queer and trans* folks of color have organized spaces which affirm and support their identities and communities.
Due to community organizing, and in resistance to such hostility against the QTPOC community present in First Friday events, a monthly event has been created called Shameless: An Alternative Queercentric (QTPOC-only) First Friday event in an effort to cultivate healing and nurturing creative safe spaces exclusively for the QTPOC community. Shameless has been made possible by local queer and trans of color folks- many of whom might be considered radical revolutionaries- whose efforts involve providing a space for community building and support in combatting intersectional oppressions impacting queer, trans* and gender-non conforming communities of color. Shameless is also a space to support local QTPOC artists, performers, and vendors who face systematic challenges due to their marginal status.
By looking at Shameless’ mission and goal, we make connections to some of the course themes of this week including issues of anti-violence, organizing around trans and trans of color issues, intersectionality (identity factors of race, gender, class, etc.), systematic oppression, and even critique to biopolitics and necropolitics (as conveyed in the Snorton and Haritaworn article). Shameless promotes itself as a space to enjoy first Friday without capitalized and policed detriments against their community. Shameless was created as a means of “interrupting the dominant paradigm of white supremacy and embodying racial justice” and while it is open to all who self-identify as a member of the QTPOC community, individuals who identify as white are asked to support the space as an ally, by refraining from attending in order to keep the space safe and non-triggering for those who have been impacted by the trauma of white supremacy and domination. Dedicating the event as QTPOC-only, Shameless is meant to be a healing space. Shameless means to respect all QTPOC bodies including those with visible and invisible disabilities.
Shameless acts as a counterexample to the kinds of organizing that say, Snorton and Haritaworn describe in “Trans Necropolitics: A Transnational Reflection on Violenece, Death, and the Trans of Color Afterlife” in that it is a celebration in the survival of Queer and Trans of color life and well-being. Shameless, in itself, challenges a lot of issues around organizing for trans people of color against victimization, anti-transphobia and anti-violence. It pushes back against the traditional, “transnormative, protectionist victim” and the memoralizing of the death of trans people of color as central to the transgender movement, which produces problematic narratives of deracialized trans bodies (Snorton and Haritaworn 66-67, 72). Shameless is a space which affirms intersectional identity. Shameless is perhaps an example of the alternative of what Snorton and Haritaworn offer as a way “..visibility, legibility, and intelligibility structure a grid of imposed value on the lives and deaths of [queer and trans people of color],” (Snorton and Haritaworn 68). Snorton and Haritaworn ask an important question of who benefits for the dominant methodologies of violence and anti-violence, stating, instead of the most in need of survival, the circulation of trans people of color in their afterlife accrues value to a newly professionalized and institutionalizing class of experts whose lives could not be further removed from those they are professing to help,” (Snorton and Haritaworn 74). This in a way speaks to the importance of QTPOC-only space as an alternative praxis and problematizes or critiques the notion of allyship in these spaces.
Shameless Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/438388249612022/
Shameless Tumblr: http://oaklandshameless.tumblr.com/image/75821703357