5 resources for learning about stonewall – the riots that launched the queer rights movement

hey beloveds. i had a post all ready to go teaching allies how to push their workplaces to become trans and non-binary affirming, but in light of the rebellion against racist oppression and police brutality sweeping the country, it seemed like we should talk about stonewall.

the stonewall riots against police brutality in 1969 launched pride and the queer rights movement as we know it. the riots lasted for days and included property destruction on the behalf of rioters (good for them). trans women of color — particularly a black trans woman, marsha p. johnson — were absolutely central to the stonewall riots. they are the mothers of our movement.

with those pieces of context in place, i’m going to link you to a few resources for learning about the stonewall riots. there is so much for us to learn from stonewall and so much that we must learn from stonewall. for those of you to whom this will be new information, welcome to your legacy. let’s live into it.

the making gay history podcast features interviews with queer figures and activists who were on the front lines of history. the show’s fifth season is entirely about stonewall. you’ll hear from many people about their parts in the riots, but most meaningfully to me, you’ll hear from marsha p. johnson and sylveria rivera.

the queer as fact podcast features a team of historical researchers giving and discussing the biographies of queer people “across the world and throughout time.” they have a dedicated stonewall episode, where they lay out a timeline, addressing which particular events are likely to be legends and which are likely to have occurred, based on the accounts available. i’m fascinated by many of the events that we have accounts of but which we somehow rarely talk about.

in this podcasts, you’ll hear about rioters dancing in a chorus line at the cops. i think there’s so much to glean from that embodied joy in the middle of a fight for those folks’ very lives. we deserve joy and pleasure and need it as part of our movement. i believe these ancestors show us that.

you can also read an account sylvia rivera gave about her involvement in stonewall in this talk she gave in 2001. she pulls absolutely no punches in it. my admiration of her grew and grew as i read it.

the next two resources i haven’t been able to engage with yet, but i saw them recommended multiple times as i learned about stonewall, so i’ve included them here.

david carter is often credited with writing the definitive history of stonewall in his book stonewall: the riots that sparked the gay revolution.

martin duberman’s stonewall: the definitive story of the lgbtq rights uprising that changed america includes interviews with folks about their firsthand accounts of stonewall, including marsha p. johnson.

learning more about stonewall, especially firsthand from the mouths of people who were there, gave me a greater understanding of the importance of what those folks were doing and the way they were doing it. i think there’s a lot to be learned about violence (what oppression and its agents do to the oppressed) and force (what the oppressed use to fight back against oppression and its agents) and why the latter is necessary. i think there is much to be celebrated. i hope we can move forward in the now with all this learning and that we non-black folks –especially we white folks — can support black people in fighting for their safety and freedom and lives.

if you have other resources you recommend for learning about the stonewall riots, please tell us about them in the comments.

stay safe out there, y’all. ❤

(want to support this project? donate to reclaim the block or black visions collective.)

five resources for teaching kids queer history during self-isolation

i’ve seen a lot of posts going around about how to full-on homeschool your kids during this time of self-isolation due to covid-19. those posts are overwhelming to me as an adult human (i shudder to think how they feel to kids) and i tend to follow the argument that it’s of the utmost importance right now to give kids time, space, and help to process all the feelings they have regarding covid-19 and its subsequent disruption to their lives.

so my intention with this post is not to create a queer history curriculum for folks to fill their children’s lives with, for that reason and because now is a good time to dream bigger about how education could be healthier than our current model is. educate outside the box! remember that children need time to play! remember that they deserve the space to make their own decisions about how to live their lives! remember also that not all children have the resources to continue their education on as it would have been — their parents are essential workers (may they stay safe) or they don’t have internet access or any of a myriad of other equity issues. (this is a good time to become activists for these things and bring your kids along — lots to learn about civic engagement there.)

also, i want to recognize that teachers have many years of expertise in a profession that they’re continuously developing in. it’s unkind to yourself as a parent to expect to reach that standard — of course you can’t recreate the fifth grade on no notice in the middle of a global pandemic. now is an excellent time to be grateful that we raise children in community, that our community members develop and share skills that we don’t have to enrich our lives and the lives of our young ones.

with all those things in mind, if you’re looking to widen your children’s — and your own — historical literacy regarding queerness and queer people, which we are tragically unlikely to be exposed to in school, i do have resources for you. please be good to yourself and to your kids in your use of them.

making gay history podcast: the making gay history podcast features interviews with queer historical figures and activists. you get to hear directly from sylvia rivera, marsha p. johnson, and many, many others about what their lives were like and what they believe/d about queer liberation. all episodes have transcripts, in case you find yourself needing them, and the podcast has an accompanying instagram.

some episodes of making gay history that i highly recommend include:

queer as fact: the queer as fact podcast features a team of historical researchers giving and discussing the biographies of queer people “across the world and throughout time.” the podcast provides content warnings at the beginning of each episode and the hosts discuss their research methods and evaluate their sources, a useful skill for all of us navigating information literacy in a social media world to learn. the podcast also has a sub-series within its feed which discusses queer representation in fictional media: queer as fiction.

queer as fact has an accompanying tumblr, where they curate additional resources, interact with their audience, and post pictures related to their episodes. you can follow them on twitter and facebook as well.

some favorite queer as fact episodes of mine include:

@lgbt_history instagram: @lgbt_history on instagram is a great account to follow to see pics from queer historical events. documenting the titans of movements as well as everyday folks, @lgbt_history is a great launch point for further investigation and a great reminder that we’ve always been here. they also have a list of book recs!

queer: a graphic history: this book is among my favorite tools for understanding queerness to share with others. an illustrated walk through queer history, queer theory, and a glossary of queer terms, this book is full of great information made easy to understand and delightful to read.

stone butch blues: a novel written by queer powerhouse leslie feinberg, stone butch blues is an important read for anyone wanting to understand queer history in the united states. in the author’s own words, stone butch blues is “a highly political polemic, rooted in its era, and written by a white communist grass-roots organizer.” feinberg worked to make this work free before hir death; you can download it on hir website (linked above).

please recommend more queer history resources in the comments below! happy learning!

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

ways you can help others during covid-19 without leaving your house

flattening the curve of covid-19’s impact by staying home isn’t the only thing you can do to help your communities right now. if you’re like me and looking for more to do in a time when going places is off limits, here are some things you can do to help others without leaving your home!

you do need an internet connection for most of these (and to access this post of course) and i want to acknowledge here that not all folks have internet access and that lack of internet access is an injustice.

sign petitions!

contact elected officials!

we need our politicians to act and to act quickly. call your national, state, and local elected officials and demand the things that will help us all make it through this difficult time.

you can find contact info for your elected officials at this page of usa.gov.

here is a list of potential demands you could make:

  • a rent and mortage freeze — put housing costs on hold indefinitely, not delayed for later.
  • a moratorium on evictions — you can ask your national elected officials to support elizabeth warren and bernie sanders’ letter to the deparment of housing and urban development towards this end.
  • a utilities freeze and a promise not to turn off utilities on anyone during this time — don’t delay the costs to later, when we will all still be hurting financially from this crisis.
  • grants for small business owners — not loans that they have to repay later with interest, but actual bailouts like the big businesses get.
  • reclamation of unoccupied homes for our homeless populations — these folks are vulnerable and cannot self-isolate or quarantine without safe shelter.
  • money — we need and deserve financial stability during this difficult time. ask them to support bernie sanders’ call to give each american $2,000 each month during this crisis.
  • demand free healthcare — we deserve medical attention without the financial burden of it now and always. now’s a great time to push for medicare for all, as we’re seeing just how great the need for it is.
  • demand the release of incarcerated folks — social distancing is impossible within prisons, putting those people at great risk.
  • demand the release of all ICE detainees — this population is a great risk as well.
  • moratorium on homeless sweeps and encampment removals — these folks are already vulnerable and should be let live.
  • make internet free for all — as we’re seeing being especially pressing now, everyone needs and deserves to have internet, now and forever.

if you have monetary resources, share them!

it’s a hard time right now for many of us to make ends meet, but if you have resources to spare, there are very helpful ways you can share them, including:

  • order someone groceries or other food — many grocery stores deliver and restaurants (at the time of writing) are still able to offer take out and delivery. you can support your local businesses while also getting people you love fed. be mindful of whether your loved ones consider getting deliveries safe right now.
  • send them money to pay their bills — venmo, paypal, and cashapp are so useful.
  • donate to mutual aid funds — there are mutual aid networks all across the u.s. that are directly helping folks that need it. you can find ones close to you at itsgoingdown.org. (you can find the puget sound covid-19 mutual aid gofundme here, for my local folks: https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-survival-fund-for-the-people.)

connect with folks!

it’s so important that we maintain connections during this time. humans aren’t built to be alone, so when it’s unsafe to be together, we have to get creative in maintaining social connections. here are some ideas of how to do that:

  • host a virtual party — use zoom or skype or facebook video messaging to dance and laugh together.
  • virtually join together to contact your elected officials — i’m going to reach out to friends to see if they’ll letter write with me via one of the above platforms.
  • create a discord or slack for everyone to hang out in — now’s the time to up our group chat game!
  • play rpgs together online — roll20 works great for this!
  • watch movies together using netflix party or one of the apps mentioned in this article.
  • play board games virtually — i’ve had tabletop simulator on steam recommended to me.
  • write a letter to folks who are incarcerated — they are especially vulnerable during this time since prisons are inherently unsafe spaces which don’t allow for social distancing. black and pink has a program you can join.

we are not powerless while stuck at home (as many disable and chronically ill folks can tell you); we can make substantial difference in the lives of others from our living rooms, from our kitchens, from our beds.

if you have other ideas about how we can help each other while staying home, please share them in the comments!

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

how to talk about money with the people you love

many trans folks are in economically precarious positions under normal circumstances and with the impact of covid-19, our communities — and others — are facing even greater economic difficulties.

while there are social services programs that can help (call 211 or visit NeedHelpPayingtheBills.com to find social services in your area), i know a lot of us are going to need greater or different help than they provide.

i’m a great believer in mutual aid: the practice of providing each other the help we need. with many of us out of work and facing looming rent payments and other bills, it’s imperative that we get able to talk with each other about money — who has it, who needs it, and what we’re gonna do about it.

the following are some tips to get you started in these conversations, whether you’re the person asking for money or the person offering it. but before i break it down, a tip for all parties:

  • know that it’s good to have these conversations. we’re taught not to talk about money, but not doing so only serves the wealthy and we don’t want to serve them, do we? remember that having these conversations is doing good work to break down the oppressive class system and bringing us all closer to good lives free of oppression.

if you’re someone who needs money…

  • tell your friends and community members as soon as you know you have the need. there’s absolutely no shame in having needs, especially under oppressive capitalist systems, not to mention during a pandemic. giving people a heads up as early as you can helps them plan their finances in such a way that they can help.
  • use whatever communication means you feel comfortable with. if asking a group is easier for you, you can make a facebook post; you can hit up the group chat. i also very much encourage approaching a particular person, who you know has steady income right now.
  • be straightforward. if you need help with the language, try something like “hey everyone, i’ve been laid off at work and i’m really worried about how i’m gonna make ends meet. can anybody help me pay rent/buy groceries/get my meds?” when addressing an individual, try something like, “hey [their name], i’m struggling financially right now, are you able to help me pay my bills?”
  • be specific. $200 short on rent? say that number. a group of folks will be able to work out how to split an amount. folks also like having a goal to meet.
  • if your need is going to be ongoing, be open about that. say something like “i need financial help right now and will need it on an ongoing basis, because i don’t know when i’ll be able to work again.” preparing folks upfront for an ongoing need makes it a lot easier for them to plan how they can help. it helps a community of folks make a long-term plan.
  • be prepared to accept whatever response. it can be hard to be denied resources that you think others can spare. but you don’t necessarily know what wiggle room others do or don’t have. however, if you hit up the group chat and are ignored by everyone, it’s probably time to have a conversation with the group about what kind of community you all intend to be. folks should at least answer you, even if it’s to say they can’t help. be patient with yourself and others; we’re all figuring this out as we go.

if you’re someone with resources to spare…

  • state that you are in a position to help. your friends don’t want to make your life harder, so they need to know that asking for help from you isn’t going to do so. say something specific like “my work is steady right now and i’m very down for redistributing these resources!”
  • approach your communities as a group. you may not know who all is struggling right now, since we’ve all been taught not to share that. hit up the group chat/zoom meeting/netflix party! say something like “hey all, i know with everything going on right now, finances can be especially hard. i have money to spare if folks need it. just let me know!”
  • reach out specifically to the friends you’re worried about. some folks won’t feel comfortable taking you up on your offer in a group setting, so it’s important to talk to particular folks if you’re concerned about them. try something like “hey [name], i know your gigs are falling through right now. if you need help paying the bills or anything else, i’m here for you.”

i’m so proud of everyone who goes on to talk about money with their friends and loved ones. the learning curve is difficult, but extremely worthwhile. the more we have these conversations, the better we’ll get at them and the stronger our communities will be. we can survive — and thrive — together.

if you’re interested in learning more about mutual aid, check out dean spade’s mutual aid syllabus page.

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

using non-binary pronouns 101: a how-to

you know someone who uses non-binary/gender neutral pronouns, you lucky duck! if you’ve not built the speech patterns for using non-binary pronouns, you might feel a little out of your depth. that’s a natural first feeling, but now that you’ve felt it, you need to let it go to embrace this learning curve. you get to learn more about goodness! and inclusivity! you’re part of building a better world and that’s beautiful and exciting! here are some tips to get you started 🙂

about this post

-i’m ky magdalene, a white, non-binary trans person living in and writing from the united states whose pronouns are they/them.

-i primarily refer to the pronouns discussed in this post as non-binary pronouns because i mean just that: not binary, i.e. not he/him/his or she/her/hers. i do not mean that only non-binary people can or do use these pronouns, just as not all folks using she/her are women and not all folks using he/him are men. pronouns don’t equal gender!

-this post is about using people’s non-binary pronouns, but be aware that when someone tells you their pronouns, you may need to use them with discretion for that person’s safety. use good judgement to determine if that may be the case and ask them how/when/where to use their pronouns if you need to. then follow their guidelines.

examples of non-binary pronouns

this is a non-exhaustive list of non-binary/gender neutral pronouns. some folks use these, some folks use others, and some folks create their own!

they / them / their / theirs / themself

ze / zir / zir / zirs / zirself

xe / hir / hir / hirs / hirself

xe / xem / xyr / xyrs / xemself

for a guide on pronouncing some non-binary pronouns, visit https://www.mykidisgay.com/blog/defining-neopronouns?rq=neopronouns.

how to learn a particular person’s pronouns

you won’t be able to tell someone’s pronouns by looking at them, unless they’re wearing identifiers such as pronoun pins, so here are tips for learning what people’s pronouns are!

1) introduce yourself with your pronouns. this will often prompt the people you’re meeting to do the same. 

example: “hi, i’m so-and-so. my pronouns are he/him.”

2) just ask! if you need to take the edge off how strange it can feel to ask a question you’re not used to asking, you can couch it in your introduction. 

example: “hi, i’m so-and-so. my pronouns are xe/hir; what are yours?”

if you’re past the introductory stage of your interactions, you can still just ask. a simple “oh, what’re your pronouns? mine are she/her” works wonders at any point.

3) check for pronoun pins, pronouns on name tags, or for pronouns to be listed in an email signature. it’s good practice for everyone to list their pronouns in their email signature; add yours if you don’t have them! 

my email signature looks like this:

ky magdalene
pronouns: they/them/theirs
[my job title]

how to build the speech pattern of using non-binary pronouns

using non-binary pronouns might be new to you; that’s all right! you can pick up that skill just like any other 🙂

1) practice with people whose genders you don’t know. use gender neutral pronouns for strangers or new people you’ve met whose pronouns you don’t know yet. remember, you can’t discern someone’s gender or pronouns from their appearance, unless they’re wearing identifiers.

2) practice with animals. if animals have genders, we don’t know them, because they’re unable to tell us what they are. use gender neutral language for them.

3) one of my favorite tips, which i learned from non-binary trans writer vin tanner, who writes at medium.com/@transstyleguide, is to practice using a person’s pronouns while looking at a picture of them. if you don’t have a picture handy, hold an image of them in your mind. then practice using their pronouns out loud, saying things like “so-and-so is a good friend. they are fun and smart and i admire their humor and kindness. i’m glad to know them. i’m glad so-and-so is themself.” intersperse your sentences with their name, so you can connect the two as you build the speech habit!

4) i built a pronoun worksheet to practice with that’s free to print at kymagdalene.com/non-binary-101. fill in the blanks with the person’s name and pronouns as marked and read it aloud.

what to do when you make a mistake 

you’re gonna mess up. everybody who uses a non-binary pronoun at this point in our (united states) cultural history knows this. it’s your responsibility to respond to your mistake with grace and to strive to move past making the same mistakes. mistakes are understandable but not infinitely allowable — and what each person will allow is up to them.

1) apologize: be brief. don’t go on and on about how sorry you are and how you didn’t mean to and all of that. it’s a strong urge, but putting the person you harmed with misgendering in the position of having to make you feel better about having done so causes further harm. also, they’re already doing a lot of emotional labor around being non-binary in this binary culture. don’t add to that. simply say, “i’m sorry” and then…

2) correct yourself. always make sure to take a moment to correct to their right pronoun, even if that person wasn’t around to hear your mistake. if you don’t correct yourself, you won’t build the new speech pattern you need to build and you’ll be teaching others the incorrect one when they hear you.

         example: “he said — i’m sorry — they said that it’s raining.”

what to do when others make a mistake

first, ask the person who uses non-binary pronouns if they want you to correct other people. take any and all direction they have for you on the matter. they may want you to correct people always; they may want you to correct people only when they’re not around to do it themself; they may want you to never correct people; they may want you to correct certain people and not others, depending on who might be in the know about their pronouns and the safety concerns they have about that.

listen to their needs and wants and ask questions if you have them. continue to check in about it over the course of your relationship with them.

to correct someone else, you can interrupt them with the person’s correct pronoun or you can make a point of using the person’s correct pronouns as a reply to someone using the incorrect ones. emphasize their correct pronouns when you do.

         example:

         “she said she’d be late today, right?”

         “xe said xe would be late, yes.”

often that can be enough to clue someone in, but if it isn’t, say something explicitly, such as “oh, so-and-so’s pronoun’s are xe/hir.”

further resources

for more information about how to move through the world in a way that makes it a better and safer place for non-binary folks, check out the following resources!

a quick and easy guide to they/them pronouns by archie bongiovanni and tristan jimerson

medium.com/@transstyleguide

support this project

i have more resources like this in the works and would greatly appreciate your support in surviving capitalism while i make them. you can provide support at patreon.com/kymagdalene.