opinion
3 min

How to change the world through queer magic and applied love

Three steps to weather and resist a Trump-toxic winter

“Hope and connection are acts of love, and while love is an extraordinarily powerful force, it’s not abstract love that changes the world; it’s applied love. Love expressed through action.” Credit: Indiana Joel/Daily Xtra

I started this year with a pledge to choose connection and hope over fear, but that was before the surprising season finale of America. I still stand by my hope, but I need to tweak it a bit now. 

Hope and connection are acts of love, and while love is an extraordinarily powerful force, it’s not abstract love that changes the world; it’s applied love. Love expressed through action. In 2017, I want us to choose hope and connection by tangibly expressing our love for each other through action.

Given the state of the world, I admit it’s a bit hard to know where to start acting. I tried asking Siri but she said I didn’t have an app called “Queer Resistance to Fascism” and suggested looking in the App Store.

I tried meditating, but all that illuminated was a dense tangle of world-anxiety in my gut. My hope, while well intentioned, was not doing so hot.

But then I remembered two very important things: Queer people are magic and magic is a form of direct action.

Now I don’t mean top-hatted magicians pulling rabbits out of hats. (Though people of literally every gender can look hot in a top hat, so there’s gotta be some queer magic happening there . . .)

What I mean by magic is the art of changing consciousness at will, and queer people are amazing at this.

We can create temples to love and connection in what outwardly looks like a park bathroom. We can transform our bodies and genders by shifting how we see ourselves and reflecting others back to them. We can find each other and share our stories with a glance, a wink, a haircut, a stray hanky. We can heal our scars through the alchemy of transmuting shame into pride.

So I decided to do some queer magic of my own and ask my tarot cards to give me some direction on the kind of actions we can take. (If you’re curious, I drew the Six, Four, and Mentor of Bones from the deliciously queer Collective Tarot. Mentor is King and Bones is Pentacles in traditional decks.)

Here are three tangible actions of love for 2017:

Celebrate the triumphs of all acts of resistance

It’s important to celebrate where you are at now. Do not wait until everything is better or finally complete to celebrate. That we are here and alive is worth celebrating.

Drawing on the work of Alice Walker, Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous writes beautifully about how “Resistance Is the Secret Of Queer Joy.” She talks about how every small act of resistance is a triumph. Even just existing as queer people, loving ourselves and each other, is an act of resistance and thus a triumph to be celebrated.

In particular, celebrate the triumphs of queer and trans people who are also indigenous and/or people of colour. Don’t forget to celebrate your own triumphs too.

Like the seasons, the moon, and the tides, everything in life moves through cycles. While the state of the world may seem new and particularly awful, the pattern isn’t. We’ve seen this before. Weimar Germany from 1919 to 1933 was an amazing time for the exploration of gender, sexuality and art. And then Nazis happened. The 1970s were a golden era for the gay community. And then AIDS happened.

Winter comes every year, but spring always follows. I’m not saying it will be easy or fun. Weathering a storm comes with the painful transformation of erosion, but as a community we have weathered every storm in the past.

Get in touch with your natural cycles as you weather the storm

Maybe in the winter your body wants a more introverted focus. Maybe there are a couple of days in your monthly cycle where your primary partner needs to be your hot water bottle. Your body knows. Listen to it.

The card for the Mentor of Bones shows an image of a well-dressed, older cougar looking directly at you. “For a cougar such as the one you’ve just encountered to be alive in her old age, to be able to offer her wisdom and mercy at this stage in her life is a feat of survival.”

Queer and trans elders have survived a world actively working against their existence. We have members in our communities that have lived through many winters and they have both the wisdom and the trauma to show for it.

While these stories may not be easy to tell or to hear, our elders can help us learn how to keep living even when the storms of winter seem unbearable.

My partner is 57. He lost more than 50 loved ones to AIDS, including three partners. By all logic he should have died with them, but somehow he survived. Whatever the cost for wisdom is, he’s paid it.

Connect with queer and trans elders

Listen and learn from their stories of love, loss, resistance and triumph. Be patient if they don’t know all the current social justice jargon. Remember that they created the world where we could find those words.

Connecting with our bodies, connecting with our elders, and celebrating the triumph of resistance. These three actions are all potent examples of queer consciousness-transforming magic. 

While I continue to hold hope in my heart, I know that winter rarely passes without hardship. That’s why I’m committing to living my love through action. Who’s with me?