Vancouver
3 min

Raise a little less hell

Stop complaining and get something done

I came home the other night to a debate about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s women-born-women policy going on in my living room.

I made myself a drink and stayed in the bedroom until it was over.

Not because it was heated; it wasn’t. Not because I don’t have opinions on the subject; I do. It was just one of those days when I didn’t have it in me to argue.

I find these days are becoming more and more frequent. Before you go calling me a sell-out… Oh, you’ve already done that? Oh. Okay, well, on your way then, because you’re wrong. In order to sell out, someone must first give me something in exchange for my morals/politics/whatever and you’d be hard-pressed to prove I’ve got anything except a giant student loan debt and an incomplete degree to my name.

If you, like many, are super-jealous of the minivan I drive, take solace in knowing it’s the only thing of value I own because it was the only thing of value my mother owned when she died and now it’s mine. Yeah, I’m living large. And no, I can’t give you a ride.

I realize that selling out is not just about material things but is a way of buying into the system instead of fighting it. I get it. Well, I guess I will admit to buying into some things. I have chosen to buy into my community. I have chosen to buy into my neighbourhood. I have chosen to buy into my family of friends and loved ones. And I am happy with my purchases, thank you very much.

The notion that there is any kind of activism in criticizing and rejecting absolutely everything is horseshit to me. There are those who would not have us buy into anything. To those I say simply, fuck off.

It’s not that I don’t care anymore. I care just as deeply today at the age of 37 as I did when I was 22 and filled with righteous rage.

Today I’m more filled with vegan cupcakes but it doesn’t mean that my brain has gone to mush or my heart has stopped beating.

And it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped trying to create change. In fact, I think I’m more effective today because I have wisdom and experience to add to my passion.

It’s not about what I’ve lost, it’s about what I’ve gained. It’s not about what I reject, it’s about what I choose.

My need to create the life and the world I want is stronger than my desire to fight over and tear down the world that exists.

It’s sort of like that bumper sticker that says “Against abortion? Don’t have one.” The anti-choice people aren’t making any headway with me despite their years of protests and highway billboards and shootings and I feel the same way about certain queers.

Don’t agree with gay marriage? Fair enough. I can understand and respect that. And I promise not to marry you. But fuck you and your self-righteous self for looking down on those of us who do as somehow less queer than you.

I don’t accept anyone telling me what to do with any part of my body, whether it be my uterus or my ring finger.

And, for what it’s worth, with the energy it takes you to rage against my love machine, you could actually be doing something productive. You know, if that holds any interest for you.

Now, I’m not saying there’s no place for anger. I believe strongly in justified anger and the fuel it provides to actually get something done.

But it’s those last three words that are the kicker: GET SOMETHING DONE. If your activism stops at arguing, I’ve got some bad news for you about your effectiveness.

I have a lovely straight friend who loves to argue. He doesn’t even have to disagree with you to argue, he’ll just take the opposing view so that he can get into an argument. He’s not a miserable guy by any means, he just takes great joy in arguing. It bores the hell out of me.

I’m happy to argue with him if we actually have differing viewpoints and if I’m not busy doing something more productive, but when I sense that he’s doing his I-really-wish-I-was-still-in-high-school-debate-club thing, I refuse to play. To his credit, he then laughs and lets up.

I wish I got that response from queers instead of indignation.

Sometimes I think the only method of communication some queers know is arguing. These are the people that want to argue about everything. These are the people I don’t have time for.

When you’ve figured out what you are for in addition to what you are against, and have an idea of what you’d like to create in your lifetime, get back to me. My minivan and I will be at your disposal.

There’s a reason the lyrics to Trooper’s song Raise a Little Hell don’t say, “If you don’t like what you got why don’t you complain about it? If your world is all screwed up just blame somebody else for it.”

It would make for a pathetic rock anthem and it makes for bad activism too.