Queer Eco

Queer Uprising Ecologies for Black Trans Queer Life

Illustration by Glori Tiutt, courtesy of Forward Together, https://tdor.co/art/we-have-never-asked-permission/

Beloved queer trans people, I see you, in the streets, on Indigenous land, with rain on your face or sun in your eyes, with wind blowing teargas away so you can breathe. I see you putting paint on the walls and asphalt, blending your megaphone song with the cries of crows. Black, Native, Brown, Asian, white, but above all Black, young, fierce, fighting for life, justice, and the kind of deep transformation we know in our trans bodies, seeding the abiding kinship forged in the intensity of clashes with cops. I see you with hearts open from reading and making Black queer ecology, black feminist strategy, Black trans visions, and strategies for Indigenous-Black solidarity that disrupts capital’s violent moves. This list is not exhaustive, but allusion. It’s flowered so far beyond a list, like the peonies that open and wilt on my table through all the days and nights of the rebellion. I see you already winning, seizing the discourse and the media narrative, rolling out profound and exquisitely crafted policies that begin with defunding police and end up creating actual space to breathe in the face of white supremacist and settler colonial policies that mere weeks ago seemed to be gathering momentum. I see you erupting out of quarantine like leaves beneath melting snow, like a swarm of bees above a city street, like salmon surging up past a demolished dam. I hear your horns and beats and above all your voices making chords with the voices of birds, coyotes, cats, rats, stray dogs, raccoons, all the vibrant and sometimes also devalued life of urban ecologies, and with the wind and sirens and breath of the earth itself, in counterpoint with the words, prayers, and dreams of those who stay inside, elders, disabled, sick, kids and their caretakers. You all changed the world and the world, the land, the sun-ocean-wind-rain cycles that make the climate, the stars and the cooled off stars that became rocks, all these queer ecologies are always and forever with you on the side of life, we can feel them binding us together in ties of responsibility and reciprocity.

No prompts this time, but I’d love to see what you paint in the streets or write on a sign to hang in your window.

Queer Quarantine Ecologies Prompts # 12-15

Now, however many weeks into quarantine….I could count, but really, time has taken on its own slow beat and I have no desire to tick off the weeks on the calendar….now I come to the end of the prompts that the water underground and I generated back in the early days of shelter in place / stay home stay safe. My almost-3-year-old, Blue Jay, says, “Long time ago, we used to go inside people’s houses. “Long time ago, when I was a baby, we used to be able to hug people and hold their hand.” The bright green tendrils of a cold and rainy march have swelled and deepended Strawberries have a blush of red in the front yard and the lilacs that were bare sticks are now covered in rotting flowers and arch down to make a secret jungle room for semi-private phone calls. The chicks have grown into cluckers and one crower. Summer might demand more prompts, more queer thought, more image and gesture in lieu of touch. Please do reach out if you have ideas for prompts, projects, or other ways to keep one another close.

Prompt # 12 Who are your queer elders, mentors, and loved ones at extra risk from covid 19. Have you been wanting to record a story from them? Give them a call and ask for a story. Post the questions that you asked that got them talking. (Thanks Celeste Chan, and check out www.QueerAncestorsProject.org)

Prompt # 13 Have a dance party at a park and invite friends to join you virtually or at a distance. Or, make a backdrop of your favorite place to go outside and have a virtual dance party with at least one other person. Or, hMake sounds of birds or animals you might find there. (Thanks to Zeph Fishlyn and the Emergency Dance Party Network!)

Prompt #14 Remember a great walk or other exploration you have made with a child in your life. Draw a picture or comic about it and send or read it to them. Plan another adventure for after you can be together again.

Prompt #15 If you can go outside, find spring leaves or flowers and make quarantine valentines out of leaf rubbings or photograms for some friends, and mail them. What do you get back?

Queer Quarantine Ecologies: Elders, lab-mates, and queer childhood ecologies

As the weeks of quarantine, lockdown, and shelter in place unfold into dense green almost-summer here in Seattle, other places, seasons, and most of all people have come into my senses as intense presences. This week’s prompts invite you to reflect on some of the places and people who you make queer ecologies with, and to connect with those people and see what stories or feelings you can evoke together.

As always, you can post your responses here. You can also join live next week for a virtual workshop, and share a response to any of the prompts! The free workshop is part of the UW Environmental Justice Workshop, and you need to sign up in advance.

Prompt # 8 Where is your field, lab, or study site? Describe what you see when you come here. How do you think the organisms or ecosystems you study are doing right now? Are they at risk of damage or extinction? Are they valued by society at large for their special qualities?

Prompt #9 How do you think about safety and access to the field or lab? How do you navigate racism, homophobia and trans phobia or/and ableism? What humans are you with in the field or lab? How do you try to disrupt settler colonialism hetropatriarchy etc. in your lab practice? Post a picture of your lab or field crew and / or make a sticker or button to make these practices visible, and post that!

Prompt #10 What ecologies were important to you as a child / teenager?  Do you still live near these places?  What role do wild places continue to play in your life as a queer person? Call up someone who shared this childhood landscape and talk to them about what it means to you now. Post a quote from you and from them and sketch or photo of the place.

Prompt # 11 Who has been an important collaborator or mentor in your field work? Call them up and talk about a place you have been in the field and what it meant to you both. Post an excerpt from your conversation or link to a recording.

Qu((ee)ar)antine Ecologies Prompts #3-7

Welcome back to Queer Quarantine Ecologies. Due to the pressures of the moment, I am having trouble keeping up with posts for the prompts so am releasing the next set as a block. Please respond to one or more that pique your fancy.

 four queers dressed as engineers stand on a stage bathed in red light. Behind them is a projection of an oil well and a water nymph and salmon having a drink at the bar.
What do you wish you could wear into the field? The Army Chorus of Engineers ponders the fate of their work for the Manifestly Destined. Performance still of “The Gold Fish, or Straight Flushes for the Manifestly Destined” by July Cole, dir. Ezra Berkeley Nepon, 2012.

Prompt # 3

What do you wear to the lab or field? What do you wish you could wear?

Prompt #4 

What birds (or other creatures) did you see out your window today? what were they doing, and who watched them with you? (Inspired by Anandi Wonder’s SF window videos)

Prompt #5 

Did your feet touch the earth today? Did water touch your skin? How did the air smell today? Show or describe how that felt and what you felt while aware of those elementals. Draw a diagram or concept map of the relation, and think about whether you can consent to this touch, and whether the air, earth, or water consent. (Inspired by Kyle Whyte’s keynote at the Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds workshop, UW Madison, 3/7/20, just before quarantine.

Prompt # 6

Listen for machine sounds (cars, airplanes, factories, etc.). Map where they are in relation to where you are sitting. Now imagine the smoke, effluent, or other toxins that emanate from them, draw them, and list them if you know what they are. How do you imagine they affect your body? What other (human and nonhuman) animal, plant, fungi or microbial bodies do these releases affect? Have they decreased with stay at home orders? Will they increase again once the releases are lifted? (If you want to find out more about toxins in your neighborhood, check out the tools at https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/community-action-tools).

Prompt #7

Open a window. What does spring sound and smell like? How dows the sun or wind feel on your skin? Does this spring hit your senses differently than other springs you remember? Post a recording or sound notation.

Qu((ee)ar)antine Ecologies Prompt #2

wall spray painted with "covid 19", wall has a hole in it

Welcome back to Qu((ee)ar)antine Ecologies, a project to connect queer ecologists and ecological queers during a time of physical distancing and trophic cascades. Share your responses via the comments, poll, or tag #queerquarantineecology.

For this prompt, you are encouraged to make a set, diorama, or other re-enactment of a research setup using items around your home.

Prompt: Describe your current research project, the ecosystems and / or organisms you are investigating, and what world you hope to bring into being through this research.


Qu((ee)ar)antine Ecologies Prompt #1

wall spray painted with "covid 19", wall has a hole in it

Welcome to Qu((ee)ar)antine Ecologies, a project to connect queer ecologists and ecological queers during a time of physical distancing and trophic cascades. Share your responses via the comments, poll, or tag #queerquarantineecology.

a food web diagram to spark your imagination, courtesy of amap.no

Prompt: What did you bring with you into quarantine*? What other species are you holed up with? Describe your ecosystem and habitat, and sketch relations among ecosystem members.

Share your queer thought