12 July 2009

Hope and Community in Syracuse

I'm in an optimistic mood this weekend, and much of it is because of two community events. In my experience, online community can bring people together, but to me, it can also make me feel isolating. I'm not sure what the rules are forming online communities, but they seem much more structured than offline ones. Online communities are often founded on common values. Offline, I often find myself in communities that are determined by proximity. Anyhow, here are two uplifting community responses to anti-LGBT bigotry in Syracuse.

Over last weekend, someone defaced a local art gallery by writing "There is no such thing as a proud queer" on a window. This isn't the first time I've seen bigoted graffiti in my neighborhood, nor the first the gallery was vandalized. In any case, Rose Viviano, the woman who runs the gallery, decided to mount a community response. Amit Taneja and Laura Hannahs organized a website for queer Central New Yorkers and their allies to send in pictures. On Friday, the gallery held a community gathering, where volunteers hung copies of the pictures sent in to the blog.

On Saturday, friends and families of Lateisha Green held a celebration of her life.  It was inspiring to see the mix of people in attendance, all to stand up against injustice and to celebrate the value of life.  One of the biggest things I took out of the event was the importance of showing up, and standing up.  To paraphrase the woman who was leading the events (and it kills me that I can't remember her name), it's not always important to have a polished message or to have a master plan-- what is important is to stand up and not let injustice pass unnoticed.  Doing so creates and strengthens community, and allows us to get through the tough times.

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