Corvallis Social Justice: Camp Sweeps Resume, Queer Book Displays, Local Fundraiser for Puerto Rico, Engagement & Educational Opportunities for DVAM

Across Corvallis, several locations where unhoused folks have been sheltering were recently posted for displacement by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Corvallis Parks & Recreation Department. These areas include the following: Michael’s Landing, the wood lot near the BMX Track and surrounding structures, the multi-use path near Southwest Brooklane Drive, the north side of Pioneer Park, and under the highway bypass at the Eric Scott McKinley Skate Park.  

Through Wednesday, Oct. 19, camp sweeps will be carried out by ODOT and Corvallis Parks & Rec. Stops the Sweeps Corvallis, a mutual aid network of community members providing care and support to their unhoused neighbors, will be providing direct assistance to the folks being evicted – such as by helping them move, if requested – and will share ongoing updates throughout the week on social media.  

 To plug into these efforts and find more ways to help, reach out to Stop the Sweeps Corvallis on their Instagram or Twitter, or send an email to stopthesweepscorvallis@protonmail.com. Resources that are commonly requested after sweeps include tents, sleeping bags and/or blankets, and batteries, which can be dropped off at the Corvallis Really Really Free Market’s (RRFM) Free Store, located in room M252 of the Benton Hall Plaza on 408 SW Monroe Ave., between 2 – 6 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays for distribution.  

Queer Book Displays: October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and at the Oregon State University Pride Center, temporarily located in Room 112 of the Student Experience Center (SEC) while the old building is undergoing renovations, staff member Sabrina She found a way to celebrate by curating book displays of works by LGBTQ+ activists, scholars, and storytellers – available for anyone in the OSU and Corvallis communities to come peruse and check out.  

“As someone whose life mostly revolves around literature, I know it would have changed so much for me if I had seen a display like that and been able to access those stories, so my biggest hope is that I can provide a sense of representation and community through my work,” said She. “It’s one thing to hear and see stories online about people who occupy the same identity niche as you, but for me it’s so much more real to hold and touch writing from those people.”  

She added that published and printed works by LGBTQ+ writers have always signaled to them that there is this kind of future that is possible for themselves and others like them, both in a sense of literary value and in a sense of livelihood, legacy, and storytelling.  

“Here is proof of our lives and stories and our futures – here they are for other people to see,” said She. “My absolute favorite part of literature is that once something is published and out in the world, it can’t be taken back and therefore can’t be erased. This is also why archiving and displaying these works is so important. They need to be as visible as possible – otherwise, why are they in our possession?”  

One of the displays is Halloween-themed, playing with the often celebrated intersections of queerness, horror, and pop culture in the LGBTQ+ community. For example, a description of Queer Little Nightnmares, a recently published anthology of fiction and poetry that subvert the horror gaze by reimagining “monsters old and new through a queer lens”, reads, “Throughout history, monsters have appeared in popular culture as stand-ins for the non-conforming, the marginalized of society. Pushed into the shadows as objects of fear, revulsion, and hostility, these characters have long conjured fascination and self-identification in the LGBTQ+ community, and over time, monsters have become queer icons… Pushing against tropes that have historically been used to demonize, the queer creators of this collection instead ask: What does it mean to be (and to love) a monster?”  

These tropes are not without critique. It Came From the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, published on Oct. 4 by Feminist Press, is a collection of 25 essays by queer and trans writers who explore in classic and contemporary horror films the “rich reciprocity between queerness and horror”, a relationship that can be empowering or oppressive.  

“Horror movies hold a complicated space in the hearts of the queer community: historically misogynist, and often homo- and transphobic, the genre has also been inadvertently feminist and open to subversive readings,” reads a description of the book. “Still, viewers often remain tasked with reading themselves into beloved films, seeking out characters and set pieces that speak to, mirror, and parallel the unique ways queerness encounters the world.”  

“The narrative of villanizing queer people in literature, especially when written by non-LGBTQ+ people, is so harmful and alienating,” said She. “However, it’s something that a lot of queer people relate to and, when authored by queer people themselves, can be done in a way that’s truly representative of those feelings. A lot of our materials are a few decades old, so holding space for authentic representation without that narrative was one of my main concerns when I was pulling titles for the Halloween display. I think it’s super important to have representation that not only presents monstrous characters as neutral, but also displays those aspects as simply another facet of that character to be loved.” 

One of She’s favorite examples of this is the ongoing comic series The Shepard’s Sword, a “butch4butch werewolf rivals-to-lovers lesbian slow burn romance in fantasy Appalachia” by Ren Strapp, a Portland-based butch lesbian comic maker and designer. 

“From the Halloween display, I will endlessly recommend Gideon the Ninth by Tamsun Muir,” said She. “It’s this epic space opera with necromancy and sword lesbians and lots of bones!”  

The Pride Center is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Moving forward, She and other staff will continue to curate book displays with monthly themes at the center.  

Campus Fundraiser for Hurricane-Displaced Puerto Ricans: On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the OSU Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapters will be co-hosting a fundraiser to help provide relief to Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Fiona during the Agricultural Career Fair & Student Showcase. Here, students will share the various collaborations and projects they worked on during their 10-day service learning trip to Puerto Rico earlier this summer as part of the OSU Office of Global Opportunities’ Resilient Coastal Communities/Natural Resources Education for Island Communities course program.  

Students will be collecting cash, Venmo, and Cash App donations for the purchase of water filters, seed sprouting kits, and solar-powered lights, chargers, and emergency radios. Walmart, Home Depot, and Visa gift cards are also being sought to help purchase cleaning supplies and building materials.  

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to Hurricane Fiona,” reads an OSU SACNAS Instagram post. “There are over 900,000 without water, and half the island still has no power even weeks after its landfall. Your donation can go far to help the same communities we worked with for our summer learning course.”  

The showcase and fundraiser will take place at the Memorial Union (MU) Horizon Room from 12:30 – 3 p.m. Questions can be sent via email to Clarisa.Cabarello@oregonstate.edu.    

Local Engagement, Educational Opportunities for Domestic Violence Awareness Month: On top of being LGBTQ+ History Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and local resources like the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) and OSU’s Center for Advocacy, Prevention, and Education (CAPE), a new program providing a continuum of programs and services designed to “cultivate a survivor-centered, trauma-informed, culture of consent” at the university, have been sharing multiple opportunities for folks to educate themselves and others, as well as engage in raising awareness about domestic violence both on campus and within the broader Corvallis community.  

Much like CARDV, the mission of CAPE is twofold: To provide confidential, compassionate support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and to “create lasting change and elimate gender-based violence” through community education and outreach. Both have shared the history of DVAM and its roots, beginning with the “Day of Unity” that was observed in October of 1981.  

“The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end interpersonal and gender-based violence, and has since evolved to a full month of activities carrying the common themes of: mourning those we have lost to domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and connecting community to work towards ending violence,” reads a CAPE Instagram post  

To show their support for and solidarity with survivors of domestic violence, folks can wear purple ribbons, which can be picked up for free from one of several locations across the OSU campus, including the Valley Library, the Dixon Recreation Center, the MU, and the SEC. Next Monday, Oct. 24, CARDV will host a community vigil for survivors at the Corvallis Central Park Gazebo from 6 – 7 p.m.; light refreshments, emotional support dogs, and resources for survivors and allies will be available. Guest speakers will include Mayor Biff Traber and Community Education Advocate Jacob Stewart, who also leads the center’s Men’s Coalition to End Violence (MCEV).

In addition, you can donate to CARDV and learn more about their history and ever-expanding efforts for domestic violence prevention and intervention – made possible by ongoing community support – by watching their 2022 Safe Families Benefit on YouTube, which featured keynote speaker Saadia McConville, an award-winning writer and journalist who, along with her mother, took refuge in one of CARDV’s confidential shelters in 1984. Prior to the SFB, which was livestreamed on Oct. 4, McConville spoke with The Advocate about her experience as well as her insights into oppressive systems and sociocultural conditions that not only breed sexual and domestic violence, but increasingly endanger and silence survivors. You can read the article here. 

By Emilie Ratcliff 

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email editor@corvallisadvocate.com