Corvallis Social Justice: Club Q Vigil, Mutual Aid Win for Local Sweep Support, Indigenous Heritage Month Book Display, Worker Solidarity Event
Last night, the OSU Pride Center, Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, and Queer Studies program held a vigil and memorial-making for the victims of the Saturday night mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The vigil came on the heels of the Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) Ceremony, co-organized by Qwo-Li Driskill, a Two-Spirit, queer, disabled, (non-citizen) Cherokee writer, activist, and assistant professor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and Queer Studies, and Dharma Mirza, a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) student in WGSS and Ethnic Studies and founder of Haus of Dharma. The ceremony was hosted at Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws, whose ceremonial circle was used to honor living and murdered trans kin.
At the vigil, participants gave speeches, performed songs, and recited readings of poems by late and living queer artists and activists. One of the speakers initially wrote their speech in response to some toxic positivity posts they saw their straight, cisgender friends post to their social media after seeing so much negativity on their feeds that arose from news of the shooting.
“For those of us who hold identities that are constantly being threatened and questioned, for those of us whose literal lives are under threat of extinction and erasure, for those of us who do not have the privilege of being happy in the face of imminent danger and suffocation, I see you, and I see your ability to be positive on your terms,” they said. “I see the power in your positivity and your negativity, and your willingness to believe in humanity even when yours is repeatedly denied.”
They continued, “We are told that hate exists in the hearts of a select few, and not in every system that cisheterosexual people benefit from. We are told that allies are trying their best and that we can’t accept perfection from people who do not share our experiences… Right now there are 155 anti-trans bills being introduced in the United States legislature. Trans people are dying in unprecedented numbers. Police and state violence have reached a critical level. Trans people are being denied their rights to medical care, safe shelters, to play sports, to be out, to have healthcare paid for by the state, to have correct identification, to use public restrooms… Time and time again we have risen from the ash and the dirt to live on.
“We are made of countless years of survival and anger. We will continue to loudly and angrily really see the names of those we have lost. And we will not fall prey to complacency and [toxic positivity]. We will angrily and lovingly create the world we need.”
A rose display, which emerged from the TDOR ceremony, remains visible at the Ina Haws cultural center in remembrance of the club shooting.
A recently installed sign reads, “This rose display was originally dedicated to the Trans, Two Spirit, Hijra, and Gender Diverse peoples we lost in 2022 for Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR). At a TDOR event on 11/19, our community was attacked and several community members were killed at a shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. We have chosen to let these roses remain here in honor of their memories. We can’t even grieve, without more violence. Give us our roses while we’re still here.”
Memorial altars that were created by vigil attendees for the five individuals who were killed in the shooting will remain up at the Pride Center until the end next week.
Mutual Aid Win for Local Sweep Support:Stop the Sweeps Corvallis, a mutual aid network of housed and unhoused community members committed to providing care, support, and advocacy for folks who are impacted and displaced by camp sweeps, recently pulled together to secure a camper for a local unhoused couple who were living a tent after losing their car, which they had been previously living out of.
The effort began as a GoFundMe to raise enough money for a camper, which included a brief description of the group’s two-year history of assisting people with getting into more stable housing.
“Most of what we do day to day is provide help with survival necessities, [organize] twice-weekly meals and goods distributions, and support unhoused people experiencing sweeps,” reads the description. “We believe that everyone has a right to survival; this means food, housing, warmth, and kindness. We also believe that the government is frequently uninterested in assuring these things, and therefore we as people have a responsibility to help one another in the ways we can.”
Distinct from a charity, many unhoused people support these efforts as well “via helping us serve food, donating items they no longer need to be redistributed, loaning us tables to serve food on, and trailers to help others move, and various other ways.”
This is also touched and expanded upon in a zine that was created by organizers to serve as an introductory guide for those interested in offering sweep support in Corvallis: “What started off as a one-off sweep support has grown into a twice-a-week meal and supply distribution, phone plan support, continued sweep support, and a building of community between housed and unhoused people that is mutually beneficial.”
Organizers are still accepting financial donations through the GoFundMe to reimburse those who assisted with these efforts and ensure the continuation of their important work in the community.
“We’ve been lucky to have a space where we can get to know so many people and their stories, aspirations, and talents that we may have otherwise never crossed paths with,” reads the zine’s outro. “In supporting others we’ve learned how to accept support ourselves. We’ve built a community across class divides that enables us to lean on one another when we need it.Shared and learned countless skills applicable to all aspects of life. One thing we’ve learned is that we need the knowledge and experience of unhoused people every bit as much as they need support from the broader Corvallis community. That unhoused people instinctively know what mutual aid is truly about, if we are to build communities resilient to oncoming climate catastrophes, a rise in white supremacy, transphobia, etc., we have a lot to learn from unhoused people.”
Indigenous Heritage Month Book Display: There’s a new book display available at the OSU Pride Center until the end of November, and it’s dedicated to Native American/Indigenous Heritage Month. Unlike the books that were featured in October’s Queer History Month display, all of the books in this month’s exhibit were loaned by Ina Haws – and while this means that OSU and Corvallis community members are unable to check out and return them, they can be freely browsed and read at the center during Fall Term hours.
Many of these books are published by OSU Press and/or authored by Indigenous OSU faculty. One of them is Native Space: Geographic Strategies to Unsettle Settler Colonialism by assistant professor of Ethnic Studies and Native American Studies Natchee Blu Barnd, which explores how Indigenous communities and individuals create and sustain Native geographies that “effectively reclaim indigenous identities, assert ongoing relations to the land, and refuse the claims of settler colonialism” through “place-naming, everyday cultural practices, and artistic activism”. Another is Walking with Ghosts by Driskill, a collection of poems that confront “a legacy of land-theft, genocide, and forced removal”, resist “ ongoing attacks on both Indigenous and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender communities”, and serve as a record “of those we’ve lost to the irrational hatred and fear of racism and homophobia.”
According to Center Director Cindy Konrad, staff are looking to these kinds of collections and to feedback from the community members who browse them to continue filling gaps in the center’s library. Regarding books by Indigenous authors, she said they’re hoping to add works that center Indigenous queer, trans, and Two-Spirit histories, stories, and lived experiences.
One such example – also loaned by Ina Haws – is Written by the Body: Gender Expansiveness and Indigenous Non-Cis Masculinities by Lisa Tatonetti, which centers and unpacks the ways that femme, queer, Two-Spirit, and non-cisgender Indigenous peoples “negotiate and refuse settler-colonial definitions of masculinity in texts, films, and lived experiences” and, in the process, “offer more expansive understandings of gender” and “engage in the creation of life-affirming strategies for survival and thrivance” for those who are working to heal from the intergenerational “damage inflicted by histories of colonial policing of gender alternatives.”
“Worker Solidarity: Fight Back, Take Control!” This evening, the OSU faculty union United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU), in collaboration with the OSU Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) and SEIU 503, is hosting a keynote speech from International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Sara Nelson, nationally renowned as one of the most progressive leaders in the U.S. labor movement.
Nelson, who grew up in Corvallis, will be returning to her hometown to discuss the importance and “revolutionary power” of “radical cross-union solidarity” along with an interactive panel of university workers and union activists from across the state.
The event, which is free and open to everyone, will take place in Room 49 – aka the Horizon Room – of the Memorial Union (MU), located on 2501 SW Jefferson Way from 5:30 – 6 p.m. Beverages and appetizers will be available for attendees.