by Zachary Pullin
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Navigating through the plethora of commencement speeches populating my social media feeds is my favorite June pastime. Through clever metaphors and imagery, they impart wisdom and insight into a hopeful future for thousands of college students across the country. Barbara Kingsolver, author of “Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible,” spoke at Duke University in 2008 about our increasing isolation from one another, among other things, and the importance of community.
“This is an ancient human social construct that once was common in this land. We called it a community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state.”
With Capitol Hill stories focused more and more on crime, newer and newer development projects, and national retail chains setting shop here, it’s clear that our own community has steadily devolved into increased isolation. As their tagline suggests, “Gay City does.” After carefully considering the programming landscape, they gathered community partners and organizers to get to the heart of the issue about community and created “Mosaic.”Mosaic exists to create unique opportunities for LGBTQ and allied individuals in pursuit of community through conversation, dialogue, forums, and workshops.
When people talk about community, they often define it as looking and feeling a lot like themselves. Gay City hopes that Mosaic and events, such as their inaugural event, Smear the Queer: Queering the Definition of Community, will help in practicing being in community with one another. The greatest work of oppression is in dividing communities; the real work begins with healing and reconciling that imbalance. Mosaic events will commit to a higher level of inclusion, engagement, and intersectionality. Bridging differences, holding the tension of positive and negative life experiences, and confronting the complexities and deep needs of our world with others can help to truly create community.
Smear the Queer marks step one in challenging increased isolation.
Why is it audacious to sit side by side with neighbors and discuss how to pursue community that is inclusive of all ideas and is innovative in creating a collective definition of community? Even knowing that, learning together, and growing together makes community stronger and more beautiful. In Barbara Kingsolver’s closing remarks, she quips, “The ridiculously earnest are known to travel in groups. And they are known to change the world.”
Join a crowd of neighbors, friends, allies, and ridiculously earnest folk looking to breathe new life into how to define community. Because when they travel hand in hand toward that horizon of togetherness they truly can change the world.
Smear the Queer: Queering the Definition of Community will take place on May 7, at the Calamus Auditorium at Gay City (517 East Pike Street), at 7 p.m. More information is available at www.gaycity.org/mosaic.