I see myself participating in a counter-narrative to political nihilism, a form of enquiry that promotes what I am calling queer futurity.
– José Esteban Muñoz
A queer community does not only exist in the present, it started somewhere, not nowhere (albeit often as a NO), and it continues, even if the community breaks up, in the future. This way of thinking queer futurity is partly based on José Esteban Muñoz writing on the topic, but as I hope to show, also includes Indigenous forms of philosophizing. Kyle Powys Whyte calls this particular form of thought “spiraling” as it reaches in threefold ways, to the past, the present and the future. By asking how we become good ancestors ourselves, we situate ourselves in their situation in the past, and from there we ask how they would respond to our current situation, but also how these responses and actions will affect future generations. It is my conviction as an Indigenous queer working class guy that we as queer communities have a particular responsibility, not only for the way queer spaces are produced and reproduced in the here and now, but also how they will be produced and reproduced in the future. To me this is what queer futurity entails. Muñoz writes, “It is important not to hand over futurity to normative white reproductive futurity. That dominant mode of futurity is indeed “winning,” but that is all the more reason to call on a utopian political imagination that will enable us to glimpse another time and place: a “not-yet” where queer youths of color actually get to grow up.”
Queer communities have always been good at creating diverse, open and inviting spaces –what I think of as spaces of hope – for all kinds of meetings and things to happen, and for queerness to be performed and practiced unashamedly and with militant joy. As far as I understand from friends and acquaintances, you folks at Room 4 Resistance is in particularly adept at this. But more and more of these spaces are now re-created in the subtle and not-so subtle image of corporate power, which is often means hetero-sexist-patriarchal-oppression plus racial and ethnic violence. How do we avoid this racial and ethnic appropriation and re-creation of queer spaces in fascist times? In many cases, even our queer past is sanitized to fit the sensibilities of global wealth and ethnic nationalism. The David Wojnarovicz exhibition happening in the US right now is a good example of how the museum wanted to avoid having a conversation about HIV, which is the same as to say there was no room for dirt/y non-sanitized ways of being, and thereby downplayed his role in ACTUP and his aids related death. Wojnarovicz was also a hustler and a pervert who liked to fuck. Lets not downplay that aspect so white heterosexist society finds it easier to swallow our perverted queer sex-positive bodies.
Early this week I read on my FB that the club //:aboutblank decided to end their collaboration with you because of your open support on social media for the BDS movement. Being Indigenous myself, I stand behind your decision to resist the settler state. However, during this heated debate online, I also learned that you have an upcoming event with Red Bull on September 22, upcoming Friday at Griessemuhle. Now, my interest here is not to debase or denounce Room 4 Resistance or the people associated with it. The reason I am writing is to take the opportunity to point out that the CEO Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull is, as a matter of fact, in the business of creating a media platform that takes the right-extremist news outlet Breitbart in the US as a model. The new media platform will be called Näher an die Wahrheit, which translates to Closer to the Truth. But I ask, who
s truth and for what purpose? In an interview with Handelsblatt, a German business paper, they compared the billionaires media platform and its right-wing profile to Breitbart. Later, Breitbart itself picked up the same interview with the headline “Red Bull Boss Slams Mass Migration, Forced Multiculturalism.” Breitbart, as has been noted on several occasions, played a decisive role in the election of Donald Trump to his presidency, but also in raising the white ethno-state flag even higher.
In a statement online you write, “We, Room 4 Resistance, are here to bring politics back to the dancefloor, and we stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. In addition to being queer, femme and non-binary forward, trans-positive, and sex-positive, we are anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-colonialist, anti-apartheid and therefore opposed to the violent oppression of the Palestinian people.” With that in mind I am of course curious how you can disentangle the horrifying power and allure of fascist media with the things you claim in the statement? The media whether we want to or not, shapes the way we look at the world, the way we perceive others, and, subsequently the way we react to the world and the violence asserted against black, brown and indigenous life –what Fred Moten calls “stolen life.” The media itself produces a colonization of our minds, the creation of a colonial imaginary that becomes hard to see past or beyond. The settler state logic is global in its scope and not limited to Palestinians, I am sure that you both understand and develop much of your politicized dancefloor ethics and relations with this in mind. Which is why I find it very strange that you would venture into a co-operation with such a platform as Red Bull, who`s aim is to whitewash their xenophobic racist agenda. I sincerely ask, what is to be gained by our continuous co-operation with structures that, when all is said and done and the party over, ultimately harms our own and other communities? The way I read your statement, it points to such communities when you include words such as anti-fascist and anti-colonial. I want to follow you, I really do, but how can the We you are referring to in the statement be more than just the We of R4R and its current milieu? As with all struggles that involve multiple communities and peoples, we need to continuously reconsider our political positions, and ask how it relates to the current moment, but also, as queers, for future queer generations. “Decolonization is not a metaphor.”
Let us not resort to simple solutions to highly complex problems. Contemporary forms of fascism have no center in which to focus our resistance, therefore we have to continuously develop new and more thoughtful methods of resistance that take this new landscape into account. Fascism partly relies on the wide distribution and dissemination of false knowledges, a return to primitive ideas, and fake news. We as black, brown and indigenous queers, must resist the impulse to answer back with the same stupidity we are served, which Isabelle Stengers would characterize through two dimensions of stupidity: “in one respect, it is absolutely situated and incarnated in actions, attitudes and manners; it always concerns this scientific, medical, therapeutic, economic or environmental apparatus. It is indeed about the “stone-blind eye” in the face of the destructions caused by the market.” But nor am I arguing that I, or any of you, are stupid. Didier Debaise writes, “It is not a matter of reducing stupidity to some psychological trait, to the character of those with whom it is concerned. While always situated, stupidity for Stengers refers to a kind of operation that I would qualify as one of capture or possession. It constitutes a capture of the soul.”
I think we resist this stupidity with joy, with friendships, with militancy, and with mourning in order to reach another morning. So, I want to end on a hopeful note with Carla Bergman, when she writes in the book Joyful Militancy how, “Freedom” and “friend” share the same early Indo-European root: *fri-, or *pri-, meaning “love.” This root made its way into Gothic, Norse, Celtic, Hindi, Russian, and German. A thousand years ago, the Germanic word for “friend” was the present participle of the verb freon, “to love.” This language also had an adjective, *frija-. It meant “free” as in “not in slavery,” where the reason to avoid slavery was to be among friends and family. As the Invisible Committee writes in To our friends, “Friend” and “free” in English … conveys the idea of a shared power that grows. Being free and having ties was one and the same thing. I am free because I have ties, because I am linked to a reality greater than me.”
I therefore ask those of you associated with Room 4 Resistance, with love and care, and comradely queer hope for a peaceful coexistence, that you seriously reconsider the upcoming event with Red Bull Music Festival, and continue to openly boycott fascist structures.
All best Niilas
Berlin September 2018