You Too, (can feel that Warm Glow): Queer Healing in the age of #MeToo (Part I)

Civil rights and anti-sexual violence activist Tarana Burke has a saying that profoundly moves me. The phrase goes: I believe healing is a lifelong journey and the hardest part is starting.

Burke is also the founder of “Me Too.” The quote above was part of a tweet she made in November, 2017 as #metoo was exploding on social media and indelibly altering the public consciousness. With this movement, the pervasiveness of  sexual assault in our society and across the world began to be understood.

So much is being done with Burke’s simple sentence: “I believe healing is a lifelong journey and the hardest part is starting.” It reads as an invitation to me in that ‘healing’ is poised as something that anyone can move into. While the choice to heal is acknowledged as potentially the most painful aspect of repairing from trauma, Burke also offers the idea that healing is not a finite experience that can be succeeded or failed at. It’s a living and breathing continuum, and all one need do is believe that they too are worthy of such a journey.

Perhaps it’s this innate sense of compassion, as well as the extended hand of invitation, in Burke’s statement, that reads queer to me. I can hardly think of a contemporary queer poet whose work doesn’t, in some sense, endeavor to put to language the painful, wild grace that accompanies that lifelong process of healing from trauma. In fact, trauma is often located just shy of life’s beginning. It must be no mistake then, that so often queer poets also use form and metaphor to weave together a language of belonging. Of invitation.

It is this kind of belonging that I, and many LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual violence, feel is missing from current activism and discourse surrounding #MeToo. Tarana Burke herself has expressed the need to center queer, trans, and disabled individuals in the movement as well as Black women, girls, and communities of color. While not detracting from the important strides made by women in Hollywood, and in the congressional halls of power, Burke and others have expressed the need to work toward freedom and healing that orbits around femmes, women, men, and non-binary people who are the most marginalized and/or forgotten among us. The rhetoric from such activists have rightly included, “the sex worker,” “the waitress,” “the factory worker,” and all those who might not feel safe enough to say “me too,” just yet.

Queer and trans survivors of sexual violence have long understood the dissonance, shame, and fear that comes with speaking on our experiences. So often transgender women and genderqueer/or gender non-conforming people assigned male at birth are not welcomed or permitted in community survivor spaces, women’s shelters, or other social service agencies. In a society that has not yet moved passed its enforcement of strict binary codes, queer healing is often performed on the edges of society, in the shelter of trusted queer family or perhaps in the company of one’s own self.

{More to come}


One thought on “You Too, (can feel that Warm Glow): Queer Healing in the age of #MeToo (Part I)

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