Tourist Watching – It’s like people-watching, only with tourists
Boy, people like marching these days! There are marches for solidarity, for world hunger, animal rights, ecological justice, racial equality, gay pride, etc., etc., but for every worthy cause which gets only a march when it deserves much, much more, there are dozens of conservative wingnut organizations marching against the freedoms we worked so hard to attain (back when we did more than just march). One of these such organizations is the Catholic diocese of St. Augustine which has taken to organizing a yearly March For Life – a gigantic public protest against abortion rights which floods the streets of downtown St. Augustine with scores of patriarchal prudes and false priests from all over the Southeast and, often, even farther. Since 2007, this event has gone on without so much as a counter-picket until last year when some friends and I decided these assholes needed to be challenged. With only a month to work out the details, we were unable to manage a very large crowd, but all in all, the counter-protest was successful, pulling in folks from Gainesville, Daytona and several locals and Flagler College students. On top of that, some friends of friends even took it upon themselves to pink bloc the pro-life march, scattering wire coat hangers along St. George Street to give the marchers some perspective on the unsafe alternatives to legal abortion.
This time around we have quite a lot more time for planning, and we intend to make damn good use of it. The March for Life has a parade permit which reserves San Marco Avenue and St. George Street along their route a year in advance and guarantees them police protection for their protest. The next March for Life will take place on January 18th, 2014. Other information, such as speakers and whatnot will be collected as it is released. A number of our local affinities here in St. Augustine have agreed upon a counter-march with the understanding that we will have no such permit. It must also be understood that we do not wish to fall into the dichotomy of the choice-versus-life debate, but that our purpose is broader – our focus has more to do with total liberation from the patriarchy, going deeper than just abortion rights.
Our local resistance groups are small but dedicated, and we strive toward an end to all forms of oppression. The broader purpose of this counter-march pertains to the fact that reproductive rights are not specific just to cis women. Many of those affected by the patriarchy are Queer folks (including trans women, trans men, and genderqueer/non-binary folks), intersex folks, or sex workers – all of whom tend to be silenced or forgotten in the fight for just “women’s rights.” Many of the organizers for this counter-march identify as genderqueer or trans* and feel that the inclusion of Queer voices in the fight against patriarchy is essential to success.
With respect to the fact that there will be no “legal” permit for this counter-march, there are some things potential participants must know:
- The March for Life is, and has always been, heavily police-protected. It is important to remember security culture – don’t ever talk to cops!
- Facial coverings (masks, bandanas, etc.) are strongly encouraged for identity protection.
- Black bloc attire is encouraged.
- Bring glitter, condoms, smoke bombs, and whatever else you can think to throw (with the understanding that many people bring their poor,
brainwashed children to this march).
- Bring flags, banners, and shields because motherfucker, we mean business!
- Bring friends! Safe, secure friends, to be sure, but friends! Numbers are power, and those conservative fucks have a whole lot of both.
This is not a protest, it is a confrontation. We plan to challenge our oppressors head-on. If you are uncomfortable with direct action, this action is not for you. If you plan to sabotage our efforts, we kindly request that you do not come.
Any and all interested should contact us at email@example.com. Out-of-state folks are strongly encouraged to come and we will do whatever we can within reason to help facilitate transportation, food and board – that said, we are mostly a bunch of poor folks who depend upon one another for general sustenance, so mutual aid is encouraged and appreciated. See ya’ll in the streets!
Lucky and I went back to the waterfall on acid – we had brought some with us and spent the first two days exploring to find an ideal place and time to take it. We could not have chosen a better place, the waterfall is absolutely amazing, and mystical and awesome (in the literal sense of inspiring awe). I had a mud bath and, instead of washing it off in the waterfall, I spent the rest of the day with my breasts bare and covered in a layer of clay – as it turns out, that was a great idea. The clay protected me from sunburn, bug bites and even, at one point, helped my breast heal after having been attacked by a thorny branch on the way back to the trail. I didn’t even notice the scratch until a couple of hours later, right under my nipple, and by then it was completely healed and the clay had kept it from getting irritated or infected.
Speaking of infection, remember that toothache I mentioned in the first post? And the root canal I refilled? See, my gums had been swollen for days since then and I was taking Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling because it’s an anti-inflammatory (also a blood-thinner, but we’ll get to that in a second) and I had no access to antibiotics (well, I did but the first person I talked to in the med tent didn’t offer me any, another thing we’ll get to in a second). Well, during lunchtime, about mid-trip, my gums busted open and I began bleeding rather profusely from my mouth. It only lasted about a minute or two and it wasn’t painful at all, just a bit bothersome but I went to the med tent and my fears were essentially put to rest. Turns out, I had had an infection in my gums, most likely from having had an open cavity. When I refilled that cavity without first treating the infection, it got trapped and my body had to find a way to expel it, which it could only do by bleeding the infection out, a reaction made easier by the Ibuprofen I had been taking for the swelling. I’m pretty proud of myself for having been able to take this all in and react well to profuse mouth bleeding on acid, honestly. But anyway, med tent person whose name I don’t recall obtaining gave me an herbal mouth wash; prickly ash, I think it was; which helped to disinfect the area and also to close up the tissue so that the bleeding would stop. If you’ve never used a prickly ash wash, it is not pleasant in the mouth hole. It actually felt like my tongue was swelling and bleeding out through my taste buds or something, it got really cool and, actually, felt pretty fucking prickly. My tongue tingled for a good few minutes after I took it, but it did help; the bleeding stopped and my face seemed to go back to normal, the swelling was gone pretty much the second the bleeding had started in the first place and all that was left to do was to keep up with basic dental hygiene with the addition of a salt water rinse at least three times a day for a week or two or however long it might take for the infection to go away and stay gone. I can happily say now that my teeth and gums are as good as they were before, despite the gingivitis I’ve probably had for years.
Backing up a notch, before the bleeding out of my mouth incident, Lucky and I had a good long tent trip. After getting back from the waterfall, we were ready to lie down and rest and be naked and alone. As wonderful as IDA is, tripping around large groups of people, even in a setting where it is completely accepted, can be very stressful and Lucky and I both experience social anxiety from time to time (theirs is a bit more severe and consistent than mine, but on acid, social situations are probably the most stressful thing we could imagine). That said, before wandering out into the common areas where people were and things were happening, we had to prepare ourselves so we hid in our tent for a while, undressed because naked is the official uniform of hallucinogens and began writing out ideas for how to create a new world in the shell of the old. We discussed the patriarchy of histories and the need for new histories – those of the oppressed, ignored and hidden third gender to the challenge the binary enforced under patriarchy. We came to recognize how all forms of oppression are connected to the patriarchy as the patriarchy is connected to them (it’s cyclical). We spent our time realizing things we knew but hadn’t been able to articulate in the same way – hierarchy begins with gender imbalances and the balance is needed back. All cultures have been affected/destroyed/appropriated in the name of dominance and expansion, structural characteristics of a patriarchal society. Basically, shit be fucked up and we aim to fix it.
On a slightly different note, Lucky and I attended a workshop about Queer herbs after the whole gum-bleeding incident which was a nice way to take my mind off of my teeth. Queer herbs refers to herbalism for gender transition and it was a very loose workshop, open to anybody with an interest and, while there wasn’t a great deal of information available, we were able to learn some things which we had not known before. For instance, I was initially under the impression that kudzu is just a shitty invasive species running rampant throughout Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky but, as it turns out, on top of being a hugely invasive species, it is also a fairly powerful phytoestrogen as well as a useful treatment for alcohol addiction because drinking alcohol with this plant will make you physically ill (in fact, I’m fairly certain this is true with most medicinal herbs and with quite a lot of Queer herbs, but perhaps not to the same extent). Another phytoestrogen is black cohosh, best paired with wild yam, according to several trans* fem people in the workshop, as the latter is heavy in progesterone. We focused quite a lot of femininizing herbs for transition because there is very limited info on that in general – most of the info I have found on herbal transition is for masculanization and while I’m sure their is a patriarchal reason for that, I also imagine it has something to do with how much harder “feminine” transition is as opposed to “masculine,” particularly since nobody seems to know of any natural anti-androgen (testosterone blockers), without which, physical changes are improbable at best and, if any do occur, they will be too slight to matter to any person who wishes for a full physical transition. Without anti-androgens, phytoestrogen supplements can only do so much, causing mostly psychological effects, but if the supplement is strong enough, it might also work for softening skin and facial features, but full breast growth might require a progesterone supplement and cannot be accomplished (at least not easily or quickly) without an anti-androgen. Lucky is suspicious of this lack of natural anti-androgens and has been doing further research on the subject in hopes of finding something promising – initially, she believed that chaste berries might have this effect because they were once used by monks to wipe out the sex drive and render themselves sterile, but they are incredibly dangerous in large doses and in small doses have the exact opposite effect. Lucky and I will be looking more into herbal transition for AMABs so that they can grow and harvest their own treatment instead of having to rely on shadily obtained pharmaceuticals.
As for my own transitional needs, I learned that pine pollen is pure testosterone. I have a feeling this might apply to most pollens, but I could be wrong and I’ve heard this about pine pollen specifically before. There are also a good number of mushrooms and fungi with high testosterone levels but I can’t remember many of the names. At some point during the workshop discussion, I started getting distracted by bugs and fractiles and things (lest we forget I was still trippin’ pretty hard) and once we started getting into AFAB transition, the discussion became a little difficult to follow because there were so many people pitching in so much different information and I, having forgotten my notebook, could no longer keep track. Anyway, I felt it would be more useful for me to remember as much of the AMAB stuff as possible because it is harder to find reliable information on that than it is to find things for AFAB transition. The most important thing I think I learned was that none of this has been studied and that any and all information about herbal gender transition has been and must be obtained through personal experience and (safe) experimentation. That said, if anybody knows anything more on the subject of herbalism and, particularly Queer herbs, or if I have said some things which are incorrect, please comment and let me know what more there is to know 🙂
Also, for those interested in herbal transition or who have experience with it, the person who facilitated the Queer herbs workshop has a mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org for anybody interested in sharing their experiences or getting advice/information for their own experimentation.
So, because IDA is out in the middle of nowhere hidden in a valley an hour from Nashville, there was little to no service which, among other things, made interaction with the internet world impossible and caused Lucky’s and my phones to kill themselves because the sheer effort of trying to find a signal was simply too much for them. So, instead I kept a written journal of my experiences at this magical queer gathering which I will transcribe here.
Day 1 of IDA, June 5th: Intense Intents In Tents
The ride from FL was long and crowded but we made it. We left Gainesville in our friend Nova’s janky ass minivan in the middle of the night – there were seven of us crowded in with everyone’s camping supplies and traveling packs with an initial ETA of 10am, but we didn’t make it there until around noon central time because organizing a car full of crazy Queers is like herding cats. All the same, we were just in time for lunch and a good bit of exploration through the valley.
After eating some badass food, Lucky and I set up our tent and began wandering around to aquaint ourselves with the whole beautiful community we found ourselves in – the extensive horticulture, med and self-help tents, the general scenery really. There is a creek which flows through the valley which Lucky and I followed as far up stream as we could manage. While there, we found a very sweet and much more agile cat who joined us on our barefoot adventure up the creek, running ahead and leaping from one bank to the next, clinging to trees and stepping gracefully around the running water, now and then stopping to wait for us to catch up.
After the creek adventure with the cat, we made friends with another couple, a trans woman, V, and her boyfriend, Frog who offered to smoke with us and chill. we hung out with them for a few hours and helped them move their tents from the sober camp where they had set up, mistaking the sober space for an ironic joke. We finished with this task just in time for the dinner conch to blow and migrated toward the kitchen for some badass food grown right on location.
Lucky and I turned in early for some naked cuddle time which quickly turned into sexy tent time long before the rest of the camp. I suppose we were just impatient – had we waited an hour or two longer, we could have been having sex with everyone else in the camp. But really, that’s no matter, even as I was writing this, somebody was fucking in the next tent over 😉
I’m so happy to have come here. This is my vision of the world as it ought to be – as we wish to make it. The people here are open, helpful, hard-working, hard-loving and hard-playing. There is a sense of authenticity in this environment. The world outside these woods is made of plastic.