Sunday, December 4, 2011

Conflict Isn't A Four Letter Word...Running Is

At this point in my life, I should really know better than to avoid my feelings. Actually, let me be clear. At this point in my life I should know that when I avoid owning my feelings, particularly when I am afraid of my feelings or afraid of how those feelings may be received, I tend to wild out and do some dumb shit.

I am hoping to avoid that this time around.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Absolutely everything happens for a reason. I often get pissed off because I don't usually understand why certain shit happens when it does and in the circumstances when it does (I would be simple courtesy if the universe could give me a heads up when it is going to fuck with me and turn everything topsy turvy....perhaps a post it note on the fridge or a text message...GChat? Im? No? Okey dokey)....

For the last week, I have been in Minneapolis for two series of meetings. The first was the ROOTS Coalition meeting. ROOTS is a coalition of the 14 leading queer and trans people of color organizations in the U.S. (though the coalition is multi-racial and includes white led organizations, all of the groupings either center people of color in their work or are explicitly people of color organizations). Getting 14 organizations together to form an entity that can work together to push a new kind of LGBTQ organizing agenda by forming a strategy and education tank (StratTank) is hard work. Lots of the folks in the room have personal histories as well as organizational histories that are sometimes difficult.

Moments of difficulty and conflict are necessary for growth and lay the foundation for really being able to do tremendous work together.

This weekend, there came a point in our work when the entire body started to run from a potential conflict. I am no stranger to running from something that seems hard. I am no stranger of walking away from something that seems complicated. It's the fear of being hurt or being wounded or being rejected or being denied or being found wanting/unworthy that has always been behind my high stepping away from difficult moments.

This week I decided to force a confrontation by holding the group accountable to its attempt to run from a hard decision. I knew absolutely that I could come out the other side hurting. I risked being rejected by my peers and I was forcing myself into a confrontation that I absolutely understood was going to be difficult and could trigger some old and deep hurts. But I also knew that if this body of allies didn't stop running from the hard work, and if I couldn't, personally, face up to the piece of the hard work that was sitting in the room that was attached to a history that belonged, in part, to me, that the coalition was in deep fucking trouble.

Not only did the confrontation happen and it was difficult, the end result was so beautiful that it absolutely confirmed for me that it is beauty and healing that lays on the other side of bravery and risk.

By no means did I make it through the conflict on my own. Part of being willing to engage in healthy conflict is trusting that the folks that are in it with you are going to HOLD you if you come to the hard stuff with integrity. It's trusting that love is stronger than hate/anger/hurt/wounding/sadness/loss/fear. It is trusting that if you come to the moment with hope and care not just for yourself but for the process and with the small bravery of dreaming and wishing for something better and more beautiful to come the other side of the hard moments, that it WILL work out. For those of you to whom I reached out and reached back, thank you. To those that reached out on your own, thank you. And to the one who answered the phone a whole lot that day, thank you.

We can all think/fear/nightmare out the horrible possible outcomes of any situation. Particularly those of us that have been hurt and are still holding on to our hurts. The pain and fear tells us that this situation is going to be a repeat of the one before it and the one before that and the one before that. We lose sight of all of the happiness and beauty that we have experienced and the OVERWHELMING number of times that our families/communities/lovers/friends/comrades have held us. We forget about the times when we took a risk and it led to something transformative and beautiful.

Hurt screams while love whispers...but hurt eventually loses its voice while loves voice keeps steady and strengthens.

I won't run any longer. My hurt doesn't get to win and difficult moments do not get to derail potential. The work of living, the work of growing, and the work of justice demands more than that.

I love you all.


  1. One: I'm so DAMN proud of you, B! Two: You put this so beautifully without pretense or B.S., something we can all share. Three: I love you more! :)

  2. these are powerful words, friend.

  3. Love and struggle, love within struggle CAN happen. Thank you Brandon for showing how.

  4. Thanks for your words, dear friend. The space would not have been the same without you. Looking forward to the next leg of the journey.

  5. Thanks to you all for your loving comments.


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