Saturday, May 19, 2018

"What You Feed, Grows! (It's All About Love)" – MayDay 2018 (Part 2)

This evening I share a second collection of photos from this year's MayDay parade. As I mentioned in Part 1, on Sunday, May 6, I attended the 44th annual In the Heart of the Beast Theatre's MayDay parade in south Minneapolis.

This year's theme was "What You Feed, Grows! (It's All About Love)."

The words of wisdom and inspiration that accompany my photos are excerpted from the MayDay 2018 program guide. Enjoy!

Parade Story, Section 1: We Feed You Love

Young people from our neighborhood have great power. Young people across the country and around the world have great power and are stepping up to use it . . . for love, for joy, for concern and protection of each other and our world.

The three groups of young people we work with in our neighborhood all expressed wanting to feed people. They use their power, sharing positive messages and fun energy to feed and inspire us. Step up with us, share a slice of the power, speak your truth, and share in the love!

– HOBT's Phillips Project

Section 2: Tas'ina Wicahpi/Star Quilt.

Star quilts are used by many Native people to honor community members and show gratitude and affection. A tas'ina wicahpi/star quilt is comprised of cloth diamonds that depict the morning star. In this section we feature cloth diamonds that carry stories from youth and families who have lost loved ones, and community words of encouragement. This large quilt is called Tas'ina Wicahpi Tewa'ila (Love Star Quilt).

Tas'ina Wicahpi draws attention to images of the cosmos in the hope that it will awaken the sensibility that we are all a part of a greater story and responsible for its flourishing.

Attention is a basic form of love.

Our attention is on the youth who, like the stars, are guiding lights. Youth are now the enlivening force of movements such as Water is Life, Black Lives Matter, defending DACA, LGBTQI activism, and the call to put an end to gun violence in our schools and communities.

Tas'ina Wicahpi Tewa'ila brings visibility to Native youth and holds up all youth.

We honor youth who have become ancestors all too soon. We are deeply disturbed by the increasing rate of youth suicide, particularly amid Native youth who are significantly, and often invisibly, plagued by this reality. Native Americans make up 1% of the nation's population, yet Native youth have greater rates of suicide than any other racial group, disproportionate to the general population.

We recognize these tragedies are entangled amid deeply rooted systems of oppression, a time of unprecedented extinction of life and profoundly disturbing fragmentation of community. We look to the youth, and to the stars, for renewal and guidance and we work to heal these leaders so that they may shine.

– Graci Horne, Madeline Helling and Laura Korynta

Section 3: The Ground On Which We Stand.

We do not grow plants – we nourish soil so that the soil may grow plants. When the soil has nutrients, so does our food. When it is depleted, so are we. How may we regenerate the soil, restoring the ground we walk on, as we restore ourselves? Soil is a naturally occuring dynamic system at the interface of air and rock. Soil is the very skin of the earth – a living, breathing being – and its thriving ensures our surviving.

We evoke soil as a metaphor for ancestors; the ground in which we're planted; the "parent material" of which we're made – where our roots lie.

Soil is a symbol for the climate we inhabit; toxic colonial legacies and a broken ecosystem but perhaps more important, an underground resistance that has long been rising up with bold, irreverent and enduring movements for social and environmental justice.

– Allison Osberg, Mary Plaster and Shannon Kemp

Section 4: Growing Momentum.

Growing Momentum celebrates the growing of the world we want to live in. The heart is a seed, waiting to spring forth. The earth holds both the perennial roots and the possibility for the better future we can create.

Community is the heart of our city and the heart of the parade. How we work together and support each other creates a network of roots that gives us strength, lessens the spaces between us , and brings nourishment to our communities, encouraging us to grow. We want to honor and bring visibility to the work that's happening right now – how the seeds of change are constantly being planted. There is wild growth happening all around us.

If we have given attention to the current state of the world, it's difficult not to feel a little despair. It's easy to get stuck in questions of why, and forget to ask what we can do to make the word we want to see, and how to embody it. We want to bring attention to want we can do now and the work being done by those around us, while remembering those who gre those first seeds that we build on each season.

Values are communicated and reinforced by attention. What ways can you make the world you want to see? Attention, like water, bring life. Where are you putting your attention? What are you growing?

– Andrew, Angie, Malia and Marcelo

Section 5: Nourish the Garden – Welcome to the Time of "One".

On a microcosmic level, the universe is as a garden, where laws of Harmony, Love, Polarity, Beauty and symbiotic frequencies serve as necessary nourishment among all elements and beings to thrive as ONE.

The Heart, in the center, radiates healing colostrum or essence. Sun, Spiral, and Calla Lily speak to the nourishment among all elements and necessary to thrive as ONE.

– Jim Cook, Dee Henry Williams and Edgar Bey III

Section 6: Bloom!.

Bloom is the celebration! These splendid blossoms are why we stay optimistic, glimpsing the inspired future and the actualized community and world we long for. Bloom is an appreciation of living things, the work of healers and helpers, detoxifying masculinity, expressions of love, the sun, moon, and earth. We recognize the glorious result of working with natural systems of the earth to solve problems and sustain ourselves and other living creatures. The action of pollination is a reminder that everything we achieve is a result of interactions and interdependence. The blooming flower is the tangible result of feeding what you want to grow.

– Gustavo Boada, Lindsay McCaw and Ashlie Paulson

A circle is a healing and connecting prescription accessible to everyone. Every family, any group anywhere can form one.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it gas gone through to achieve that beauty.

Above: With my friend Mahad at the 44th annual MayDay parade – Minneapolis, Sunday, May 6, 2018.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"What You Feed, Grows! (It's All About Love)" – Mayday 2018 (Part 1)
Photo of the Day – May 6, 2018
"Imagine, Heal, Resist" – MayDay 2017 (Part 1)
Photo of the Day – May 7, 2017
"Radical Returnings" – MayDay 2016 (Part 1)
"Radical Returnings" – MayDay 2016 (Part 2)
"Our New Possibility": Photo of the Day – May 1, 2016
"And Still We Rise!" – MayDay 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – MayDay 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (MayDay 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (MayDay 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (MayDay 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: MayDay 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: MayDay 2009 (Part 2)
MayDay and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reclaiming the Power of Male Touch

In an article first published last year by the online forum Medium, author Mark Greene contends that homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting both queer and straight men.

As much as gay men have faced the brunt of homophobic violence, straight men have been banished to a desert of physical isolation by these same homophobic fanatics who police lesbians and gays in our society. The result has been a generation of American men who do not hug each other, do not hold hands and can not sit close together without the homophobic litmus test kicking in.

The lack of touch in men’s lives results in a higher likelihood of depression, alcoholism, mental and physical illness. Put simply, touch isolation is making men’s lives less healthy and more lonely. . . . The sooner being gay is completely normalized, the sooner homophobic prohibitions against touch will be taken off straight men.

. . . We need to empower men to touch. We need to fix our sexually repressed/obsessed American culture and put an end to distorted and hateful parts of our culture that allow homophobic people to police all men everywhere down to the very tips of our fingertips.

One way to reclaim the power of touch for men – straight men, in particular – is to remember that the prohibition against male touch hasn't always been the norm. As the vintage photographs I share in this post show, in years past the comfortable display of mutual affection and intimacy between men was not uncommon. Greene is aware of this and highlights in his piece the article "Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection," which Brett and Kate McKay wrote in 2012 for the website, The Art of Manliness.

Following is an excerpt from the McKays' article. It's accompanied by vintage images that I've collected over the years showing men captured in moments of intimacy. Enjoy!

The poses, facial expressions, and body language of the men [in these vintage images] will strike the modern viewer as very gay indeed. But it is crucial to understand that you cannot view these photographs through the prism of our modern culture and current conception of homosexuality. The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until 1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist. Attraction to, and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not something you were. It was a behavior – accepted by some cultures and considered sinful by others.

But at the turn of the 20th century, the idea of homosexuality shifted from a practice to a lifestyle and an identity. You did not have temptations towards a certain sin, you were a homosexual person. Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized – decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against. As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century. At the same time, it also may explain why in countries with a more conservative, religious culture, such as in Africa or the Middle East, where men do engage in homosexual acts, but still consider homosexuality the “crime that cannot be spoken,” it remains common for men to be affectionate with one another and comfortable with things like holding hands as they walk.

Whether the men were gay in the way our current culture understands that idea, or in the way that they themselves understood it, is unknowable. What we do know is that the men would not have thought their poses and body language had anything at all to do with that question. What you see in the photographs was common, not rare; the photos are not about sexuality, but intimacy. [Note: Actually, I think it's fairer (i.e., less absolutist and more open to the complexity of life) to say that in many instances the photos are more about intimacy than sexuality. I offer this as a way of not ruling out completely the possibility that some of these images are about both intimacy and sexuality. In other words, homosexual intimacy.]

These photos showcase an evolution in the way men relate to one another – and the way in which certain forms and expressions of male intimacy have disappeared [for straight men] over the last century.

– Brett and Kate McKay
Excerpted from ""Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection"
The Art of Manliness
July 29, 2012

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Manly Love
Beloved and Antlered
Integrating Cernunnos, "Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World"
Edward Sellner on the Archetype of the Double and Male Eros, Friendships, and Mentoring
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Rockin' with Maxwell
What a Man! – Connor Beaton

Photo of the Day

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Quote of the Day

What Palestinians are trying to overcome is [the violence of the Israeli occupation]. As well [they are] trying to create a new future where they can exist with Jews who want to be on the same land. They just can't exist as supplicants or as second-class citizens.

The "abomination" is that we dare to exist and that we won't disappear. And somehow that's seen as in response to Israel rather than a desire to live. And that's what it comes down to. . . . We want to live. The fact [is] that [Israeli policy] is part of the reason why we're not living – the primary reason why we're not living.

[Israel] is the only nuclear power in the Middle East and is supported by the world's global superpower with unequivocal military, financial, and diplomatic aid. We're against all odds. The fact that we've survived this long is a miracle, and will be one day one of the most tremendous inspirations to anybody reading history in the world.

Noura Erakat
Excerpted from "Palestinians Want Freedom, Just Like Anyone Would"
The Washington Post
May 15, 2018

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has an extensive and informative website that includes a photo blog entitled Eyes Wide Open. A recent collection of images on this blog is entitled "Gaza Not Through Gun Sights," about which the following is said.

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Gazans have protested along the fence with Israel. Most have stayed several hundred meters away from the fence, with the demonstrations taking the form of a folk festival: entertainment stages, live music, food stalls and large tents where entire families spend the day.

Naturally, media coverage and public debate have focused on Israeli soldiers shooting demonstrators who approached the fence. Yet it is worth pausing over the vast majority of protesters, who have not been involved in such incidents. B’Tselem field researcher Olfat al-Kurd, Muhammad Sabah and Khaled al-‘Azayzeh documented not only casualties, but also the back line of the demonstrations: teens playing soccer, women baking bread, food stalls, and Gazans asking for an end to the Israeli blockade that has made their lives intolerable.

Below is a sampling of the photos from "Gaza Not Through Gun Sights."

Above and below: East of the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip – April 20, 2018. (Photo: Olfat al-Kurd)

Above: East of the al-Bureij refugee camp, the center of the Gaza Strip – April 13, 2018. (Photo: Khaled al-'Azayzeh)

Above and below: East of Gaza City – April 27, 2018. (Photo: Muhammad Sabah)

Above: East of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip – April 20, 2018. (Photo: Muhammad Sabah)

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Kill 50+ Palestinians Protesting Nonviolently as U.S. Opens Jerusalem EmbassyDemocracy Now! (May 14, 2018).
A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem: A Celebration, and a Massacre – Michelle Goldberg (The New York Times, May 14, 2018).
Gaza Killings: Names and Faces of Those Killed by Israeli Forces This WeekMiddle East Eye via Common Dreams (May 15, 2018).
It's Not a "Hamas March" in Gaza. It's Tens of Thousands Willing to Die – Amira Hass (Haaretz, May 15, 2018).
“Unacceptable and Inhuman” Violence by Israeli Army Against Palestinian Protesters in Gaza – Doctors Without Borders (May 14, 2018).
We Must Speak Up Against Israel's Slaughter in Gaza – Muhammad ShehadaandJamie Stern-Weiner (Vice, May 14, 2018).
Bernie Sanders Emerges as Washington’s Leading Voice Against Gaza Violence – A.P. Joyce (Mic, May 15, 2018).
U.S. Blocks United Nations Call for Independent Probe Into Gaza Deaths – Natasha Turak (CNBC, May 15, 2018).
Nikki Haley Walks Out of U.N. Security Council Meeting as Palestinian Envoy Begins to Speak – Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani (Think Progress, May 14, 2018).
For Many Evangelical Christians, Jerusalem Is About Prophecy, Not Politics – Diana Butler Bass (CNN, May 15, 2018).
To My Fellow Evangelicals: What You’re Cheering in Jerusalem Is Shameful – Richard Mouw (Religion News Service, May 15, 2018).
In America's News Headlines, Palestinians Die Mysterious Deaths – Moustafa Bayoumi (The Guardian, May 16, 2018).
Kill and Kill and Kill – Saree Makdisi (CounterPunch, May 16, 2018).
Blaming the Victims of Israel’s Gaza Massacre – Gregory Shupak (FAIR via Truthdig, May 17, 2018).
Palestinians Are Forcing the World to See Their Humanity – Phyllis Bennis (In These Times, May 16, 2018).
60 Dead in Gaza and the End of Israeli Conscience – Gideon Levy (Haaretz, May 16, 2018).
Seven Fallacies About the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict – Marc Lamont Hill (The Huffington Post, May 17, 2018).
Why Palestinians Are Ready to Brave Bullets and Risk DeathThe Economist (May 17, 2018).
Historian Ilan Pappe: "We Need Sustained International Pressure on Israel"The Real News (May 7, 2018).
Yes, What Israel Is Doing to Palestinians Is Actually Genocide – Benjamin L. Corey (Patheos, March 1, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
For Some Jews, Israel's Treatment of Palestinians is Yet Another Jewish Tragedy
Israeli Policy, Not Anti-Semitism, at the Root of Disruption at Creating Change 2016 Conference
Remembering the Six-Day War and Its Ongoing Aftermath
Quote of the Day – August 12, 2014
Something to Think About – July 18, 2014
"We Will Come Together in Our Pain"
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"