Personal Notes from the Sins Invalid World Premiere
Japan, land of my mother and my mother’s mother and our mothers before...There is so much to say after this phenomenal trip, sparked by the Kansai Queer Film Festival . First, my profound thanks to all of the staff and volunteers of the Kansai Queer Film Festival, and special shout outs of gratitude to Hibino (Hippie) Makoto, radical genderqueer visionary behind the Kansai Queer Film Festival (KQFF) and Karin Yamada, key organizer for the KQFF, Professor Kaoru Aoyama, supporter and interpreter for the KQFF.There were so many moments – let me offer you a few:* After the applause for the Sins Invalid film, someone strong and vulnerable stood up and said “I have always struggled with my body. I have hated my body. This film makes me want to love my body. Thank you.”* A wonderful sharing between myself and Yukiko Kaname of Sex Work and Sexual Health, where we discussed the overlap of our works and our hopes for the safety and dignity of all peoples – and of course our strategies to get there – over a wonderful Osaka dinner! * After the film’s q & a, speaking with disability activists, people who assist people with disabilities, a disabled performer and a professor in the lobby! * Late on the night before I flew to Japan, I was preparing for my talk at the KQFF. I read outloud the following passage:“Disability Justice offers new opportunities for understanding and practice. It is intersectional by nature and lends itself toward a united front politic and cross movement organizing; it is necessarily anti-capitalist because no bodies conform to unrealistic demands of production; it acknowledges that people are fundamentally interdependent; it recognizes that we are far greater whole than partitioned into components of our identities; it is committed to collective access to the social and political body in our path toward collective liberation; it seeks the leadership of those most impacted by intersecting systems of oppression; it values sustainability and the lived experience of our bodies; it continually strives for new liberatory practices as our bodies are constantly in flux; it is committed to cross disability solidarity; and must always hold the question – ‘how do we move together’ - as people with mixed abilities, multiracial, multigendered, mixed class, across the orientation spectrum - where no one is left behind.” And my friend responded “Thank you for saying that. Now please go write an article!”* Walking into the ultra-urban-uber-consumer-mecca of central Osaka, seeing a giant anime looking whale, and knowing that I was just as certainly in the belly of market driven chaos economy as when I am in San Francisco’s Nordstrom/Bloomingdale/City Centre mall* Not being allowed to pre-board on United Airlines 12 hour flight to Osaka, and the airline “aisle chair” smacking my body on every single row of seated passengers on both sides until we arrived at our row in Coach. Having the same experience coming home, only worse. There are no words. * Hanging out with the Osaka-Kyoto Crew!!! * Talking late with Hippie, Karin and Saeko on the politics of assimilation in both our national contexts, the visibility of disabled queers, the need to maintain a sharp political analysis, the struggle for funding, the relationship between environmental justice and other justice based struggles, the varying cultures of organizing and conflict between our national contexts…and that was all before midnight! * Eating an amazing Kaiseki meal in Kyoto * Getting caught in a typhoon! * Relaxing at Osaka JoThis trip truly felt like a coming home. It surprised me, to feel familiar with a place I’d only dreamed of having access to – a place where only a week ago I was supported and celebrated by Japanese queer activists and culture makers, others who, like me, are committed to disrupting oppressive gender and bodily normativity while holding respect for the struggles and ways that have come before.My dear friends Saeko Imai, Crystal Uchino, Yuka Ogaki, Mitch Genlot Joslyn, and JMP – thank you for creating with me a motley crew where language and physical access was shared, where resources were shared, and relationships were built with laughter and good food and political growth.And to my peoples, here in the Bay and throughout the Sins Invalid community – thank you for the faith and support for me to expand in the face of visceral ableism and to proudly represent Sins Invalid in my ancestral land of Japan. Together, we demonstrated what access could look like for a person with a significant impairment. We demonstrated Disability Justice.