By Luzviminda Uzuri “Lulu” Carpenter
(June 27, 2009)
MABUHAY! Greetings on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion…
Mabuhay! My name is Luzviminda or Lulu and I am here representing Pinay sa Seattle. I have worked with this organization since I moved to Seattle almost four years ago and when the members were with GabNet-Seattle. Pinay is a collective of Filipinas that celebrate our multifaceted identities, revolutionary history, and rich culture. We work to build a community in the Seattle area invested in educating, defending, and advocating for the human rights of Filipinas globally. Pinay is a member of the member organization GABRIELA-USA, the first official overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines with 3 other organizations: babae San Francisco, Sisters of GABRIELA Awaken (SiGaW in LA), and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE of New York). We are also members of BAYAN-USA along with AnakBayan Seattle and part of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS).
I bring you greetings on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion from all my kasamas (which means comrade in Tagalog) from around the world, as resisters to colonization and militarization, the truth tellers of history, and unified comrades in struggle; most notably my Lesbian and Gay Kasamas in LesBond and ProGay in the Philippines. Also, I give honor to the Duwamish tribe upon whose land we stand and whose sovereignty is still denied here
I say “Stonewall Rebellion,” because when Stonewall is remembered, the fact that it was a Police Riot is forgotten. The people that rebelled were those in the ranks of the lower classes and people of color. They were the dykes, trannies, and gays, living their lives and making a living the only way they knew how. They were the ones thrown on the margins seeking safety and community and still they were harassed, targeted, and beaten weekly. Until one day they grew tired, as much of us are tired as we dance and find joy in the margins and struggle in an oppressive society. They were attacked by the police state that is still in place today attempting to regulate who we are, who we love, and criminalizing us for being brave and daring to be on the outside of their constructed boundaries and protecting ourselves, our families, and our friends. This history is often erased as people say, “Remember Stonewall.” I was asked to think about honoring our past and by remembering, we are honoring ourselves and this legacy of resistance. In remembering that Stonewall was a rebellion, we know what our task 40 years later still is…. Rebel against this lost history and remember who we were and who we really are; Rebel against an unjust system that criminalizes, harms, and even kills those that refuse to be controlled within this police state or whose bodies and desires are seen as dangerous.
For instance, within Pinay, when we reclaim our past, the first memory we give each other is to honor the legacy of the BABAYLAN. Babaylans were Filipino spiritual leaders before the Spanish colonizers came. The word babaylan is constructed by two feminine syllables and one masculine one. You can see it on my arm if you would like; tattooed so that I remember. They were often women or gender ambiguous people; often healers, seers, and miracle workers. They were wisdom keepers and folk therapists that were gifted enough to heal the spirit and the body. They were a service to the community and would intercede for the community and for individuals. They were the first to suffer and be strategically killed by both the Spanish and the Americans during the colonization process; because they were too queer, too outside, too powerful. They tried to kill us, but many generations later, we are still here and we are still resisting with our minds, bodies, and spirits.
This historical memory is relevant today when noting that 40 years ago, attempts were made to kill the Stonewall rebels and attempts are now being made to try to coat over this memory, this memory that is needed to remind us of how powerful we were and still are….. And today, they are still attempting to kill us emotionally and physically and we bow down; whether by making us believe that there is no change that we can create on the ground, outside of institutions and government sanctioned systems, OR by criminalizing us, OR by overworking us, OR by so much more.
These historical memories holds the work we do, as Pinay, within the Filipino community and multitude of other communities by being brave and naming ourselves… as we convene at the intersections of gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, economics, race, ethnicity, profession, sexuality, and spirituality… as we continue to hold all the things that uplift us even as it oppresses us. We are different, just as many of you are different, and yet we come together in unity to build community and family – families that we were born into and those that we created.
As we make ourselves visible at the Dyke March, Let’s make sure that our individual and collective history is visible as well!
WORKING IN COMMUNITY is hard, but is necessary as progress becomes symbolized by glam and shine, versus true, raw change that happens at the bottom… on the margins. Because that is where true change begins… Because it has always been us, those that are denied access, that continues to push society and forces communities to see us and honor us as we learn to honor ourselves and see ourselves in all our glory.
Working in community is hard, but is necessary, because 40 years after the Stonewall riots, there are those that are still suffering under the yoke of genocide, colonization, and militarization, here and abroad… as we struggle within Seattle and Washington, being denied access to our marital rights and LGBT backlash, social and human services budget cuts, gang violence, anti-immigration polices, healthcare reform, and domestic and sexual violence and experience the everyday racism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and so much more….. What will our resistance look like 40 years from now? What will people remember, as we face gentrification from Capitol Hill to the SouthEnd… and whole blocks and buildings disappear daily…?
Working in community is hard, but is necessary, as we ask ourselves, “Are we building with each other and making alliances as they tear away our memories? Are we holding within us the truth that our resistance is in us and that developers may tear down buildings, but we still have each other? Are we building more than we break? Are we rebelling by making our presence known on each and every level of society in loud ways and in quiet ways? Are we rebelling with our whole heart at the injustice in our lives and other’s lives?” Because we must! We must resist, with whole hearts and whole communities.
I hope that each of you are resisting and hoping, as I continue to hope for myself, as I hear, ringing in my head, each and every day, “survive yes, but resist, resist, RESIST!!!”
So I leave you with this chant…. It is based on the greeting I came with, “MABUHAY!” which means “Long Live” or “Live long and prosper.” It comes from the root word buhay meaning “life, alive, live, and/or become alive.” This is a call and response….
So when I say, “Mabuhay mga dykes.” You respond with “MABUHAY!” And you have to say it with all your heart and feeling of resistance through living life strong and in rebellion….Mabuhay is a command, so it’s a demand… so command yourself, command resistance, command life….
MABUHAY mga DYKES! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)
MABUHAY mga QUEERS! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)
MABUHAY mga LESBIANS! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)
MABUHAY mga TRANSPEOPLE! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)
MABUHAY mga RESISTERS! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)
MABUHAY mga REVOLUTION!!!! (Audience response: Mabuhay!)