Photo by Zig Metzler
Community is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I was lucky that I came out right after I moved to a city that was pretty queer-friendly, a city where folks acknowledged we were living, breathing, and loving on unceded Coast Salish territory and actively worked to decolonize. A city where folks would ask about your pronouns. A city where, when someone in our community needed help funding a trip to a social justice training, folks came together in the most delightful pay-what-you-can dinner/art auction/dance party fundraiser. A city where folks were willing to call me out and call me in as I grew and learned as a feminist, a fledgling queer, an ally, a human.
When I moved to Poland about a year ago, I knew that I was saying goodbye. I knew that I was moving to a country that wasn’t all that LGBTQ-friendly and that language barriers were going to make it difficult to re-establish a close network of friends. What I didn’t realize was the giant hole this was going to leave in my heart. I had no idea how much I was going to pine for those lazy Sunday afternoons drinking tea and talking about smashing the patriarchy. I had no clue that, without regular meet-ups with my queer life-drawing group, it would take me months to work up the inspiration to pick up my pen and sketch again. I didn’t realize what a difference it would make not feeling safe to share my whole self with the people I met. I was unaware that I’d be spending the next year mostly back in the closet.
Now I understand why it’s so important to have the kinds of people in your life who truly see you and love you all the more for it. Now I know just how incredible it is to have a diverse group of friends who are always full of the most amazing ideas and energy. Having been physically removed from this sort of community the past year, I’ve come to appreciate exactly what it means to surround yourself with the kinds of folks who, well, know what an intersectional community is. It’s truly incredible the things that are possible when we come together to lift each other up. It fills up our souls with the energy to face the world, on the days, weeks, and months, when our worlds aren’t filled with the kinds of humans that make our hearts sing.
The personal really is political. When we organize workshops so women and non-binary folks can learn to fix their own bikes, when we hold queer dances in community halls, when we tell each other, “I see you. I love you. You are incredible,” we are doing something radical. We are doing something big. We are doing something that matters. The hole left behind in the absence of these actions is immeasurable.
We constantly need to be challenging our communities to do better, to be better. There is always something to learn, something we’ve never considered before. We cannot grow complacent. But at the same time, we need to appreciate and nurture these communities. We need to take the time to be tender and sweet to each other and to ourselves. We need to appreciate the beautiful magic that is a supportive, intersectional community. We need to appreciate the beautiful magic that is us.
Finn is an English teacher and a Canadian transplant living in Poland. She's currently in the midst of moving back home with her unsuspecting cat in tow. Her favourite pastimes include climbing mountains and drinking strong cups of coffee.