Today I went to listen to Spectra’s LGBTQIA + History Month keynote speaker, Qui Alexander. Qui (pronounced “Key”) is a Bryn Mawr alum, and an overall pretty amazing guy. One of my best friends, Meera, is Spectra co-coordinator, so she helped set this event up! I went to support her, but I stayed because Qui was such an amazing speaker.
According to the pamphlet passed out to the audience, “Qui is a queer, trans, black Latinx educator, organizer, yoga teacher and consultant based in Philadelphia. He is currently the Program Coordinator for the Haverford College Women*s Center. Qui started his organizing in undergrad to help create and hold safe(r), more inclusive spaces for people who live on the margins.
His work centers on the intersections of gender, sexuality and racial justice; healing and transformative/restorative justice; and anti-violence work. Qui has shared his work at various universities, conferences and community centers, both locally and nationally. Believing the personal is political, his work strives to focus on personal liberation and healing to make movement work more sustainable.
In a nutshell, this means that Qui is the kind of guy I want to actively listen to on a stifling hot Wednesday night, in a dimly lit great hall, on the verge of a cold. He has an amazing ability to make anyone feel at ease and comfortable. Not only was he very personable, but he was personal, and funny, and was able to talk about really hard things in a way that didn’t make me want to get up out of the room and cry. I spent a lot of the talk listening and just contemplating what he was saying, but I did write down a few phrases and sentences that really hit home for me:
“Breaking down to break through”
“Looking my identity in the face”
“Harm is not a binary”
“Hurt people hurt people”
“I’m not like you on purpose!”
“I don’t think we should apologize for any of our feelings “
“We think our reactions are our feelings….(Instead I am now) creating spaces between my feelings and how I react to them”
“You have to feel your rage and anger in order to heal from it”
Overall, it was a really great experience, and I am super happy that I am able to participate in events like this. I find that the more I stretch myself out, the more I learn, and the more I resonate with other thoughts. It’s quite a powerful feeling, but one that also brings me quite a great deal of peace.
I’m going to end my blog post with a drawing that I made on my HA board. It’s based off a comic strip, but it was something that I thought my hall needed to see, and think about, so now I’m sharing it with you all. (Image depicts a human hand stretching out towards a glowing firefly. Human asks “Firefly- tell me your truth.” Image changes to firefly in human’s upwards facing palm. Firefly replies, “Some things you must simply…” image ends with firefly flying into darkness, Human reaches upwards to firefly, “…let go”)