THIS IS A THANK YOU SONG, 2011 EDITION: Reflections on the IGGU Zine Release Party
Safer Space sign by Molly Fair
I wrote this the day after the IGGU zine release party. It's been a long month since the event, and we still have yet to hear much in terms of feedback on the project; please be encouraged to get in touch. In this post I take music and cultural production pretty seriously; if you'd like to see me get a little less serious and a little more music-y, then find me on tumblr, where I post kind of often.
So. Last night was the International Girl Gang Underground zine release party at Death by Audio.
Unfortunately, co-editor Stacy Konkiel could not make it into town (from across the country), so I curated this show and ran it on my own, so to speak, but I use those words loosely.
I was only able to book and run this successful, comfortable, well-attended, super-fun event, because of the community members and allies who participated. It is difficult to create feminist work in a genuine way, especially in a punk context: an aesthetic, social, and musical practice that often walks the line between parody and political concern. I read comments where an activist questioned the "safer space" policy of the evening , asking how we would avoid a fascist policing of our event space. Then, I read along as another person responded quite eloquently, that, "What this policy means practically, is that the organizers have the backs of survivors." It felt good not to have to respond, arguably for the first time in my life, because someone else had done it for me. Later, I would see more comments that mocked my choice to promote a safer space in a serious way, but, I digress.
Jamie Varriale Velez. Video courtesy of Stephanie Andares.
I could not have dreamed as a teenager that I would be making music, or zines, or art for my friends, that I would be where I am today. More importantly, I could not have dreamed of having resources like Support New York or NYC Coalition for Safer Spaces that I (and others) could employ to make my own events more comfortable for everyone -- namely, survivors of sexual assault, but also, to create a space that is freer of the drudgery of everyday life (i.e., axes of oppression in its many forms). Perhaps some people don't see the need for this kind of space because they don't feel it regularly, but, I do.
I didn't know that I would grow up to find that many of my girlfriends would be friends for life, that they'd still be around ten years later making and doing great things. I didn't know it, but I should have expected it. Luckily, though those women were part of the festivities last night, they weren't the only ones. And in the spirit of International Girl Gang Underground, it was a crowd of friends and people I didn't know: new faces, new feminists of all stripes that I may or may not have seen around town. Among flowers from my sister, I was also given radical feminist comics and zine trades. I was inspired by everyone around me. I sold out of zines.
Why do I call this event successful? Because it was a D.I.Y. venture that brought new and old friends together, that brought people out that I have never seen before. Because I was able to pay local bands, who more often than not go unpaid, a decent amount of money. Because now I will be able to pay the artist whose artwork adorns the IGGU zine. Because I was able to donate money to a friend to benefit research for Polycystic Kidney Disease. Because the zines I did make are now almost paid for. Because it was a safer space.
Max Steele a.k.a. Billy Cheer
For the Birds table
I wrote this piece in the interest of making D.I.Y. culture more transparent, so that, if someone somewhere wonders how a show like this happens, they have a bit of an idea. So that other feminists (or people working towards social justice) who are trying to make spaces more comfortable can see that, generally, you will run up against some kind of adversity, but sometimes, when you have enough supportive people around you, you realize that adversity doesn't matter. That if you believe in each other's art, and passion, you can make things happen together. You can do things how you want to.
In one of my favorite pieces in the zine, Max Steele/Billy Cheer describes how riot grrrl bestowed on him the idea that he could "get away with it." He talks about how, by performing (or doing, or making), you give others the "permission" to "get away with it" too. I hope that the IGGU zine, and the release show, gave someone permission to get away with it; I hope my reflections on doing so give someone permission to get away with it too.
Me & Kathleen M.
Although I organized this event alone, I could never have done it alone. Anyone present was necessary; community is necessary. There are too many thank yous to give, and I will inevitably forget some, but there is some crucial gratitude in order.
THANK YOU, Stacy Konkiel, for devoting a year of your life to this project, giving it your all, and seeing it through with me.
THANK YOU For the Birds Collective, for reminding me everyday that anything is possible.
THANK YOU Kathleen McIntyre, for your persistent, and ceaseless, dedication to sharing knowledge with others.
THANK YOU American Sun, Aye Nako, Bad Banana, Slingshot Dakota: for making music that's not only fun, but life affirming. To Angie, for being the better half to my rhythm section; to Carly for being one of the first women musicians I ever saw perform, and never giving it up.
THANK YOU Jamie Varriale Velez, Katie Crutchfield, Max Steele: for sharing your words and voices with us, and bringing life to the words of the IGGU.
THANK YOU Support New York, for making this event safer for all of us, and for setting a standard.
THANK YOU Orlando Perez, for ensuring that no event goes undocumented, and for your boundless generosity.
THANK YOU to my sister, not just for the flowers, but for your support, and for cultivating feminist community on your own.
THANK YOU to all my friends, and all the new faces, for coming out and supporting the zine, and for creating community and culture.
THANK YOU Death by Audio, for sharing your space with me again.
 The International Girl Gang Underground Zine Release Party has a safer space policy intended to make this event a supportive, nonthreatening environment for everyone including survivors of abuse and sexual assault. Harassment, abuse, and assault, as well as racist, sexist, queerphobic, classist, ageist, or otherwise oppressive remarks or behavior will not be tolerated.
People who have perpetrated inter-personal violence, assault and/or harassment and are not presently undergoing any accountability-related process are asked not to attend. There will be mediators at the show to assist if any violations do arise, so if you would like to speak to a safer space team member please find someone with a pink armband, or ask someone at the Support New York table to help you. - International Girl Gang Underground editors & NYC Coalition for Safer Spaces