My life is awesome—despite all the Internet hate. The sheer number of wonderful people who I meet and get the opportunity to do wonderful things with is downright overwhelming. Small, local communities in the form of anarchist collectives, punk houses, housing co-ops, affinity groups, and more are just some of the places I find the most fertile soil to nurture connections with wonderful people.
I’m very accustomed to and practiced at making myself unobtrusive in physical space (as well as taking full advantage of the Internet medium to create all kinds of ruckus), especially because I spend a great deal of my time in houses, on couches, and in driveways other people invite me to. After all, I’ve been homeless (or “houseless”) for years now. This means I’ve developed a lot of habits to make myself “a good guest,” in part because being a good guest makes it easier for the people who’ve offered me shelter to be good hosts!
But sometimes, I’m made to feel especially welcome. ”What do you need to feel comfortable?” was the first thing I was asked when I arrived at the Rad-ish, a “radical-ish” collective house in Boulder, Colorado. I love being asked that, even though I was already all set up. I bring my own bed, my own food, my own Internet connection, even my own mini-bathroom. But my hosts at the Rad-ish still asked, and the mere act of asking opened lines of communication that would have taken much longer and that I would have had (and did, in other circumstances, have) to work much harder to create with them.
Whenever I enter a new place, I look around. What I see tells me a lot. Sometimes these signals are loud, and obvious. Sometimes, they’re more subtle. But when I do see something loud and obvious and awesome, I like to share it.
The picture at the top of this post is a photograph of a hand-written poster in the Rad-ish’s living room. It reads:
Do you have preferred pronouns?
- She/Her/Hers: I like her when she goes to her room to love herself.
- He/Him/His: I like him when he goes to his room to love himself.
- Ze/Hir/Hirs (pronounced: “zee,” “here,” “heres”): I like hir when ze goes to hir room to love hirself.
- Xe/Xem/Xyr (pronounced: “zee,” “zem,” “zeer”): I like xem when xe goes to xyr room to love xyself.
- They/Them/Their: I like them when they go to their room to love themselves.
(This list certainly doesn’t include all the different possibilities!)
Yay queer-friendly housing! When I see something like this, and when the people I interact with make clear that they behave with care and intention around pronouns, I’m instantly a lot more comfortable. Still sometimes a bit wary (I’m in a new place, after all), but it definitely helps.
When I saw this poster and read it, I found one of the residents and excitedly told them how much I appreciate it being there. And then I shared the link to the Preferred Gender Pronouns for Facebook app I made.
Travelers who freely share information are like the embodied “Information superhighway” of the Internet. We’re a high-bandwidth, high-latency mechanism by which information moves from one part of the world to another. That’s why I think physical migration plays a vital role in the growth and spread of cultural ideas, a role that most aspects of contemporary consumer culture purposely tries to stamp out.
So, here’s to the nomadic ones, the travelers, the homeless, the migrants, to the ones who move themselves and, in so doing, move others. I’ve never felt more “at home” than when I’m on the move. I may not have a “home of my own,” but y’know what? Neither do you. We’re all sharing space on this hunk of rock hurtling through the vast expanse of nothingness. And there isn’t anything we can do to change that.
“Your” home is “my” home, too, because none of this really belongs to you or me. We’re each both guests and hosts here; we arrived by moving into a space that was occupied by someone else before us, and we’ll leave to make room for someone else after us. It’s worth remembering that all of this can—and must—actually co-exist, side-by-side, in beautiful and perfect harmony, with its opposite.