My experiences at Queer Collaborations last week highlighted my need to (probably) make this one the last QC I attend.
Why so? Well for one I've been to seven QCs, and overall although the individual events vary greatly, overall they are a repeating pattern that doesn't change much. At an average QC there will be at least one issue of great contention fought bitterly on the floor which upsets the noobs; there will be a good deal of socialising outside the official events; there is a certain "on tiptoes attitude" which while well intended obscures issues affecting sub cultures within the attending Queer Community; and for me, there tends to be something that "triggers" me. This year's was no exception.
When I look back at the QC, more often than not something there triggers me. Brisbane in 1997 didn't though I did feel a little overwhelmed. Newcastle in 2001 induced a huge panic attack after tensions on the floor got out of hand (read about it here) and I had to be driven home. For Perth 2005 it was the Kiss-in at the Red Lion that triggered me (guess who never gets kissed) and I was walked to Perth Station by Thom. Never happened in Sydney for 2006 but others did get triggered. In Canberra 2009 I was too cold to notice, and sooner or later everybody who stayed at the hostel in Dixon was sick anyway. At Wollongong in 2010 I got triggered in the Woman's Caucus and later at the first nights meal over issues of isolation and alienation - later I almost choked on pretzels.
This year's trigger was someone using my laptop to check a pornography DVD for their workshop related to a trans porn star. I had thought that I wouldn't be affected by this, but I was (I have problems saying "NO"). I don't think of myself as a prude but how on earth is a scene where one of the actors pees while sitting in a sink sexy? After it was checked I had a huge anxiety attack, no doubt related to anxieties surrounding lack of sexual and physical contact. Thing was, I can't predict what will set me off so that means in effect that as a whole QC is not a "safe space" for me.
And I seem to be getting diminishing returns. I hate to admit it but last year I was mostly bored at QC. It was hard for me to whip up enthusiasm for much of it. This year I spent more time hanging out in the queer space than not. I met some interesting people there and watched more than a few films and TV shows. But it says something when the most memorable stuff was what's on TV! Not that there weren't interesting panels and workshops. For me the issues over Gender Recognition legislation (which I'd helped draft) were important and it was helpful to meet Zoe again. Also realising that pansexual was a useful label for me was good thing. Though I felt discounted in the woman's caucus I was glad to volunteer for the Plenary on Mental Health and share my experiences as a client in that area. A pity then that the thing was on Saturday and barely 20 attended.
More over, my current issues related to heath and fitness affected my capacity to enjoy or participate in the conference. At 136 kg I am obese by any definition and this affects my asthma, and the arthritis in my right leg. The result was that by the end of the conference that leg in general and the knee in particular were hurting almost continuously. Got to do something about these problems, but losing weight is easier said than done when there are difficulties exercising. This is also the reason I didn't go to the clubs and pubs much. The events there were geared towards the young and/or the fit, of which I'm neither. When I did the tourism thing on Monday (by visiting the W.A. Art Gallery and Museum) I felt tired and hurting by the end of it.
I am glad I ran the QC: Is it worth it? workshop. This addressed the issues of how people return value from QC to others at their universities, but what came out of it was also the varying levels of funding and support that each collective gets on an annual basis. When you only have a $1000 dollars for a whole year's budget sending more than one person to QC in another state becomes problematic.
That being the case, I probably won't be going to QC in Adelaide next year. I do have a couple of ideas for workshops - one on Mental Health and another on virtual queers (in SL and elsewhere) - but I feel uncomfortable going to any more QCs and being subsidised for that. If I go (about a 25% chance at the moment) it will be under my my own funding, representing myself only. However, the other thing is that I've been thinking of going to other events on around the same time. NOWSA (feminist conference) might be more interesting for me, as might SOS (ecological). Maybe I should look for a Fine Arts conference instead?