image of phul and beck speaking about the Sunny Days for J campaign during our 2023 member assembly.
image of phul and beck speaking about the Sunny Days for J campaign during our 2023 member assembly.

how we win is with a love ethic.

Hey there, Lavender Phoenix Community! 🌈

My name is bisma/phul; I’m LavNix’s Cultural Strategy Organizer, and writer of many newsletters that you may have received since June 2022.  I am coming to you live—soaking the warm sun while sitting on my back patio on Ohlone land (aka Oakland)— as I am knee-deep in my transition to a T-fairy, honoring my flight and joy as a trans lesbian Muslim Pakistani. 🧚

In college, neither the self-confidence of knowing who I am, nor having the community I craved, had come into fruition yet. I was in incredibly stifling environments—every iteration of queerness and transness I observed was by and for white people. Even queer spaces felt so binary, and felt so ingenuine with how I moved that queer no longer felt in my reach. I tried to find camaraderie with fellow QTBIPOC organizers in mutual aid groups I helped lead. I remember how a non-binary person joked about how cis people love to use “she/they” pronouns without understanding the weight of the struggle of non-binary people. This joke was uttered right after I had used “she/they” pronouns for the first time in a Zoom meeting. I sat in the deep insecurity of unmasking myself, and not being received with care. I felt so alone; I felt so ostracized for exploring my non-binary transness. 

Because of what that person said, I didn’t choose to use “they/them” for another three years. I didn’t feel welcome in those organizing spaces after that. I still felt committed to my comrades’ liberation, but I didn’t see myself in the struggle anymore. In these white-dominated spaces, I didn’t think I had a culture that was important, a history or future worth fighting for. While I had stories that pointed at my lived working class intersections—watching Aboo drive a taxi in Chicago for work, witnessing intense Islamophobia on the streets as a queer hijabi, gathering at a Pakistani’s aunty’s house on Chand Raat while she made a fresh batch of mehndi to decorate our hands after her Dunkin Donuts shift—I stopped sharing these stories with ease.

image of silly old kona, a siamese cat, napping with a milka chocolate biscuit resting on her head.

I stopped believing I had any art or stories to contribute to a revolution. I learned to organize without living in my body, and simply treated myself as another tool for others to use at will. Rather than growing to love the work I do, I tipped the scales to prioritize urgency and quick-wittedness to be an efficient organizer. I let fear creep in where my community should have been.

Lavender Phoenix’s community is teaching me that if I am going to organize for a future that keeps me and others like me in joy, I have to live in my body. In big and small conversations with our members, I feel like I have found it—community, that is. I have found a purpose to my work, a deep wiring to self-determination, and a community to organize with over dinner conversations. I get to experience the simple joys of exploring how lesbianism is related to community safety over cheesecake. Where the bounds of exploring our queer ancestry feels like natural progression in my hang outs with trans comrades. I feel so seen, my mistakes are encouraged, and even though I don’t know the future, I could sit in so much joy about the unknown. I feel honored to be in the presence of people who just truly care about each others’ safety and growth. This represents LavNix to me: a deep community outside the shackles of white supremacy where my culture and transness can thrive in the same breath

These are the hardest things for me to reckon with as an organizer—that my emotions matter, the way I hurt matters, and they typically point to something I wasn’t addressing. I’ve previously learned to suppress the parts of me that hurt for the sake of something bigger. Now, I’m learning to reconfigure myself to be in love with myself, my intersections, and to use my emotions as I’m organizing.  I am learning that the antidote to intergenerational trauma is intergenerational love. 🤲🏽 

That’s why I am coming to you with a strong ask for support: This Give OUT Day, the only national day of giving for LGBTQ+ organizations, LavNix is raising $50,000 by Weds., 6/28. Will you give $90 to support the development of my community at Lavender Phoenix

Lavender Phoenix embraced in trans and queer API community. Text reads: build trans api power with lavender phoenix. Join us to raise 50,000 by 6/28! bit.ly/GiveOutLP
Lavender Phoenix embraced in trans and queer API community. Text reads: build trans api power with lavender phoenix. Join us to raise 50,000 by 6/28! bit.ly/GiveOutLP

Here are some other amounts that would be *oh so meaningful* if you donated: 

  • $800: in honor of the 80 interviews with our movement elders that were transcribed this year as part of the Dragon Fruit Museum
  • $200: for the 20 trans API volunteers training to become peer counselors!
  • $120: to mark the 12 months I have been on staff at Lavender Phoenix 
  • $50: in honor of our 5 member-led committees working to build our community’s power!
  • $30: in honor of the 3 years I have flown as a non-binary T-fairy 🧚🏽 
lino-double drop print from "Ancestors too Young" series by phul, featuring Jaxon Sales, Tortuguita, and Tyre Nichols.
lino-double drop print from “Ancestors too Young” series by phul, featuring Jaxon Sales, Tortuguita, and Tyre Nichols.

With my LavNix community, I’ve learned that we need to be our full selves to show up in struggle and in love, if we’re gonna win power. I observed the same soft courage in the vigil we led to honor Jaxon Sales this year. Jaxon’s parents (Jim & Angie) had so much to grieve on the eve of their son’s angel anniversary.

Whenever I felt the presence of Jim and Angie and the community safety organizers supporting them, I felt a release of hard emotions in those moments. Everyone held our chosen family in love and in struggle. This work reminds me that even in these moments of great pain, love is ultimately what binds us. Help us grow that love and power today.

In deep love and community,

Bisma / phul ✨