(Note: This interviewee chose to remain anonymous, opting instead to use the name Jung's Automaton.)

What do you think of when you hear the word community?

When I hear the word community, it kinda makes me… want something. The communities that I’ve been a part of over the years, it always felt like there was something missing.

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Community is the beginning of healing. It’a place of healing and we all need healing. Also community is so fractured, and there’s so many different kinds. I feel that sometimes they add damaging things as well. Like the church community.  There’s still an “othering” that happens. The communities that are happening in Oakland are from a need, and the need is a response to oppression. 

I can go to trans male groups, and there are other people there who understand what its like to be a trans man, but there’s still lots of different parts of me that aren’t gonna be understood, that aren’t being held. We have to shut down these other parts of ourselves to enjoy that security. So what’s really happening? Are you having to repress or bury other aspects of yourself?

I’m Iranian and also Syrian, and Russian, AND I’m a trans man who’s white-passing and cis-passing, and I’m in a relationship with a white woman, and so where can we go to hang out?? [laughter] … I want to connect and share and hold space for other people, and there’s a sense of “not enough”. I’m layered. We’re all layered. 

 

On dealing with conflict in community

[On the Bay Area Queer Exchange group on Facebook,] there’s been a lot of call-out and that’s necessary but it’s been really aggressive to the point where the person that was ‘wrong’ could never kinda get out of that. They were beat down so much, and their perspective didn’t matter at all, and then they were kicked out from the group. And so I was like… Ok we just lost another opportunity to get some healing done, because we’re all so angry and tired that this shit’s been going on for thousands of years and so we kinda blame this person. Anger is real and valid… but I know from personal experience, that some of the ways that I handled what I was angry at didn’t get me what I wanted as far as connection, understanding, and growth. And the person I was angry at, was not the most receptive because I immediately put them on the defense. 

I think we need mediators, or people who are committed to a resolution for everybody. There needs to be a sense of detachment in the mediator. 

I’m very mindful of the space I take up. I have community but everybody looks different. Everybody has other core communities. Most of my community is queer women, so they have that queer women community. Communities are also kind of, boxes… like, check a box. Communities are places where each individual is accepted based on the actions and intentions of the individual,  if they align with the community, it makes the community stronger.  

I envision a community based on the individual and their intentions and needs, beyond just how they identify. 

 

What do you think makes it hard for people to experience a greater sense of community?

Capitalism is one of the things thats making community a little ill. There’s comparison: "What can you give me? What can I give you?" We’re all so used to doing something to get something, so people worry that they’re being taken advantage of or that they’re taking advantage of someone else. It creates a fracture. We don’t feel like we’re all on equal footing. We have different [job titles], and different incomes, and there’s this fear of losing something and not being able to get it back. We’re the only species on the planet that pays to live on it. It’s frustrating.