right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

the answer is yes

October 15, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hey kids, I’m going to be selling prints tomorrow (Saturday October 15) at the RISD student & alumni sale! I think my table is in front of the College Building, near the corner of Benefit & College St. 10am-4pm. Come get some beautiful (or weird looking) stuff…

Also, more excitingly::::: a potentially large number of people, including myself at some point, are going to be occupying Burnside Park in downtown Providence (next to Kennedy Plaza) starting at 5pm on Saturday, ongoing into the future until we build a new society of some kind that doesn’t feel so broken, and doesn’t make us feel that we are broken. How about that? Sounds good, right? I am excited. But it’s not just about camping out & yelling at the cops and the Bank of America skyscraper… we also have to listen to each other & actually hear each other… and I think the white non-trans guys (and probably the trans guys, too) are going to have to shut up.

On Wednesday night, I was at a ‘teach-in’ (that happened at the fancy liberal arts college up on the hill), which was three.5 hours long, and overall extremely great & extremely inspiring, and which got me excited about the potential of this occupy thing happening here. A young female-bodied person of color stood up in one of the question & answer sessions and asked the question [deeply paraphrased]: “In any activism project I’ve ever been part of, my questions & my voice are never heard, my concerns are never listened to. How can this movement say it’s building something new if it’s still not listening to women / people of color / queer people / poor people / etc?”

One of the faculty speakers, also a female-bodied person of color, answered her: “Basically you have to call them on it every time it happens. Every single time. You can’t ever let that erasure of your voice go un-confronted. Because then, at least they can’t say they didn’t realize it was happening. And maybe eventually they will realize they need to change.” …. It was a pretty intense, brutally realistic answer; and the only answer given during the talk that was actually in the form of advice: ‘this is what you should do.’ I was pretty stunned by it. I wonder if anybody else heard, hidden within that answer, its converse that the professor did not state: “White people, male people, non-queer people, people with money, you need to shut up & listen. And you, too — YES, YOU — need to confront the erasure of the voices of others… every single time it happens.” Did anybody hear that? Or does the burden rest only on the shoulders of the people whose voices are already not being heard?

Here are two good essays about the potential of the “Occupy” movement, and about white people shutting up: one from the Revolutionary Autonomous Communities of LA… another by Manissa McCleave Maharawal.

I don’t have energy right now to write a lot more about this all (got a bunch more to do to get ready for the sale)… but I’ll just say that I am excited for this scenario, the occupation, to happen. However, from what people have said about the Providence general assemblies, & the occupation in New York, I have the feeling that there will be a lot of male voices & male privilege in effect there… as there is usually in an activist context… which is why I have avoided many activist contexts in the past. And I know that I won’t be able to be part of this occupation for long, unless that privilege is confronted whenever it becomes apparent.


I am very intimidated by speaking up against white male privilege, as a female-bodied & female-raised person who now is in this weird place of being accorded some aspects of male privilege & camaraderie, while still not actually being listened to or taken seriously in many ways. I still find myself wanting to be polite & not say things that will insult or offend people — and especially not say things that will make people “not want to be my friend”. Hmmm. I also am worried, as someone who has always been a person who talks a lot, & has opinions & a certain amount of confidence, about becoming or already being “that guy”, who dominates conversations and silences other voices.

I’ve had a bunch of run-ins lately with unseen & denied privilege… the very strong phenomenon of people not being aware of the ways they are privileged, and then “people getting defensive when they are shown evidence of structural inequalities which benefit them” (as my housemate Chris & I wrote about in the print we made recently… more on that later…). I’ve been trying to find conversational strategies to bring these things up to people in a way that allows them to think about it instead of reacting defensively. But there is a little ambiguously-gendered faerie sitting on my shoulder saying “it’s not your responsibility to educate these assholes…..!”

Well I don’t know what’s going to happen, we might make a ‘faerie camp’ as part of the occupation (inspired by Sean Minteh)… we might just end up being “those obnoxious queers/feminists/women who call everybody out on stuff” or we might end up bailing & realizing that something that is dominated by white non-trans men doesn’t have a chance of building a society that has a radically different structure. We’ll see. I don’t want to be pessimistic. Hells, I spent the last two days working on making a poster for this darn thing! But I want to put my energy where it can be used… I want to support my friends, and support people whose voices are not being heard… but I don’t know if I have the stamina to continually be trying to educate people who should be educating themselves about privilege.

oh and on a less serious note, remember:

leading with the edge

October 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Your long-absent correspondent is very much alive over here in Providence. Summer happened, I helped at my friends’ farm every weekend (except when I went traveling to the south for three weeks), I rode my bike a lot, I met and hung out with amazing people, had really good conversations, had some experiences that were pretty transformational, lived my life: it was totally wonderful.

Then it got chilly, then we had one final weekend of hot weather, now the temperature is dropping by 10 degrees every day and the Buio cat is curled up in a tight little ball & it looks like Fall is For Real. Which means that it’s not time to stop living life, or time to stop being wonderful: it’s just a time for doing work & getting serious & wearing sweaters & buckling down to the task(s) at hand. Also I’m broke so it’s convenient that now there is much less temptation to go on long bike rides or hang out on rooftops or talk late into the night next to bonfires…

I just put up a big re-organizational update to the main Secret Door Projects website.

I did most of the work on this re-organization back in February and March, to get to show some different priorities & new directions that my work has taken since 2007 when I first made the SDP website… so there are new sections for comics & zines, fonts I’ve drawn, a “practice & process” section grouping process work & creative practice stuff together… and also a thing with a little bit about my gender identity & the fact that my name is now Ian!

It took me so long to put this update up because I was attempting to write all my family members actual paper letters about my gender stuff & name shift. This was totally overwhelming (I have a lot of cousins & second cousins) & I ultimately realized I was being held back professionally & creatively by not being able to be out — as trans and as Ian — on facebook & on the internet. It surprised me how much I felt like I was existing as a partial person, not being able to be be consistent & public about my name & my gender & identity…

So… unsurprisingly maybe, my cousins, aunts, & uncles did not all get letters from me yet… but I went ahead and changed my name on facebook (personal page, art page) and put up the giant website update. To my family who may be reading this (and anybody else who is confused), I’m sorry for the lack of more personal communication… but I’ll see you soon & we can talk about it then. Real quick: I identify as a boy (also occasionally as a man!), I use “he” pronouns, my name is Ian Gilpin Cozzens, I’m a queer which means (among other things) that I’m not interested in assimilating to any idea of the ‘normal’ in the realms of desire or gender identity… and I love you.


— ian c.

…from my travels…

oh also now that things are more consistent for me on the internet, you can probably expect more regular updates of this page here… and I’ll probably be writing about gender & identity & stuff too… we’ll see how it goes.

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