Activism is not a requirement

I’ll make this clear and obvious.

I am not obligated to political activism.

I am not a lesser queer because I am not engaged in overt political activism.

I’m an author and a blogger currently in the redrafting stages of a fucking queer-arse book to be released in November. This book is political: everything I write is political. My book is making the case that non-binary queer folk are worthy heroes and main characters in genre stories. It’s redressing a balance in a global history of fiction, mythology and cosmology that says non-binary queer folk don’t really exist and, because we don’t exist, don’t need stories about us or heroes to inspire us. It is saying that people like me exist in a world that seeks to deny us, and we deserve a fictional presence.

This is my activism. It is no less powerful because I am not waving around signs, or going to protest marches, or petitioning the government, or writing long, academic blog posts to prove that I am human and deserving of basic human rights. (Well, my posts are often long.) It is something I can do, as a queer, as a fiction writer, as a queer fiction reader who yearns to pick up books populated with people like me. My activism isn’t about convincing the cishet oppressors. It’s about creating a world where my queer siblings have a place in our ancient, global storytelling tradition. People connect to stories and storytelling; there’s a reason why the storytelling art is thousands of years old. It is a method of communicating ideas to an audience in a way that compels emotional connection. I am, like every other queer author and blogger and playwright and wordsmith, situating and validating queer people in history, literature and mythology.

I am a writer and I am here to write. This is my activism. When you ask me, a writer, what kind of activism I am doing? This. I just didn’t bother to call it activism the first time I told you about my book and my characters. Quite honestly, I thought it was obvious.


I am not here to convince cishets – people who oppress queer folk – that I am human. This holds true even if I stop writing, even if I do nothing at all but yearn for a better world. A crude definition of activism might be ‘the act of convincing people to treat me as a human being deserving of all the dignities and rights other human beings take for granted’. This is necessary. It shouldn’t have to be, but hey. We live in a terrible world. Reality is what it is. If we can all do what we can to help each other out, the world may become a better place. The internet is paved with the amazing writings of amazing people doing what they can to change the world, and to validate the lives and experiences of those of us who drew the short end of the stick. Activists are amazing, generous, brave, inspiring, awesome people, and you all deserve so much more gratitude and acknowledgement than you receive for carrying out a difficult, stressful, often thankless task.

Activism, however, is not a requirement.

I do not exist to convince cishets – oppressors – that I am human and deserving of equal human rights. This is not my job. This is not my destiny or my duty. It is only my reality because I live in a world that sees me as less than human.

I do not have to engage in activism to be deserving of equal human rights. I do not have to be nice, kind, articulate, eloquent, patient, tolerant. I do not have to do anything to argue my case. I do not have to go out there and fight against the world, day after day, to deserve the rights trickled down to me, drop by drop.

I am human. I deserve to be treated like one. I deserve to have all the rights that cishets are given because I am also human. It’s that simple.

No queer person should have to engage in activism to deserve human rights, to have an opinion on politics, or to speak on the fucked-up state of a fucked-up world. No queer person should have to defend or explain their activism or lack thereof.

If you can participate in activism in some way? You’re amazing. If you can’t, for whatever reason? Given the high intersectionality between being queer and mental illness as a result of living in this fucked-up world, it’ll be a good reason. ‘Wanting to stay safe’ is a damned good reason. ‘Wanting a break from this fucked-up world’ is an awesome reason. ‘Tired of having to explain to cishets when I’m supposed to be in class and not justifying my existence this one fucking time’ is a fucking brilliant reason. Whatever your reason, YOU ARE STILL AMAZING. Whatever you do – you’re amazing and deserving of being treated like a human being.

We are not obligated to political activism. We are not obligated to activism in ways that are targeted at convincing/showing/appealing to/educating the cishet masses. We are not obligated to any acts of activism. Implying that we are is just another subtle act of making our rights conditional. No. Our rights are not conditional. Humanity is not conditional.

We are obligated to go and live our lives however we want to live them. That’s all.

(It’ll be great if you could be a decent human being, though, reader. I know it’s not easy, but it’s worthwhile.)

Obligation to activism is the focus of someone with emotional distance and privilege and possession of actual human rights, the obligation of a cishet who realises that denying other people basic human rights is a morally reprehensible act.

It’s not ours.

Living the lives we have is hard enough.

3 thoughts on “Activism is not a requirement

  1. Activism is action that changes peoples hearts and minds (MLK Jr.’s classic description of non violent action). Art can be activism – whether it be graphic arts or the written word or any other form. Writing is action not inaction. It does not need to be directly political – some of the best literature is subversive. Peace.


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