Blogging Every Day

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I hereby commit to blogging every weekday in January.

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Everything seems either too big or too small. The big things — the rise of fascism in the United States, and all the forms that’s taking — seem too big. It’s like playing Whack-A-Mole, in a battlefield of thousands of homicidal moles. And writing about the smaller things — movies, cats, arguments for why God doesn’t exist — seems like denial, normalizing, even gaslighting. How can I write about that stuff when fascism is rising?

I know, I know. You don’t need to tell me the reasons this is ridiculous. I know the reasons it’s ridiculous. I know that thousands of people all playing Whack-A-Mole is a big part of how we defeat fascism. I also know that writing is a major anti-depressant for me, and fighting my depression will make it easier to fight fascism. And I know that small things matter. I know that self-care is not selfish, and that pleasure is resistance.

I know this is ridiculous. But it’s still been hard, and the longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to start up again. Hence, this commitment. I got the idea from Alex Gabriel, who has also been struggling with perfectionism in his writing and committed to daily posting for a time as a remedy. My hope is that this commitment breaks the cycle and gets the juices flowing again. It’s good to be back!

Blogging Every Day
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What I Want For My Birthday

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My birthday is today, December 31. Happy birthday to me!

If you’d like to get me something for my birthday, of course it would be nice if you’d buy one of my books. I’m author of five books: The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More. (All my books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook: all the audiobooks are read by me.)

all five books

But the main thing you could get me for my birthday would be to support one of the organizations I care about.

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Foundation Beyond Belief is the humanist charitable organization that channels donations and volunteering from secular people into on-the-ground projects doing good work. Among other things, we’ve funded Transgender Law Center, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ocean Conservancy, Innocence Project of Texas, Rainforest Foundation US, The Greening of Detroit — you get the idea. I’m on the board of directors, and I’m really proud of the work we do. It would mean a lot to me if you’d support us. Even small donations make a difference — they really do add up.

If that’s not up your alley, you could also donate in my honor to the Transgender Law Center, Red Light Legal, St. James Infirmary, Black Nonbelievers, or Black Lives Matter.

If you do this, please make a note with your donation if you can, saying “Happy Birthday Greta.” It will make them and me happy.

What I really want for my birthday, of course, is to stop the rise of fascism in the U.S. No one person can give me that, of course — but all of us acting together can make a dent. Please take a look at this list of things we can do to resist fascism, and do what you can. It’ll make this a very happy birthday for me, and a marginally less awful New Year for all of us. Thanks!

What I Want For My Birthday

How ACT UP Fought Back: Direct Action and Civil Disobedience (Workshop, January 7)

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Since the 2016 election, many of us have been looking at how to build a resistance movement. ACT UP was one of the most effective resistance movements in recent history. In this workshop, former ACT UP SF members Rebecca Hensler, Crystal Mason, and Ingrid Nelson share some of their personal stories about how they came to be involved in direct action, how they got organized, what their strategies and values were, their successes and challenges with intersectionality, and what current resistance movements can learn from their experiences.

This is not a civil disobedience training: come to learn some history and get inspired to take action. Co-sponsored by Godless Perverts and the GLBT Historical Society.

The event is on Saturday, January 7, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (between 9th and 10th Streets, near Civic Center BART). We’re asking for donations of $5-$20 at the door to cover our costs, but no-one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion.

Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this. Please let the moderators or other people in charge of any event know if you encounter harassment, racism, misogyny, transphobia, or other problems at our events.

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts, or follow us on Facebook. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including many Godless Perverts events. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

How ACT UP Fought Back: Direct Action and Civil Disobedience (Workshop, January 7)

Why I Support Foundation Beyond Belief — Now More than Ever

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You know about Foundation Beyond Belief, right? It’s the humanist charity that channels money and volunteering from humanists, atheists, and other non-believers, into on-the-ground projects that improve this world and this life. As you may know, I’m on their board of directors. So when I ask you to support the organization, and tell you about the exciting $10,000 matching donation we have through December 20, I’m obviously biased. But I’m on their board for a reason.

A bunch of us in the atheist movement keep saying that it isn’t enough to just not believe in gods. Organized atheism needs to provide some of what religion provides — including outlets for organized charitable, philanthropic, and social justice work. There are millions of nonbelievers who haven’t traditionally been involved in the movement because they don’t see it as being about them: we need to do work they care about, and channel their energy. And now more than ever, we need to take action that reflects our values. Non-belief has implications — and one of those implications is that since there’s no gods and no afterlife, this life is the only one we have, and it’s up to us to make it better for everyone.

Foundation Beyond Belief is actually doing this. We’re walking the walk. And we’re asking for your support.

Here are some of the organizations and projects FBB has supported:

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Transgender Law Center, running one-on-one legal clinics for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Center for Reproductive Rights, using the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

Community Change, Inc., approaching racism, racial relations, and racial responsibility from the perspective that racial inequalities are a white problem.

Global Village Project, an innovative special purpose school for refugee girls and young women with interrupted schooling.

Prison University Project, providing higher education programs to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.

Pure Earth, bringing a scientific approach to pollution reduction meant to benefit extremely poor communities abroad.

DC Central Kitchen, tackling food distribution availability in Washington, DC.

Men Can Stop Rape, mobilizing men to create cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.

Akili Dada, a full-service developmental program aimed at helping Kenyan girls and women build leadership skills.

Modest Needs Foundation, working to meet the needs of the hardworking, low income members of society, who are often left without a safety net when unexpected expenses occur.

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Innocence Project of Texas, securing the release of those wrongfully convicted of crimes in Texas, and educating the public about the causes and effects of wrongful convictions.

You see what I’m getting at?

A lot of us are saying, and have been saying for some time, that organized atheism needs to do this sort of work. Foundation Beyond Belief is doing it. And we need your support.

We’re doing a big year-end fundraising drive — and your donations will be matched up to $10,000! Our year-end fundraising drive is what enables us to run FBB, which means it pays for hours of careful vetting by our staff to choose the most effective and efficient charities for our grants; the costs of doing business: website hosting charges, accounting expenses; government registration fees; and our dedicated and hardworking part-time staff. Foundation Beyond Belief has raised $21,000 for our Giving Together Campaign, but our work is far from finished – we still have $29,000 to raise before the end of the year.

To help us meet our goal, one of our amazing donors has just reached out with a special message. After donating his usual year-end gift, he told us he would like to give an ADDITIONAL gift of $10,000 in the form of a match! Between today and December 20, he will match EVERY donation dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000. So any donation you make will automatically be doubled. Even small donations help — they really do add up. You can also help by telling your friends and family, and spreading the word on social media.

Foundation Beyond Belief is walking the walk. Please join us, and help pave the way. Thanks.

Why I Support Foundation Beyond Belief — Now More than Ever

The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written

invisible naked city illustration by Toeken
illustration by Toeken

Traveling south, you arrive at the city of Sex. Your road into the city is lined with cypress trees, their branches weaving together in a fragrant tunnel over your head; the ground is soft beneath your feet. Your road converges with others, thousands of them, and on your way to the marketplace you talk with the other travelers about how they arrived: the boulevard lit with hanging lanterns, the narrow trail through the forest, the caravan of traders and traveling musicians, the shimmering red bridge, the tunnel they clawed from out of the prison.

In the marketplace there are storytellers on every corner. Cut velvet is sold there, and rhinestones, and old photographs, and spices of every variety: cardamom, sweet basil, anise, vanilla, pepper in white and red and black. The spice vendors make proprietary blends, and argue hotly over them. Nothing essential is sold in the city: you can find spun sugar here, and chocolates dusted with gold, but must go elsewhere for bread. And yet its visitors find themselves sickening, withering, without the perfume they find here; the jeweled sandals; the jeweled collar; the mulled wine; the crimson sash embroidered with silver thread; the blend of spices from their favored vendor, the one under the silk canopy of cobalt blue. Even the absence of hunger is hunger here, and travelers drug themselves with pastilles and creams, not to stave off hunger, but to spark it. They will save their earnings for months for a visit to the city, and go without bread, and consider it a bargain.

*****

Thus begins my story for Persistent Visions magazine, The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written. To read more, read the rest of the story. Enjoy! (Illustration by Toeken for Persistent Visions. Content note: explicit sex, including kinky sex; brief passing mentions of suicide and murder.)

The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written

Blood Family, Chosen Family

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I have blood family — in-laws, actually — and my wife and I almost always spend holidays with them. I love my in-laws and I like them, and most of the time when we visit them, I dress how I usually dress. I put together outfits that are quirky, comfortable, and stylish in a relaxed and fun way: strong prints, jewel tones, boots unless it’s boiling hot.

But on big holiday dinners with them, I dress like I’m going to a work conference. Dressy, cheerful-but-tasteful, almost entirely non-sexual. I’m festive, don’t get me wrong: it’s just a very respectful version of festive.

I also have chosen family. I do holiday things with them every year, too. And when I dress for the holidays with my chosen family, I dress, not to put too fine a point on it, like a hussy.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for Femme Feminism, Blood Family, Chosen Family. I explore how, in the symbolic language of fashion, there are lots of different ways to say “family holiday celebration” — because there are different holidays, different families, different ways to celebrate, and different ways to feel about all of it. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Blood Family, Chosen Family

Greta Speaking in Minneapolis Sunday, December 18!

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I’m speaking in Minneapolis on Sunday, December 18, as part of the Minnesota Atheists Winter Solstice festivities! They’re having their annual winter banquet: you can attend the banquet, or just sign up for the entertainment (that’s me). They’ll be selling copies of my newest book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life, and I’ll be signing them and everything.

This event has filled up in years past, so they recommend that get your reservation now. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

DATE: Sunday, December 18
TIME: Social hour 5:00 pm; dinner 6:00; entertainment 7:00
LOCATION: Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis North, 6300 Earle Brown Drive, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
TOPIC: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
SUMMARY: So you don’t believe in God. Now what? The way we deal with life can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion — or if we never had it in the first place — where do we go? How do we deal with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up? How do we decide on our values, and how do we live them
COST: $15 for entertainment only; $50 for dinner and entertainment, with a $5 discount for MA members
HOSTS: Minnesota Atheists
URL: http://mnatheists.org/events/winter-solstice-banquet

Greta Speaking in Minneapolis Sunday, December 18!

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time Sat. Dec. 10 – Benefit for St. James Infirmary! EDIT: Now at Center for Sex and Culture!

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LOCATION CHANGE! The Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time party is now at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station.

Godless Perverts is throwing our annual Holiday Fun Time party on Saturday, December 10, 8-11 pm! Who says the holidays are only for the believers? Just as families don’t stop giving presents after the kids realize that Santa is a fake, the godless can have a great time during the holidays even without any gods, deities, angels, or spirits watching over them. And Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is just the place to do it! It’s at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station. (Yes, the location has changed! This is the new, correct location.) And this year, we’re making it a fundraiser for St. James Infirmary, the health clinic for sex workers in San Francisco!

We’ll have:

Festive food and drink! It’s a potluck: we’ll provide food, but we’d love to add your holiday treats to the buffet.
Adorably ridiculous icebreaker games!
Atheist holiday songs, celebrating the improper, twisted, and just plain silly!
Door prizes, including books and DVDs that are godless, pervy, or both!

And this year, Donna will be doing debaptisms! In fact, she’ll undo any religious initiation ceremony you like. Baptisms, confirmations, Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Wiccanings — you name it, she’ll undo it! Donna is a fully certified Humanist celebrant, so when you’re debaptised, you stay that way.

Blasphemous costumes, sexy costumes, awesome combinations of the above, and other festive garb are encouraged, but by no means required.

This year’s party is a benefit for St. James Infirmary. St. James is a unique healthcare resource, even in San Francisco. Founded by and for sex workers, they provide free, compassionate and nonjudgmental healthcare and social services for current and former sex workers of all genders and sexual orientations. We wholeheartedly support the organization, and we want to help them out. So all donations collected at the party will go directly to St. James Infirmary.

We’re asking for donations of $10-$20 at the door — but please just donate what you can, whether that’s less than $10, or more than $20. (We’re also collecting funds now to cover the costs of throwing the party — please help make it happen if you can!)

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station. (Please note the new, correct location!) Saturday, December 10, 8:00 to 11:00 pm. We hope to see you there!

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time Sat. Dec. 10 – Benefit for St. James Infirmary! EDIT: Now at Center for Sex and Culture!

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement

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Godless Perverts is having a Social Club in San Francisco at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th St., on Tuesday, December 6! 7-9 pm. Our discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement.

How can atheists and alt-sex people participate in a resistance movement? What do we uniquely have to offer? Some of us have limited time, resources, abilities — what can we do? In the coming months and years, more people will be needing more help — how can we step up our game and help them, without burning out? What can we do to resist white supremacy, misogyny, anti-queer hatred, anti-trans hatred, and other forms of systematic oppression? What can we learn from the history of other resistance movements? How can we take care of each other?

Note: This meetup is open to all nonbelievers, and all believers supportive of our mission, who want Godless Perverts to be part of a resistance movement in the new world. If that doesn’t describe you, please consider whether this particular meetup is the right one for you, and please don’t attend just to argue against this goal. Thanks.

Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers.

So please join us! Hang out with other nonbelievers and chat about sex, sexuality, gender, atheism, religion, science, social justice, pop culture, and more. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Continue reading “Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement”

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement

An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring

Hillary Clinton

David Campos
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
San Francisco, CA

Dear Supervisor Campos:

I’ve now heard you say this twice. You said it at the Harvey Milk Memorial March and Vigil on November 27. And you said it at El Rio on Election Night, the night we were all reeling from shock and grief. You’ve said — I’m going to have to paraphrase here — that the reason we lost the Presidential election was that the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton, who was an uninspiring, establishment, Republican-light, business-as-usual candidate.

When you say this, it tells me a few things.

1: You have no idea what it’s like for women participating in political discourse. Millions of women were greatly inspired by Hillary Clinton — and when we spoke about it, we were harassed, trolled, dogpiled on, dumped on with a dumptruck of false accusations, dumped on again with the same accusations every time we said her name, targeted with sexist microaggressions, targeted with openly sexist aggressions and slurs, and harassed some more. Clinton supporters had to form secret groups on Facebook, simply to talk about the fact that we liked our candidate. Millions of women were inspired and enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton — and were silenced. So when you’re analyzing the reasons we lost this election, perhaps you should take that into account. Perhaps you should consider how many people were persuaded not to vote (or to vote third party) by people who insisted that Clinton wasn’t inspiring and the candidates weren’t really different. Perhaps you should consider how many people might have been persuaded to vote for her, and weren’t, because her supporters had to put a lid on their enthusiasm and couldn’t make their case. And when you say Clinton didn’t inspire enthusiasm, that tells me you don’t know how to listen to women. It tells me that because you were personally not inspired by her, because the people in your circle were not inspired by her, therefore nobody was. It tells me that I, a queer woman in your city, am invisible to you.

2: You don’t understand what it’s like for women running for public office. I’m very sorry that you found Hillary Clinton uninspiring. Perhaps you’re not aware of how tightly her emotional expression was policed. And that’s true for any woman in politics: Clinton just got it more because she was running for President. “Smile more! No, not that much. But a little more than that. Would it kill you to laugh? No, not like that, it comes across as derisive. Can’t you be more approachable and friendly? But not too much, when women are too friendly they don’t look like powerful leaders. So look like a powerful leader! But not that much, men find it intimidating. And smile a little more! Maybe just a centimeter.” Hillary Clinton’s emotional expression was critiqued more thoroughly, and more viciously, than anyone I’ve ever seen in public life. And then she was critiqued for being robotic, impersonal, and uninspiring. Of the many sexist critiques of Hillary Clinton, including critiques from the left, this is — well, one of them.

3. You aren’t familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record and platform — or you don’t care about it. When you call her “Republican light,” that tells me you didn’t take ten minutes to look at her campaign website. You didn’t look at her record and planned policy on reproductive rights, global warming, taxing the rich, repealing Citizens United, raising minimum wage, closing tax loopholes on corporations, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, education, LGBTQ rights, women’s issues, children’s issues. When you call her “business as usual,” that tells me you have no idea about her extraordinary skills, legendary even among her opponents in DC: her wide-ranging and detailed knowledge of government and policy, her willingness to listen and change her mind, her ability to get things done. Either you don’t know about any of this — which would surprise me, since you’re an elected official in a major U.S. city — or you don’t care about it, and don’t think these skills are important enough to be considered exceptional.

4. You don’t seem to understand that Hillary Clinton won the election. You don’t seem to understand that she won the popular vote, by a considerable amount. You don’t seem to understand that she lost the electoral college, in large part, because of voter suppression; that this was the first Presidential election since the loss of the Voting Rights Act, and it showed up in the results. This surprises me: I know that you must know about voter disenfranchisement, probably even more than I do. But when you insist that Hillary Clinton lost because she wasn’t exciting or progressive enough, that tells me you’d rather grind your personal political axe than focus on the fact that hundreds of thousands of people in swing states wanted to vote for her, and couldn’t.

5. You have no idea about appropriate timing. At El Rio on Election Night, many of us were in deep emotional shock and despair. We were in fear over the world we were facing under Trump — and we were grieving the world we were losing, the world we’d hoped to work for with Hillary Clinton. And you chose that time to tell us that the candidate many of us had fought for, worked for, lost friends and family for, wasn’t someone anyone really cared about, wasn’t worth caring about. You chose that time to grind your political axe. You chose that time to blame the victims — the victims who had busted our asses to keep ourselves, and other people, from being victimized.

I’m told by some of my friends that you’re generally a pretty progressive guy, that you’re mostly a pretty good ally on San Francisco progressive politics. But I can tell you that every time you open your mouth on this subject, it makes me unwilling to support you, or have anything to do with you.

Sincerely,
Greta Christina
San Francisco

An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring