• Libby Coyner

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes! Shepherd's Coming Home!

*This is the product of lots of conversations I've had with my spouse recently, so it is very much a collaborative effort. It's also a way for me to communicate to folks far away - I know I haven't had energy for emails or calls, but I've been busy getting married and building a queer utopia in the South!

Gosh, it's been a minute since I posted anything on the blog. Sooooo, it's been a wild year and a half since I last wrote. I realize I mainly write on here when

I want to remember something for later, like an archives - it's something I seem to do during surreal times like cancer. Here's the quick versions of what's happened since the last post...

Shepherd (they/them) and I will have known each other for ten years in January! We met in some colleagues' hotel room and kinda instantly fell in love, but never had good timing. Oh - they are a librarian at Northern Arizona for just a short time longer, yay!!! Over that decade, so much - other relationships, hooking up at various points, getting sober, cancer, coming out as non-binary, moving cross-country, new jobs, dropping out of Ph.D programs, rotating casts of cat characters, buying a home, navigating pandemic, revolution, and learning to grow into the best versions of ourselves.

They came for New Year's Eve, arriving just hours before we had a big party with friends and a fire, and it was perfect and they instantly fit. Fast forward we eloped on Valentine's Day in Asheville because the world in general felt like it was burning down and we wanted to mark our queer love in an archives in the South. We got married in a Jailhouse and everyone who helped us at the Register of Deeds and jailhouse was a WOC and they were so happy and supportive of us! We celebrated by eating pizza and going to an anarchist bookstore.

My spouse Shepherd will be moving home to stay very soon (more details to come, but they will be taking a cross-country very safe adventure with my sister Clover and their two kitties (Louise and Audrey) in time for my 40th BIRTHDAY NEXT MONTH!! We have talked about what it means for them to be moving to the South right now. (Importantly, this article gives context to Alamance County where we live).

While I flinch about what feels like a more dangerous place to them, they always help me reorient and, for instance, remind me that they live in the violent border town that we call Flagstaff, Arizona. (Pandemic exploitation, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, settler colonialism).

It reminds me I grew up learning about racism as a Southern problem, ignoring the fact that Northern Idaho has always had overt displays of white supremacy, was born as part of a white utopia with violently enforced racial exclusion clauses, and is where Black friends here consistently say is a place they were always told never to go. And also most importantly, stolen land - like we were surrounded by Indigenous communities and the overt racism all around us.

I admit I spent the first almost 30 years of my life in hella white spaces - small-town Idaho, queer spaces in Portland Oregon, library school in British Columbia - Arizona helped reorient me to Indigenous and Latinx spaces. Moving to the South has been humbling how little I knew about anti-Black racism, but also all of the really amazing grassroots Black women (especially trans), femme, and queer organizing in support of Black lives that has been happening here in systems outside the system FOREVER.

I'm having a lot of conversations lately with colleagues and friends about sitting with these uncomfortable histories and unraveling how much they tell us about how things are still exactly the same. But we practice white supremacy when we declare a linear progress narrative: that things used to be bad but we have come such a long way. We must push back against this and consistently reorient ourselves and center different voices. So we are also thinking about that and learning so much from some really smart people who we will put down here later to remember!


Libby & Tsos

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