08 October 2008

Introducing NOLOSE

I was going to write a long and considered post about NOLOSE, but for various reasons that's unlikely to happen soon. I'll say a few things, however.

It's hard to describe what NOLOSE is, it started out as a US organisation by and for fat lesbians, and was a product of NAAFA's Fat Feminist Caucus, so I believe. But identity politics are a shifting surface on which to build an organisation over time, and now NOLOSE welcomes dykes of any stripe, including bisexual women, female-ish queers, and trans people. Cisgendered men (bio men? men-born-men? sorry for the clumsy and problematic definitions) are unwelcome at the moment, but NOLOSE is a flexible entity striving for inclusivity, so who knows what might happen as time passes.

I want to point out that NOLOSE is very US American, but there is usually a strong Canadian contingent, and there have been delegates from the UK and South Africa, maybe other places too. By American I mean that the organisation's culture is, to me as an outsider anyway, quite specific and certainly unlike fat activist events that I've encountered in the UK.

NOLOSE supports a number of smaller projects, for example last year they helped fund Big Bums, but the main event is the more-or-less annual conference. This generally consists of workshops, a keynote speech, events, dances, meals together, and other stuff. Look at the NOLOSE site if you want an idea of what goes on there. Anyway, mere words cannot do justice to this complex, thrilling, eye-opening, maddening, amazing, weird, inspiring event, it is so much more than the sum of its parts. I had the privilege (and I don't use that word lightly) of keynoting the 2005 NOLOSE and it's no understatement to say that it marked a turning point in my life.

The 2008 NOLOSE has just been and gone in Northampton, Massachusetts. This year the theme was intersectionality, that is, the ways that fat is a part of a number of complex personal identities, and that these identities intersect with each other within us, and in the way that we live amongst others. Radical concept! Which reminds me that NOLOSE is probably one of the most progressive and challenging fat activist experiences I've had in my life. At NOLOSE I get to meet the fatties that made and make a real difference to me, we talk about hard stuff, somehow we manage to create visions of how things could be. There is a lot of fun too. It is life-enhancing at a profound level. I'm generally sceptical of intentional spaces based on shared identities, but there's something about being with a bunch of lawless fat queers that makes me feel as at home in myself as I ever do.

Here are some links:

Geleni Fontaine gave an incredible keynote (.pdf, 196kb), which you can read but which won't be as great as seeing her deliver it in person.

Want more? Check out Heather MacAllister's powerful 2006 keynote, and don't forget to register and visit the new boards.

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