18 January 2016

Acknowledging the book's supporters

It's taken years to get Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement together and the experience has been a strange mixture of aloneness and putting things into a public realm. I did quite a lot of public speaking over its main research period, from 2008-2012, and of course there's blogging. But the work of putting a load of complex, scattered ideas together into something coherent, which started with the thesis, is a solitary thing shared only with a few close people. Perhaps what I'm saying is that I have felt alone in holding the full picture of this research and the book in my head.

Now things are changing.

I have started speaking about the book in public. Last week we had its launch, and yesterday I spoke at a queer community gathering. Both were packed out. There are more events on the way and I will post them as details emerge.

I'm struggling to identify my feelings in making this work public and being received in such an encouraging way. It's overwhelming. At the launch I remembered what it felt like being 15 years old and how unimaginable it would have been that I would grow up to experience people caring about fat stuff. What has been especially moving to me over the past week is the mixture of people who are finding things in the work. There was a time when I thought that there was only a small readership of fat people for stuff like this. I was wrong. My secret belief that fat resonates with people in many different political ways rings true. I suspect that people are as hungry as hell for a book like this, and lord knows I want to see more work in the world that shares and builds on its breadth.

By the way, I imagine that the book will find readers who hate it too, or people who haven't read it but have already decided that it shouldn't exist. I am steeling myself for that. There will likely be people who take the book and appropriate my ideas as theirs without crediting me. It's happened with this blog often enough. Oh well, no one expects much from a fat person! Putting work into the world is pleasurable and also painful at times but so far I have been lucky.

Even though I have felt alone, I have not really been alone. There are many people I need to thank, and here is a little list of them:

Some of the people's legs at the launch last week at
Gay's The Word bookshop
Pic by Debi Withers
All the people who consented to be interviewed for the project.

People who gave me direct emotional, intellectual and practical support. Between 50 and 100 people who I won't name because they value their privacy. This included talking things through with me, hosting me, cooking meals for me, making sure I was safe, caring about me and checking in.

Everyone associated with HammerOn Press.

The institutional advocates: The Irish Social Sciences Platform; University of Limerick, Coventry University.

The organisations that gave me platforms to publish, show, develop and discuss my work: The Association of Size Diversity and Health; Bad Art Collective; Big Bum Jumble; Bildwechsel Hamburg; Bird Club; Body & Peace Workshop; The British Film Institute; The British Sociological Association; Burger Queen; Canterbury Christ Church University; A Carnival of Feminist Cultural Activism; Club Milk; Coventry Peace Festival; Department of International Studies and Social Science, Coventry University; Department of Media, Music, Communication & Cultural Studies, Macquarie University; Entzaubert Queer DIY Film Fest; Economic and Social Research Council Fat Studies and Health at Every Size seminar series; Fat, Awesome and Queer; Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society; The Fat of the Land: A Queer Chub Harvest Festival; The Fattylympics; The Feminist Art Gallery; Gay's The Word; Gender Matters at King's College London; Goldsmith's University; Incite; Department of Sociology, Warwick University; Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg; London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival; London Zine Symposium; My Mouth Your Ear; New York University Press; NOLOSE; National Portrait Gallery; Palgrave; Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association; Power Queers; Project O and all the dancers and everyone associated with SWAGGA; Queer Images Edmonton; Raw Nerve Books; Rebel Bellies; Riots Not Diets; Ryerson University; Scumbag; Sister Spit; Sociology Compass; Soggettiva; Somatechnics; thirdspace; Tate Modern; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Well Now; Vignette Press; Villa Magdalena K.

All the reviewers, the ReTweeters, the supportive commenters, the people who have put me in touch with people who want to support the book, the translators, the people who have showed up for this work, the organisers and inviters, all the pre-orderers, the readers, the encouragers.

Ack, I know I've forgotten people. Please forgive me.

I imagine there will be more thanks to make as time goes on. As I said, I feel overwhelmed and very humbled by the response so far in these early days of the work.

Normal snark will be resumed shortly. Right now I need to lie down.

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