Our City Safe Haven

According to Teresa Brennan in “The Transmission of Affect”, “The ‘atmosphere’ or the environment literally gets into the individual” (1). In other words, we absorb affect from our surroundings on an instinctual and unconscious level, sharing it with both the area and the people around us. Walking down any street in Manhattan imbues an indescribable yet ubiquitously experienced sensation in the very skin of the people who come to live here. With the constant movement of people and machines, the sustained sound of sirens and subway stations, and the undeviating glow of street lights and neon signs, there’s a consistent feeling that you’re never truly alone in the city, as the city is always with you. Silence and stillness are nonexistent concepts here. There is always a form of presence in every inch of Manhattan, and from that we can deduce that life is all around us. Our bodies are able to interpret this affect long before we’re able to consciously discover why a group of lost souls like ourselves are so drawn to the city, bringing us together. We are never alone.

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And that’s such an unbelievably foreign experience for most, especially members of the LGBTQ+ Community. The systematic pressures of society seek to isolate and oppress any individual who steps out of the heteronormative standard, and this leaves anyone who identifies as queer feeling alone and unwanted. Worst of all, this is often complacently accepted. Take a look at one of the most popular slogans that advocates for queer acceptance and mental health: “It gets better”. Despite its noble intentions, this saying has a dark connotation, implying that there is nothing that anyone can do in their present moment to fix anything. By looking towards the future, we accept the brutality of the present, aiming to delay our demons instead of destroying them.

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This ideology is incredibly dangerous to hold onto, especially considering the fact that LGBTQ+ teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts (with another study finding that 30-40% of queer youth attempt suicide). The effect of suicide in the queer community is unforgivably immense, and casts a darkness upon the world that we tend to ignore.

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Perhaps that’s why so many queer people come to places like New York City; we are in desperate need of a break from this structured suffering. As said by Brian Massumi, “It is the collapse of structured distinction into intensity, of rules into paradox. It is the suspension of the invariance that makes happy happy, sad sad, function function, and meaning mean” (27). In this particular moment, Massumi is describing how intensity, or affect is created: by breaking down structures and expectations to foster in a new realm of perception that is meaningful and, sometimes, addicting. New York City’s affect is created as it is constantly breaking down the structures and stereotypes that plague the other parts of the world, and LGBTQ+ people can come here and heal and flourish after all they’ve gone through. There are countless resources for our community that are based within the boundaries of the city, some of which extend far beyond our borders into the world as a whole. And as we know from Brennan, we are never truly alone. The feelings that we experience, the thoughts that we process, the very essence of our existence, and so much more are affectively and unconsciously transmitted between each other, and it’s so unimaginably important that we are aware of this affect and use it to spread a message across the queer community, starting with those who have already felt the suffering of suicide and mental illness in Manhattan. We are privileged to live in an area that bleeds life and queerness wherever you are; it’s time to use that for the better and begin to create a safe haven that doesn’t reside in the future.

The time for that safe haven is now.

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~ by leonardjsantos on February 20, 2017.

6 Responses to “Our City Safe Haven”

  1. I thought this was best overall! Not only were the pictures engaging and complementing, the language was very clear and engaging. The layout of this blog is also really great! Nice work I really enjoyed this blog post

  2. I’m awarding this as the best overall because not only did I like the engagement and style of this post but it also had great theory. Placement is really important when making a blog post and I think your pictures are placed well along with the matching your words.

  3. I thought this post was the best overall because the author was able to trigger the affects members of the LGBT community might feel in relation to the city. The author also successfully incorporated affective concepts to compliment the post.

    Stanley

  4. best overall – nuanced and thoughtful incorporation of theory. usage of words like “we” connote personal connection and a sense of unity a.k.a engagement, but the post was not overly anecdotal.

  5. I thought it is the best overall. The language is engaging while the pictures are eye-catching. The post also well incorporates the readings into the ecology with the affect.

  6. Best Engagement- Well organized blog post: great photo selections; the thick theories from the readings are well-connected to the ecology. Language is affective!

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