A Protection Ritual For Phantom!


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So in light of the awful announcement last fall that the Broadway flagship production of Phantom will be closing, I designed this spell to ask for protection for the show. I’ll be doing it tonight on the anniversary of the opening of the Broadway production. But I wanted to share it as well for other magically inclined Phans to make use of as well! And don’t worry if you don’t see this till after the anniversary. My thinking was that the occasion might give the spell an extra power boost. But it’s certainly not tailored to the date, and there will surely be plenty more opportunities to work it between now and the slated closing date in April!

Protection Ritual For The Broadway Production and The Brilliant Original

For this ritual, you’ll need a few simple items. First, you’ll need something you can use as an altar. Second, you’ll need at least one white or black candle, 3 if possible. Though, if you’re going to use 3, I’d suggest either two black candles and one white, with the white candle place between the two black ones, or two white candles with a single black one between them. Thirdly, you’ll need a cup or bowl of water on the altar so all four elements are present (I use my Phantom shot-glass or one of my Phantom mugs or wine-glasses). Finally, you’ll need your phone, MP3-player, etc, set up to play a Phantom soundtrack (I would recommend the original London cast recording), and an object that symbolizes the Brilliant Original for you that you can place on the altar. For example, this might be an old audio-cassette or CD version of the soundtrack, or an original London or Broadway souvenir program, or a copy of George Perry’s The Complete Phantom Of The Opera, or any souvenir you got when attending a production of the Brilliant Original. Oh, you’ll also need something you can use as a wand and/or an athame. I find Phantom pens make great wands by the way! A Phantom letter-opener might work well as an athame if you happen to have one. Place the object symbolizing the Brilliant Original centrally on the altar as in a place of honour.

Note: you may also want to have an object symbolizing protection (see the Work of the Ritual section further on).


To begin, draw your circle in the air with your wand or athame, starting in the North.

“North – Earth – the Lair Underground and the Labyrinth that leads to it the night.”

(Turn to the East.)

“East – dawn, air – the breath that carries the song, the wind through the organ-pipes – the song of brass and wind instruments.”

(Turn to the South.)

“South – fire – the sun shining down on the city, the candles on the Lake – the passion of the music.”

(Turn to the West.)

“West – water – tears – the Lake underground that leads to the Lair.”

(Turn back to the North to close the circle.)

“All good, wise and well Spirits and ancestors of the elements and the four directions, I humbly call on you to aid me in this work.”

Now, face your altar and light the candle/s on it. (Note, it’s perfectly OK to use LED candles if you don’t feel safe using real ones, although you may only be able to get white candles in that case. Or, you can simply mime lighting real candles, but visualize the flames being lit and burning as you do so.)

“Centre – Holy Spirit, Source,…” (add any other names that feel appropriate.)

“Phantom Of The Opera,…” (Any other spirits/Deities you wish to call on)

“I welcome you all, and I humbly call on you to aid me in this work.”

Work Of The Ritual

“First of all, I give great thanks for the gift of the Brilliant Original ALW stage-musical of The Phantom Of The Opera. I give great thanks for the great blessing it has been to me and to the world.” (Perhaps here name the ways it has been a blessing to you specifically.)

Now, As you say the following, first touch the item symbolizing the Brilliant Original. Then, draw a circle of protection around it in the air or on your altar with your want or athame. And/Or, picture The Majestic Theatre in your mind, and visualize a circle or dome of protection around it. It can be a circle/dome of light, or a web of protective thorns, or something like the Phantom’s portcullis, whatever imagery works most powerfully for you.

“And now, I call on you all to ask for protection for the spirit and message of the Brilliant Original ALW stage-musical of The Phantom Of The Opera, which are at the heart of the show’s power. Guard them from ignorance and greed, and from the whims of those who would innovate merely for the sake of innovation, And let the damage that has already been done by those forces be repaired. Let Phantom hold strong, spirit and voice, human and mystery in one combined. Let it continue to ring out as a beacon of hope and a call to compassion and passion. And once again, guard the spirit and message of the brilliant original, and let the damage already sustained be healed.”

Now, pick up the item which symbolizes the Brilliant Original and hold it in your hands. And with it in hand, while holding your mental image of protection around The Brilliant Original and/or the Broadway production, play the song/scene from Phantom that to you most embodies or manifests the show’s power and message. Let the energy of that song/scene pour into your mental image of protection. Note, use headphones if necessary so you don’t have to keep the volume down.

Note: if visualizing isn’t something that works for you, you might prefer to have an object that symbolizes protection – like a (miniature/toy) sword, or a thorn, or a rose with thorns, etc. Then, instead of visualizing, you can pass the protective object over your Phantom Brilliant Original item as you say the above words and listen to your chosen song/scene.

“In the name of The Phantom, (any other Deities you’ve invoked), and in the name of Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit, so mote it be, so mote it be, so mote it be!”


“And now, I thank you all (name all Deities and spirits invoked, including those of the elements – see opening), very greatly for your aid in this work. Go as you must, stay as you wish.”

Now, trace the circle in the air again, but this time going the reverse way – North to West to South To East, and back to North. This opens the circle.

“The circle is open, but always unbroken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! And blessed be.” (You can add “Amen” as well as suits you.)


1, re calling on Deities in addition to The Phantom. As a ChristoPagan myself (some one who practices a syncretism of Paganism and Christian elements), I often call on Jesus, Blessed Mother Mary, Mary Magdalen and/or other appropriate Saints in addition to The Phantom. Dionysus might be appropriate here, as the festivals from which much of Western theatre grew were held in his honour, and he’s considered by some the patron God of theatre. Apollo might be appropriate as well, as he’s the patron Deity of music. Similarly, Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of poetry and music might be invoked here. But it really depends on whom – which Deities – you’ve cultivated relationships with. From Christian traditions, you might call on Saint Cecelia (the patron Saint of music), Saint Genesius (patron saint of actors and other performers), and perhaps also Saint Vitus (patron saint of dancers).

2, re song/scene from the show that most embodies the power and message of the Brilliant Original. For me, as I explain throughout my work, this has always been Act I scene 4, the title song – The Phantom Of The Opera. Although, more recently, Act I scene 5, The Music Of The Night as well. To me, these songs and scenes embody the romantic, erotic, political and spiritual heart of the show, even more than the Final Lair (Act II scene 9) as important and powerful as it is. Because, to me, Act I scenes 4 and 5, the title song and Music Of The Night, embody the show’s vision of a transformed world and society where the Phantom and those like him are desired and valued in all their complexity and magnificence.

3. An athame is a magical knife – not sharp – used to direct energies and/or sever energetic/psychic connections.

4. The candles I use are one black and two silver-coloured. And yes, I do only light them symbolicly so far, as I’m not quite brave enough, yet, to actually light them without a sighted spotter around. Although, I hope to get to that point eventually!

5. If at all possible, this working should be done at night, or at least in very low light. Because, Phantom is about “the power of the Music of the Night”, and you want that energy as part of the working.

Rejecting The Spiritualization of Scarcity!


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So I recently attended a truly fabulous conference on social justice. But during the otherwise brilliant opening address, in the context of discussing how we’re often told there isn’t enough money when social justice and reconciliation initiatives are brought forward, the speaker said something to the effect of “what’s more important, beautiful buildings or people’s lives?” She said it as though it’s a no-brainer. And of course, on one level, it absolutely is! Of course people’s lives are more important than buildings no matter how beautiful or historic! At the same time, though, this quip, not the first of its kind that I’ve heard over my years of political involvement, bothered me. And it took me some time and reflection to work out why beyond the slightly snide, condescending tone in which the remark was and is so often made.

When I thought about it later, though, I realized that what bothered me about this statement and ones like it is that they feel like an adoption into our spiritual values of the scarcity paradigm of the over-culture. Because, to be sure, the neoliberal capitalist system in which we live all too often does force us to make those kinds of choices! But are we really saying that in the Kingdom of God – in the world of justice and peace that we desire to bring into being – there can’t/won’t be enough for us to have both thriving people and beautiful places of worship and social gathering? And if we are, indeed, saying that, why? Some may be saying it out of very real concerns about ecological footprint and use of Earth’s resources, and that’s absolutely legit and an important issue that will need to be worked out. But are we saying it for ideological reasons? Because, remarks like the one referenced above seem to me to reflect a feeling, not just that there is an externally imposed or situational opposition between thriving people and projects like the maintenance of buildings, but that there is an inherent, intrinsic opposition between them.

Note: I’m particularly asking the above questions of my Progressive Christian colleagues, but Pagans need to think about them as well, especially Pagans who seek to be socially and politically engaged. Same questions, different causes and routes there.

In the Christian world, we have a long tradition of exalting asceticism as the epitome of spiritual living – as the way to live a truly holy life. And although we reject that traditions tendencies toward misogyny and hatred of the body, Progressive/Left Christians share its veneration of simplicity and surrender. We cite Jesus’s instruction to “give all you have to the poor”. We look to how the early disciples were sent out to teach and heal with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs, instructed to live only by the hospitality offered to them. We admire figures like St Frances of Assisi for their emulation of this life of holy simplicity. We reference the story of the mana from heaven in Exodus in which God instructs the Israelites to take only what they need to feed themselves and their families each day, and in which those who try to hoard find the extra mana rotten and unusable. We admire movements like the Quakers, Shakers, etc, for their commitments to simple living and, often, for their rejection of “high” church pageantry as well.

On the Pagan side, meanwhile, there is great admiration for the figure of the Witch living simply by herself in a hut in the woods. She is seen as an exemplar of connection to the Earth and of living lightly on Her. And it is true that both these images of holy simplicity, the Christian and the Pagan, offer powerful counters to the over-culture’s constant pressure to define ourselves and our worth by our material possessions or lack thereof. They offer a potent counter to the narrative that material affluence = happiness.

But they also, intentionally or not, imply that subsistence is OK, but that to desire anything beyond that is suspect if not actually sinful. They suggest that humble subsistence is holy, but that wanting anything beyond that runs the danger of sliding toward materialism and greed. They use the language of abundance for all, but abundance is elided with subsistence. If we all just stop desiring anything beyond the basics of decent food, shelter, clothing and access to nature and community, the thinking seems to go, then all the problems of scarcity, inequality and environmental degradation we currently face will be solved. Or, as I’ve heard it said quoting Gandhi, “live simply so others may simply live”.

The problem with the above is that, while that message may resonate very powerfully – and, indeed, may be powerfully liberating – for those seeking an escape from the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and/or those called to the path of asceticism, it doesn’t work for everyone. Asceticism is a perfectly valid path to which some people are genuinely called. But not everyone is, and not because they’re greedy or spiritually weak either. And holding up that path as the only way to goodness – the only way to live a just and spiritually grounded life – pushes away and, frankly, alienates those whose spiritual orientations lead in other directions. And if we want and need to build a mass-movement to defeat the forces of capitalism, oligarchy, neo/fascism, etc, then we have to stop alienating the non-ascetically oriented. We have to find ways to welcome and incorporate those not called to asceticism into our spiritual and political work and movements, and not by continuing to try to shame or guilt-trip them into converting to humble simplicity.

Full disclosure here. In case it hasn’t come through yet, I’m very much one of those people. The path of the ascetic has never resonated with me. I have great respect for people who are called to that path and have learned vastly from the wisdom they bring, But that’s not how my heart and soul connect to God/Spirit. And while it is true that the constant exaltation of holy simplicity hasn’t driven me out of activism so far because my care for the issues keeps me hanging in, I have more often than not found that I cannot bring my whole self to political work because my deep love of material culture is looked on as a political and spiritual failing that I need to be encouraged to grow out of.

So yes, I desire and fight for a world in which we can have both beautiful places of worship (official and unofficial), and beautiful homes, and thriving, well-cared-for people of all races, genders, beliefs, nationalities, etc, including true reconciliation with Indigenous peoples! I want us to find ways to break out of neoliberalism’s horrible games of divide-and-conquer and “race to the bottom” that keep us trapped in paradigms of scarcity. I get making a virtue out of – or rather finding the virtue in – living with less given how we’re daily surrounded by increasing economic austerity and climate disaster. But I don’t believe this should be the whole or final answer. We need a world of real, fulsome abundance so that all God/dess’s/Spirit’s children can thrive with dignity and joy, not just live with basic subsistence!

Final point of full disclosure. Because, while this really shouldn’t need saying explicitly, it probably does. I’m not rich. My family fell out of affluence back in my grandmother’s time. And since then, we’ve sometimes sat on the very bottom rungs of what remains of the middle class, and at other times (and frankly much more often since the 90s) we’ve stared down the barrel of dire poverty. We haven’t fallen irrevocably into it yet, but the ever-present precarity is very real! Anyway, I thought it might be important to mention that in case there was some temptation to write off the above as just another affluent whiner.

Rebooting Everything, Slowly.


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So you may have seen things starting to come back to life around here and on my social media? Or, maybe not yet, as the changes may have been too small to notice. Either way, though, yep, stuff’s coming back! It’s just taking a while to do it.

As was the case for so many people, everything got really derailed during the pandemic. But that gave me an opportunity to rethink and re-evaluate. And when I did, LOL things came out in a different shape than they’d been in when I started! Plus, something about my Saturn Square?

Anyhow, the result has been a complete rebranding, at least in terms of names. Although, I’m generally trying to keep the look of things, because I’m happy with that. But, as I re-evaluated stuff coming out of the worst of the pandemic, I realized that my sense of what I’m about and what I’m doing has shifted from when I started all this. I began this journey really trying to understand how to see/feel the romantic and erotic heart of Phantom in myself as some one who doesn’t fit the traditional gender binary as embodied in the portrayals of The Phantom and Christine, and who, therefore, can’t simply choose to manifest one or the other. And that’s still definitely an important part of what I’m about! But it’s also, as I said, shifted from there, partly as I’ve come much more out about my gender fluidity. Although, I’m still working out exactly what being gender fluid looks, sounds and feels like for me. But also, over the past couple of years, I’ve really started trying to live into and come out about by spirituality, and to cultivate a spiritual practice. Phantom has always been deeply spiritual for me to be sure. But I’ve also always been kind of self-conscious about it because so many people around me didn’t take it seriously, so I kind of internalized that. But lately, under the influence of some fabulous Witchy podcasts, I’ve been actually taking it seriously – trying to really live into cultivating a spiritual and magical practice that incorporates/is rooted in Phantom. It’s still very much a work in progress! And it took the coming together of a bunch of elements that only really clicked into place very recently. But that’s really what it feels like my work needs to be about, at least for the foreseeable future!

All that to say, then, that I’ve been retooling all my projects to reflect these changes. But they will come back once they’re ready! I’ve already started sharing new stuff on my Soundcloud and my Instagram, although, as usual, not as much or as often as I feel like I should have. But there will be more, so never fear! And yes, my podcast will be coming back, too. Although, it may take more time as it’s undergoing the most thorough reboot. But I hope to have it back early in 2023 if not sooner! But of course, I’m also still in the process of finishing up my doctoral dissertation, and that has to take priority as it’s got time constraints. And that, plus my own not terribly high-powered working pace, is slowing things down. So we’ll see how soon things get back up and going, but hopefully soon!

Anyway, I hope you’ll all come along on this new phase of the journey. And I hope you continue to find my projects interesting, engaging and thought-provoking, and of course, fun!

Miscellaneous Updates.

So once again I haven’t posted in a really long time! Indeed, all my stuff’s been on indefinite hiatus for a while while I’ve been focussing on trying to get the bulk of my dissertation written. And it’s coming along awesomely, although there’s still lots to do! But it hasn’t left me bandwidth for much else.

My various projects are definitely coming back, though! I’m just not sure how soon. And in the mean time, I’m taking some time to do some infrastructure tweeking to hopefully make things more cohesive. You may have noticed some of that already here and on my Twitter. And then, with any luck, I’ll be able to get back to actually creating new content in the not too distant future!

Phanship on the #Trans Spectrum. #TransDayofRemembrance #gender #PhantomoftheOpera


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So I’m going to do a podcast episode on this at some point. But because today is Trans Day of Remembrance, I wanted to take some space to talk about my own gender journey. Because, although today is about remembrance, it’s also about breaking silence! And I suspect that I’m often read as a cis ally because I can (sometimes) pass for cis female. So I want to add my voice to those of other Trans-spectrum folks today speaking to and for our realities and existence! Because silence, stereotyping and erasure are part of what cause us to need a Trans Day of Remembrance. They’re part of what create the conditions that enable so much violence against Trans people, including poverty and hyper-precarity. And I’m one of those folks with the privilege of it being relatively safe to be out – which is definitely not the case for way too many people. So I sort of feel like I have a responsibility to do so! That great slogan from the AIDS crisis: “silence = violence”.

Part of the reason it’s taken so long for me to be out, though, is erasure. For the longest time, I literally didn’t have words for my experience of gender. And finding them has been a long (and I suspect on-going) struggle! This is partly because, growing up in the 80s and 90s, for most of my formative years, I had no idea there were options other than girl, which I was assigned at birth but increasingly didn’t fit in the traditional definition of, and boy which didn’t fit either! And then, even when I started to learn about Transgender, I didn’t know any Trans people personally, so what I knew came from media. And that gave me a very rigid, narrow picture of what Trans was – a straight-forward transition from your assigned gender to your felt gender, based on feeling that you were “born into the wrong body”. The only other models I had were androgyny/gender-blending. Basically, all the gender narratives I knew told me you had to choose girl, boy or neither. It took me a long time to find models of, and words for, moving back and forth between two genders. I’d heard of gender-fluidity, but, the way it had always been presented to me, it sounded like blending genders rather than moving back and forth between them. Indeed, it wasn’t till I heard a certain episode of the awesome Off The Cuffs podcast that I realized gender-fluid could mean that, and had an example of some one living it. And I was like “You can do that? It’s a legit thing? Really? Oh Wow!”.

And this lack of language, unfortunately, caused Phantom and my Phanship to inadvertently become part of this erasure of my gender. Though, I hate to say that! But it’s true. Because, of course, the story of Phantom is very much told in a cis, gender-binaried, hetero-romantic idiom. The masculine Phantom loves the super-femme Christine. So, as I’ve talked about in a previous post, without language to articulate an alternative, that set up a feeling that I had to choose. It’s only recently dawned on me that being/doing both, and/or moving back and forth between the two is actually an option. And in truth, I’m still figuring out how the hell that works, especially in terms of the love-story! Straight? Queer? Femme for femme? Masc for femme? POli so I can access both sides of the love-story? Yeah, I’m still confused on that score.

But of course, as a Phan, naturally I want to express my gender/s through Phantom! Because, just as Phantom has profoundly shaped and informed my Disabled identity, so too has it profoundly shaped my sense of gender – both desire and presentation. The first model of masculinity that really powerfully impacted me was the Phantom, especially of the ALW stage-musical, and especially as portrayed by Colm Wilkinson! And I learned how to do Femme from Sarah Brightman’s Christine, especially during Angel of Music and the Title Song as I perceived them! But to figure out how to do both, or to move between them, meant Queering the story in ways I’m only beginning to have the tools to do. In particular, the challenge, for me at least, is to Queer the story so that it becomes fully accessible to folks like me without sacrificing the romance – the “story of deep, dark, dangerous, passionate love” to quote a documentary on the Toronto production – that’s so central to Phantom, and is so much a part of what resonates so powerfully with us Phans!

And this latter work is critically important, because Phantom is a story about the terrible mental and spiritual consequences of exclusion and marginalization. But it also, as I’ve argued elsewhere, contains a powerful call to action to end that marginalization and exclusion, and to heal the trauma caused by it. So it seems to me that it’s critically important that we Phans not allow Phantom itself to contribute to the silencing and erasure of people on account of their colour and/or their lack of conformity to the gender binary! I’m heartened, though, that I’m starting to see this be done. In particular, I’ve finally started to come across well-written Phanfics that explicitly seek to “gender-bend” the story, and others that less explicitly take up other areas of intersectionality. But there’s a lot more need and room for further creative Queering!!

A Couple of Upcoming Gigs! #OT2018 #music #performances #Toronto #OpenTuning #Festival and #CUPE3903 #YorkUStrike


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So I thought I’d mention a couple of gigs that I’ve got coming up that I’m very excited about! First of all, I’ll be performing once again at the Open Tuning Festival this Saturday (June 9). For those in the Toronto area, I’ll be on at 5 PM in the garage behind KOP’s Records at Bathurst and Bloor (see the schedule on the Open Tuning website for details). I’ll be the fourth or so act on the program at that venue this time!

Then, next Saturday on June 16, I’ll be singing again at a fund-raiser for my union local, CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Local 3903. It’s the local that represents the teaching assistants, contract faculty, and graduate assistants at my university, and the fund-raiser is to support the strike we’ve been on for 14 weeks now! We’ve been struggling for a fair and decent contract, and to push back against precarious working conditions, especially for the contract faculty. You can read all about it at here! Anyway, as you can imagine, the length of the strike has seriously depleted our funds. So we’re doing lots of things to raise money to continue the struggle, including this event! For those in town, it’ll be at the Glad Day Bookshop at Church and Wellesley on the evening of the 16th. And I’ll be contributing some of my songs to the effort, which I’m very excited about! For those of you not in town, there’s a GoFundMe campaign that folks can contribute to. And we’d be hugely grateful for whatever support you can give!

Anyway, apologies for not getting these posted sooner. In fact, though, because of the way this year’s been going for everyone involved in organizing these events, they’ve only just come together! So I really hope in-town folks can make it to one or the other!

Finding Each Other: Building Legacies of Belonging (reblog from Mia Mingus’s blog Leaving Evidence)



Wow!  Everyone should read this post, and indeed their entire blog!  Although Mingus is speaking specifically to a Queer Korean-American audience, what she says here may be applied to other contexts too.  Very powerful!


via Finding Each Other: Building Legacies of Belonging

Reclaiming Our Bodies And Minds Once More! #ROBAM2018 #Disability


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So this past week-end was the 2018 Reclaiming Our Bodies And Minds conference that I’ve been looking forward to all year. And I have to say, this one was particularly awesome! I’m so glad I went! Mind you, I always am. But, as I said, this year especially rocked! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the events on the Friday night because of a very long, rather taxing meeting up at my university (more on that in future posts). Which I was bummed about, as it meant I missed the community fair and keynote! Damn! So I joined up on Saturday for that day’s sessions.

First of all, one of the awesome things about ROBAM is that it’s such a treat to be in a truly accessible space! They had the conference program in Braille and other alternative formats. But best of all, they had PSWs (Personal Support Workers) there who were able to assist me with finding the rooms where the sessions were, finding the washrooms, and finding the food. And accessing them went much more smoothly than last year! Or at least, it felt like it did. And that was such a relief, because it meant that I didn’t have to rely on wrangling random people for help like I usually do! So that meant I was really able to just relax and enjoy the conference rather than worry about how I was going to find the next session, the loo, or the lunch. And on that note, the lunch was delicious!

And then, the actual sessions themselves were some of the best I’ve heard at ROBAM in years! The day opened with a panel on thinking about how we can make spaces and events more truly accessible, shifting from a Disability rights framework to a justice framework, and thinking about accessibility as an intent to be inclusive rather than as a list of items to check off. Then we went into the first split sessions of the day.

The first one was a truly brilliant workshop on politicizing the experiences of loneliness of Mad and Disabled people. And Wow, it’s one I’m going to be thinking about for a long time to come! I went because it struck me as being super relevant to the work I do here with Phantom. But it ended up having relevances beyond that, too, in fact to my doctoral work. Because, much environmental activism these days centres on the idea of relocalizing – lives, communities, economies, etc, and much of the argument for this is that it will cure the epidemic of loneliness created by neoliberalism, or even by any form of capitalism depending on how radical the thinker you’re reading is. But it often seems to me that this desire to relocalize contains a lot of nostalgia, at times even fauxstalgia, that fails to take into account the kinds of loneliness that Queer, Mad and Disabled people experience – loneliness due to exclusions based on differences in communication style, body configurations, desire, cognition, sensory perception, and mental state. And these degrees of difference have, historically, required more than just belonging to close-knit communities with strong social ties to bridge. Indeed, historically, Queer, Mad and Disabled folks have often had to leave the communities they came from in order to find acceptance. But this workshop gave me a great deal to think about in terms of ways of possibly speaking back to this issue! I’ll write more about it in future posts.

Then in the afternoon, there were a couple of sessions on racism, displacement, sacred space, madness, and personal history. They were really excellent, and they also gave me a lot to think about! In particular, they gave me a lot to think about with regard to “unofficial” sacred spaces such as concerts or, for that matter, Phantom, and how these can be double-edged for Queer, Mad and Disabled folks. Because, they’re/we’re less excluded than they/we all too often are in official sacred spaces, but nevertheless there’s still an assumption of heteronormativity among the majority of users of these unofficial spaces that creates exclusions for them/us there too. So that was really interesting!

Then after dinner, there was a fabulous comedy night. Lots of wonderful Crip humour! And it was really great to do so much laughing after the sessions of the day. Because, although the panels and workshops were fabulous, they could be kind of heavy! They touched on a lot of tough issues. So it was great to have some good laughs after all that, and it was a great way to close off the conference! Sadly, there were no events on Sunday.

One of the coolest aspects of the week-end, though, was that I finally did something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while but never had the nerve before. But I figured that, if any space should be safe to try it, it should be ROBAM. And it was awesome to find that turned out to be the case! So normally I identify (as female?) and present as very femme. But for a while now, I’ve been strongly tempted every now and then to, as a friend put it, jump the gender fence – not necessarily permanently – LOL I’d miss my girly stuff too much, but every now and then. I’ve come to think of it as my alternate gender alter-ego – a guy called Erik (yes, named for the Phantom). But I’ve never actually presented as that alternate gender alter-ego before. At the conference this week-end, though, I finally decided Oh what the hell and did. And bless the conference folks for being super chill about it, LOL even though I didn’t actually get up my nerve till after I’d registered and so had to ask them to help me alter my name-tag! And it went really well, too. Nobody gave me any crap or weirdness about it! LOL Although, certain people I ran into who knew me kept going on auto-pilot and using my regular name later in the day. I’m not sure if they just weren’t reading my name-tag and going on their memories, or if putting brackets around my “real” name on the tag caused confusion. Pity, too, as the misgendering started just as I was getting comfortable presenting as Erik! So next time I’ll have to register that way from the beginning so that my name-tag’s clean and see if that helps. LOL Although, that’s when I’ll probably get the awkward questions from those particular folks. I ran into other friends, though, who were totally chill and awesome about it. And I really appreciate that! It really helped me get comfortable with how I was trying to present! So overall, it was a good and liberating experience! And it’s one I’ll try again, possibly at next year’s ROBAM, and in other safe spaces where I can find them. Because, it took me almost half the day on Saturday to stop feeling shy and self-conscious about presenting as a guy – LOL or trying to!

Anyway, it was a great week-end. And I’m really looking forward to next year’s conference! I can’t wait to see what their topic will be! And also, for next year I’m really going to try hard not to miss the call-out for papers/presentations (again). Because, I’d really love to present there as well! I don’t yet know what, though. So you’ll have to wait, and come to next year’s ROBAM to find out!