This is it! The culmination of a year of hugs and fun…
Hug #52 will happen on Sunday, August 21 at 1 pm central time. We would like you to join us! We need as many huggers as humanly possible! If you reside in Chicago, you can meet us at the Angora Sculpture at Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt. If you live elsewhere, please follow these special instructions:
1. Find a partner
2. Find a time *
3. Find a public space
*an hour or some part of an hour, preferably August 21 from 1-2 pm central time
We invite you to document your hug experience in some way, through photos, writing or video. Then post your documentation to our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/hugproject to share your hug experience with the world!
**if you or someone you know has documentation from a Hug you’ve seen, please share it with us
Please pass this along to others (close or far away) who might want to participate in our HUG!
July 10 12:30-1:30 pm
Washington Square Park, Walton St between Clark & Dearborn (across from the Newberry Library)
Several weeks have passed since this hug. I packed up my belongings and moved to a new home. I danced in front of an audience and cried. I biked many miles. I got sweaty—really really sweaty. I have been running from one commitment to the next, without leaving time for writing or reflection. The hugs have been one of my only opportunities to slow down.
Here is what I remember about Hug #49…
The park feels like a star
or rather a wheel
we embrace near the hub
we hear a bird sound but wait! It’s not a real bird, no, it’s the sound of a bird whistle
dogs, we are surrounded by dogs
a sea of white fluffy coats and high-pitched yelps
no one talks to us
in fact no one even makes eye contact
I am quiet and still
every part of my body in contact with Sara’s body perspires
my front becomes wet
cool breeze on my back
It’s like shivasana standing up
I am slightly anxious
standing here, standing still when I have so much to do
at the same time I don’t want to stop hugging
don’t want to face my life,
empty boxes longing to be filled
and stacks of paper from three years of living
Do I have to touch every one?
I want to hold on
or maybe I could be done with it all in one foul swoop
and just like that, an hour has passed
I journey to a nearby drugstore to use the bathroom
on my return I find Sara
with a new friend,
a man living in the park who recently lost his house
she offers him some food from our picnic
I admire her openness and generosity
we have a hurried picnic
and jump on our bikes
to resume the relentless grind
I ask you. What have our hugs become?
Commitment to each other, it’s a pact. A contract.
I stand by you, you stand by me.
And Why Not? our expectations are lost now that we’ve found our way, or are finding, I should say.
Rooted. Family. This new feeling, she’s my baby on the front looking out, and I see the world in fresh colors and smells, the dream, she returns with a memory telling of future.
Anticipating splatty raindrops
undulating cicadas, hot wind in trees,
Sneeze. Low hum, chirp, silence
Feeling my toes on the grass at sunset.
I long only for the other,
To feel as a part of one.
If you haven’t read Sara’s last blogpost, you should. It’s full of compassion and loving wisdom. She told me that it took a long time to write in part because she wanted to respond to my blogpost about Pride (Hug #47). I cannot remember her exact language, but she told me my post was harsh and upsetting. She said she could not find the hug within the writing, within my description of the experience. At first I was surprised and felt ashamed. One of my first impulses was to publicly rescind my comments and apologize. So I went back and read my post. It is harsh and upsetting, but it does capture my perception of the experience. A perception of which I am not very proud. If you couldn’t tell from my post, I had a hard time at Pride. I felt uncomfortable and agitated by the atmosphere, which is certainly reflected as judgement and negativity in my post. Hmm judgement and negativity. I am working on those things, or trying to at least. The hugs are an opportunity for me to do so; to hold love and compassion for myself (even the unsightly parts of myself) and others. I am grateful to have the opportunity to practice and learn, to fortify the energy I put out in the world. It’s difficult in the city. Things move so quickly and it’s a fight for every inch. I am lucky to have a collaborator who supports my growth and edification; who is slightly older and greatly wiser than I. I am learning all the time about myself, about my own perception and assumptions. This week’s hug was a good example…
July 4, 2011 2-3pm
“You wouldn’t want to be a bad influence.”
Hug #48 happened on July 4 at Navy Pier. It was a hot and sticky day. Even though there were no city-sanctioned fireworks this year, the pier was still packed with people. We received embraces as well as some cold stares while we were stationed at the entrance of the pier. We lasted for about forty minutes in our location when a cop on a segway and what looked like a security guard approached us. “You can’t be doing that here,” the cop said. “You can do whatever you want in your own time but there are kids around. You wouldn’t want to be a bad influence. This is a family-oriented place.” “This is a family-oriented hug,” I replied. The other officer/security guard told us our sign was a safety hazard and we were as well and we would have to move off the private property. I began to argue with them, or question them at least, about the line between private and public property. My heart beat quickly in my chest and I could feel my throat tightening. I was resistant but we did move. Our second location was in the park across the street. I was still worked up. “They are just threatened,” I said to Sara. Internally I condemned all cops and their manipulative, narrow-minded, power-hungry ways. “It will take a different kind of experience to change his mind,” Sara said about the cop, who had informed us his name was Officer W. Just then Officer W rolled up in his segway. I thought he was going to tell us we had to leave again. Instead, he said that he supports gay rights and hopes the proposition passes. We told him we are not gay. Our hug promotes love and physical affection between all kinds of people. “What!?! Well I don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it,” he said in shock. He hovered around us on his Segway. Sara showed him her wedding ring and he continued to be flabbergasted. He laughed at his own assumption and we laughed with him. In the end we had a lovely, eye-opening conversation. He acknowledged his preconception and I realized that not all cops are scum. In fact, Officer W ended up being a pretty nice guy. He told us that he has made a commitment to protect all different kinds of people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and regardless if he agrees with their values. He doesn’t know me, but he would risk his life for me. I can count on that. He just doesn’t like criminals a whole lot, he adds.
Sunday, June 24 1:00-2:00 pm
Broadway and Wellington (@ Pride!)
“Oh. You are so hot.”
For sure not feeling it.
I used to feel it. I don’t even know why I stopped, or what has changed, maybe its just part of getting older. My sexuality no longer defines me, but it did, and I notice the difference.
I watch as others display their sexuality openly, expose themselves, at their best and worst, seeming wholly uninhibited. They let loose in joyous ways, inappropriate ways, explicit ways. They express a rebellion against a certain cardinal culture, and the violent shrill of the parade watchers sounds as an alarm.
Last year 450,000 people attended the Pride Parade. This year, an estimated 750,000. No one was prepared. The parade was re-routed in the middle because the crowd overtook the street. Train stations were mobbed, intersections were overtaken. Record numbers of people celebrating the holiday that is PRIDE in Chicago. 51 tires were slashed in the morning hours before the parade. Another kind of an alarm. Was it a hate crime? We are a culture of reactionaries and rebels, it seems. Where the numbers of supporters double and triple, the hatred can still be witnessed plainly. Where this violence and this hope for change stand together, arm in arm. Because here, we witness a real clashing and real violence still, and alcohol is a knowing accomplice.
Aurora and I persisted as a passive landscape, peacefully embracing. Quiet among the raucous peacocks. The crowd moved their way around us, and I felt again the invisibility I have felt before. Unexpected invisibility. I realize now that our Hug could have been more noticeable if we had been naked, or at least scantily clad. Our Hug is not sexy on this ground, where provocative exhibition is fundamental.
I began to remember other parades, where, painted and costumed, I strutted and hollered. I remembered my youth, and recognized it as my fight, my persistence to increase the visibility of the “different.” It was usually with a smirk, a jabbing remark, or a flirty wink. I remain an advocate for PRIDE and PRIDE goers, knowing the intention is a good one. I leave it to the rest of us to behave in a way that serves to open our minds instead of closing them.
Sunday, June 24 1:00-2:00 pm
Broadway and Wellington (@ Pride!)
“You’re so hot!”
This is the first year I have intentionally attended Chicago Pride. In the past I attended parades in San Diego and New York, but never before Chicago. I was expecting that we would be well-received. I expected we would feel a lot of love among like-minded individuals. I hate to say it, but I was sorely disappointed.
While waiting at Diversey and Damen for Sara, I make some new friends. They bike up to the corner and are overjoyed to see me, although I have never seen them before. Turns out they were supposed to meet a friend, who bears a striking resemblance to me, on that very corner. We have a cozy introduction and realize we have some mutual friends. They too are on their way to Pride. “See you there!” I tell them.
When Sara and I arrive the parade is already in full-swing. The sun blazes strongly overhead and crowds fill the street, plastic cups and beer bottles in hand. We station ourselves directly behind the crowd on Wellington, hoping that we will be seen but not in the way. “Necklaces, beads! Get your necklaces!” a nearby vendor bellows, holding his mardi gras wares above our heads. Depending on my position, I can sometimes see the floats adorned with scantily clad men and women alike, shaking their bodies to music as the crowd cheers them on. From where I stand I see a bunch of people perched on the roof of building watching the parade. One guy with a beer bottle in hand staggers around and waves his fist in the air. I have to turn away for fear that I will see him fall from the rooftop to his death. Very few people seem to notice us and even fewer come up and speak to us, although several people tell us we are “hot.” A teenage girl comes up and silently puts her arms around us and holds on for a while.
A guy pushes his way through the crowd. As he walks away from us I see his ass cheeks are hanging of his pants. A group of girls brace themselves against a building. One bends over and begins to thrust her pelvis in time with the music and the others follow. A groups of guys run up and begin thrusting themselves against the girls. There are empty bottles everywhere.
Later in the day, when the parade dies down, Sara and I hear that there had been several fatal accidents during the parade. Someone was trampled to death and several people fell off floats. I don’t understand how this demonstration supports gay rights. It just seems like an excuse to get belligerently drunk and act ridiculous.
I thought Pride would be a safe and accepting environment, but that was not my experience. Rather, the atmosphere was disturbingly voyeuristic. Are we so repressed that we can only express our sexuality in extremes? Either we are closed tight or we get belligerently drunk and slap peoples’ asses in the street. That’s not my idea of healthy sexual expression. It pains me to say it but I think this will be my first and last Chicago Pride.
June 17, 2011 8:20-9:20 am
Ohio St Beach
Hug Workout #1
Stretch. Begin in child’s pose. Cat, Cow, Spine Wriggle. Downward Dog. Pedal Feet. Twist. Upward Dog. Push up a few times. Exhale forcefully. Inhale deeply. Hang loosely, weight forward, shake head softly side-side, yes-no. Rise vertebrae by vertebrae, tail dropping down, Head drawn up by a thread. Feeling all the corners of the feet.
Embrace the other. Arms rest, hold, receive, squeeze, smooth, imperceptible gentleness. Head rests on the shoulder, the chest, weight forward, into the other while holding, rooted firmly in ground. Grow inside. Feel breath fill the body, and exhale, take in. Notice. Shift weight. Switch sides. Stillness. Respond. Rub. Silence. Smile. Release.
Stretch. Hang torso over legs, weight in the balls of the feet. Shake gently. Roll up, gently. Soft twists to the right and left, swinging arms, tapping chest, tapping lower back with loose fists. Inhale, Exhale.