Does anyone have any tips on negotiating shit around disability/chronic illness/anxiety within affinity groups that kind-of spontaneously form at demos?
Like, I know how to have the talk about ‘I have bad coordination and probably can’t climb barriers unless I have, like, 5-10 minutes to figure out how to scramble over, and since I’m fat you probably won’t be able to pull me up / I don’t like being in the front of the group and I like sticking close and get very anxious sometimes when a march is running against traffic / I have multiple physical issues that mean that I may or may not be able to run for long periods or be away from a bathroom for an extended amount of time and possibly will want to avoid being arrested, and check-ins around this are helpful-bordering-on-necessary’ with people beforehand. I go to a lot of events with people who know these things about me, so it’s not an issue as much as it might be.
But this evening, I found myself in a group with my boyfriend, his sister, and two other people who I hadn’t spent a lot of time with socially before this, both of whom seemed a lot more into, say, jumping barricades and so on. At two different points, I found that they- and my bf- were jumping into things that I didn’t feel comfortable doing for various reasons without much prior consultation. And, like, yeah, I get that that’s a standard part of a lot of people’s participation in unpermitted actions, sometimes you just have to do the thing quick and not think too much about it, but at the same time, it really sucked being forced into this position where I had to either leave the group and go out on my own or do this thing that seemed beyond what I was capable of doing, and I’d really love to know if there’s a graceful way of talking these things over with near-strangers when you’re in the middle of the march.
(I mean, I ended up kind of putting them in a bad situation because I had period shits and didn’t think I could manage marching on the FDR Drive without hitting a bathroom first, and so I cut out of the march, and my boyfriend and his sister decided to go with me, and then these other two people noticed we were hanging back and we had this moment of kind-of confused and sort of stressy negotiation around who was leaving and who was staying, which might have ended up getting them picked up by the cops if it had gone on too long? but I think that’s as much a reflection of the fact that that conversation around what I was capable of and willing to do that night needed to happen, and preferably at a less urgent moment, as anything else…)
obligatory question mark: ?????