GLORY

In June 2020, a New York Health Department COVID-19 advisory suggested sex through physical barriers, like walls, but did not specifically reference glory holes, as part of broader measures on dating and sex during the pandemic.

About a month later, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control went a step further by suggesting using barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact as one way to lower the risk of exposure to the virus.

In 2018, the Western Australian Museum added a historic glory hole to its collection. The hole had been situated in the toilet stall of the Albany Highway-side of the Gosnells train station, but was removed and saved in 1997 before the toilet was demolished.

As a wall separates the two participants, they have no contact except for a mouth, a penis, and perhaps a hand. Almost total anonymity is maintained as no other attributes are taken into consideration.

On the 19 October XXX0, Camila, a 19-year-old woman, was brutally murdered in Gxxx. Using archives and interviews, we tried to reconstitute and understand what happened.

Camila was a secondary character in the popular series Hic & Nunc, produced by Temporary Democracy. Under the pen name M, two writers started working on a short supplementary episode featuring her exclusively. This short supplement was commissioned by the producers to link together a number of subplots from the main series. At some point, the producers asked M to send a draft for approval to some of the writers of the episodes Camila was tying up together. These writers, G, F and N, were members of the Association for Justice, one of the many institutions that was co-producing Hic & Nunc. We were able to locate them and ask them to retell the story.

G: I remember very well. It was the beginning of October XXX0. The Association for Justice had agreed to co-produce some episodes of this series. The chairpeople of the Association asked us [G, F and N] to write a few episodes. It was problematic for the Association to collaborate on a mainstream production, but it was also an opportunity to let the victims’ voices heard, so we said yes. After a few months of struggle with the people from Temporary Democracy who had no clue what we were fighting for, we thought we had arrived to some sort of compromise. This is when we received a message from two of their writers who were writing under the pen name M. They had drafted some kind of unacceptable, disdainful, not to say insulting draft for this supplementary episode. They were hardly hiding their disdain behind a character no one had heard of in the other episodes, Camila, a 19 year old woman who was making fun of all our struggles, yet pretending to be one of us herself. M was trying to hide their sneaky move by asking us to be tolerant with Camila for her attitude, explaining she was only 19. It was a poor attempt of undermining all the causes we were fighting for.

N: Their message was asking us to ‘send feedback’ on the passages that were referring to our particular episodes. But clearly, we had to comment on the whole thing, it was just too intolerable, though it was clear that M would not be willing to hear us.

G: Out of desperation, I just replied asking them to be really clear about who was the author of all these inappropriate comments: Camila? M? It was very important to us that their names would appear explicitly. They had to be held responsible for these insanities.

F: As you said, M was the combination of two writers, b and m, but we were only speaking with b. He was your typical established oppressor, in the look, the tone, the attitude… But we took it easy. He replied to you, G, on the same day, with a very confident and unctuous hypocrisy, thanking you for your message and your feedback.

G: Yes, he explained again that ‘the opinions expressed are those of the character and should not be confused with the authors’ blah blah blah.

N: Typical mainstream rhetoric. Empty formulas that the power cultivates.

F: He argued that M had been collecting stories and experiences firsthand from actual victims of injustice…

N: Which is called ‘stealing’, by the way.

F: ... and that some of these victims were not necessarily very caring in the way they were recollecting these experiences. Which is, again, empty rhetoric. He argued he had amended some passages following your message, G. And without further explanation, he just swept your demand for the episode to be clearly credited, saying it was important to ‘keep it a secret’ as to whom the actual writers were, letting the fictional character, Camila herself, sign.

N: Mainstream, oppressor and gutless. A perfect, yet expectable combo. I was already pissed off badly by the whole thing, but I remember boiling. Why do these things always happen to us? Seriously? Are we assholes magnets or what?

F: Anyway. We didn’t want to kill the dialogue prematurely, so, this time I patiently wrote a long, didactic message. I said we were of course in favour of using material from real life, except when one has no idea what one’s talking about, especially when writing about victims of injustice. I explained that by doing so, they were just reinforcing an imagery that the persons concerned are fighting against. I made it clear that their episode was filled with such imagery, and that we understood it was on purpose, but that it would give a wrong impression of what our episodes were really about, that is, fighting against such imagery. Obviously, we could not tolerate to be associated with their work. I made it clear that grotesque becomes fabulous when it is carried by people who know the contours of injustice and are shaped by it, which they were not. Camila, who pretended to be one of us, was definitely not representative of our voices, on the contrary. I didn’t want to put it that way, but she was clearly an enemy.

N: b was the fucking enemy.

G: You were very polite considering the circumstances, F. I still remember your expression ‘Camila’s impertinence is not appreciated by everyone’, when really what we meant was ‘no one in their sane mind would tolerate this garbage’. Instead of just abiding by our demand of not being associated with their work, they sent a confused and logorrheic justification. ‘Famous last words’… They pretended they shared our concerns, they pretended all the people who had lived the experiences that they had stolen had ‘agreed’ to them using these experiences, and even that m, the writer we never got to speak to, was an activist and a victim of injustice herself. Of course. It’s was suddenly so convenient for them to claim they were activists and victims. They even argued they didn’t want to sign the episode to not make Camila’s experiences about them. But they were still okay to get paid for writing it, I guess.

F: They gave us the usual ‘it’s important to have contradictory voices’, like this should justify any discourse of oppression. They tried to undermine our participation by saying we were just three writers out of the seven ones involved. They even tried to make it sound benign because their episode was just a supplement that not many people would actually check…

G: At this stage, our chairpeople H and L were in copy of all the messages. F had added them to the discussion, I think. M was asking for their greenlight and their producers’ greenlight to add our disclaimer to their episode. Not even brave enough to make this decision by themselves…

N: Yes, exactly. And this is when I decided to be done with diplomacy. I wasn’t okay with discussing with anyone from a mainstream institution anyway, but I didn’t want to override the decision of the Association for Justice to collaborate with them on this instance. Yet, this was just too much. I wrote a poem, do you remember? I still have it, give me a minute. (N browses through some documents and start reading.) All in capital letters, my friends!

THIS IS THE FINAL VERSION AND YOU WILL NEED TO PAY ME TO DEVELOP, THANK YOU

FUCK YOUR

OPPRESSOR

MAINSTREAM

VIEWS

M,

FUCK YOUR OPPRESSOR MAINSTREAM VIEWS ON

OUR LIVES

THE INJUSTICE WE ARE THE VICTIMS OF

US

YOUR OPPRESSOR MAINSTREAM VIEWS ON

WHO WE ARE

AND AGAINST

OUR REVOLUTION

WALL!

FROM YOUR HIGH MAINSTREAM VIEWPOINT

YOU WILL NEVER

EVER

UNDERSTAND

YOU ARE NOT LEGITIMATE

b

TO USE OUR VOICES

IN ORDER TO SHARE

YOUR FLABBY FANTASIES

AND OUR CRIES FROM THE HEART

O, b

YOU ARE LIKE AN EMPTY INSTRUMENT

THAT DOES NOT DECEIVE

ANYONE

(THIS POEM TOOK ME AN HOUR)

OUR ANGER AND OUR STRUGGLE

THANKS TO YOU

b

BECOME

PURE

POETRY

AND THE DOOR I SLAM

AN ECSTATIC GESTURE

WHICH I TAKE PLEASURE FROM…

...WITHOUT YOU!

ALONE

LIKE A RACING HORSE

I’M FAST AND FURIOUS

AND I HIT

HARD.

(to be continued)