The Clearing Creates Space for Ritual and Healing During Anti-HB2 Protest
The Clearing, founded by Transforming Hearts Collective co-leaders, is an emerging spiritual community in Durham, NC, that centers the leadership and needs of queer and trans people of color and focuses on self-love, self-healing, and community healing as radical and revolutionary acts. The Clearing is for people who don’t want or need organized religion but are yearning for community and connection, as well as people who love worship and spiritual community but haven’t felt at home in church for a long time.
In April 2016 the Clearing showed up in love for our communities when opening session began at the North Carolina General Assembly. We knew it would be a big day for trans and queer communities and organizers because it was the first major HB2 repeal effort since the special session that led to the passage of the bill. We also knew that we wanted to create a different kind of space for folks—one that would enable people to get away from the overly politicized, intensely divisive spaces that are often at the heart of protests.
We showed up with quilts and rugs, coloring books, and communion, and got a commitment from Believe Out Loud to supply us with snacks and fruit. We set up on the front lawn right in front of the legislative building, set apart from everything that was going on and in the midst of it, all at the same time, and waited.
Slowly but surely, people began to come. Many folks requested communion and a prayer before going to speak with legislators. Some folks wanted rest. Others wanted to color and talk with friends. We had community singing and a call-and-response moment of commitment and affirmation. People came to get a snack or some water. We had printed up many copies of a collection of inspiring and affirming quotes, and so some people stopped by to take a quote to keep with them because they knew they weren't going to leave when asked and would likely get arrested. One of the local organizers stopped by simply for a hug and a time to be quiet after a proponent of HB2 yelled at her that her mother should have aborted her. The Clearing was so much more than we could have ever anticipated that day, and it gave us the fire we needed to commit to moving it forward.