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Future Nostalgia



When asked about the future, most peo­ple will skip right to visions of fly­ing cars or cool new gad­gets. But there’s no need to shoot that far. When I think of the future, one idea shines brighter than all the oth­ers: com­mu­ni­ty. The future shaped by com­mu­ni­ty is mul­ti-faceted, cur­rent trends can’t quite deny a soft resur­fac­ing of com­mu­nist ideas, or the strength­en­ing influ­ence of ‘the gay agen­da’ and an ever diver­si­fy­ing pop­u­lace. The truth is, the upris­ing of com­mu­nal process­es and behav­iors are slow­ly phas­ing out the need for gov­ern­ment assis­tance, large­ly fund­ed secu­ri­ty sys­tems, or even child­care. Com­mu­ni­ty is right around the cor­ner, both lit­er­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly, and it draws the strength to ben­e­fit every­one from the par­tic­i­pa­tion of each individual.

If you’re active on social media these days, you’ve prob­a­bly seen an increase in the amount of GoFundMe links or Pay­Pal and CashApp accounts list­ed in user pro­files. Is this a result of more peo­ple need­ing finan­cial help? A new trend? Or do peo­ple sim­ply trust in the aspect of com­mu­ni­ty above gov­ern­ment assis­tance when they need an extra hand? The future is lean­ing toward the lat­ter. As a result of social jus­tice move­ments being more wide­ly-cir­cu­lat­ed on social media, more and more peo­ple are feel­ing com­fort­able rely­ing on an online com­mu­ni­ty to pro­vide them with the help that was pre­vi­ous­ly grant­ed by gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. As we edge toward a com­mu­nal goal of increased self-suf­fi­cien­cy in times of need, we build a stronger sense of community–both online and off–that we can call on for mon­e­tary help, pro­tec­tion and secu­ri­ty, child­care, and advice.

Dur­ing the ear­ly stages of the pan­dem­ic, every­one who was eli­gi­ble for finan­cial sup­port (for exam­ple the Unit­ed States’ stim­u­lus checks, or sim­i­lar ben­e­fit pro­grams in oth­er coun­tries) ben­e­fit­ed from the extra help, whether or not their liveli­hood depend­ed on it. How­ev­er, when the checks stopped being auto­mat­i­cal­ly deposit­ed, many that des­per­ate­ly need­ed them turned to social media. Post­ing GoFundMe or per­son­al dona­tion links is by no means nov­el, but the fre­quen­cy with which they are employed these days is. Online users feel more com­fort­able than ever rely­ing on their curat­ed com­mu­ni­ties for help, and that help is grant­ed. Even if finan­cial sup­port can­not be giv­en direct­ly, vir­tu­al word-of-mouth gets the job done just as well. Retweet­ing and spread­ing these links for the pur­pose of get­ting the cry for help to the ears of some­one with the means to spare is just as ben­e­fi­cial for the orig­i­nal poster. More­over, those who donate do not have to have an excep­tion­al­ly high income in order to make a difference–actually, quite the oppo­site. Par­al­lel to the surge of help need­ed, com­mu­ni­ties are learn­ing to set aside a por­tion of their dis­pos­able income (how­ev­er small) each month in order to give back. The com­mu­ni­ty car­ries the bur­den as a whole, so whether the amount is $1 or $1000, it is a weight lift­ed off of everyone’s shoulders.

This trust placed in com­mu­ni­ty is vis­i­ble as well in who we choose to keep those com­mu­ni­ties safe. With each trag­ic news sto­ry aired and obit­u­ary print­ed, our indif­fer­ence and lack of empa­thy toward those ‘in charge’ grows. We have wit­nessed a rise in aware­ness regard­ing police bru­tal­i­ty against minor­i­ty groups. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is no new theme, we are sim­ply exist­ing in a time where this infor­ma­tion is more acces­si­ble than ever, thanks to smart­phones and social media. It is igno­rant and entire­ly mis­di­rect­ed to expect these com­mu­ni­ties to feel safe in the hands of the same peo­ple respon­si­ble for the injus­tice and abuse they suf­fer. Instead of fun­nelling our resources into skewed legal sys­tems that serve to pro­tect only a select few, we need to purge the abuse that still per­me­ates the sys­tem. For our com­mu­ni­ties to tru­ly feel safe, they need to be pro­tect­ed by their own. Tak­ing a page from the book of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary social­ist par­ty of the 1960’s, the Black Pan­thers, these secu­ri­ty sys­tems are not only in place to offer phys­i­cal pro­tec­tion against vio­lent threats. Safe­ty and sta­bil­i­ty come in many forms, some of which being food dri­ves and lunch pro­grams. Pro­tect­ing the community’s chil­dren from hunger and allow­ing them access to a bar­ri­er-free edu­ca­tion by ensur­ing that sus­te­nance is nev­er a ques­tion is one of many ways secu­ri­ty can be found in our future communities.


Speak­ing of chil­dren, we’ve all heard the African proverb, ‘It takes a vil­lage to raise a child’. R&B singer and queer icon Kehlani is doing just that by copar­ent­ing their daugh­ter, Adeya. This def­i­n­i­tion of com­mu­ni­ty, in the sense of com­mu­nal par­ent­ing and every­one lend­ing a help­ing hand to raise the bright minds of tomor­row, is some­thing we can most def­i­nite­ly expect to see more of in the future. As younger gen­er­a­tions desire less and less to pro­cre­ate, those who do make the deci­sion have leaned toward a less con­ser­v­a­tive par­ent­ing style. Queer and trans fam­i­lies, copar­ent­ing and domes­tic part­ners, sur­ro­gates, and polyamorous par­ents are set­ting new stan­dards for the way we define fam­i­ly. The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber is that biol­o­gy doesn’t make a fam­i­ly, but love and accep­tance most cer­tain­ly do.

Although change may be slow and some­times scary, the future is a lot clos­er than we think. Rather than a rad­i­cal over­haul of the sys­tems that are cur­rent­ly in place, we are slow­ly phas­ing out pro­grams, ide­olo­gies, lifestyles, and behav­iors that no longer serve us. While mak­ing these changes, we are choos­ing every day to fight a rad­i­cal fight, no mat­ter how mun­dane it may seem at the time. We are liv­ing through major his­tor­i­cal changes and each and every one of us has the pow­er and pos­si­bil­i­ty to be a part of those changes. No mat­ter how or where you align with your com­mu­ni­ty, be sure to give back to those around you and watch the mag­ic unfold.