In 2008, queer anarchists gathered in Chicago to plot a disruption of the electoral spectacle and cohere a network out of emergent youth crews in multiple cities. Fifteen years later, the proposals put forward then — criminality, autonomous self-defense, riots, and orgies — are needed more than ever.
The intervening years have been marked by intensification — of crisis, alienation, loss, and struggle. The right wing no longer hides behind euphemisms: they want to exterminate trans and queer people. The left offers only false solutions: vote, donate, assimilate. A decade of representation, symbolic legal victories, social media activism, and mass-market saturation has left us worse off by all metrics. Our fairweather friends won’t save us from the consequences of their strategy of empty visibility. The inescapable conclusion is that we must come together to protect ourselves.
History confirms the queer legacy of building connection in a world that hates us, the legacy of riotous joy—the legacy of bashing back. The attacks will continue on our nightclubs, forests, story hours, and siblings. To hold on, we need spaces—underground if necessary—to re-encounter each other, spaces to remember, build, share, and conspire.
In this spirit, we are ecstatic to announce the return of the Bash Back convergence!
Fifteen years from the original gathering, Chicago will host the 2023 convergence September 8–11. Comrades, old and new, are invited to discuss what’s still vital in the past and what’s needed in the present. In keeping with tradition, the convergence will include presentations, workshops, distros, parties, and other opportunities to make trouble.