***As of March 2015, these community agreements are under review by our community! See our blog post for more information.***
These community agreements exist to clarify and frame the expectations of all NOLOSE community members working together to create vibrant fat queer culture and end the oppression of fat people. They have been created by the NOLOSE Board of Directors, based on input and feedback from conference attendees and like-minded organizations.
We encourage and support a space that ceners the voices and experiences of historically underrepresented individuals, where people utilize active listening techniques, take care of their own needs, learn self-identified differences between being unsafe and being uncomfortable, and participate in community with a willingness to challenge personal privilege undefensively.
Based on our core values of accountability, consciousness raising, radical coalition building, compassion, imagination, and strength, these agreements aim to assist in creating a space where authentic relationships can be built, growth can occur, and change on a community, societal, and world level can take root.
NOLOSE conference attendees, presenters, visitors, and board members agree to respect one another’s physical space and bodies, as well as personal belongings, by asking for and receiving explicit consent before physically touching another person or their belongings. (Exception: some attendees may have established relationships and understandings around touch and boundaries with each other, where consent has been granted previously.)
- Any physical touch of a sexual nature that occurs without explicit consent may result in the person who did not receive consent being excluded from the NOLOSE conference for the remainder of the event, and possible exclusion from future NOLOSE events and conferences.
- If consent is requested and not given, the requester must not harass, pressure, or cajole the other person; statements of consent or non-consent are final, unless specifically modified by the person receiving said request.
- If asked for consent around touch, please do your best to assert your needs and boundaries clearly and respectfully. Remember that you are never obligated to grant consent, nor to explain your answer. If you encounter harassment, insistence, or other disregard for your personal boundaries, please leave the situation when possible, and reach out to a NOLOSE Board member for help and support. (You may choose to approach an Active Listening Volunteer or friend/ally if preferred; we do request that at some point, a NOLOSE board member be made aware of the situation so that we can respond appropriately.)
We employ a “move up, move back” strategy in group discussions:
- If you find yourself speaking more than others, leave space for others to speak; this sometimes means allowing for silence.
- If you find yourself remaining silent during a group discussion, consider offering your unique insights and/or questions.
- Notice who’s in the room with you in terms of identity and background, as much as possible; don’t assume commonality or difference, but work at being aware.
- If you notice someone monopolizing a discussion (especially if you are teaching or moderating said discussion), you may choose to point out that you’ve heard a lot from that person, and invite others to offer their thoughts as well.
- If you find yourself needing more space or time to express your thoughts or feelings than is available during a group discussion, please check in with one of our NOLOSE Active Listening Volunteers, who will do their best to provide you with that space privately.
In both group and interpersonal communication, we ask that everyone engage in active, respectful listening. Speaking up among new friends/acquaintances can be challenging for some, and we all deserve complete attention. Some components of active listening:
- When someone else is speaking, refrain from side discussions, whispering, cell phone use of any sort (including texting), and internal distractions as possible.
- Be conscious of how often you’re listening to someone else, as opposed to waiting for your turn and formulating a response.
- Give the benefit of the doubt when possible; if someone has said something with which you disagree, ask clarifying questions to determine what they intended. If there seems to be a disparity between intended meaning and perceived meaning, it can be valuable for the speaker to be made aware of this.
- Speak from the “I” perspective; avoid making assumptions about how others may feel, and respect the integrity of others’ experiences and histories as they share them.
- Cultivate awareness of whose words and contributions are being most recognized and appreciated in the group.
For many NOLOSE attendees, the conference is a time to enjoy flirtatious fun and sexuality. For others, that same flirtation and sexualization may be unwanted and create an uncomfortable and/or unwelcoming environment.
- If you choose to initiate a flirtation (including verbal flirtation, winking, extended eye contact, etc.), know that your attentions may or may not be welcome; be mindful of the other person’s reaction, and if they express clear discomfort or request that you stop, do so immediately and respectfully. Please also bear in mind that physical touch without prior explicit consent is prohibited at NOLOSE (see above).
- If you experience unwanted flirtation at NOLOSE, we invite you to let the other person know, in a respectful manner, that you’re not interested. If, after this assertion, the flirtation persists or becomes harassing, please approach a NOLOSE board member for assistance. (You may choose to approach an Active Listening Volunteer or friend/ally if preferred; we do request that at some point, a NOLOSE board member be made aware of the situation so that we can respond appropriately.)
- Please be aware that at times, our biases and preconceptions may affect how we perceive attention from other people; flirtation and friendliness look different for different people, and these differences can be connected to background, affiliation, identity, and lived experience. We ask that you keep this in mind during your interactions, and we ask that everyone communicate openly, respectfully, and mindfully around instances of flirtation or perceived flirtation.
- For those who seek a flirtation-free environment, we will have “no-flirtation beads” available; please wear these anytime you wish to interact with others in a non-flirtatious way, and feel free to take them off should you change your mind throughout the conference.
Identity and Being an Ally
At NOLOSE, we work to hold space for people of all genders and backgrounds with shared and overlapping ideologies around fat-positivity, queer-positivity, and feminism; with equal importance, we share a commitment to fighting racism, sizeism, colonialism, misogyny, classism, heterosexism, ableism, healthism, ageism, and transphobia. The difficult work of dismantling these overlapping oppressions is integral to our work as a fat-positive, queer organization. We ask that everyone work to be an ally to others at the conference. (Please see “How to be an Ally”: for more information.)
- All genders are welcome at NOLOSE (with the exception of caucuses and specific identity-based workshops, where attendance may be restricted to specific identities/backgrounds; please attend only caucuses or closed workshops where you identify as part of said group).
- In open workshops and other group settings, during the intial introduction go-round, please include an optional statement of preferred gender pronouns. This must be framed explicitly as optional; nobody should ever be required to self-identify at NOLOSE. In addition, avoid making assumptions about other people’s gender identity or anatomy, and refrain from asking people intrusive questions about their anatomy, physical and/or medical history, gender/sexual identity, race, ethnicity, background, class, etc.
- When addressing a group at the conference, avoid using gendered terms such as “ladies,” “guys,” “girls,” etc. “Folks,” “people,” or “y’all”” are always applicable.
- Confront problematic attitudes, behaviors, and statements as you encounter them at the conference. Please don’t wait for the most marginalized or directly impacted person in the room to confront the issue; this is likely something that person deals with on a regular basis, and the vocal support of a great ally can change the dynamic in the room and help create a culture of loving accountability.
- Avoid speaking for someone else’s experience; allow others to speak from their own history and perspective, and listen.
- When you’re facing a problematic attitude, behavior, or statement, remember to “support/confront”: support the person in being a good ally by confronting their behavior honestly, and without ego. We all do this work together, and we all make mistakes.
- If/when you do make a mistake, listen undefensively, and apologize directly and sincerely, without fawning, overexplaining, or demanding feedback/resources from the person with whom you’ve made this mistake. On your own time, or with other allies, seek resources on how you might approach similar situations differently in the future, and attend to any feelings that may have come up around the situation.
Boundaries and Self-Care
- Safety vs. comfort: We believe that some discomfort can be important and productive on an activist level, especially on the part of those who hold various privileges at the conference. We invite all attendees to examine, as individuals, their own feelings of discomfort; are you being challenged into an area of sometimes-painful growth? Or are you genuinely being threatened with spiritual, emotional, and/or physical violence? For many, NOLOSE has never been and will never be a “safe space.” Our priority, rather than creating “safe space,” is to challenge each other supportively, while creating a space free from spiritual, emotional, and physical violence.
- If you find yourself triggered or untenably uncomfortable in a space, you may choose to remove yourself from the space, bring your feelings to the group, or work through these feelings internally. If you do choose to leave the space, we will have NOLOSE Active Listening Volunteers available as needed. We encourage you to take responsibility for your own self-care, and ask for support when you need it. If you notice a need for specific institutional resources or support, please approach a board member so that we can aid you in getting what you need.
Together, we create and uphold an environment of loving accountability. Everyone plays an important role in this, whether through ally work (see above), obtaining consent, or any number of other things. We ask that all attendees advocate for themselves whenever possible, and solicit support from the NOLOSE board when needed.
If a violation of the NOLOSE Behavior Guidelines around consent, touch, flirtation, and/or harassment is reported to have taken place, regardless of the genders of those involved, the following will take place:
- A member(s) of the NOLOSE board will speak with everyone involved, and attempt to determine what has happened.
- The board will work to support and hold accountable involved parties. We wish to ensure the well-being of conference attendees, while helping people change inappropriate behavior toward the end goal of personal and group empowerment. For offenses unrelated to touch or sexuality, we may employ a “three strikes” rule; depending on circumstances, we may also utilize discussion, education, warnings, examples of more appropriate behavior, requests for concrete changes in behavior, etc., up to and including asking a conference participant to leave if we determine that their behavior violates the spirit of the conference.
- If we determine that the guidelines around consent, touch, or flirtation have been breached, we reserve the right to ask the offending person to leave the conference.
- Depending on the nature of the violation and the circumstances, we reserve the right to ban an attendee from future conferences.
I have read and understand the NOLOSE Community Agreements, and will hold myself accountable to them as described above. I acknowledge that if I am in violation of these agreements, I may be asked to take action, which could include changing my behavior, taking part in an accountability process, and/or leaving the conference. I acknowledge that if I am asked to leave the conference for violation of these community agreements, I will not be refunded any payment made to NOLOSE.