i used to think i wanted a clean slate.  a new place to start over.  a place where no one knew me and i could recreate myself and my life and what i wanted to do.  well it’s harder than it seems.  it’s a romantic longing for a new life.  i’ve done it once and it’s taken me almost 10 months to find little bits of what i used to have before i left mpls.  now i might be doing it again?

job hunting is scary enough…but job hunting in a place with zero connections and having no idea who anyone or what sort of place it might be is like closing your eyes, pointing a gun at a crowded room and hoping you don’t kill anyone.  what a horrible simile.  anyway it feels sort of like that.  scary that’s for sure.  i don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks but i’m pretty sure it will involve small panic attacks on my part.

oh well. time to grow up and face life i guess.

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When news broke on Monday that Ricky Martin, Puerto Rican superstar, had come out of the closet, a host of finallys, duhs, and anything resembling a judgement flew out of people’s facebook statuses, tweets, and mouths.  Ricky’s words were posted to his website, but I’ll copy and paste below:

“Many people told me: “Ricky it’s not important”, “it’s not worth it”, “all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse”, “many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature”. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

If someone asked me today, “Ricky, what are you afraid of?” I would answer “the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war…child slavery, terrorism…the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith.” But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn’t matter. I can only focus on what’s happening to me in this moment. The word “happiness” takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am. ”

Ricky Martin

I guess my big question is this…why would ANYONE want to come out to such a hostile environment, ESPECIALLY from GLBT people?  Bilerico, a renowned glbt blog published this…I mean.  I can understand to some extent the inability to understand the coming out experience for a person who’s never had to do it or never will.  But for those who’ve been terrified of parents’ reactions, for those who grew up in a deeply religious, conservative neighborhood…who was judging your timing?  I don’t know I guess it just seems upsetting to me that ANY time a person comes out of the closet it isn’t a celebration of personal liberation…i mean one could argue that it’s not really liberation, that coming out of the closet isn’t even that big of a deal…but that’s not what critics of Martin are doing.  They’re saying, “what took so long”?  Well I’ve often said I’m disheartened with the GLBT community (especially the G part) and this does nothing to help.  Let’s just show some compassion and love for someone who obviously dealt with a lot of fear and hatred in his life.

I can hardly keep up with how angry I am starting to get with glbtq politics.  Whether it’s the story of a lesbian student being denied by her school the right to take her girlfriend to prom or it’s the same exact school suspending a student for trying to dress in the opposite gender’s clothing…I just don’t know how much I can take.  All this work is being done by lobbyists and activists to gain things like same-sex marriage, but how is that ending homphobia, transphobia, biphobia?  The idea of “well we understand it, so why don’t they?”  I don’t get… Fear and power operate pretty similarly.

You know how you can be a part of something and feel like there’s something terribly wrong with it?  I am absolutely having a problem, lately, with the “everyone is entitled to their own opinion” debate.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with opinions…they are more or less harmless.  What bothers me is a lack of understanding of truths, or reason, of critical thought.  I mean, i couldn’t just be like…ok i guess i’m going to go kill myself today because tomorrow I’ll wake up…that’s my opinion…NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE ME. So why do we think that some parts of life just contain no truths?  Why are issues such as heteronormativity, racism, ableism, classism, etc. forced to the land of opinions by the people who DO NOT study them?  I would hardly tell a doctor that my opinion on the effects of a quadruple bypass surgery is higher or the same as his…that makes no sense.  Opinions are just that…but informed ones, educated ones, theories…they are something else.

At this point I could never imagine having children.  I would never want them to experience the level of hatred and injustice in the world.  People talk of change, of hope, of “progress”, but really…where are we?

I am doing some research right now for my next dance piece.  I think I’m going to use this music.

Or perhaps this

Or maybe both.  Trying to figure it out now.

I like to think that the things I do matter.  I like to think that I’m operating on some sort of ethical system that allows me to think rationally and make decisions that will effect some sort of change for the better.  About a year ago images and text and a protest started going up around the Barbra Barker Center for Dance at the University of Minnesota.  Colloquially known as the “This” protest, anonymous dance students of Color commented on and critiqued institutionalized racism, white privilege, and issues surrounding casting.  This protest grew to include images of “invisible” bodies and stories ranging from dancers with disabilities to GLBT identified dancers and more.  After an incredibly heated post-University Dance Theatre discussion where I brought up the issue of race and casting particularly in Sarah Stackhouse’s restaging of Jose Limon’s Missa Brevis, the floor was taken by students of Color and white students alike.  Due to the insensitive and what could be read as inadvertently racist way of reacting to such allegations, dance students of Color began said protest.  As the instigator of the conversation I whole-heartedly supported the cause and the protest and tried fervently to further incite the conversation, stop the silencing, and raise new questions around GLBT issues in the building.

Because I don’t really want to recount the entire semester, I will give a link to the timeline provided on the protest’s website, which was used to document everything.  It is important to note that this timeline is infused with thick, critical language which is naturally biased and perhaps too myopic to serve as a sufficient history.  One day I would like to go through and add to the timeline, creating a multiplicitous reading of the happenings.  That day, though, is not today.

The reason I’m writing is because me, along with 2 close friends, removed the protest materials after what we believed to be a shift in the focus of the protest.  Moving away from issues of race and white privilege, the protest became exceedingly about U of M curriculum and faculty abuse of power.  What I find interesting is that nothing on the walls but for the occasional open letter addressed issues of abuse of power.  It’s impossibly easy to locate abuse of power in dance, notably choreographers like Balanchine forcing his dancers to become coke fiended anorexics.  What irked me the most was the spouting of inflammatory accusations toward the dance program’s Faculty of Color, three of which are world-renowned dance scholars who focus on issues of race and dance, without the positionally of referencing oneself.  I understand the threat of claiming a claim that is made to your superiors and in this specific case one of your bosses, but it seems less than ethical to me to put these professors who work diligently to fight racism on the line without properly self-reflecting and pointing out possible biases.

I feel like I’m getting nowhere with this post and all I’m doing is throwing myself back into the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts I was encased in last year.  I still do not regret my decision to take down the materials.  With the help of my 2 friends, we attempted and succeeded to set up two white privilege workshops free of charge for students, which were sadly poorly attended.  It’s hard for me to look back and say that what I did was affective.  It’s harder for me to look at what the protestors did and say it was affective.  True, the Office of Equity and Diversity came in and “worked their magic”, which proved to do nothing but put everyone on the defensive and to serve as a model for “these types of situations” (an actual conversation with a high-up in the OED.)

My question is what has been done?  A majority of the students who were so incredibly invested in this protest and these happenings graduated and have moved on to fight new fights.  What is being said now?  How has this protest affected other schools?  The protest was up during the regional American Collegiate Dance Festival last year and students from across the region witnessed the protest and what were their reactions?  What did they learn?  In one case that I won’t really share on here I found the reaction to be the adverse, pushing people further into racial ignorance and removing any sense of context or effectiveness.

I think what bothers me still is the inability of the protestors to build community.  In their “year later” post that I read today they wrote of growing tired and not being able to do it.  I guess what proves to be the truth is that we cannot fight the fight alone.  We must build allies, inform and educate newcommers to the program.  It cannot be completely up to the faculty and staff do this job.  And if it is up to them, perhaps a student-teacher coalition or alliance needed to be formed with this group to develop strategies.  I am  one hundred percent sure that it’s impossible to create that much change and sustain the fight with just 4 or 5 people.  Energy is required to stay that strong.

I hope that the students at the dance program will truly think about the messages of the protest.  I hope that they will take what has been done and learn and change the system.  It’s practically impossible for me to do anything from here.  I feel really helpless, though.

I hate getting pulled back in to these things.  I think I have to be done talking about this.  I don’t know if I was right anymore.  I can justify it, but I don’t know if it’s really done anything.  I don’t know what will.

Annotated timeline:

http://thisbyus.blogspot.com/2009/02/annotated-timeline-of-dance-program.html

So I’m at a coffee shop right now.  An attempt to break up my day a little and a need for coffee, obviously.  Yesterday we ran out OH NO.  Haha. Anyone who knows me well knows that coffee has become sort of my blood.  I am probably a coffee vampire…i don’t like that scratch it.  They’re playing something that sounds a little bit like the Beatles here.  You know the kind of music that plays at coffee shops that you’re never really sure what it is but you just want it to keep playing so you can drink your coffee and write your blog.   It’s that kind of music.  So yesterday I sent a proposal in to CORD again.  This specific conference is on “Embodying Power: Distance Over Time”.  My issue with this conference is that it’s a joint conference between CORD and a theatre studies thing.  I mean, it’s not that I don’t like theatre studies, but it’s not what I do…and I don’t know about it.  We’ll see I think my abstract was strong and pretty doable.  Here’s to another year of impossible goals and expectations.

I had this idea for a blog while I was sipping my strong Voltaire coffee from Alterra with the music playing the almost Beatles music that I could do something like ‘A gay and his dog’ or something like that.  On Friday we’re getting puppies and GOD KNOWS I will be stressed about that but in a good way.  I just think it would be cute to document me and the puppies and Ra’ and the puppies.  It wouldn’t always be about the dogs, obviously, more about me.  Like this one except with more or less focus on a given day.  I’ll probably just keep doing this one and make some about the dogs.  That’s a more feasible, doable thing.

Speaking of the pups we’re gonna go to Petco today, you know where the pets go?  We have to prepare the place for them.  Puppy pads, dog food, KONG toys, blankets, a doggy bed.  I am so ready to love dogs again.  It’s been hard since Penny died a few years ago for me to open up to an animal like that, but it’s time.  Penny would’ve wanted me to do so (Penny was my dog from 1st grade who had to be put down 3 years ago when she got lots of cancer in her body and couldn’t see or really walk anymore.  She was the best dog a boy could ever have.)  I will make them my family and miss them whenever I go anywhere.    Why is it so much easier to write 500 words in a blog than 250 in an abstract?  I suppose an abstract has goals…this blog clearly doesn’t.

Well with that I am probably going to stop this post.  I look forward to Friday when the babies come home and meet their daddies and fall in love forever and steal our hearts.  Ra’ has already said that I’ll have to be the disciplinarian, so I’m reading up on lots of training tips and watching “It’s you or the dog” like constantly.  Remember when I said I was gonna end this post?   Well it’s not often that  I feel the need to keep writing so I figure I might as well keep going.  (Most people would delete these sentences)  OK now i’m really done.  BAI.

i haven’t written in a while and I really should do better.  I’m slightly terrified of an upcoming proposal I’m trying to write.  It’s due VERY soon and it’s for a plenary session which would mean everyone at the conference would be there. Ha.  I would probably die if I had to give it.  Literally curl up on the floor and die when Susan Foster or Michal Kobialka ask me a question about my use of Foucault.  TERRIFYING.

Anyway,  I need very badly to go on a diet and work out.  I’m not so thrilled with my appearance right now.  Plus I need to stay in shape for when I go back to the dance world.  It’s really not enough to take one class a week and expect that to be my exercise routine.  Starting tomorrow I am doing abs and cardio and perhaps even. dun dun dun…some weight training.  Those words are not my friends.  WEIGHT TRAINING.

Ok my other goal is to start going to bookstores and reading lots of philosophy and critical theory.  I started thinking about essentialism today and how terrible I think it is and I started wondering if I could even spot it anymore.  I mean I could in obvious places, but I’m just scared of becoming less and less sharp.  Is there a way to just freeze my brain so when I want to use it in that capacity again, or even a greater one, that I can just access it all?  NOPE.  So I need to keep that exercised too.

I guess the moral of this post is that I’ve been lax, losing form and letting my brain shut down too much (although I always said I wanted that. ha.)  I had planned this really cool post on the polymorphous, dynamic, and multidimensional thing we call “hate”.  I will have to put that on hold until later, perhaps tomorrow.  Anyway, I’ll leave y’all with an interesting video.

So I’ve been thinking thinking thinking about my next choreographic venture.  I’ve been throwing around concepts in my head for the last few days but nothing has really stuck yet.  My first idea is to use the theme of my ACDF piece from last year, “(Re)place; Place; Dis/place”

My idea here would be to use this 8 minute piece as the third and final act to the evening-lengthed work.  The other two acts would still deal with themes of queer desire but perhaps look at it from different angles, different stories, and different time periods.  I really like this idea because I feel like there is more to be done with my piece.  It’s a KILLER though so I feel like the people who do the other two acts MIGHT not want to be in the 3rd act.  Otherwise, they better get in shape…including myself if I end up doing it…which i’d really rather not.

My other ideas and options revolve around ideas of isolation, death, legacy, and virtual connectivity.  I want to work to add my own theoretical voice to these topics.  I know Sokolow did “Rooms” back in the 50s, but times have changed and with the internet and a world increasingly globalized, vehicles and manifestations of isolation have shifted.  I think it would be a VERY interesting place to go with dancers and spend some time incubating and researching.  Below is a pic of the Limon company doing “Rooms”.  It’s actually Sokolow’s 100th birthday this year so it would be fitting and poignant to revamp such a canonic staple in modern dance.

Photo courtesy of limon.org

My LAST idea is to rework either one or more stories from GLBT literature and give them new significance, and, using metaphors from the story building and evoking new meaning.  My initial ideas for stories are Maurice, The Well of Loneliness, Rubyfruit Jungle, The Price of Salt, and Giovanni’s Room are just a few ideas I have.

I have a long way to go before I figure out what I want to do exactly.  Narrowing down to three things is a good start for me!!

OK time to watch Marley and Me.

I watch quite a few newstype programs in the morning.  CNN, the View, the Today Show.  Watching them this morning you wouldn’t think this is the start of what could be a landmark case in GLBT history.  Most of the news was surrounding Harry Reid’s comment about President Obama’s election.  You can read an article about his apology here through CBS NEWS.  The other big news story was about NBC’s seemingly monumental decision to move former Tonight Show host Jay Leno back to his slot which Conan O’Brian is now filling.  I mean, how INCREDIBLY important, no?  Look, I know we don’t live in a posthomophobic world, but are we SO incredibly invisible?  I’m actually watching Ellen right now.  Ellen, an out public figure who lives in California and has publicly supported GLBT issues in the past, hasn’t even mentioned it.  Maybe I’m just overly anxious about this trial.  My support is 1, this blog, and 2, I’m wearing one of my pride t shirts.  I wish I were in San Francisco right now, though.

As much as I question assimilationist forms of thought, the corporatization of homosexual identities and families, and notions of “everlasting long”, I feel this important of a case should be publicized.  True the Federal Court ruled against television broadcasts, but the proceedings will be put up on youtube after the fact.  I’ll be uploading those videos to this blog so you can easily access them or you can just watch them and subscribe along with me.  I am “pro choice” as far as marriage goes.  I don’t know if anyone’s coined that phrase as far as same sex marriage is concerned.  The legal rights of marriage shouldn’t be denied to people based on sexual orientation or gender.  I don’t think the purpose of this blog is to question gay marriage as much as it is to increase visibility of GLBTQ issues.  I mean..seriously Jay Leno?   That’s one person, maybe 3 with Jimmy Kimmel and Conan, but these Prop 8 proceedings affect millions of people.  It will be an important precedent, unquestionably.  Perhaps the media is responding to the television ban, but they’re hardly even advertising that.

The news stories today surrounding Reid’s comment illustrate firmly that electing a black president does not suddenly project the United States into a postracial world, but at least there is conversation about it.  Nothing can change without discourse, action, public knowledge.

My incitement to action is this:  Talk to your friends, email your moms, your dads, your best friends, your teachers, your students, your coworkers about this trial.  Get everyone following it.  Make those youtube numbers skyrocket.  If you’re in the San Francisco area, go out and get involved with the trial with protests.  Let’s make this public, in the homes of the people who DON’T WANT TO KNOW because it’s too uncomfortable for them.

This case is bound to head to the U. S. Supreme Court but a public interest and following now is sure to put pressure on judges and will increase momentum going into such a trial.  According to CNN this trial has been dubbed the Brown vs. Board of Education of this generation.  I do hope the climactic moments are at least publicized, debated, and discussed in high amounts across the country and the world.  Just DO SOMETHING.  And yes, I know that goes for me too.  I’ll keep trying to do it through art.

OK UPDATE:

The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended the youtube airing for now until they hear the opposition’s arguments. Thanks to the HRC Facebook page and Google News.  This ban is in effect until Wednesday, the 13th.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gUJ7dPcUwbZDnfpObkRJ2AmrrcPg

HRC Facebook Page