Reading/research - Reina Gossett's open letter to Occupy on their trans* exclusion, movements that inspire her, biological sex is not fixed, how gendered pronouns started.
It Wasnae Us exhibition, Ankur pop up performance
Videos - "I have a dream" Martin Luther King, "By any means necessary", "who taught you to hate yourself?"Malcolm X, Huey Newton's stance on intersectionality, Laverne Cox on Loving Transwomen, Now by Audre Lorde
Actions - authentic movement with Bel, trip to Pollok Park
At the beginning of this week I could sense that I needed to centre myself, my intention was to find clarity on my place within my enquiry. Wonderfully, the lab session really allowed me to go in to this intention and when checking in it seemed many of us were in a similar place.
Bel and I did some Authentic movement together, as I had done with Laura the previous week. This time we responded physically to each others' movements, and changed outfits each time it was our turn. From this, I felt empowered, the safe space we had set up made me feel like I was enough. Like it was enough to stand in "feminine " clothing and say I am not woman, or stand in "masculine" clothing and say I am not man.
Bel gave some interesting feedback, she felt that 'Something clicked' when I was moving in my high waisted trousers and shirt. These are the clothes I feel most comfortable in, most affirmed in, so I feel like this tells me something clear about what happens when we go with what instinctively feels right.
It also clarified that although the history of drag and cross-dressing in performance/as entertainment is most certainly part of trans history, I am not looking at drag as becoming something I am not, I'm using it to explore all the things I am. I'm coming from a genderqueer perspective, and although there are cross overs, this specific word and position is the one I am asking people to take in and understand. Or resonate with if this is also their identity. For me, everything is drag. I looked back on a discussion I had had with a trans* friend of mine, when they had talked about being read as they wanted to - I agree, people reading me as I want to be read is a huge part of being able to engage in self-love and acceptance.
Over the weekend I had been to a pop-up production at Central station by Ankur, who had collected some powerful speeches for Black History Month.
I also visited an "exhibition" on Glasgow's role in slavery (it was very small). The information that was there made one thing clear, much of Glasgow, Buchanan Street, GOMA, is built on the tobacco industry. i.e slavery. As I walked from Kelvingrove to the station, those places suddenly felt heavy with history.
On the back of the Ankur event, and in preparation for the lab session, I began looking at various speeches from leaders of liberation movements - past and present (listed above). But, just like the Ankur piece, something was missing. These speeches are obviously inspiring, but they were lacking something raw, something visceral. The speech I have been most shaken by is the Slyvia Rivera speech, to the Christopher Street Liberation (later Pride) crowd. The thing what different about her speech is that it isn't very prepared. The idea of brining in someone else's text didn't feel right, I realised I needed bring in my own.
I brought in a text I actually wrote over the summer, called "An Ode To Rosa Parks". Being asked to sing this loudly across D1 opened something up for me in the text. A real desire to make myself heard. When shouting it over commotion of my class, I felt my voice crack with emotion in the last two lines - my gut connected with the words and I let their power ring true. That end moment is the bit I want to go further in to. The moment I let go.
The next day, I felt very tearful and tender. I decided to take a trip to Pollok park, to change the space I had been working in. I wanted space to think through some questions about my visibility:
- What selves do i feel I've hidden?
- What selves do I feel i'm still hiding?
- What are my abandoned parts?
- How have I been experienced being invisiblised in my life?
- What are my internalised systems of self-hate?
- What shame do I carry?
- How do I express my queer self?
- How do I love myself? - How is self-love a disruption?
- What am I afraid of?
I gave myself a minute to stream of conscious respond to these.
When walking round, I became frustrated with the number of paths that cut through the trees and bushes, and the signs telling me where to go. I looked down one muddy walk-way, but decided to follow the path. As I turned a corner, I realised I was now on the other side of that walk-way. Had I gone down it, I would've ended up in the same place. Why was I so keen to stay on the path? I started to veer off, I climbed trees. As I did I worried about someone seeing me. Someone seeing me interacting in a way that is not "expected". I was worried about increasing my visibility in the park. This gave me a new understanding of my definition of visibility - as being witnessed in going outside of what is expected. Visibility needs a witness.
I also thought about the link between humankind's infiltration of nature and the infiltration of our own bodies. The imposition of a universal system, in order to navigate the unknown. The need to categorise and invade in order to understand.
In asking the questions of myself, and my day at the park, it threw up lots of questions about the work. If i'm looking at visibility of the individual, (rather than couples/acts of love between people), is the work in being outside in the everyday? Or is the work in a performance space, being performatively visible in my art?
That evening, a friend happened to offer some relaxation and massage. I realised how even though my day had space to some extent, I had met the park with a lack of kindness towards myself. I had felt the need to cover all of it, and only stopped twice. I realised where I was, that I had been crying and needing release and that was ok. I needed stillness.
I met Thursday with gentleness. I felt serene. I sat and did nothing. I shared the text I had written in the park with Steven, rather than push myself to "perform". Out chat moved me forward, I found words for what I had become interested in this week. The live moment, being witnessed in transformation. Steven assured me it was fine to be finding it hard to turn all the thoughts in to a piece. I became at ease with the pace I work at and the method.
I found these amazing articles by trans* activist Reina Gossett (which I will put in a separate post), that also gave some clarity on perhaps why I had felt the need to cry. They were about the need for activism to give space for acknowledging that the LGBTQ+ struggle has been a violent one. That there has been loss and silencing. The importance of making space for the dead in our movements, to connect to the living - to be able to move forward.
Just as a person must grieve the loss of a loved one in order to be free, movements must mourn the huge acts of violence that have occurred in order to move forward with love.
My process, making space to fully realise the amount of violence towards LGBT people through-out history, is me mourning, fighting violence with emotions, fighting violence and erasure by creating space to acknowledge the losses.
it's about brining history in to the space.
This is true of all struggles. Forging a "Solidarity between autonomous struggles".
I want to change who feels implicated, who feels part of histories we section off from "the main bit" or the bits we don't think concern us. How can this grief be for everyone? Where's the care and love around a collective grieving? How does mourning the past create a new future? How can I stand in myself in a way that makes this universal? How can my specific knowledge of history relate to someone else's'?
I'm thinking about what I can share on Tuesday that echoes these ideas, but doesn't impose or try to do too much. This is just the first step.
This week I want to turn this anger and passion in to action, by trying some exercises from Guellermo Gomez Pena's excercises for rebel artists. And tasks from the choreographers hand book.