Filed under: culture | Tags: Family Research Council, FRC, gender, hate crimes, lgbt, matthew shepard, sexuality, Tony Perkins
In response to Congress passing legislation this week that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual based on that individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the Family Research Council issued this press release:
Washington D.C. – Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement reacting to today’s passage of “Hate Crimes” legislation as attached to the Defense Authorization Bill.
“In a slap to the face of our servicemen and women, they attached ‘hate crimes’ legislation to the final defense bill, forcing Congress to choose between expanding hate crimes or making our military go without. This hate crimes provision is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality. Expanding hate crimes puts America in lock step with the stated agenda of homosexual activists who will turn next to the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act, followed by the repeal of the ban on homosexuality in the military and then the Defense of Marriage Act. We call on President Obama to veto this legislation which violates the principle of equal justice under the law and also infringes on the free speech rights of the American people.”
Beyond the personal and political outrage that this sort of statement provokes, I am constantly offended by the fallacious rational of this organization, one of the most vocal opponents of equality in this country. Perkins posits that this legislation could be used to eventually “silence Christians.” This assumes that the voices of Christians are motivated by bodily violence against homosexuals and gender diversity, which is simply not the case. This legislation extends federal protection to American citizens based on sexual orientation and gender expression. Perkins continually speaks of the effects to which legislation for equality may someday lead rather than commenting on the legislation itself. In this statement, Perkins demonizes this legislation by initially characterizing it as a “slap in the face of our servicemen and women,” following that characterization with foreboding commentary about the silencing of Christians and the marginalization of anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality (the assumption seems to be that it is just fine is homosexuals in this country remain marginalized). Perhaps Perkins resorts to this sort of faulty logic because it is not only absurd but seems fundamentally anti-Christian to oppose legislation that exists for the explicit purpose of protecting individuals from violent crimes. To oppose that explicit purpose is to support an allowance for continued violence. Being unable to make that statement, FRC’s press release redirects attention to a fictional future in which equality and free speech are threatened (once again, ignoring the fact that the law as it stands supports inequality).
This press release is fallacious on several counts.
Firstly, freedom of speech is not threatened by this legislation. It is legislation against crimes of “bodily injury.” And it makes a provision specifically addressing these concerns surrounding freedom of speech:
“FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.”
Secondly, this legislation does not create inequality of justice, it equalizes the treatment of justice. As the law currently stands, under Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, hate crimes committed against individuals based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, or nation of origin are currently considered federal crimes. This legislation amends that existing code by adding to it crimes committed based on actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It is not providing special allowances for a single population of citizens; it is expanding protection that ALREADY EXISTS based on race, color, religion and national origin to include issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
What it comes down to is this: This legislation is increasing equal protection under the law, not creating inequality justice under the law. It does not threaten free expression. What it does do is prohibit violent bodily crimes committed based on perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender expression. These are categories that apply to ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS, not just homosexuals. All individuals possess “actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.” This legislation protects all citizens based on these qualities. It is Perkins and the FRC who conflate “sexual orientation and gender identity” with a homosexual population and agenda. While I would not assume that this organization supports bodily violence against homosexuals, by distorting the general population addressed by the legislation into the specific population of homosexual Americans, and then opposing the legislation, it feels as if Perkins and the FRC are issuing a statement that implies that physical violence against homosexuals is somehow not worth the notice or concern of the nation. Although other sub-populations (those constituted by race, religion, and nationality) are issued federal protection under the law, homosexuals, it seems, should not be. While such a perspective does not necessarily constitute one of violence, it certainly maintains a conceptual space in which violence is more free to occur. This is offensive.
As our nation continues to move towards equality for all citizens, in marriage, in military service, and in protection from violent crimes, it is my hope that statements such as this as well as the discriminatory attitudes and fallacious perspectives that produce such statements will fade quietly into a (shameful) history. That most likely being a fantasy that will remain unfulfilled for quite some time, it is my secondary hope that such public figures and organizations will at the very least address the issues at hand (not imagined future collapses of Western civilization) with accurate data and informed perspectives. It probably will not make their perspective any less offensive, but it might serve to generate a more functional cultural dialogue.
Filed under: art, culture, inspiration | Tags: annie sprinkle, blue wedding, eco-sexuality, ecosexuality, elizabeth stephens, lgbt, love art lab, marriage, queer, same-sex marriage, sexecology, venice
I apologize for my recent absence from my blog. For those of you who do not know, my computer crashed two weeks ago. It was under warranty and so the repairs will be covered, but going through the proper channels always takes time. For now I am borrowing friends’ computers wherever I can. Today I finally feel as if I have time to update my blog.
Last weekend was the Love Art Laboratory (Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens) Blue Wedding in Venice. I so desperately wanted to be in attendence, but financially that was impossible at this time. Today I finally came across images from the wedding, and I wanted to share those images with you. They are my joy today, and I hope they are joy for you as well.
I feel as if there is so much I can say about my perception of this work, and my evolving perspectives on the work of Love Art Lab. As I have written before, I think that their work represents something about inegrated living/loving/making, a conflation of creative practice, politics, ecology, sexology, sex and personal partnership, individual and communal identity, ritual and performance, and so many other elements of what it means to be human. As I experience this wedding vicariously, all of these things come to mind. But more than ever before, either because of the specific perspective of this documentation or because of my own artistic/scholarly concerns at present, I am aware of the politics of body morphologyand performanceand the unique subculture of body identities that I see represented in the documentation.
The images include a series of photos of Natalie Loveless doing a performance piece as part of the celebration that involves microfilament, dye, etc. I find it stunning, and so I have dedicated quite a few photos to it. This specific piece is might be central to the subculture of body morphology that I read through these images. The piece literally uses the body as the site for transformation, literally reshapes and recolors the body of the artist. I find that fascinating.
I think there is also an interesting question of costume . . . and suddenly I feel as if I am touching a new idea (for me). I have a perspective surrounding the body, that of the tension between the “social body” (the body as we present it and as it is perceived interpersonally in society) and the “actual body” (the unique morphology of the individual body). This is only one potential taxonomy for ways of looking at the body, and I think identity is situated somewhere in the midst of these. I am wondering as I look at these images where the concept of “costume” or even “role playing” might enter into this taxonomy. I am thinking of costume or role playing as a chosen social body that deviates from our regular social body, wearing clothes that are different than our regular clothes, make-up or paint that we do not usually don. How might costume enter the discussion of the politics of bodily identity? And what significance/implications (for the individual and the community) might there be in the space created by the Love Art Lab wedding celebrations for diverse body expressions, including costumes and role-playing?
These are scattered speculations that are sparked by these images.
I want to post a bit from the “Artists’ Statement” for this event:
“For our seventh wedding, and in our Blue Year, we will marry the Sea. We are passionately in love with her and desire to take care of her in order to help save her. We are eco-sexuals, meaning that we find nature incredibly romantic, extraordinarily sensual, and an exquisite lover. Additionally, we are “sexecologists,” who combine sexology and ecology, and we intend to make the environmental movement a little sexier.
Why marry the sea in Venice? During the Renaissance, the Doge (chief magistrate) de-
creed that, “Venice must marry the sea as a man marries a women and thus become her Lord.” So each year the Doge would go out on a boat and drop a ring into the water. But can people really Lord over the Sea? What is perfectly clear is that people do have the power to destroy her, and are rapidly doing so. We will follow the tradition of marrying the Sea in Venice — as two women who have moved beyond the dominant-male and submissive-female dynamic, as seductive eco-sexual artists, and as global citizens who care deeply about the welfare of our planet.”
All images are by Mark Snyder via facebook.
Filed under: art, culture, Dance | Tags: abby yager, anne carson, autobiography of red, ballet, bournonville, choreography, dance history, dance_mf, fairy, frederick ashton, gender, harry hay, identity, jane desmond, jonathan bollen, la sylphide, labanotation, lgbt, no manifesto, non-normative, northside tavern, queer, queer kinesthesia, radical fairy, red monster, sexuality, SIP, somatics, the dream, transgender, trio a, yvonne rainer
The spring quarter is almost complete. Two informal showings today, and I will be off into my summer. For a day, at least. Wednesday I start a two-week intensive Labanotation Teacher Certification Course. Which then segues straight into the summer quarter. But the schedule will have bit more breathing room.
Perhaps my largest project this quarter was in my History, Theory, Literature of Choreography course. I decided to do a queer analysis of choreography by Frederick Ashton. Originally it was my intention to analyze two ballets, The Dream and Sylvia, but after in-barking on the analysis of The Dream, I found it so rich in “queer potential” that the emphasis of the research became The Dream alone.
My primary interest in this research was to consider the potential contribution of Frederick Ashton’s choreography to queer culture, or for his choreography’s queer contribution to dance culture. It also came primarily as a response to Jane Desmond’s assertion of the centrality of dance history and queer theory to one another in her book Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexualities On & Off The Stage. She writes:
“. . . to understand dance history and dance practices, we must analyze them in relation to histories of sexualities. Conversely, it suggests that the analysis of dance, as a form of material symbolic bodily practice, should be of critical importance to gay and lesbian studies and the ‘queer theory.’ Until now neither analytical approach has received much attention from dance studies scholars or from those in gay/lesbian studies . . . What happens to the writing of dance history and criticism when issues of sexuality and sexual identity become central? And what happens to our considerations of queer theory and to gay and lesbian studies when a dancing body takes center stage? What do we see that we didn’t see before? What questions do we ask that were heretofore unspeakable, unnameable, or unthinkable? What analytical tools will we need to formulate these questions and to develop provisional answers? In what ways might these initiatives reshape our readings of past histories and give rise to new ones? . . . This claim for the necessary intersection of sexuality studies and dance studies is based on two assertions: first, that issues of sexuality, and especially of non-normative sexuality, are not merely relevant to but play a constitutive and under recognized role in dance history; and second, that dance provides a privileged arena for the bodily enactment of sexuality’s semiotics and should thus be positioned at the center, not the periphery, of sexuality studies.”
These ideas were a central point of departure for this research. When I first became aware of Ashton’s sexuality, I was struck by the fact that his work (like so many other choreographers) is not discussed in relationship to his queer identity. It is not that I was interested in establishing a causal relationship between his autobiography and the content of his choreography, nor even speculating about his intentions for his own work. Instead, having become aware of his queer identity, I was interested in how one might interpret his ballet through a queer lens, and how this interpretation might reveal a relationship to queer culture.
In the paper, I attempt to situate The Dream in relationship to the queer culture, such as the relationship of the term “fairy” in the late 19th century and early-to-mid (to present?) 20th century describing an overtly effeminate man who was assumed to solicit male sexual partners (as opposed to “normal men” who abide by the socially expected behavior of masculinity). I also situate the ballet in relationship to the Radical Fairy movement of the 1970s that evolved out of the social politics of gay activists such as Harry Hay. Besides this “cultural situation” of the subject matter of Ashton’s ballet, the paper is primarily a choreographic analysis, looking at the narrative, character development, relationship of characters to one another, individual movement vocabulary, and use of partnering as it relates to the notion of “queer,” or a subversion of the normative or heteronormative.
While I would love to post the whole paper here, as it represents a significant investment in my own research, I will resist the urge. If you are very interested in this analysis, just let me know and I’ll try to find a way for you to read it.
Another significant portion of research this quarter has been in the are of Labanotation. In addition to pursuing my Elementary Labanotation Certification (almost done), I did the work of reading/learning two pieces of choreography in my Intermediate Labanotation course. We learned from score: Yvonne Rainer’s “Trio A” and three versions of the Sylph’s variation in act II of La Sylphide (the versions were from 1849, 1865, and a version considered current to today). These were in vastly different dancing styles which necessitated different methods for employing the notation system. But more importantly (to me) they addressed a certain kind of hunger in the study of dance history. Too often in studying dance history, our primary points of access are through watching (visual) and reading/lectures (linguistic). Rarely do we have the opportunity to embody seminal dance works from the past. Both of these pieces represent profound periods in the history of dance, La Sylphide representing the Bournonville ballet tradition and the Romantic ballet, “Trio A” representing the 1960’s Judson/post-modern shift in American dance. Not only did we have the opportunity to understand the meaning of these periods in our bodies, but they were made to co-exist within our bodies, disparate styles and periods collapsed into a singular corporeal experience.
I want to briefly describe my experiences of each of these pieces. “Trio A” was surprising in many ways. The first was the extreme complexity of the notation for this piece. “Trio A,” along with most of the work that came out of the Judson group, is considered pedestrian, anti-thetical to traditional theater and concert dance. For me, having read and written about this work, it has always seemed as if it would be simple. The notation revealed that it is not; it is incredibly specific. This quality revealed itself further as we interpreted the notation and learned/practiced the piece. It demanded so much concentration which gave it an almost intense, meditative quality. As it became familiar, it retained this quality of a moving meditation. Some of the directives in the score have to do with evenness of tempo, phrasing, and dynamics. Nothing is to be emphasized, nothing should be given more importance than anything else. And like Rainer’s “NO Manifesto” (below), it is a run-on sentence, nothing repeating, just streaming along in a similar fashion. I feel this quality, the meditativeness, the almost effortless physicality (paired with intense mental focus) infecting the way I approach other movement material as well.
“NO to spectacle no to virtuosity no to transformations and magic and make-believe no to the glamour and transcendence of the star image no to the heroic no to the anti-heroic no to trash imagery no to involvement of performer or spectator no to style no to camp no to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer no to eccentricity no to moving or being moved.”
“Trio A” was meant to embody these ideas. You can see how they translate in Rainer’s performance in the video below:
La Sylphide was more difficult for me. The notation was specific but not as specific as “Trio A.” It made assumptions of certain stylistic understanding. Because my ballet training is not in Bournonville, these assumptions were lost on me. The learning took far more time. The most interesting part of this process was recognizing the relationship of one historical interpretation of the choreography to others, how movements were rearranged, cut, reversed, sped up, or slowed down, etc. It raised questions (that have come up throughout this year) about the nature of choreographic information. If the steps change, what is it that makes each “version” the same ballet? What is the choreography beyond the steps? What is necessary to its integrity? Etc.
I tried to find a video of this variation, but I couldn’t find the exact section on youtube.
One of my most interesting courses was a Somatics survey taught by Abby Yager. The goals for this course were for practicing a deep listening to the body, cultivating a appreciation and understanding of the Self through this awareness of the body, and the development of a personal somatic practice based on one’s sense of one’s own body. This sort of information feeds directly into a central research interest of mine, the relationship of the body to identity, the embodied nature of existence and experience, and the relationship of a dance practice to the development (or choreography) of identity. I am interested in how these investigations might synthesize in my creative practice and choreography, how choreography might come out of this kind of self awareness, or how I might consciously consider the practice of choreography as a shaping of individual identity through its engagement of the body. In a larger scope, I am interested how individual identity comes out of the way we “choreograph” ourselves, how our conscious and subconscious choices of the ways we handle ourselves physically come to define us for ourselves and others. I am interested in how a cultivated awareness or “deep listening” of the body might contribute to this choreography of identity. The modalities explored in this course (Qi’Gong, Alexander technique, Yoga, Trager, experiential anatomy, Klein technique, etc.) have offered me a wide range of approaches to this sort of research.
This quarter I also produced a solo-in-progress entitled “Red Monster.” It was partially inspired by Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, and evolved (for me) as an investigation of the ways in which shame and desire transform us (me) into monsters. I just posted a video of this piece on youtube. I don’t think it is an ideal performance (15 May 2009, as part of SIP, the first year dance MFA’s informal showing), for many reasons, but it does offer a look at what I have been exploring choreographically. I may continue to work on this piece. I’ll keep you posted on its evolution.
Here at the end of the quarter I also made several trips to Cincinnati where my twin brother lives. These trips were mostly about seeing art, but this past weekend I attended an event called Dance_MF, which was essentially a huge late-night dance party at Northside Tavern. It is a monthly event, and this was my first time there. It brought several things to mind. The first was a fairly simple observation, something that I have observed before in “dance floor” situations: individuals are far more likely to dance around one another or even in reference to one another than they are to actually dance with another person, by which I mean share any sort of physical contact. It’s always struck me as a disparity, that a social situation primarily characterized by its intense physicality is more based on a visual engagement than one of connected physicality. This is indicative of a larger social disparity with which I’ve been discontented for some time: despite the fact that we are embodied, corporeal creatures, our engagement with one another or knowledge of one another as human beings is more based on our visual interpretations of one another than our actual physical engagement. This strikes me as odd, in culture at large, but especially on a dance floor. I wonder if this awareness has emerged from my dance/choreographic life. To consider a three-to-four hour dance “composition” or “improvisation” in which the participants rarely touch one another feels either boring, ill-crafted, or a very specific social statement. What happens when we engage with life as art, social behavior as composition? How might “society” become a comment on society within the confines of the dance floor?
It also made me think of Jonathan Bollen’s article “Queer Kinesthesia: Performativity on the Dance Floor” (a portion of which can be read here). I’ll try to summarize this article sometime soon.
Another curious effect of this event was an awareness of myself as a “transgender presence.” I decided to wear a dress to the dance (an evolution of wearing skirts and heels and other traditionally female articles of clothing and accessories), not in an attempt to be female, but as an interpretation/expression/expansion of masculinity/my own identity as not being relegated to the narrow expression of identity traditionally associated with masculinity and maleness. At some point during the evening, I became aware of how much the population on the dance floor respected the gender binary. I do not identify as transgender, but in my transgression of traditional male expression, I became a kind of symbol of transgender. Which was an interesting dynamic on a dance floor, not to mention an interesting evolution in my perception of self.
And that’s my reflection on the spring quarter.
Filed under: culture | Tags: don't ask don't tell, HIV/AIDS, lgbt, obama, same-sex adoption, same-sex marriage, sexuality, stonewall
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.
LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.
Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.
My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.
These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
Filed under: culture | Tags: Anderson Cooper, california, Family Research Council, FRC, frederick ashton, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Iowa, Joe Solmonese, lgbt, marriage, new york times, nijinska, prop. 8, queer, same-sex marriage, sexuality, Tony Perkins
Today the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Proposition 8 in the state of California. From the New York Times (link above):
“Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
“Justice George wrote that Proposition 8 did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the right to such a protected relationship, but argued that it “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.””
This makes me crazy. It offends me that this is the perspective of the law being upheld in the country in which I live. While it is true that the state of California does allow same-sex civil unions that offer equal legal protection under the law (along with four other states and the District of Columbia; see HRC’s website for the full info on same-sex marriage rights in the United States), civil unions are issued by and recognized BY THE STATE, whereas the legal status of “marriage”, while issued by the state, is recognized by the Federal Government, a recognition that is accompanied by more than 1,100 federal rights, benefits, and privileges. What I cannot wrap my head around is how a state supreme court can offer “equal state rights by another name” as the illusion of true equality. Nor can I understand to any degree how a federal government that currently supports this inequality is doing nothing in this or similar situations.
Then I recall that there are powerful voices in our nation advocating against equality. I hate that I came across this commentary on Anderson Cooper 360 today. I hate that things like this are being said.
Tony Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council. Here is the Family Research Council’s official press release on today supreme court ruling in California:
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2009
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Maria Donovan, (866) FRC-NEWS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today praised the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold democracy and reject efforts to strip the right of the people to amend the state’s Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
“Over one million Californians signed petitions to place Proposition 8 on the ballot and over seven million voters approved the measure on Election Day. California’s Constitution gives its citizens the right of self-governance and we are pleased that the court resisted demands to strip the right of the people to amend the state constitution. Even this widely-recognized liberal court understands that overturning Proposition 8 would represent a repudiation of the state Constitution it is sworn to uphold.
“Unfortunately, the Court chose to ignore the plain meaning of Proposition 8 and will force state recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses issued last year. The Court’s recognition of these ‘marriages’ clearly seeds the ground for a possible legal battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“At every opportunity, the people of California have voted to protect marriage because they recognize the far reaching consequences that redefining marriage will have for children, the family, religious liberties, businesses and every facet of American society. Today’s decision should encourage pro-family activists not only in California but across the country. Marriage redefinition is not inevitable unless advocates of the family stand aside and allow it to happen.”
– 30 –
I am offended to read praise for empowering a population to impose inequality in a nation that was supposedly founded on equal rights for all citizens. I am offended that this issue is touted as an issue of faith, family values, or semantics rather than one of civil rights. I am offended that heterosexual marriage is elevated as somehow sacred simply on the basis of it being between a man and a woman, no matter its content, no matter its foundation or integrity. I am offended that the re-definition of the legal status of marriage to recognize same-sex marriages is discussed as anti-family and the end of civilization as we know it, as if marriage has not been understood and re-defined culturally throughout history. The Family Research Council made similar statements in April after Iowa moved to recognize same-sex marriage under the law.
The court decision is discussed with language such as “forcing same-sex marriage on an unwilling populous,” as if the decision to recognize equal rights for same-sex couples means that the population of Iowa at large will be subjected to non-consensual homosexual unions. It offends me that same-sex marriage is discussed as the gateway to polygamy and marriages between adults and minors, as if the one logically leads to the next. It offends me that the contemporary American definition of marriage is touted as the icon of “5000 years of human behavior,” as if past centuries in cultures around the globe have not recognized all sorts of variations not only on the formal composition of a marriage, but also the meaning which the culture gave to it.
Earlier this year, I wrote a letter to the FRC responding line by line to their official statement on homosexuality. At the time I did not feel it necessary to make my statement/response public, but today as events such as the California Supreme Court decision continue to unfold, and as organizations such as FRC continue to proliferate statements of their views into arenas of public discourse, I felt the need to make my statements more public as well. It can be viewed here.
At the same time, I am encouraged that their are public advocates for equality to continue to be just as vocal as the FRC. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement today:
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the California Supreme Court’s split 6-1 decision today ruling that Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, is valid. As a result of the court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton, California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage rights for same-sex couples. As same-sex couples and allies from across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online, YouTube video set to the song “I Won’t Back Down”: www.HRC.org/California.
“Today’s ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality. The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex couples out of basic constitutional protections,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback. There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation’s largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.”
One significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT equality. The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC’s Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as HRC’s National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California.
“This ruling couldn’t be more out of step with what’s happening across the country,” said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. “We have no choice but to return this basic question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back to the voters.”
“While we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8 vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the sting of this ruling,” added Solmonese.
Over the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples has changed dramatically. For the first time, more Americans say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it (46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in late April.”
Below is the video referenced in the body of HRC’s statement. If nothing else, it inspires me to hope.
I am sure there are some who might read this and wonder what relevance it has to me creative activity or work as a dance artist/scholar. The shortest answer is that it is all connected. As I make work, as I consider the body and its social relevance, I am brought face to face with the society in which I am creating, in which I am living. As I consider the subjects of my research, I consider the research and analysis and writing that has not been done, that has not been explored by dance scholars. This was the fuel for my recent presentation on the negotiation of gender in the work of Bronislava Nijinska. I am currently exploring the potential for analyzing the work of Frederick Ashton through a queer lens. Ashton was a homosexual choreographer, and yet his work has rarely been considered for its potential as a contributor to queer culture or a queer contribution to dance culture. It all relates, it all synthesizes, and part of the purpose of this blog is for these ideas and interests from seemingly disparate parts of living and making to co-exist in this space, to find relationships and offer new points of interest in the process. If this particular post seems too political or too removed from art/dance/creative activity, I encourage you to reconsider it as a component of the making, of the thinking that leads to the making, of the living which fuels and influences and shapes the making. I encourage you to follow a trail of “tags” and see how ideas start to relate, maybe in ways that they didn’t before.
I was amazed by this advertisement for Banco Provincia (brought to me by babeland.com):