April 29, 2011

Do you Tweet? Follow [Name]

[Name], the main character of the play, Tulpa, or Anne&Me, is tweeting as Afrodyke. Talk about life imitating art. Follow her for conversation about movies, comics, books, and other nerdy interests.

April 27, 2011

LGBTQ erasure and the hunt for the elusive Good Black Man (TM)

I don't normally talk about the intersections of race and sexuality that much. It's not for lack of awareness, but all too often, the commentary I make can be abused by people who don't know and/or don't care about the broader context. There are people who have a vested interest in seeing Black people as uniquely sexist, misogynist, and homophobic and would take what I say as ammunition to fire that charge. Being that I am Black and woman and queer, I would be less than thrilled if such a thing were to come about.

Cyberstalking trolls take note.

That said, I'd like to address a really persistent meme that keeps going around about Black women and what we want out of life. It goes like this: every Black woman is desperately searching for Good Black Man (TM) to make her life complete. Everything she is and everything she does is made to snag such a rare and elusive creature. He must (among other things):
  • make good money
  • have good looks
  • be Christian
  • have no Baby Mama Drama
  • love his mother without clinging to her
  • be straight
I'm not knocking anyone for having standards about what they're looking for in a life partner. But there's a stark difference between an individual sharing their desires and the sort of stuff that gets shoved at people as being important to the lives of all Black women. There's nothing wrong with straight Black women who want to start families with straight Black men who share their values and don't come with a lot of extraneous baggage. But when that's the only story that gets circulated? Then we have a problem.

In the case of the hunt for the rare and elusive Good Black Man (TM), it's a problem because the assumptions involved in that conversation cut out pretty much every Black person who is not cisgender and heterosexual. Oh, it's never as blatant as "no homos allowed," but not formally excluding Black LGBTQs is not the same as including Black LGBTQs. Saying, "I don't have a problem with the gay lifestyle" is not the same as inviting us into your space. There's a huge difference between a lack of overt hostility and the presence of welcoming.

Heteronormative assumptions about Black relationships used to not bother me. I used to take the attitude that the conversation was by and for straight Black people, and I didn't begrudge them that. Now it's starting to get to me, and I'm just starting to figure out why.

For a long time I couldn't articulate what irked me so much about it. Reflecting on experiences and conversations I've had about this, it's not merely the erasure of queerness. It's the fact that in order to contribute in these conversations - at least around straight people - I need to mute or dilute my queerness. I have to pretend that my queerness is ultimately a different flavor of heterosexuality. Unfortunately, that's not how I experience it.

Queerness is not just about who we want to fuck. It's also about the visceral relationship we have to gender and the nuances of how attraction and affection work for us while single or in a relationship. I am always queer no matter who I'm with or who I like. Even if I were to settle down with a man, I am still queer because I would relate to him as a man differently from the way straight women relate to men.

How can we have that Gotta Find A Good Black Man (TM) conversation in a way that's queer-inclusive? I honestly don't know. Maybe it starts with broadening our ideas about the relationships we can have with Black men. How about we stop focusing exclusively on romance? Think beyond boyfriends and husbands. What about Black men as fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, mentors, muses, students, peers, and (gasp!) friends?

April 12, 2011

Why I call myself queer

I don't often talk about my sexuality in great detail on my blog. It's not because I'm a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm intensely private about that aspect of myself, at least online. Like many women, I'm reluctant to say too much for fear of attracting the wrong kind of attention. And, to be blunt, my sexuality is one of those areas where I have zero patience or tolerance for other people's ignorant bullshit.

Labels, for instance.

I say queer because that's easier than saying, "I don't want to deal with your pre-/mis- conceptions about who I can fall in love/like/lust with and how that happens for me."

When I saw the Big Reveal in The Crying Game, I didn't get what the big deal was. In fact, I felt bad for Dill because of how Fergus reacted. In fact, I realized I was queer when I realized that a Crying Game moment would not be a dealbreaker in my attraction to someone.

My sexuality does not fit into neat little categories and patterns. I am not gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Pansexual/omnisexual don't fit either, and if bisexuals get a bad rap - well, at least people assume bisexuals are limited to humans. And if I never have to deal with, "Would you sleep with [random person/animal/inanimate object]?" followed by (when I say, "No." or "I don't know."), "But I thought you liked everything." Cue me explaining - again - that I cannot determine who I can love/like/lust based on gender alone. I won't even get into the conversation about pansexal and polyamorous not being the same thing.

So, I call myself queer. Because I don't want to fucking explain. And get this: I don't have to explain. Know why? Because whatever gender and sexuality hangups you have - that's your bullshit. It's only a problem for me because you can't keep it to yourself, which makes life difficult for me.

Seriously, why do you need to know? You want to have sex with me? You know someone I could hook up with? Are you insecure about your relationship to your partner and want to make sure I don't use my African Voodoo Pussy to steal them from you? Is there a Nice Jewish Boy/Girl/Noneoftheabove I should meet because you know we'd rock each other's worlds? No? Then why the fuck is any of this anybody's goddamn business? Again, refer to, "I don't want to deal with deconstructing your bullshit ideas about who I can love/like/fuck."

So, that's why I just say queer.

April 11, 2011


You know when I told you all about Tulpa, or Anne&Me getting a staged reading at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity?

Fate just turned me into a liar. And that's a good thing!

Over the weekend, my co-producer Sara and I found out that Planet Connections has full performance slots available to us. Read that again. Instead of a staged reading, we're moving up to an actual production. The reason why I'm telling you now is because Sara had to sleep on it, and I had to make sure I was awake. You ever have something so big happen to you so quickly that you don't know how to feel about it? That's where I am right now.

As you read on the Flux blog (You do read the Flux blog, right?) and saw on our IndieGoGo campaign, Tulpa is really doing something new both artistically and politically, so we're eager to bring it to life.

But a production also means that we need more money to pay for stuff like a stage manager, designers, tech people, rehearsal space, and set/props and such. We estimate a total cost of about $2,500 to make this production happen, as opposed to the $1,000 necessary for the staged reading.  With an opening performance set for the first week of June, we don't have a lot of time to put that together.

There are 5 days still left on our IndieGoGo campaign, and there is no limit to the amount we can raise.  We set a new goal to raise an additional $1,000 by this Friday to make the production of Tulpa a reality.  It sounds like a lot, but if only 40 people donate just $25, we'll reach our goal. I get that money is tight, but every little bit you do means a whole lot- even if it's just telling a friend (or ten), posting about Tulpa on your blog, or linking to our IndieGoGo campaign via Twitter, Facebook, or what have you. Yes, yes, I know there's a lot of bold in this paragraph, but I can't emphasize this enough.

Dates, times, and venue for the performance TBA.
I can't wait to show you what we can do.

Thanks for your support everyone! This is way beyond what I dared to hope!

April 3, 2011

Tulpa is ALMOST there thanks to YOU!

Everything you've done so far - big favors or small acts of kindness - is the reason why Tulpa, or Anne&Me has come this far. No matter what your role is in this project - artist, audience member, moral support or just a little help in the background - everything you do means a lot. I really appreciate everyone who's had a hand (or finger or toe) in making Tulpa possible.

Because of you, we have less than $150 to go! That's only 6 people donating just $25 each!

If Tulpa, or Anne&Me has touched your life in any way, please let people know by:
  • forwarding this e-mail to friends you think would be interested
  • connecting to RVCBard on Twitter
  • sending your ideas for the next phase of Tulpa, or Anne&Me
  • leaving comments on this blog or at Ars Marginal
  • telling a friend (or 10) about this crazy play you heard about/acted in/directed/contributed to
  • pitching a story or project related to Tulpa, or Anne&Me so we can get the word out
  • coming to the FUNraiser on April 9 so you can meet everyone and have a good time
Working on Tulpa, or Anne&Me has taught me something very important: to challenge my expectations. Most of the people contributing to Tulpa, or Anne&Me have not been artists or activists or academics, but regular people who've read the script or checked out Tulpa's IndieGoGo campaign and said, "Yes, this is what I need to see," or "Finally! Someone who's talking about this like a real person and not a pundit," or "Thank God! Someone understands!"

It cuts across age, income, and race. It gives me a lot of hope to see that the greatest hope for real change comes from everyday people like you.

I appreciate that, and I mean it.