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Checking All the Connections

Intersections of the inside and outside and queerness...

By Julie Gillis, 12:17PM, Wed. Nov. 10, 2010

Checking All the Connections

If you hold a baby goat just right, they make this sound like a purr. It's amazing, mind changing even. I did not know this in all my mumblemumble years, but I know it now. And it's stirring up the pondering pot of my mind about queerness, of being outside, or at times, inside while being outside. Of not being in the "norm" and what that means on a day-to-day basis.

I'll come back to the goats in a moment. Just trust it's all connected. And connectedness is actually the thing I'm pondering through three points of recent history in my life.

First thing: There's me writing here, for the Chronicle's Gay Place, thinking about where, if at all, I fit on the queer continuum, and what exactly queer (here) means. And thinking about the fact that there are people whom I find to be quite queer, but who may very well not see themselves in that particular axis but another one, not called queer but queer nonetheless. And why that matters.

Writing is good, and is pushing my own buttons about where I fit, what I see, how I see it, and why (if it is) important for me to share that view. How I share it. What daily choices I make that give or take privilege, that help or hinder.

Secondly: There's Biography of Physical Sensation, by Rubber Repertory, which I saw a few weeks ago – (click to read review here). Amazing. Powerful. Completely non-linear, non-narrative, non-normative. Challenging, and probably one of the most truthful theatrical experiences I've had in a long time.

The show seemed very queer to me in the way it was shaped, the vision of how the audience was to experience the life in question, the levels of permission the audience gave or refused in bearing a physical witness to a life. It wasn't narrative, so while I learned a great deal about her, I have no idea who she is. That may not make sense, but what I mean was that the experience of being outside and yet inside someone's life was expansive. Literally, we were in a circle, we surrounded her life, we were outside it. And yet she let us in, by telling her stories to Rubber Rep and they performed them to us, on us, in us.

It was intimate, dangerous, a wild breed of theatre, something that could fertilize minds with ideas about how lives work, how they start and stop, and how they are connected to our own, simply, complexly through the sensations we all share.

Finally, I'm pondering (really deeply all of a sudden) a seemingly mundane decision on my family's part, but one which I am finding increasing radical, joining a CSA. I'll be honest, I've spent most of my political time in the LGBT rights arena, so I'm new to the Sustainable Agriculture scene and it's relationship to human (and animal) rights.

My family gets a share of produce from Green Gate Farms. They are 10 minutes or so from downtown, they grow amazing crops, have pigs, goats, and sheep for meat, chickens for eggs, they have camps, events, and big plans for more (they teach classes on processing roosters, for maud's sake).

It's in town, yet it's completely not in town. It's five minutes from my house yet worlds away. It's the antithesis to industrialized farming. It's intimate. It's real. It smells like manure and musk and grass. Hogs play with giant cardboard boxes, there are kids running loose and barefoot. The goats let you pick them up. I held a goat, a few weeks old, and it rested it's head on my neck and made this sound. I do not joke when I say I felt different after that moment, even knowing it was likely bound to become food.

Is that queer? Probably not according to official definition nor am I trying to co-opt definitions, mind you, but the experiences I've mentioned here (writing, the play, the farm) seem out of the norm, not of the canned, domesticated, flavorless experience of how our food or entertainment comes to us. They felt political, wild, challenging. Outside. Connected somehow. Alive.

All this to say:

My mind is tumbling over the new-found awareness that there is always queerness, this connected aliveness (perhaps a more all encompassing term), around us, in us, and it's connected to itself whether it's through the LGBT community, the sustainable slow foods culture, the arts, politics, prison reform, immigration, and more.

The call to be authentic to the self (and to the call itself) is there. The call to be wild, not tamed. To live outside the norm, even when it is hard, even when people judge you, police you, because the systems currently in place to judge and control don't seem to work.

I mean, I'm not happy with them, are you? Who is happy with them?

The intersections and connections are there, and we need to find them and reach out through them – work together in a huge connected way, rather than silo-ing off. Find the ways where urban organic farming, LGBT rights, theatre, and more can get together on the front of some warm and welcome porch and make radical change, together, in how this world works.

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