Gay Place

Free your mind, and your ass will follow right over that bridge

CONNECTION Some of the best parts of my real job here at the Chronicle involve bird's-eye, big-picture overviews of the city. As the editor of the paper's annual "Best of Austin" issue, it's important for me to see connectivity as it occurs in our community and in the overlay of so many communities in the larger Venn diagram that is Austin (and for other parts of my job: for Texas or the LGBT). Of course, I can only manage the perspective of one lone pigeon, and sometimes it's tough getting high enough to take in all the cultural topography – the islands, the inlets, the waterways, and the bridges across them. That said, I like to get high. Or at least try – you know, that whole "Free your mind and your ass will follow" thing – to get outside of my ken and my bubble. And I gots bubbles. We all do. Sometimes we are in bubbles we don't even see, built up like so many keloids around our tender parts to protect and defend from elements we've learned to fear. Or hate. Or distrust. Or avoid. Making community is one way to pop a bubble, to learn about disparate ways of seeing and doing. And in Austin, those twitches and flinches of cultural growth break soil all the time. It's part of what makes us so darned forward-moving, -thinking, and -being. Movements like D.I.Y. crafting and costuming that erupted in Austin in the middle of the last decade have exploded into style waves and scenes of their own (see this week's "After a Fashion," p.36, for a vibrant example). Subcommunities within subcultures – for example, drag queens, bears, femmes, people of color, drag kings, older men, etc., umbrella'd under the greater LGBT parapluie – have taken mantles, made them their own, and created worlds for others and allies to visit and enjoy enrichment. Just look at United Court, Lone Star and HOT Bears, Femme Mafia, Queer Sol and Allgo, Kings N Things, and Prime Timers, for some salient, supportable, living, breathing examples. Performance artists like Austin expat Sharon Bridgforth or Little Stolen Moments or Kelly Kline or Stuart Moulton all have their own ways of making and sustaining cultural community. Recently, our own Paul Soileau (aka Rebecca Havemeyer) was flown to Paris (France, not Texas, y'all) to perform as Christeene and bring a bit of the Lone Star's freak scene to the City of Lights. That's some dang community. All this said, however, our dearest path to community remains in public service. The greatest way you can build the bridge before walking across it is to give of yourself. And when you are given the opportunity to walk across that bridge, you bring so much back for yourself. Project Transitions is looking for caregivers for their AIDS hospice right now. They've got a lovely bridge waiting for you. (See Ongoing.)

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austin gay, community, LGBT, lesbian, Paul Soileau, Christeene, Rebecca Havemeyer, Project Transitions

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