Even with the Jays game there was a good turn out for the Naked Heart – Howling Against Assimilation panel. It was held at the City Park Library – the brainchild of Jeff Kirby. It is housed in what was once a huge deserted storage room off the stairwell to the parking garages at City Park. This a brilliant repurposing of space in the co-op. Everything in the space: furniture, books, even the computers have been donated by the community it serves.
entrance to City Park Library
Kirby moderated the panel & opened it up with a discussion of a larger assimilation issue – why has queer lit gone from edgy erotic sex to middle-of-the-road romance over the past decades. I don’t think any of us panellists were prepared for a discussion of contemporary queer literature mind you.
My take was that with gay marriage came a move to play down queer sexuality in favour of traditional heteronormative values. Those queers who have sex outside of relationships are sluts & are not presenting a positive image to the heteronormative world – slut shamming. I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement with me. Peter Kingstone speculated that some of it has to do with the HIV crisis as well.
stairs to parking garage & City Park Library
Peter talked about his various video projects that explore giving voice to various often dismissed people. Part of his ‘assimilation’ & resistance to it springs from his experiences as a sex trade worker, which he regards as ‘ordinary’ but often created a gulf of judgement when he presents creative aspects of himself outside of that context.
Catherine Hernandez talked about the balance of being true to one’s inner spirit & the need to fulfill grant stipulations – to put food on the able without being compromised creatively. Articulate & creative she finds the energy for that balance can be distracting but the projects she is working on are clearly challenge she likes to face.
stairwell mirror selfie
Kaleigh Trace talked her mobility issues – of body sovereignty – how ablists would rather see her as thwarted & unfulfilled by her physical condition as opposed to seeing her as a intact & happy in her own skin woman.
Toward the end of the panel the nature of body sovereignty took stage. Catherine remarked on the trope of the wise person also being the damaged person – they may be ‘fill in the bank’ but they re wise to make up for it. It made me wonder what the reaction would be to, say, a blind asshole?
Peter, Catherine & myself read from our work a piece the reflected in some way the nature of refusing to be assimilated. I trucked out Boyfriend which I’ve posted below. An excellent panel which certainly made up for the Jays losing 🙂
I’m so excited
I have a new boy friend
he’s barely fifteen
years younger than me
did that pause catch you off guard
were you sure I was going to say
he was only fifteen years old
was it hard enough to think of a man
having a boyfriend at all
then add to it the shudder that it was
an innocent emotionally underdeveloped
fifteen year old child
though I can remember me at fifteen
jacking off to visions of rock star cock
Jimi Hendrix Bruce Springsteen
that I wished there in my bed
telling you too much am I
get used to it
I’ve heard enough straight poets go on
sparing no intimate details
about blissful raspberry nipples
moist peach fuzzed mounds
so I’ll talk about man on man action
even if it makes some of you restless
a bit bored a bit threatened
girl on girl would make you more comfortable
I usually try to make the nestling
of men’s bodies into each other
sound sort of sweet and tender
pulling myself away
from the gasp grasp of sweat pubic hair
so I’m excited
about my new boyfriend
though I hate boyfriend
boy carries that too young taint
man friend isn’t close
lover is more complex than it is at this point
bed buddy yeah I like that
I have a new bed buddy
he’s nearly fifteen
years younger than me
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