NOT READY TO MAKE NICE. STATEMENT. OPEN GALLERY. MAY 2019.
This show is partially about not getting a job because I’m gay. Allegedly.
Y’all have lawyers I could not afford and no one ever directly told me “You are not hired because you are gay.” But, reflecting on how many times I was asked during my interview what “sacrifices” I’d be willing to make to “uphold the university’s values” + y’all’s reputation with hiring - rather, firing - lesbians, no one had to directly tell me.
But, this show isn’t all about y’all. Sure, I feel similarly in this situation as Natalie Maines did in 2003 - but my experience as a lesbian in the South extends far beyond a single institution.
The neighborhood I live in is still casually and ignorantly referred to as “sketchy”. From what I gather from locals, it’s like Brooklyn before Whole Foods. We don’t have a Whole Foods, but they are renovating the locally known Murder Kroger.
Construction and gentrification are constant. Spaces are popping up every day here that are “safe”. They are safe to the people who refer to my neighborhood as sketchy because safe for them means expensive which means elite which means exclusive and all of those words just mean rich + white + cis + straight.
We have a handful of gay bars here. I feel comfortable going alone to watch local drag and play bingo, but I become a ~*scene*~ when I kiss a woman because it’s a gay bar, not a lesbian bar. Two women kissing is still a shock to the flocks of Bachelorette parties who just came to dance with their GBFF’s.
I’ve been rewatching The L Word and am somehow envious of that bonkers, very out-of-date show. They have The Planet. What I would give to have a sober space for queer women + non-binary and trans folks + femmes. I love a good gay dance floor, a truly cathartic space, but I long to look up from my laptop and instead of seeing seven white dudes surrounding me to see people from my community working. We don’t even have to talk! I just want to be around family in a setting that doesn’t always involve drinking and drugs and being sequestered to the gayborhood. I want to let my guard down for once. In the midst of all the construction, can’t we make a couple spaces that are safe for a variety of people?
So I guess what I’m saying is this work really isn’t about the job at all, it’s about how tired I am of having to be the “bigger person” every day in any space I exist in. Michelle Obama, I love you forever, but going high all of the time is exhausting. Maybe if I ate more of the sweet potatoes you love so much, it would make all of this easier. Being out in the South is activism in and of itself. I’m white and sometimes-straight-passing, but the safety that comes with both of those privileges is ripped away when I hold hands with a woman in public. This year in the South I’ve tried to blend in but then immediately reprimand myself for trying to blend in and pass and then getting so angry that I’m even having to have this internal dialogue at all because I really just want, like, a single femme-inclusive coffee shop so I can feel safe and see people who look like me in the daylight through bright eyes rather than in strobe lights after three whiskey gingers.
I’ve felt restricted and scared more than normal about seeing guns around and I’ve felt love and joy, and community but I guess what I’m really trying to say is I’m not ready to make nice right now because I’m not ready to make this my home.
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” - Natalie Maines, 2003