In high school, I never imagined finding online spaces boldly embracing the terms “Queer” and “West Virginia”. Despite growing up with two gay aunts and other close queer influences, the things I was told and the things I told myself about who I was and where I came from wrongly left me believing there weren’t any people like me in West Virginia. I believed this until I began discovering the digital queer community.
Trás-Os-Montes is a place with infinite beauty, ancient culture and a lot of character. Known for their generosity and good food, Transmontanos have been forgotten for too long. That was the starting point for us at INDIEROR, a non-profit organization from Chaves, Portugal. We work with the community to develop cultural alternatives in a very isolated and deserted region of the country, in order to give visibility to our town and region.
By chance, I found a guide, and together we encountered a city filled with resilient architecture such as a Cor-Ten steel bridge, dozens of houses on stilts, and 133 miles of reengineered walls that promise to be indestructible.
Meaning: to divide a region into smaller, mutually antagonistic states. That wasn’t the case at the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, held at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. It’s a two day festival of music and more from the Balkan countries, and it is generously inclusive. Hungary (technically not quite Balkan), Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
Color guard (and more properly, winter guard) is a phenomena, an athletic and artistic expression, that takes place mainly in North America but increasingly around the world. Though it began as formations and performances to accompany football games, it has evolved into something wilder, stranger, more creative and beautiful and very much apart from the sports context.
I used to visit downtown L.A. and Chinatown decades ago—it always seemed like a place that had an energy—it is quintessentially L.A., but it has some N.Y. density. Well, finally it’s again getting some of the love it has long been missing.
Through a friend who works there, I was introduced to the Bellevue/NYU Program for torture (PSOT), which is based out of Bellevue hospital here in Manhattan. Besides the obvious medical issues, the organization deals with a host of other needs from their clients—immigration, legal and human rights issues, psychological trauma, employment, housing—all of which are interconnected.
We who are engaged in the humanities—art, music, writing, dancing, architecture—often like to tell ourselves that we are doing some good. I often have my doubts. I doubt that art or a song can change people’s minds, but it seems there is real proof they can change people’s lives in other ways.
I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.
The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.