Being queer and shouting it from the rooftops – Issues of visibility in contemporary dance by Mara Dupasby Mara Dupas
Opinion. “As an emerging artist, I find myself more and more often confronted with the ordeal of biographical writing. Synthesizing, in more or less 150 words, my journey, my artistic approach, the themes that constitute the heart of my research, is a challenge.
Choosing which details to include or omit (especially) appears to me as a formative balancing act. From my cultural background, my sexual orientation, my political preoccupations, what information is the most relevant?
It seems to me to be non-negotiable to include all of my cultural background in this short text. My Martinique roots, my French childhood, my Quebec teenage years, my multicultural artistic vision, as mixed as my face or my accent.”
In the same way, I mention more and more frequently in my biography my belonging to the queer community*, referring to my non-binarity**. I am also often asked why, why this choice to display a “personal” detail in black and white, at least in appearance? Is it really necessary, in 2023, in a progressive context such as the Montreal artistic milieu, to mention one’s sexual orientation, one’s gender identity?
Right now, my answer is yes, yes and yes again. My identity is not a fad, a call for grants, a splash of color on the dreary fresco of Judeo-Christian traditions. It exists, timeless, and putting it into words is one of my favorite ways to inform the public about my creation. My identities constitute the prisms through which my relationship to art and, more essentially, my relationship to the world has been constructed. Whether or not these prisms are part of the themes openly highlighted by a work, they are inseparable from my process of reflection and creation.
It is also, for me, a form of militant action, on a very small scale. Wink to my ancestors. Grimace to the shackles imposed by the society. One more to speak, to be able to access spaces of diffusion, a step forward, in short, while knowing that racism, homophobia, transphobia are evils met in everyday life, and that no right is really acquired to us.
If you think about it, it’s always the same groups that are blamed for being loud, for disturbing the established order, for displaying their difference(s).
I say that one day, perhaps, when my partner and I will walk from one end of the province to the other, hand in hand, without hearing the slightest whistle, without being photographed without our consent, without a stranger inspired by alcohol calling us “niggers”, then I will keep quiet. Then, maybe, I’ll dance for the luxury of doing it, not out of necessity.
Whether he has made his mark or belongs to the new generation, the artist has, in my eyes, the responsibility to speak out on political issues. To educate oneself, to question oneself, to risk being wrong and yet find oneself in the spotlight, is part of the risks (and the charm) of the profession.
*Queer: In the late 1980s, the LGBTQ+ community reclaimed the term queer, which was originally used to refer to gay men in a derogatory way, as a symbol of challenging identity models related to gender and sexual orientation. A queer person emphasizes a holistic view of the individual rather than one that focuses on gender identity or sexual orientation, which are often seen as fluid.
Source : Office québécois de la langue française.
**Non-binarity: Non-binarity represents gender identities other than the exclusive male/female binarity. Non-binary people may feel like neither male nor female, both, or any combination of the two. Non-binary includes identities related to gender fluidity. Non-binary people may identify as trans, depending on their self-identification.
Source : Interligne