By Miles Marshall
“Untitled” is an excerpt from Queer Space Invaders Manifesto written and illustrated by Emily Burnham, Mekael Daniel, Miles Marshall, and Halle Schall for Block 7 FG114 Introduction to Queer Studies taught by Dr. Rushaan Kumar. This course aims to use an interdisciplinary approach to wrestle with the changing nature of LGBT and Queer as categories and to develop a critical consciousness on LGBTQ issues that recognizes how gender and sexuality are informed by experiences of race, class, and nationality.
Please join us for a public event featuring Dr. Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, who will deliver her talk titled ““The Color Pynk: Janelle Monáe, Janet Mock, and Black Femme Futures” at 1:30PM on Monday, April 15th, in Tutt Science Lecture Hall.
In this talk, Dr. Tinsley analyzes recent black femme cultural production as a black feminist poetics of survival for the Trump era. A queer gender that self-consciously embodies and subverts cultural standards of femininity, black femme remains undertheorized in contemporary feminist, queer, and critical race discourses where black queer feminine thinkers have been dismissed, Janet Mock notes, as “less serious, colluding with patriarchy, merely using our bodies rather than our brains … pressured to transcend presentation in order to prove our woke-ability.” But in the crisis in U.S. feminism following Donald Trump’s 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton, black femme intellectuals have insisted with increasing urgency that the particularity of our racialized (black), gendered (feminine), and sexual (queer) imaginations offers important vantage points from which to challenge heteropatriarchy. This talk engages black femme-inist imaginations in Janelle Monáe’s music video “PYNK” and Janet Mock’s writing for the television drama Pose (2018) as creative re-scriptings of feminist imaginations of solidarity.
Omise’eke Tinsley is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where she specializes in Black Feminism and Black Queer Studies. She is currently the F.O. Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Harvard University. Dr. Tinsley’s work centers art as a mode of theorizing resistance to anti-blackness, misogynoir, and heteropatriarchy. Her first book Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism Between Women in Caribbean Literature (2010) emphasizes that this mode of creative queer and feminist theorizing has a long, transnational history. Ezili’s Mirrors: Black Queer Genders and the Work of the Imagination (2018), winner of the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2018 Barbara Christian Literary Award, explores spirituality and sexuality in 21st century black cultural production from the Caribbean and African North America. Her latest book, Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism (2018) meditates on the creative possibilities for black queer femininity in the contemporary U.S. South.
By Mekael Daniel
“Touch” is an excerpt from Queer Space Invaders Manifesto written and illustrated by Emily Burnham, Mekael Daniel, Miles Marshall, and Halle Schall for Block 7 FG114 Introduction to Queer Studies taught by Dr. Rushaan Kumar. This course aims to use an interdisciplinary approach to wrestle with the changing nature of LGBT and Queer as categories and to develop a critical consciousness on LGBTQ issues that recognizes how gender and sexuality are informed by experiences of race, class, and nationality.
By Christie Ma
What was Idris’ creative process, I wonder? How was that tampered with, hindered, and enhanced by the space and people available? For instance, a five-person cast where three members played multiple characters, both seemed laborious and efficient, given they were minor characters. This limitation on the growth of character interactions and settings that could take place very much centred the dynamic between Kia and Jimmy Jr. Might this have been a scripted intention, or funding/logistical issues; given that the roles were paid, I wonder how much time and energy both cast and crew put in. As it turns out, their rehearsals had started on January 2nd– meaning the cast and crew had had just over three weeks to memorise lines, rehearse, run tech, and perform!
Very little time for a lot to produce; the set-up of the stage and lights seemed a strategic endeavour. There were different sections illuminated that gave the space a versatility it may not have otherwise had, given its small size. Pulling the ‘garage’ doors back and forth created a more intimate space for scenes – the majority of which broke the fourth wall – to take place on the outside during set/costume changes. Centring the Jimmys’ garage-room was effective too – that is to say, monotonous. Giving off the routine of home life and familiarity each character had with it expanded this garage-room served to highlight how central Jimmy’s growth and focus were (read: on himself) by actually focusing on his home space where he held spatial, racial, you-name-it power.
Throughout the play, the – very white, fairly elderly – audience did not make much noise. The white gaze holds power in silence and there isn’t necessarily anything more to say about it. But the way the characters interacted, how race was spoken about and the tensions that brewed – specific lines – were tactful in writing and tasteful in execution. What I thought was a liberal-rhetoric-targeting, honest-race-conversing sort of production was also one wherein I gleaned guidelines on how linguistic censorship is taught, learned, and exhibited through the creative art of performance. What we seemingly have to play give-and-take with is inevitably complicated especially when politics are explicitly named; and I deeply admire how Idris both brought to light centrist liberal “I’m not racist but-” rhetoric and ensured the audience left happy. Jimmy and Kia were best-friends-forever and somehow non-verbally developed a mutual understandingof what racism was now, no hard feelings. The singing and rapping was confusingly unappealing in all its out-of-tune, bouncey-dancing glory. It was realistic and unbelievable at once.
And also, just for my ego? I knew Kia was gay before she even said it.