16 January 2010

On Home, Queers in Art and What Goes Unsaid



In case you were wondering where I have been, I went home for a post-holiday visit with my family. I grew up in rural Montana. In fact, the picture above was taken a little more than a mile from my parents' home.

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Although I am out to my family members, it isn't something that I talk at length about with my extended family. My clan runs the gambit for political and religious convictions, but we all can agree to be polite. My partner of seven years comes to the major family functions and is welcome. One thing that I admire about Montana residents in general is their ability to be polite and to mind their own business. Montana is conservative. It is a red state, but it is also very libertarian. Medical marijuana is legal, it looks as if they are following in the footsteps of Oregon and Washington for physician assisted suicide. Most people will let you be if you don't push things.

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On the other hand, holding hands on the street with my partner would be considered "pushing my agenda" to many. This highlights my love/hate relationship with my home state.

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On the other hand, an art gallery opened in my hometown of 2500 people and there was an artists reception for the very talented pastel artist Bobbi McKibbin. Some of her atwork can be found here: http://www.olsonlarsen.com/artists.cfm?artist_id=698&cmd=display McKibbin also happens to be transgendered. Queer visibility is on the rise no matter where you are in America. Perhaps even better is that a transgendered artist can display her work in a rural Montana town and be treated cordially by the gallery attendees. Fifteen years ago, there were no visibly queer people in my hometown.

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Out of sight is out of mind. That is how someone can say, "There are no gay people in City X."

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It is a hard balance for me when visiting home. Friends and acquaintances of my family know that I am a writer and will ask me how my writing career is going. I always find it odd to be asked about poetry by strangers. For me, I rarely if ever volunteer the information that I am a poet. My relationship to language is a personal one that I am working out on the page.

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The above statement is not actually true because I am blogging about my poetry and where it can be found for perfect strangers.

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I always wonder how many people who ask me about my writing actually look me up online. Anyone who Google's me knows that I am gay and that some of my work centers on my experience as a gay man. I joked with my mother the other day that I should put a disclaimer on my blog, "Oh, I am not gay I just like to support those people and their work." Sadly, I think that some people would rather believe that than reconcile that someone they know can appear to be normal and gay.

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The geography where I grew up makes me both happy and sad. I delight in the landscape and despair for the people. I am working it all out on the page.

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