A lot of important people have departed recently, lost to age and illness, the advice and perspective they could offer gone with them.
I’m left thinking about family: not just the one I’ve inherited, also the one I’ve chosen for myself, and about what kinds of community I could seek and build in the future.
A few years ago, a friend and I conceived a project that never got off the ground: a roving pop-up intergenerational queer ‘castle’. Today, I’m thinking most about the intergenerational element of that, how few friends I have in the queer community aged over 50 today, what needs to be done about that.
Last year, while working as Artist in Residence at Drake Music, I made a piece about ‘listening as a form of activism’ called Dwell Time. In the spirit of this piece, I figured I could easily spend more time listening to older queer voices, and I’d like to share a couple with you now.
I’d love to spend time with musician, Beverley Glenn-Copeland who exudes a wellspring of serenity and cheerfulness despite the stigma he’s faced on his journey as a trans black man, and having been overlooked and misunderstood as an artist for most of his career. He attributes this equanimity to his Buddhist beliefs. I’ve been listening to the track Sunset Village repeatedly over the past few weeks, comforted by his rich, warm voice.
Reflecting on obscurity, he had this to say in a recent interview
“I had ten record companies after me after silence for 50 years. Interesting, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s all about time…There’s a purpose to each life but that purpose is not necessarily revealed immediately…For me, that purpose has only recently been revealed and I can tell you what it is. My purpose – who knew? – was to encourage your generation about the fact that you all are gonna change the world and hopefully are gonna save us.”
I regret that I’ve only recently learned of the pioneering queer film-maker Barbara Hammer who passed away just a couple of years ago. My introduction to her work has been through A Month Of Single Frames (2018) – a collaboration with the artist and filmmaker Lynne Sachs. Barbara donated footage and writing from her residency at a Cape Cod dune shack in the late 90s once she learned she was in the process of dying, an act of intergenerational faith in and of itself.
The unhurried, roaming camera lens; the unspooling thoughts. At one point, she wonders, “Why is it I can’t see nature whole and pure without artifice?” as plumes of cloud swell and dissipate across the sky in fast-motion. It’s one of many shards of honesty and clarity glittering in the East Coast sunlight.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear who you’d invite, and why. Drop me a line.