Homo(U?)Topia.BY STEVEN BENSON

Well, Liverpool Homotopia 2012 has finished. I could only get to three events;

1.”The Girl I Left behind me”:this was a re-evocation of nineteenth /early twentieth century music hall/ vaudeville songs, where women dressed as men and sang songs about love. They were, ironically, allowed to sing songs about woman BECAUSE they were dressed as men. Many had lesbian affairs. They gained a strange, contorted kind of acceptance because their same sex desires were COVERT, owing to the crossdressing, which , in this context only, was socially a bit risque but acceptable. It was very moving and poignant, making the political point that these women lived in a terribly homophobic era, where lesbianism was viewed, officially anyway, as non-existant(and gay male acts, after the La Bouchere Amendment, illegal.) This very invisibility was probably another reason they were permitted to get away with this (glass-closet) transvestisism. So this was a deeply political, as well as beautifully sung and presented production(by Opera North).

2.”Council House Movie Star”: this was an anti-heteronormative, performative, camp(thus undermining normativising values even more) and very funny installation by an ageing drag queen, with her dysfunctional family; dysfunctional truly, in ANY sense,they were; but it made the point that the hegemonic/seen as the “norm” social worker had more problems than the Drag Queen:her non-existant  self-esteem, for example!

3.”Twilight of the Idols”, which re-suscitated gay ikons Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, and re-envisionned them through the eyes of, in the latter case,her director,as an old man.

Its very hard to generalize from 3 events but in order of mention above, I would say:

1.”The Girl I Left Behind Me” was a trace(in the Derridean sense); we need to hold onto, and bring into the present,our past(the vaudeville/music halls,and the lesbian necessity to crossdress and to be accepted in any way at all); and to see that as something to build upon in the FUTURE, ie that we must continue to move forward on lgbt rights in this country and in the horrendously oppressive countries where oppressions are still multiple and, sometimes, life-threatening; and also NEVER forget these trailblazing women(and many other lgbt people).So past, present and future towards (Homo){U}topia.

2. “Council House Movie Star”; we have a kind of Adorno-esque “negative dialectics” here. Less positive/forward moving-in a way. Though the “happening” was very successful artistically and creatively(and, indeed, showed up the double standards engendered by the hierarchisation of “normal” family values above anti-hegemonic ones{eg of lgbt/single parent family units}); and so showed the immense hypocrisy of having a very dysfunctional social worker(working for the state)interviewing this quirky family and having power over them, when she herself was in psychological meltdown:-despite all this, it made the point, by default(only) that we need to move BEYOND the negative dialectics of showing what the problems and hypocrisy are, and show a BETTER way of living(which Gale F0rce’s and her family’s-no disrespect:)-was, ultimately,NOT); though, as I have said, it made, beautifully and comically, a very much needed-to-be-made political point. So a very slight move forward towards {Homo}Utopia; but perhaps not as much as “The Girl I Left Behind me”.

3. I am sorry to say-and its only my subjective opinion- that “Twilight of the Idols”, whilst an excellent performance , on ALL levels, including magnificent lights/visual choreography, moved us BACKWARDS in some ways. This is not at all to undermine the emancipatory potential of, especially, Judy Garland, whose death was purported to have led to the 1969 Stonewall Riots: the (woman) diva in struggle against the world. But again a negative, anti-normative dialectic: it was a world of drugs and self-hatred.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

All that said, I probably MISSED other, forward-pointing , towards HomoUtopian events! So , this is not at all a criticism of the Festival or the events I saw(which were all,from an artistic point of view, superb in performance standard); but I am making a POLITICAL/social point. In other words, we need to UTILIZE these very valuable looks  at difficult repressive worlds, acknowledge them fully, or look at those (hetero)normative challenges herein exemplified; but MOVE FORWARD towards something better.

So, how do we do this? I suggest one very significant way of doing this is the founding and perpetuation of communities like the Edward Carpenter Community of gay men(of which I am a longterm member); and the Merseyside lgbt group of which I am a member, which actually LIVE OUT/ACTUALIZE these seemingly (only) {Homo}Utopian dreams. But all credit to Homotopia 2012 for a varied, thought-provoking programming and excellent artistic standards!

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

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