Queer/Art/Mentorship: Why I Dislike the Term 'Queer Art' But Mentor a Queer Artist Anyway

It is a great honor for me to be participating in the Queer/Art/Mentorship program, instituted by Ira Sachs and Lily Bins, and I look forward to beginning my friendship with Justin Sayre, the gentleman I've been paired with.

I am not a fan of pigeonholing art. I don't like giving it names beyond names that define its time. The labels "gay art" or "queer art" trouble me. They reinforce the notion of "otherness" for art created by queers. Labels de-glorify art. When asked what he thought about gay theater, Charles Ludlam always said that he didn't want to do to theater what people do to people: create artificial boundaries.

Now if only we lived in a fair world. I totally believe what I said above, but I am also aware of the unleveled playing field we play on. I, like so many other queer artists, grew up in fear and isolation. Even with evidence to the contrary, I still thought I was the only queer in the world. A queer mind full of wonderful queer ideas with nobody to talk to about them. I thought I was nuts doing Bette Davis imitations in the bathroom behind closed doors, until I met the folks at the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, who encouraged me and made it possible for what controls the universe to open my closed-off heart.

I think the Queer/Art/Mentorship program has the potential to open more closed-off hearts. I'm not saying that my new friend Justin has a closed-off heart; I don't know him well enough to say that. But since I am not unique, I'm sure we'll have a lot of emotional baggage in common. I can't wait to have tea with him and discuss his wonderful ideas. To encourage him to write a part for me in the play he's writing about 19th- and early-20th-century gay life in New York City. To encourage his joy. To cheer him on. To open our hearts to all people who want to come and see our fabulous art.