I spent four hours today in the mandatory graduate pedagogy session. We learned not to humiliate students and that people have visible or invisible identities blah blah blah. Four hours. It ws a beautiful day outside. I could see it through the windows. Some people are planning on going to NYC tommorrow, but I wasn't planning on going. But I probably should . . .
Because it seems like I'm the only dyke grad student in the entire damn school.
People here just aren't very out. I saw somebody wearing a queer awareness day T shirt, but it was a boy. Het people sometimes want to tell me they're ok with gay folks, so they tell me about a lesbian that they met at a confrence once. Great. this doesn't help. But it's better than the people who find out and then stop talking to me. Which has happened at parties here.
Other Grad Student: (more or less out of the blue) But even if you don't beleive in gravity, it still exists.
me: It's a quantifiable phenomenon
OGS: even if you don't believe in Jesus, He still rose from the dead.
Later, with same student
Other Other Grad Student From the Sticks: (after passing some people) It's hard for me to get used to not saying "hi" to people.
me: Then just say hi. It's a small town.
OGS: those weren't the sort of people you say hi to.
OOGSFS: Why not?
OGS: Because they're loitering by a tunnel that smells like urine.
me & OOGSFS: Maybe they want a private place to talk. Hanging out doesn't mean they're bad people and you shouldn't say hi to them
OGS: I'm sure they're lovely people. Let's go say hi to them. Maybe we can have them over for dinner
Did I mention they were also people of color? Is it classism? Is it racism? Is it both? why didn't I remind her that Jesus wants us to love everyone?
with friends like these
So let's say I'm too confrontation-adverse to do anything but let it drop. Let's say that as an isolated queer I'm ok, but if I write "dyke power" in chalk on a campus sidewalk, she purses her lips. Let's say that I really have a massive friend shortage. Let's say that the only evidence that I have that there are other lesbians over 22 in Middletown is that I found a Naiad Press book at the library sale today. Let's say that I'm bummed.
Everytime I see an undergrad with blue hair or a mohawk, I have hair envy. But I'm a grad student. If I come across now as serious and studious, that will be the reputation that I have for the next two years. All the evaluations and grades I get will be colored by the image I present during the first six weeks to first semester I spend here. If I want to go on in academia (which I'm not at all sure about, but it is a possible career path), I'm not sure it would be best if all the perceptions of me were Punky Color Blue.
Famous Composer Anecdote
We had the first Colloqium last week. All the faculty introduced themselves. anthony Braxton gave a little speech wich I wish I had a transcription of. He talked about how these were interesting times and like the 1960's and how he lived in the music house in the 1960s and people not in the music house need to get organized, not just in happy theory, but also in the physical plane. And it's an exciting time because of all the things that people in the music house could do to get active. He's looking forward to getting to know all of us better. He went on. I felt inspired. How can we, as musicians, get active to counter imperialism (and other isms...)?
I'm not sure that all the other grad students were equally inspired, but Angela was, which is good, because she lives in the music house, now known as India House.
So how do we get active now on the physical plane? that means, to me, not just talking about "peace through music" in a happy theory, but actually using music to create a utopian model or as propoganda to communicate the meme of peacefulness. something like Rock for Peace is an obvious answer. Also, one could write peace hymns, like Down by the Riverside, that large groups of people can sing in demonstrations. Activist marching bands, like the BLO, are another answer and one that works well with peace hymns. One could write a choral piece or an opera which featured a struggle against imperialsm (like Joan of Arc, for example). Or, as the latest rounds of state based violence have a definte influence of religious-based hatred (was in Anne Coulter who said that we should invade the entire Middle East and make them all convert to Christianity?), one could strive to create rituals replacing functions currently filled by religious institutuions. Secular funeral services and hymns. Secular naming ("christening") ceremonies. Secular weddings. Secular regular meetings to build community, listen to speakers and sing hymns. the sorts of music one might write for these secular functions may also be good practice if one were later planning on writing an opera.
I have a plan. Now I just need friends and a community.
(Just cuz you believe in Jesus doesn't mean that xtainity isn't a death cult that venerates images of turture and torture implements.)