Boundaries in the "family" and performance thoughts/anxieties

I recently attended a movie night of documentaries surrounding the lives of LGBT people in the Caribbean. While a discussion of the films should be left to another venue, I do want to discuss the space here, given the amount of time I spent thinking about boundaries while there.

In Trinidad, the LGBT community is necessarily private, which means loads of constructed boundaries to keep sexuality hidden from those outside of the “family.” This was no surprise to me, and frankly is similarly present in many areas of the States, and particularly obvious at Trinity College, at some times. But I digress, as I was hoping to more specifically touch on the physical as it relates to the social. This location, while named on the Facebook invitation, and website and list-serve, has no specific physical location, beyond the street name. I spent a lot of time searching online for the number, and eventually found it in an old internet archive for an event held there. So already I had encountered the discretion of location.

With this in mind, I wasn’t surprised to see that I would not have been able to pick out the building if I hadn’t found the number online. It was a house like any other, only really distinguished by a few people liming out by the gate. So I timidly asked if this is where the movies are showing, and was answered in the affirmative. I walked down the driveway, and rather than going into the house, I passed through a set of two gates, off set so that you had to zigzag in, and also serving to hide the yard from the street. All these boundaries, to hide and protect, and to camouflage the relatively huge yard area from the rest of the world.

And even once inside, it was dark, with only a few little mood lights to light the yard. So the high, off set gates, normal house as a facade, and the unmarked and locked gates really served to physically mark the social aspect that is apparently necessary to create a safe space for a prosecuted social group.

Also this past week, I had a great conversation with Daniella Carrington about my final project, and more specifically, about the performance aspect.

Talking to a stranger about my ideas required me to really explain what was happening in my head, and brought to light a few points that I hadn’t yet articulated about my connections to my idea, and my relationship to locks and boundaries and security.

I’m more cognizant of locks and walls and barred windows and razor wire, partially due to this project, but primarily because I chaff at the thought of being bound and separated, be it physically and literally, or stereotyped into a certain role, sexuality, race or class group.

In talking about nudity and dancing too, I realized part of why I am invested in nakedness for the project. So often, nakedness is used as a boundary and security for exotic dancers and sex workers, and the act of getting naked is an act devoid of any real sense of revealing the self.

I also really connected with Daniella’s idea that sex is closely tied to you as a person. I whole-heartedly agree with this statement, and also find this to be a reason why I’m very much devoted to the sexual aspects of security and boundary, but also why I’m very nervous about sharing that part of myself beyond a sexual partner, on such a large yet still intimate scale in Alice Yard.

In addition, we spoke about the notion that Trinis have a rather schizophrenic view of sex and sexuality. Carnival is a very sexual time, rife with the physical and social aspects of displaying one’s body and sexuality, all in the abandonment of the public scene of bacchanal. It is this idea that also makes me nervous about putting myself out there, both in being naked, and in the script that I have prepared for my still video compilation.

Will the issues that I raise resound at all, if notions of gender and sexuality that I have are not present in this society to the same degree as my socialization? Will my performance read in a way entirely different that I’m trying to present? Will it be too heavy handed? Will the performance aspect connect in the audience’s mind to the photographs of security measures?

With these questions in mind too, I’ve been thinking about how best to create a space in which I can be part of a discussion on my work. I’m not so sure what will be raised, but that is certainly why I’m interested in providing either some sort of discussion, or comment area. Since I’m still working through all of these things myself, I’d be really interested in hearing how other people react!


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