Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project

Gender, Performance, Sexuality

Why do issues of gender and sexuality prove so touchy for so many?  Shouldn’t we be able to delight in, play with, flaunt the norms of these scripted ways in which we behave as good “boys” and “girls?”

This semester, I’m taking a class through the UNC department of Performance Studies called Gender, Performance, Sexuality, which is co-taught by Joseph Megel and Renee Alexander Craft, and if I previously had any questions as to whether these issues are hot, heavy and complex, I have none now.  In just the first three weeks of class, we have explored these issues at such depth and through such pointed and personal lenses that minds are being blown, mine included.

On the first day of class, we interviewed another about an early memory when gender was mapped onto us.  The second day, we performed each other’s stories, and the results were profound to say the least.  The intensity of many of the experiences shared was matched only in the trust and care shown by the class toward one another.  Still, to hear my own story performed me was jarring, and gave me new insight into my own story and my own childhood that I hadn’t realized in its telling.  Throughout the class, even though we had only known each other for six hours, tears were shed and bonds were built.  The agreed-upon safety of the space allowed us to reach ground and touch upon issues that many present had never spoken of with even their family and closest friends.  The beauty of the class, using performance to explore issues of gender and sexuality, is that both gender and sexuality are rooted in the daily, mundane performance of patterns and rituals we often take for granted.  Performing about our genders lets us realize more about the performed nature of our genders.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the class to me is the diversity of the students.  There are queer students, students of color, straight students, gay students, white students, athletes, academics, those who have performed their entire lives and those who have never stepped on a stage.  The different points from which we all jump into this work serves to create a rich, dynamic, and moving mosaic, and I can only look nervously and excitedly forward to where this work will take all of us.

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