The Epitome Of A Stud Revisited: Artangel & Oreet Ashery Present ‘Staying’
Early last year I wrote a blog titled The Epitome Of A Stud. Later that year I received a letter from Satoko Fujishiro from the London-based organization Artangel. They asked to use excerpts from The Epitome Of A Stud to be included in an upcoming publication. A select portion of my writing would be used in conjunction with one of the alter egos in the book who is called Soft Stud.
There was no contemplating anything. Suffice it to say, I said yes because I had absolutely no reason to say no. I researched the organization to familiarize myself with their work and the rest is history. They were working on a project titled Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories. Through art, discussion, monologue, interviews, imagery and doodles hand drawn by the women, we are asked to try to understand a collective journey from oppression. They fled their homes in Africa and the Caribbean after suffering trauma, homophobia and discrimination at the hands of society and family because of their sexual orientation. Homosexuality is considered illegal and punishable by death in some of these countries. All of the women are still seeking or have already been granted asylum in the United Kingdom.
Stayingis a celebration of life, love, fear and perseverance. The alter ego, Soft Stud, seeks to expand not only the terminology, but the way that others envision the heart, mind and soul of the woman behind the word: soft stud. She also discusses sexual experiences and romantic relationships with women and how she’s viewed them both in terms of self-identity and expectations. She expressed that in her role as a stud, there are certain expectations, but there should be none because every single lesbian who identifies as stud or soft stud is unique.
Artangel took a bold step in bringing to light some of the issues that gay and lesbian asylum seekers face in whatever country they seek it. Asylum is often viewed as life or death for many. The threat of violence or worse among international gays and lesbians has made asylum an incredibly viable resource, despite the fact that the process can at times seem never-ending. As recent as 1990, being gay or lesbian was grounds for denying an individual asylum in the United States. That changed with a court decision by former Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994. The ruling set a precedent that says persecution based on sexual orientation can be grounds for person to seek political asylum. It remains a difficult and dangerous journey from start to end no matter where it is sought. What remains is the knowledge that the need for political asylum is still great and can be felt stronger than ever in a day in age where one step forward for gays in the US or UK can mean two steps back for them elsewhere.
I support the individual and collaborative efforts of interactive artists like Oreet Ashery and organizations like Artangel and a slew of others who use their powers for good. I enjoyed the interactive artistic approach. Dramatic storytelling through raw emotion using writing, art and dialogue will remain an art form I hold in high regard.
Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories went live in London on January 20, 2010.
My text appears on page 49, downloadable from the link below;
The link to download ‘workshop notes’ is in this page as part of the introduction of the project by artist Oreet Ashery; http://www.artangel.org.uk//projects/2010/staying/introduction_staying_and_learning/page_1
If you would like to read the printed publication, two PDF files are downloadable from here; http://www.artangel.org.uk/projects/2010/staying