Queer, Ill, and OK: LGBT show focuses on illness
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
After being diagnosed with HIV two years ago, creative director and artist Joseph Varisco dealt with the news by doing what he loves most: He turned it into art. Starting as an experimental performance project at Links Hall and witnessing a tremendous triumph as a result, he developed the concept into “Queer, Ill, and Okay.”
After six months of assembling, curating and working with a host of artists, “Queer, Ill, and Okay” kicked off a two-night stand at Defibrillator Performing Arts Gallery July 5 in front of an SRO audience of youthful LGBT individuals.
A show focused on illness—mental as well as physical—may sound morbid, but this show was really about coping, struggling, new determinations, and winning over dire circumstances with cheer and attitude. With Varisco moderating, the show was packed with spoken-word performance, music, minute observations, dance and a healthy helping of sincere humor.
Among the performers, poet and rapper Tim’m West addressed the invisible confines of growing up gay and Black while Patrick Gill delivered a monologue on being true to himself while dealing with the crushing threat of an MS diagnosis. Dancer Cruel Valentine’s piece combined dance and eroticism to address her struggle with mental illness while queer theater artist Sara Kerastas' spoken-word piece depicted a family's reaction to a medical emergency arriving at the dinner table.
NIC Kay’s presentation used tape loops, movement and a bucket of ice water to make a valid and searing point while Chris Knowlton used wall drawings to illustrate his ribald adventures in harvesting his sperm in a major hospital. Soon-to-be New York transplant Dirty Grits used wordplay to address faith, the boundaries of class within the LGBT community and sexuality in a winning but blunt fashion. Mary Fons delved into the horror of the physical mechanics of dealing with and being treated for a crippling illness through audio/visual arts, culminating in a celebration of family support and self-love.
why cant the trees the bees the grass be erykah badu
SEARCHING FOR A FLAG
Gay Mart is out
of trans flags
on back order
since pride parade
I ask the owner
can you order more?
his white hair replies
call me in a month
if you haven’t
changed your mind
THE PLURAL, THE BLURRING
After Langston Hughes’ “Theme for English B”
I saw h melt