A List of Questions

These questions arose from re-examining my research proposal and they are a gateway into exploring some of the ideas and terminology in somewhat greater depth. I notice that a simple examination of the question on the surface often reveals other, more relevant, questions underneath ... 
Does Queerness exist everywhere and in all times?

There is no reason to believe it doesn’t, and hasn’t, or won’t. Of course, Queerness is not one thing and it does not manifest in the same way in different contexts. However, evidence would seem to suggest that the complex phenomena that lead to a state that we currently call Queerness, is a universal in all human societies at all times. Though, of course, we can’t know this. How could we? There is also reason to believe that if Queerness, and the phenomena that lead to the state we currently call Queerness, could be stamped out, bred out, tortured out, persuaded out, threatened out, etc, then they would have been already. The Enemy has been trying very hard to do this for a very long time. They continue to try very hard. It is, I suppose, conceivable that The Enemy will work out a way to eradicate Queerness in the future — but I doubt it. Queerness (adjusted of course for terminology and context) appears to arise in all places at all times.

Are there places a Queer person cannot safely go without (attempting to) hide their Queerness?

Yes, of course there are. There are places where Queerness is punishable through legal means, for example. A very few places prohibit the entry of Queer identified people into the territory. It is more common, however, that the letter of the law states that acts of Queer sex, or acts intended to lead to Queer sex, or the promotion of ‘non-traditional lifestyles’ are punishable. Of course, this means that the spirit of the law prohibits any expression of Queerness itself. It is also pertinent to ask if it ever safe for a Queer person to go somewhere where they face punishment if they express themselves sexually. In these places, even the Queer person not engaged in sexual acts will be under suspicion, observation, and stress. There are many more places where Queerness is punishable socially. This may come in the form of lynching, violence, ridicule, ostracisation, economic marginalisation, and more. In these instances, it is the Queerness itself that is the thing that is punished and there is no burden whatsoever on the state or the perpetrators of the violence to provide evidence of engagement in a prohibited sexual act. So in these places, not only must the Queer person avoid any act of discoverable sexual expression, they must also hide any acts of perceivable Queer social expression. Considerable stress may be experienced in these places even if violence never materialises. Is this safe? Perhaps I should also think about the verb I am using here. ‘Go’ implies someone from the outside travelling into a place, and therefore brings with it the power dynamic of tourism or travel and the relative ability of people to cross borders. However, ‘go’ can be substituted with ‘be’ or ‘exist’ and more or less all the same arguments may apply — though there are territories that turn blind eyes to Queer identifying tourists, and even foreign residents, while routinely persecuting local Queers. Of course, Queer people live and have sex in all these places, and many do not have the option of leaving. They are not safe either. If a person cannot ‘be’ somewhere safely in all the expressions of themselves, they cannot ‘go’ there safely either, though the risks might vary for the two groups. Actually, I think it might be quicker to answer the question: Are there places a Queer person can safely go?

Can a Queer person step into the places they cannot safely ‘go’ to by imagining Queer versions of them? How?

Yes and no. ‘Step into’ is the key point here. If we are talking about physically going
to a place, then of course not. However, if ‘stepping into’ a place can have a looser meaning, then yes. So the real question here is what does it mean to meaningfully step into a place in a way that doesn’t 1) involve physically going there, and 2) doesn’t stretch the semantics of ‘step into’ beyond recognition or plausibility? This is simply something I am going to have to try. I think it will involve creating a very detailed imagination of a place with its Queerness on the surface and expressed which essentially is what the whole of this project is about. I can imagine there are two main ways: 1) Quantum realities, 2) Fictionalised elsewhens. 

Is it possible for a Queer person to express attraction to and fascination for a place that is dangerous to them? How?

Yes, but to what extent? I used to sing in a Georgian choir and I loved it. I loved the music, the language, the connection to the land and the culture. When I found out how Queerphobic Georgia was (and continues to be, though there are positive developments in the country, above all in terms of public opinion), I slowly but surely stopped loving it until there was no love left. When I was a university student, I was fascinated by Iran and the Persian language. I fell out of love with that too, when I realised how life would be there as a Queer person. Though in this case, residual love remains. Of course, I am talking in terms of me as a Queer person, rather than all Queer people, so am I even answering the question? I remain fascinated by the Caucasus — hence this project — and its languages, but it’s a qualified fascination. There is part of it that is ‘on hold’ and provisional. There is part of it that is held back, subject to limitation and proviso. I cannot give myself to it. I cannot give in to it.

How would my Great Grandfather feel about my Queerness?

Really, I cannot know. Of course I can’t. Even if there were people still living who knew him (there aren’t), how likely is it that they would have known about his feelings about Queerness? And how likely is it that he would have had uncomplicated feelings about Queerness that could have been easily and openly transmitted? Is it possible that he would have been entirely unphased by my Queerness and become a staunch ally? Of course. Is it possible he would have seen it as irrelevant and really didn’t care? Of course. Is it possible he would have lunged at me with a bread knife and tried to kill me because of it? Of course. Is it possible he was Queer too, in all the ways I am? Yes. Is it possible he was Queer too, in entirely different ways? Yes!

Would I be obliged to hide my Queerness from him in return for a relationship of approval or peace?

Who knows, but, maybe. Probably, even. All four of my grandparents died unaware of my Queerness — mostly because they died when I was a teenager when Queerness was much less accepted, but in the case of one of my grandmother’s it was a conscious decision not to tell her. And it’s not only about his attitudes. It would also be about mine. Would I trust him to know about my Queerness? Would I have the courage to tell him? Would I be willing to accept any of the gamut of reactions that might come from him after I told him? How would I feel if he was very upset? Would other family members allow that conversation to take place? Would they encourage or discourage it? Would having that conversation damage other relationships within the family?

Can I travel without travelling? How?

Yes and no. See ‘step into’ above.

Can I have conversations with people who are distant and unreachable? How?

I can but the real question is how those people would respond. I think one of the best ways to do this is to imagine all the possible responses and therefore be able to experience the entire gamut of replies to questions. Now, of course, I would then be limited by my imagination, so perhaps I am only having a conversation with myself — of course I am only having a conversation with myself! I also can only imagine approximations at answers that would leave out details and some keys and triggers that are unknowable. Can I be surprised by any of these conversations? I don’t know! I suppose I would like to try to be. Perhaps I could try and have conversations where the answers to the questions I ask are only surprising. Perhaps someone can stand in as the conversation partner. Perhaps I can use AI.

Can I share my findings and feelings with audiences in an accessible and emotionally connected way? How?

I trust I could do this through a long slow process that will involve other collaborators. Parts of this process will fall outside the scope of this research period. I do not know if it is possible, or indeed advisable, to share everything I find out and feel with an audience in a way that feels accessible and emotionally connected, so editing would also be a large part of this process. I think it is also useful to differentiate between things which are shared overtly and which are explained on the one hand, and things with are inferred or explored or hinted at on othe other. The ways I would be interested to communicate with an audience are those methods I already use as part of my performance practice, namely: monologue, theatre, poetry, the written word, movement, film, sound, stage elements such as light and costume. I am very interested also to explore the potential of proxies and proximity.