Never in my life have I felt more content. A strange feeling, given the fact that I just lost a 10 week long competition to be crowned Mr. Everything and more importantly win $1,000. Where this contentment comes from, I’m not sure.
When I was initially asked to participate in the Mr. Everything competition, my immediate thought was, “no”. I do not feel I belong to the Philly gay performance scene, our interests don’t meet at very many intersections. But, I decided to do the competition anyway, to do my best, knowing that I didn’t have a reputation on the scene. My goal? Do me. And I did. I did me.
Each week I took my politics, threw some makeup and heels on it and brought it to the stage.
A professor once told me, “If it doesn’t make you laugh, why do it?” And so I aimed to laugh at myself, to make myself laugh.
I also aimed at making fun of the very system I was participating in. I often find it to be ridiculous.
I used disidentification to make myself more visible, a term I learned from a guest of the show who was kind enough to give me a book on the subject matter, a book I am still in the process of reading.
So, having lost this competition, where does this feeling of contentment come from?
Perhaps I have this feeling because I just went into the cultural lion’s den and held tightly to my integrity. I value integrity over most things. I also probably feel content, because a gay performance competition in Philadelphia doesn’t determine my self worth.
What I have slowly come to realize is that I’m a terrorist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a performance artist and one of the questions I ask myself before any show I do is, “You have this platform, what are you going to use it for?”
I used it to point out racial bias, misogynist behavior, the struggles of being queer and the struggle to be heard.
The reason I feel content is that I did my job, which was less about me and more about the world. I did as much as I could to inject truth and talent into a world filled with facade. It’s easy to become consumed with the idea of self and worth and ranking when that is the very idea of what the show was. Three people sit in front of you every week and judge you, but even that is a facade. It’s not real. On what grounds are they even judging? What is real? Exposing the weaknesses of the world, making people think and in the process, sacrificing likability. What is real? People leaving your performance echoing your words, “I’m black, accept that shit!” That’s real. That is real life. I may have been traveling on the mainstream gay performance road for a minute, but I definitely stayed in my lane.
You can’t tell me shit.