Who is Sebastian Cummings? That’s a question I ask myself frequently, because it seems the answer is always changing. So much of “who we are” is described by “what we do.” But, what happens when that is complicated too? I say that I am a performer, why? Because, I perform; I act, I dance, I sing, I do drag inspired performances. So, performer seems fitting right? But, I also write, create music and dabble. So, maybe I’m a dabbler? I’m a person. I am a student of life. Perhaps my motivations define me. I am motivated by love, the desire to grow, the desire to express myself and the desire to laugh at life and all its complications. Who do I want to love? Everyone. You. How do I want to grow? As a person. As a listener. As a spirit. What do I want to express? My feelings about the world. My struggle. Love is Life. How is life complicated? We are complicated beings. Love is complicated. Society is complicated. Acceptance is complicated. Understanding is complicated.
I spend much of my life trying to Understand. Theatre helps me do just that. At Rutgers University, I learned so much from telling stories, being honest to the characters and being vulnerable with others. Being an actor allows me to see further into windows that would otherwise have obstructed views, it forces me to contemplate ideas and situations I may never have experienced from point of views I may not even agree with. Part of you opens when you’re an actor and that openess helps you in everyday life.
Performing drag inspired material allows me the opportunity to get closer and closer to an aspect of myself that was hidden away to be accepted in society. We are taught so many limiting ideas; men dress this way, women wear makeup, criminals look like this, people who dress like “that” are ridiculous and judge the non-conservatives. But, that is not who I am. I like a lot of things. I like having long hair, I like getting dressed up, I like being dressed down, I like having moments of flamboyane, I like getting dirty. I don’t like being pigeon holed. I have accepted that about myself, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. My inner vision of myself, the person I saw with my mind’s eye when I thought, “Sebastian,” wasn’t matching up, so I changed it.
One of the most difficult things about performance, I have found, is politics; the politics of performance. Navigating that world, given my appearance has been and eye opening experience. I want people to learn about it, to understand it.
Everyday life is a complicated place, especially for those of us who honor our journey. It seems, flocking to those that are like you in one way or another is a natural tendency of human beings. What happens when finding members of your tribe is nearly impossible? It’s so rare that I meet people who see me. I am sweet, I am sincere, I am loving, I am smart, I am aware, I am sensitive, I am open. But, what do others see? Better yet, what are they looking for, because that is what they will notice. Who are they looking for? Those are the people they will find. Is anyone looking for me? I’m a person who was born Black, that doesn’t define “me” for me, but it says something to others doesn’t it? What does it say? I’m a person who is romantically and sexually attracted to “men.” I am a person who seeks sincerety and rejects the poiite artifices that are so often presented by my peers. I am a person who refuses to be what you want me to be, if that is not who I am. I am person who is not afraid to speak out when something is not right. I am a lonely person. I never really understood the saying, “it’s lonely at the top,” but I’m starting to. I see “The top” as truth and I have found that the truth is harder for people to accept, everyone, including me. People flock to comfort, which is why they surround themselves with others that are like them. People like learning, but they like learning from afar. They like reading a book about racism and saying, “hey, that’s wrong.” But, they don’t like challenging themselves to see how they may be part of it in their everyday life and this goes for almost anything. And thus, the top is not reached. It would take pain, vulnerability, discomfort to reach that place, “people” don’t want that. I do, and for that reason, I often find myself alone.
I am a person who loves one on one interaction, in an internet saturated world where human contact can be easily avoided. I love getting to know others, experiencing their energy. I love letting my guard down and letting someone in and I love to be let in. I love REAL interaction, I crave it and I often find myself starving. I reach out and am met with empty declarations, requests and promises. What can we gather from one another at a bar that is so loud, my mouth must be directly next to your ear for you to hear me? What are we really doing if we are drinking every time we interact? I so greatly appreciate my time alone, because honesty lies there. I refuse to lie to myself. I can experience myself and my thoughts and I enjoy them.
I am a sexual being, as we all are. It’s this part of life, we politely overlook because it is tainted by the Puritan values that this country has been plagued by. I enjoy sexual stimulation and while my desire isn’t to throw it in your face any more than I would throw any other aspect of myself in your face, it certainly isn’t to hide it to make you feel better. I like seeing myself and I like being seen. I love experiencing others and I like being experienced. I watch pornography to see things, I think or know I would enjoy doing. It’s part of my life, denying it would be like denying that I drink water. Self care allows me to fill my cup of sexual desire, but only to a certain point. I find myself craving others to assist in the filling my cup. For one reason or another, it can be hard to come by. I remeber the first time a man told me, “you’re really nice and you’re really cute, but I’m just not into black guys.” And I thought, “ahhh, you like me, you just don’t like the color of my skin. So, literally, if the color of my skin, this thing that says nothing about who I am as a person, this thing that is involuntary, this thing that is literally just the amount of a certain chemical in my skin, if this were different, we could “bang”?” Imagine that in a place where almost everyone I meet has a different skin color than mine. I remember meeting man after man who would say, “if you were a woman…” or the men who would say, “If I were gay, I would have sex with you.” So many times I have come across these cuddlers, these men who would expose themselves to me, these men who could justify touching me if a girl were present. But, what I crave is the person who will say, I want to experience you… period. A man who is comfortable with himself and comfortable with me.
I am a person with so many aspects to my personality, just like you. I may look different, but I’m sure we want similar things; most of all, to be seen. See me. I want you to try. And I promise, I will do my best to see you. I often imagine everyone I meet as me. Why? It makes them less of a “woman,” “white man,” “hipster,” “cashie,” it helps me to see them as a real person, not just these bodies you encounter everyday. But, people. With hearts and feelings and fears and desires. I want to respect them, I want to see them. That is what my life is about. That is what my work is about. My work is my life. Whether it be entertainment or expression. It is me. I challenge myself to see others and I would like to challenge the world to see me and my work. I may not look like you, I may not look like what you are used to seeing, you may have trouble with the idea of hearing my story, you may have a preconceived idea about what is interesting, but I challenge you, to challenge that. I am just like you and just like you, I want to be seen. Sebastian is you.