Currently the United States of America is one of the last Western Countries to refuse universal health care, refuse rights to GLBT citizens, continually invade other countries, has the largest prison system in the world plus many more examples of using atrocities to try and maintain economic security. Unfortunately many Americans are caught on a treadmill of sorts – many run on hate, Americans run and run and run and hate everything around them, their hatred often comes out in the form of violence and the perpetrators of violence are often valorized for having defeated the weaker. One of the adverse traits of life in a capitalistic society is its tendency to reward the bully and scoff at the victim. Tim Miller’s performance at the Queer Bodies Psychotherapy Conference in San Francisco challenged what it means to be a victim of the oppression American culture has perpetuated throughout the duration of his life. Yes, his stories are often sad and depressing but at the same time he incorporates humor and hope so the audience isn’t lost in the dire circumstances surrounding much of the abuse he has suffered for maintaining a vocal queer identity.
In case you are not familiar with Tim Miller, here is a bio I found of him online:
Tim Miller’s creative work as a performer and writer explores the artistic, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man. Hailed for its humor and passion, Miller’s performance work has delighted and emboldened audiences worldwide at such venues as Yale Repertory Theatre, the London Institute of Contemporary Art, the Walker Art Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival. He is the author of the books Shirts & Skin, Body Blows , and 1001 Beds , which won the 2007 Lambda Literary Award for best book in Drama-Theatre.
Miller has taught performance at UCLA, NYU and the Claremont School of Theology, and is a co-founder of two influential performance spaces in the U.S.: Performance Space 122 in Manhattan, and Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, CA. He is the recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, including an NEA Solo Performer Fellowship in 1990, which was overturned under political pressure from the Bush White House because of its gay themes. Miller, along with three other artists, the so-called NEA 4, successfully sued the federal government for violation of their First Amendment rights.
One of the main themes during his performance was his Vote No on Prop Eight plug. He and his long time boyfriend, Alistair McCartney (whose new book, “The End of the World Book,” is fabulous by the way and I’ve been meaning to post a glowing review of it, which I will do in the near future), have been continually persecuted by the United States because Alistair is from Australia and the United States will not grant him citizenship – despite the fact the two have been lovers for over fourteen years. During the performance, Tim poignantly stated, “a heterosexual couple can receive full rights after fourteen seconds, whereas I continually risk losing my lover to deportation even after fourteen years.” Unfortunately Alistair’s visa runs out in 2009 so the two will may soon be forced out of their home by the United States.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about Prop. 8. I voted no on it (I voted via absentee ballot) but I take issue that marriage as an institution carries so much power. In the current political climate I think that a No Vote on Prop 8 is the only choice any fair minded person that believes in equality can vote for. However, as a generation let’s re-exam this issue. Marriage is a religious tradition and America is supposed to be a nation that separates Church and State. I do not think any person should receive rights or privileges on the basis of their relationship status, all single people should be in uproar over this issue; all people should have the right to marry but all people that want to attain a shared identity with their partner (especially in the case of foreign relationships that need citizenship) should apply for a civil union (civil unions should determine status and not a religious institution) – and that is because I believe church and state should remain separate and the church should have no say whatesoever in matters of government and power because I and many of my fellow young people are staunch atheists. For now, a no vote on 8 seems to be the only choice that people who support equality can vote for. After the bill passes lets make the marriage pack void of power, it should be nothing more than a public show of commitment and love. Couples that are international should all have the right to prove to the State that they are committed and then international lovers should be granted citizenship. Voting no on Prop 8 will do nothing for international lovers because a state level proposition doesn’t mean people can get United States citizenship because that is a federal right and states do not have jurisdiction over federal rights. Whenever Sarah Palin says it doesn’t matter what she thinks about the issue of marriage right because she says its a state issue, all Americans should cringe because she is denying how much power she really holds in order to make it look like everyday Americans actually have a say in the tyranny unfolding in Washington
I wish Alistair and Tim the best of luck during the upcoming months as they figure out whether or not they are being exiled from America. If Prop 8 passes and two great artists are exiled from this country, all our heads will hang in shame.
Here are some tour dates for Tim’s performances:
Oct 17 2008 8:00P QUEER BODIES IN PSYCHOTHERAPY CONF San Francisco, California
Oct 29 2008 12:00P California State University, Chico Chico, California
Oct 29 2008 7:30P 1078 Gallery Chico, California
Nov 12 2008 8:00P California State University, San Marcos San Marcos, California
Nov 20 2008 8:00P LINKS HALL Chicago, Illinois