The pronouns of oppression

I have been told that I am too much.
I have been told that I’m too serious and too touchy, too loud, too tiring.
That my voice is shrieking for attention in places that cannot hold me.
I am not a woman, I am not black, I am not disabled, I am not a refugee, I am not gay, I am not trans.
I am the place where all the voices resonate and hold into account
the actions that set their intonation.
I am the void where screams go to shelter, their tiresome bodies
from the ever-fleeting notion of ignorance.
I am able to avoid the looks that penetrate.
I am available for production, as I am consumption.
I am the body which is privileged and strong. I manifest.
I am an opinion that cannot count as it is not needed for appraisal.
People is uncountable.
Numbering day by day. Lengthening humanity minute by the minute, one word at a time.
I am whatever you want me to be, as all the spaces withhold me.
I am a person, with a voice.
I am a person who judges and stands up.
I am a person that wants to live, alongside other people.
I am a person that denounces humanity for choosing who is human.

Once again, for the bitches in the back:
If you think this is non-sense, then watch the world flutter with the music you think is static.

The screens are slowly covered by the noise you can’t see. The radios are fluttered with the visuals you’re blinded by. The scrolling follows through, to the next unfamiliar submission.

Once again, louder, for the earless muffs that will not speak:
Block your eyes as your sight is short, of the lengths and depths your own perception refuses to show you. Stay where you are. Humanity is moving.

The boats are covered and those that are drowning can’t breathe. The unbearable grief of black mothers. The untouchable pain of refugee fathers. The unimaginable power of the oppressed.

Once again, stronger, for the ones that fall short only to land on their own two feet while others are being kneeled down:
If you think progress is violent, if you think fires are extinguishable, if you think humanity is chosen, then extinction isn’t far away. Just like the dinosaurs, you shall be nothing more than an abjecting memory, of fear to those that faced you, disgust to those that feel your reptilian skin creeping up against their own and awe only to those that want to live in caves with you.

The Riot grrrls are coming.
And they’re black.
And they’re queer.
And they’re sexual.
They disable your conception of a voice.
They are tactile.
They are forthright.
They’re appalling.
They’re flamboyant.

Once again, bigger for the unapologetic mutes.

They are here.

Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.

From Machiavelli to Butler, everyone thought that fear plays a definitive role in how we lead our lives.
From the fear of getting beaten up in the street for wearing makeup, to the fear inflicted by the sovereign in order to lead productive and complicit lives. From pandemics to invisible threats, Leviathan has given up his throne and is now going for a stroll. There’s no need to be higher than the rest, as everyone is sitting on his lap, caressing their own necessity.
Nick Cave said “the tipsy, the reeling and the drop down pissed. We got no time for that stuff here. Zero crime and no fear. We’ve bred all our kittens white. So you can see them in the night.”

It’s a shame to live your life in fear, but it’s an even bigger shame to think of it.
It’s opposed to the Live, laugh, love opiates self-love usually promotes itself to because of fragility and lack of depth.

It fleets to poetry,
to an act of writing.
To an ambience of soundwaves,
and a fear of subliminal emotions.
To the notes comprising a melody,
and the reverberation of a self.

It juxtaposes a sense of self that is kept secret to the depths on an emotional substantiality that no one acknowledges as it’s kept afloat in your own depths. We are undone by one another, and pulling at the seams. We look at each other in a way that we feel empowered for our gaze, when in reality all we see is a reflection of everything that’s here, and nowhere where we are. We put up a fault to succumb to it, simply because we feel we have it figured out. From post-structuralism to self-exploration, we agree to ourselves that this is the way the other is, simply because there is no way we have not figured it out. Step one, step two, you have two left feet.

Seeing others,
missing you,
for me is occupied when you think of it too much.
Theory is useless when minds are put to action.

We protect ourselves from their power, and their assumptions, not because we are scared, but because we’re self-isolated. In our opinion, in our own idiosyncrasy. We see an emotional complexity across the room, that occupies the shelves that were meant to showcase a collectivity. We feel the air sucked out of the room, as a philosophy of fear is theorizing our capacity to feel and accept the simplest words.

Queer up the discourse, and let it flow,
as the host of habits, the Roof of the World
can’t accommodate the notion of queer natality.

It’s so nice seeing you scared
even if you think you are beyond suspicion.

Okay whole.

Post singularity and quasi relations,
to push yourself to a known world order,
the one that started isolation.
Move beyond rhyming and a schema,
a self-fulfilled illumination is darker than a clout.
It brings you up and hunts to drown,
the noisome affect of forced substantiation.

You feel abjected and curse the subjectivity,
cause no matter how many you show and capture,
the image is still the same.
Of reflection and supposed appreciation.
The one of a person, with themselves, refusing pronunciation.

Suffice, precise your idea of sensation.
Forget the –ism of it all cause et. al requires comradery.

That’s what lead you to the point,
of mixing up and down and the affix with the su-.
Cause all you could think was upper, 
and forgot to fix the slower before it was traded for fast.

Pace it out and place it in.
Play with words and screw up letters.
You ran out of ink.

Replenish your quill and come up with a reason,
that leaves the prospects of a paper
and the pretentiousness of  poems.

The lie of safety

As queer people, we realize at a very young age which spaces are designated and allowed for us.
We see the men’s toilets with their urinals, as the antagonism to a self-sufficient fight.
We see the men’s locker-room as a battled closet in which we have to hide, and face down in case there is a reaction to our natural inclination to look at people. (shout-out to Sedgwick)
We see our dad, urging us to look at that woman’s ass that’s passing by, even for a little bit.
We see our friend, showing us a “bitch’s” facebook.
Boys can be boys, even if they’re grown ass men.
I will not talk about women as I am not one, and have never experienced a space as one.
I have had long nails, wore makeup and short skirts.
I have been asked to define my pronoun and how I have sex, but I did not step through life, not once as a woman.
I am not trying to be exclusionary, but I will also not say bullshit of the kind “I know exactly how you feel.”
No. I don’t. Nor will I ever.
I will talk to people that do not belong though.
Be it women, queer, ugly, fat, Cypriot, whatever.
We see a side of ourselves that no one does.
When the door was locked and you were alone in front of that mirror dancing to Shakira or pretending that you’re a woman wearing your mum’s heels.
When your mum bought you a bra and a pink skin-tight shirt, only for you to take off as soon as you go to school and trade it with a band t-shirt.
We see a side of self-hood that cannot be realized, yet wishes so eagerly to be recognized.
Whether that is as a “normal” man or a “normal” woman or a “normal” person.

I say fuck your recognition and fuck your normalcy. I just want your respect.

We see our home, our parents, our siblings as an obstacle or as a submission to an ulterior motive of belonging. Of having to pretend and never really feel at home, in the confines of the house you were brought up in.
We see life, as a constant evolution of closets, each time constituting our action of coming out. We see friends, people, lovers, co-workers as places we inhabit. A place in which we can belong to ourselves, only after they allow us to, or only after they understand the need for belonging.
We see vulnerability and power, as two psychotic exes that somehow always find your number and text you at midnight, right when your mind was put to ease by a fucking joint, or just some fucking.
We see safety, as an oasis of like-minded individuals called friends and fellow weirdos.
We see it as an accumulation of our vulnerability, and our need for resilience.
As a communal effort to establish a language of thought that can be talked and shared between friends, through a unity of oneness.
Vulnerability my friend, should be understood as politically produced and unequally distributed through and by differential operations of power.
Vulnerability my friend is saying that the previous quote is not mine but Butlers, and you not judging me.
For these reasons and these alone, a safe space is nowhere to be found. It does not exist, and it cannot be sustained. It can be created and imagined, only for a night with correct pre-dispositions and measurements.
However, the safety of the space will end along with the energy required to dance within it, occupy it make it your own.

I say fuck the safety.

I will not speak for women, nor for queers. I do not know what you went through, nor will I ever.
You do not know what I went through, nor what I will.
All I know, is that if I am here talking to you listening, then you have occupied the space in my mind where our spirits are kindered.
All I know is that if you are looking, then I have occupied my own vulnerability in the safety of your own eyes. Your conception and analysis are your own.
All I know is that if you’re still following what I’m saying, then the spaces in your life have succumbed to the periphery of your emotions and the re-adjustments of your perception. Spatial recognition is not a thing when you have no space in life.

All I know and hope to share with you, is that we are NOT safe and we never will be.
All I know and hope, is that we’re never safe cause then the spaces will just become realities that hold ourselves and our perceptions to the mere number of 4 walls and immediate reactions.

All I know and can talk for, is that my friend, if you have made it this far with no walls, no safety and no space, then what you are is brave, and that is what we’re celebrating.

Latour, Πάμπος and COV-19: a love-triangle of withdrawal

Brexit, huge walls, escape to Mars and isolation.
Latour claims that our reality at the moment is marked by what is called “deregulation”. It is a period which has witnessed, everywhere at once, the start of an increasing explosion of inequalities. This can be seen as a global discourse that was caused by the inability of the planet to conceal and uphold the unequal distribution of wealth and privilege any longer. A truth that discloses within it, a concealment of another, more intricate situation, that being the politics of withdrawal. However, with Trump in office, and the whole world going up in flames, what began as a systematic effort to deny the existence of climate change is now a global reality of chaos.
Ultimately, Latour concludes that it is as though a significant segment of the ruling classes had concluded that the earth no longer has enough room for them to coexist with everyone else thus trying to push across this idea of withdrawal, either to their own land excluding everyone around, or in even more extreme situations (like Elon Musk) withdrawing to a different planet. Consequently, they decided that it was pointless to act as though history were going to continue to move toward a common horizon, toward a world in which all humans could prosper equally. In this way what is being perpetuated and constitutionally handed down to people, is the only possibility being that of withdrawal. If this indeed is the new human condition of unfixed universality, then it became that way not only by a political manipulation of narrative. More specifically by the manipulation of the human ability (or in this case, inability) to withdraw between the social narratives we are being fed and the discourse through which they are being created to serve.

Cyprus has been in withdrawal for years. We have created for ourselves an imaginary enemy, which is somehow obsessed with us and no one else.
You can blame such paranoia on the trauma which 1974 has caused to our collective memory. You can blame it on the apocalyptic scenarios that are being created for the sustenance of the Orthodox church.
You can even blame it on the president wanting to make more money for his own firm, his relatives real estate companies or his acquaintances financial groups. From the municipality of Larnaka, economically abusing their power to overcharge the population for their waste production, to the billions of euros the government made out of sell-out passports and “black’ investments, Cyprus has finally accomplished its goal. We are becoming indeed more and more like our motherland. Isolated, hateful, impoverished, hostile to its own people, and less human day by day. A mother that wants nothing to do with us in reality, yet we so eagerly try to look up to γιατί τζε να μεν θέλω να αγωνιστώ, που να με αήκουν να ξιάσω; Unheard protests, extreme money-laundering, blunt racism made viral, extreme sexism and dubious charges in court. COV-19 very comfortably fits the agenda. Let’s close the borders because the Turks cannot be trusted and neither can their government. God forbid though someone remembers that the virus though was also handed out by a Greek-Cypriot doctor through the public hospital.

What the reality of the situation is, is that people die every day.
Why has no one made such a fuss about HIV yet? We still don’t have a cure for it.
Why has no one made such a fuss about ebola yet? We also still don’t have a cure for it.
The reason though that COV-19 is tyrannizing our lives right now, is because this is a virus that is being shared through capitalism and the mass, simply by living their lives. A virus that is representative of the global market which destroys the planet. In a quasi-relationship, the more it spreads and the more it kills, just like our market does the planet, the less our carbon footprint is increased. Should we call it divine comedy or is that too close to home? It is a virus that can affect everyone, yet can only kill old people and people with a weak immune system. It is not a virus for the “fags”, nor is it a virus for the “blacks”. It’s a virus that can affect the white middle-aged (+) individual that is the key audience of manipulation. It is a virus made for the mass. It is a virus from McDonalds. Set in motion, now we close the green line and erase the people from their existence. We are withdrawing both as humanity, but more specifically as Cypriots, back to our “origins” of being absolutely alone in fear of contamination by anything external that might change our situation. Is it “Cyprus can be great”, “Keep Cyprus great” or “Make Cyprus great again”?


Αγαπητέ μου Πάμπο τζε αγαπητή μου Κούλλα. Πριν να ξεκινήσεις να αντακόνεις για τούτους τους ξυμαρισμένους που μας φέρνουν τον κορονοιό, σκέφτου λλιο που ήταν ο τζίρης σου το ’74. Σκέφτου λλιο πόσο μπάσταρτο εν το γέμα μας, που Ενετούς, Εγγλέζους, Φράνκους, Τούρκους τζε Καλαμαράες (ακόμα τζε αν μεν το λέμε εισβολή). Σκέφτου πόσοι Τουρκοκύπριοι εν κυριολεκτικά γενιές τζε γενιές σε τούτο το νησί, ενώ η Τούλλα δίπλα σου, νιώθει τζε περήφανη που εσχη θκιάν Eγκλέζα. Φέτος εις το Πράιντ εν είδα σχεδόν κανένα που ήξερα. Οι παραπάνω ήταν ούλλοι 15 τζε οικογένεις. Που την μια αντράπηκα για την γενιά μου τζε τον κύκλο των «ανοιχτόμυαλων» της Κύπρου. Που την άλλη όμως εχάρηκα γιατί ο κόσμος που ήταν τζαμέ, εν το μέλλον. Τωρά, ούλλοι καλυμμένοι με τες μάσκες τζε τα αζντισηπτικά όμως προσπαθούμε να κλείσουμε το χτιτζόν έξω, ενώ στην αλήθκεια εν που μέσα. Όσες μάσκες τζε να βάλεις, τζε οσο Dettol τζε να κάμεις γαργάρες, αγαπητέ μου Πάμπο, η άκρως απομονωτική σου στάση, ένεν τίποτε παρά ένα narrative που σου επουλήσαν μαζί με πύργους, εγκαταστάσεις τζε ψέυτικη ανάπτυξη. Μια γλώσσα την οποία ενηξέρεις να προφέρεις αλλά μιλάς την, όπως σου την εμάθαν τζε πουλάς τζε εσύ, τα παραμύθκια πάρακατω.

And that is why I’m trying to use your language and the one you don’t understand. To be lost in translation, as I am trying to speak to those that also don’t get yours. To create a dictionary to disrupt it, reform it, and hopefully reveal your infection as being on the inside.

The language of sleep

Out of the ordinary and into a sudden,
you marched inwardly, my life that was saddened,
by all the weight of ex’s and other letters,
to mark my sleep and all the seconds in between.

All beginnings are where the endings start.
All the finished have already begun.
You know how to turn my insides out, for I’m never going back in.
You showed me the way, and opened the parenthesis,
carry on with my sentence.

 I changed the moments.

I changed the sceneries.

But you changed my stops from full to never-ending.
You changed the narrative.
Raised my question-marks to exclaiming joy,
and never double-guessed the in-betweens or insufficient points.
You started the paragraph but took your time,
cause you know only poets appreciate a smoker,
and only lovers cherish the dawn.

Grateful for everything, I salute the sun, and you,
I murmur to it, for your chapter as a day, a new dawn,
illuminates as I, bright, write with you.

Incoherent, beautiful and nourishing,
the language shelters with her eloquence.
Under her covers, I find the definitions.
In the lullaby, in the goodnight story.
I’ll sleep with no interruptions till the sun; you.


-D

Ξωπόρτι (Ksoporti): Open studio evenings

Discourse in linguistics is viewed as a unit of language that is longer than a single sentence. It is an amalgamation of different meaningful parts, comprising a collection of language, analyzed and comprehended through a unity. Such language, functions in conversation with its smaller parts and brings them together, in a communal effort to construct a meaning which will be perpetuated by it’s individual coherence and its shared verification.


In the same way, the art world is comprised of different phonemes, morphemes and words, which create a verisimilitude of artistic discourse and language. Brought together, each one, creates a versatile and intricate language of emotion, that ultimately characterizes a real and shared experience. In a place like Cyprus though, with its restricted artistic realm, the nonexistent funds, uninspiring education, and counter-artistic pre-dispositions, such a discourse is hardly ever commonly understood, let alone celebrated. By all means, I am not supporting that there are no valid artists or art-world in Cyprus. Quite the contrary. There is a very vibrant, and genuine art dimension which exists in a small-scale, hyper local discourse (excluding Cypriot artists that have mostly international based careers). This discourse is viewed, yet not payed attention. We all know that one shop that has those pretty sculptures next to that place we always pass by on our way to Sousami. We’ve all wondered what that big sculpture is doing next to the Heroe’s Square and how it never sleeps at night. We’ve all asked for direction and having “that place with the vases” be the identifier of our way.

It is this hidden discourse, which was celebrated and brought to the surface by Nefeli Stylianou through the event Ksoporti. The event joined multiple artists that reside in the city center of Limassol, in an open-studio night combining the artistic discourse of the old-town, with the night-life it has to offer. From painting, sculpture, ceramic and digital art, each studio reflected each artists personal experience and process on a local discourse which is rarely brought to view. “Discourse is a joint activity requiring active participation from two or more people, and as such is dependent on the lives and knowledge of those people as well as the situation of the communication itself. Herbert Clark applied the concept of common ground to his discourse studies as a way of accounting for the various agreements that take place in successful communication.” (Richard Nordquist)

The created common ground of Ksoporti was the personal space of each artist, and the vulnerability portrayed in a process which would ultimately be constituted as foreign within an art institution (regardless of whether a description would be delivered). Celebrating the personal, Ksoporti highlights the internal world of each artist by opening up their work to a multiplicity of viewers, art enthusiasts and passer-bys. Taken outside of the confines of a gallery, exhibition space or museum, what you face is the personal and intimate world of each artist’s creative process. Beyond their finished pieces, you could see their trial and errors, their unfinished pieces, and their own ideas at various states.   The word discourse is derived from the latin prefix dis- meaning “away” and the root word currere meaning “to run”. Discourse, therefore, translates to “run away” and refers to the way that conversations flow. It is this exact flow of a city which one got to experience by walking throughout the center, stopping at each studio and having a glass of wine with each artist. Philosophical discourse has battled throughout its history to find a single, ideal language which is destined to function as the writerly representation of reason. Such idealized version of philosophical weightlessness could not be helped, but only transcribed in artistic terms, as the impossible approach of “high art” within institutionalized cultural carriers. Regardless of how transparent a process may be made, the mark of weightless language is obvious within the perfectly organized chaos, of a curation that is ultimately controlled, aestheticized and thought through; not that such a venture is inherently negative. However, collectively resigning to different artists personal natural languages (regardless of how different they may be to one another) is what establishes an organically aesthetic discourse. A discourse which is meaningfully shared on a local level, functioning as an idiosyncratic mindscape of a Cypriot art-scene that should be more often acknowledged, viewed and celebrated.

Baker, Paul, and Sibonile Ellece. Key Terms in Discourse Analysis. 1st ed., Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

Bloor, Meriel, and Thomas Bloor. Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. Routledge, 2013.

Nordquist, Richard. “Definition and Examples of Discourse:.” ThoughtCo, Oct. 7, 2019, thoughtco.com/discourse-language-term-1690464.

Father help us

In risk of sounding passé , I shall claim that it is very hard to make me cry.           
Blame it on emotional closetedness, on subconscious social conditioning of weakness as showing of emotions, to the futility of vulnerability, to the hyperbole of expression, to me being a pawn in a cis-hetero patriarch game which I’m forced to compete but destined to always lose.   
I’ve lost boyfriends, fans, memories and sweaters in clubs.          
I’ve lost pets, lovers, friends, my way, my wallet and myself.         
None have made me feel as fully and cry as provocatively open as Father help us by Elias Adam.

Categorized as a theater play for his father, this performance goes beyond a mere tribute to a person. It translates the impossibility of expression and words the voice we’re all scared to raise.
Following a hip hop song, the play starts with the two performers, Styliana Ioannou and Panos Malactos, sitting on stage staring at the audience. The only way I could react was that I knew what not to expect. A performative, transparent litany of emotion, isolated to the love one has for their father.
On the contrary, the performance was an abstractly formed bearing of emotion and body, and a freeing of intrinsic emotional restrictions.

Elias, who wrote and directed the performance has included and voiced his most provocative, disrupted thoughts on how to deal with such an event in the utmost sensibility and rawness. As a queer person, you learn from a young age that everything you say can and will be construed in a way that reflects your “choice” as that is what the world, will never let go when consuming your personhood. You learn to bypass others opinions and stretch your own thoughts only to the periphery of accepted emotional expression. What Elias has done, is show the humor and the “thick-skin” required to destroy that periphery and turn it to dramaturgy. A recreation of the complicated and multi-faceted emotional spectrum of a queer individual, dealing with the lust for love and the lockdown of loss.  Beyond the script, which is infused with tragic humor and trivialized behaviors, the performers manifest the tragic comedy of life that can only be faced by the end of one. Putting the audience in perspective, the performers deliver in a forceful and meaningful way the complex simplicity of firstly what it means to feel and then to forget. Caught somewhere within the grip of harsh realism and ironic futility, you are not allowed to let go. Only to forget, as the eerie memory of a father slipping by is always present in its absence while the unapologetic directness of love is incapable of changing the grey saturation of forfeiture to rosy. Bearing and baring everything on stage, the performers dance the song of the dead and of Mariah Carey and give monologues to put a final word, in a life that will be missed. Falling, spinning, elevating and shaking to the core, the foundations of spectatorship and critical distance, you are submerged within the depths of a mourning, lost and celebrated in forgetfulness and vulnerability.

Beyond the confines of the play, nudity, homosexuality, vulnerability and personhood are not just taboos in the Cypriot discourse, but simply restrictions of a national multitude. It is exactly performances like this, that stretch the confines of a Cypriot discourse which is relentless and unforgiving to not just queer artistry, but also human sensibility. We forget that a coffee for consolation, will not console but simply aggravate and overstimulate the thoughts you’re meant to share in an isolated manner, in the four walls of a home. But when those four walls, are too small to bear the gravity of a grave, that’s when poesis becomes reality, and reality turns to fiction. That’s when lifelong memories, and pictures of the past, can be shared and acknowledged, even by a stranger in an audience. Cause now, we see through the airbnbs, the mosquitos in the air, the green heels, dicks and cameras, that All I want for Christmas can be turned to a tragic hymn portraying cellophane emotions. Emotions that no one can help you with. Not even your father.

https://www.facebook.com/events/590835174985039/

The love of queers

Listen to the world that exalts in soft devotion.
Listen to the whispers of untrembling  assurance.
Receptivity is key, that confesses to submission,
it’s unaltered secrets and it’s best kept selves.
Confuse, amuse the fuse of follies,
for all goes out the window as you track and trace your promise.
Of devotion and aggression,
of demonstration, of affection.
Open your arms, in the curious unknown,
to be sufficed and satisfied.

Aggression traces back, the words of poetry and love,
to different lines, drawing out of touch.
Suffused in murmurs and intonation,
that can be caught, with a limited congestion.  
Retrace, retrack, and reverse.
The route of positivity and of fulfillment.
Of words escaping recognition,
of frugal tendencies of love
and prodigal expressions of emotion.

Simplify, reiitify, those that can’t be words.
Reiterate, and clarify, confuse the incompletion.
Sanctify and radicate the missing letters that conclude,
your notions into life, and your theories to action.

Paris is burning and so should the myth of androgyny.

            What has not been written about the 1991 documentary, Paris is Burning? From it being referenced, recited, reinterpreted to inspiring political oppositions to Livingston herself, as she was one of the very few people that was benefited from the documentary’s success. Undoubtedly, Paris is Burning has become a cinema and queer culture staple, even for people who are not adhering to the specific culture itself.
            However important, if challenged alongside the notion of androgyny, both constitute within them to different extends, a hidden re-establishment of gender. Livingston attempts to celebrate and document the underground culture of the ballroom scene and aims to pinpoint similar notions as Judith Butler in terms of gender being performative. In the film, style and appearance are the primary weapons in which the participants of balls would guarantee their success. The people within the subculture use the stereotypes of “real women” and “real men” in order to alter the perception of society about their eligibility as respectable citizens. “Butch queen” and “Realness” are categories where contestants use their appearance to be “passable” as either straight men or biological women within the limits of the film, and the then ballroom. As Butler argued, gender is a corporeal style since being female has no meaning but to be a woman is to have become a woman (123). Modeled after the normalized stereotypes of gender in society, the balls pictured function as a space for the participants to feel included and live their own fantasy. They are superstars within the underground, yet when they leave the ball, their tragic reality of marginalization is again re-established. Categories such as Executive Realness, showcase that the aim of the participants was not to overthrow the dominant culture, but rather to change its requirements of inclusion. Their gender representations cannot­ offer them opportunities within the societal contest of norms, since the “appropriate” representations remain the winning ones. Moreover, the interviews reveal a way of living that exists within the margin, as it is highly self-protective and structured.           
            With a critical eye, Paris is Burning unveils the performativity of gender and elucidates both the act and the potential strategy of disavowal which constitutes and conceals it. Through the documentation of the ball circuit, Livingston shows exactly how the perpetuating of specific gendered stereotypes can lead to people’s lives being suffocated within the margins of society. By the exaggeration and ironic treatment of specific characteristics as essentially masculine or feminine, the participants of the ball shown by Livingston, indicate that gender can indeed be performed within such context, thus arguably everywhere else too. Taking that assumption into consideration, androgyny would share the same performativity. What’s more Livingston shows that the failure of a successful adoption of such characteristics leads to a detrimental reality. In this way what’s indicated is that the bearers of gender, and similarly androgyny, mean nothing ontologically. Contrastingly they bring to the surface the dramatic cultural interplay of gender in a way that doesn’t distort the stereotypes but rather solidifies the preconceived homogeneity each gender is supposed to embody (Butler 131). If indeed androgyny, even in a radical feminist reading, implies the adoption of both masculine and feminine traits, then what is insinuated is that there are inherent characteristics in either gender. Paleolithic conceptions of “sitting with my legs open”, “square jaws”, “I feel like wearing makeup” and so on. Evidently, within a socio-historical discourse such performative elements have gained specific gendered meaning. However, by the acceptance and the “merging” of them, they are not redefined. They are simply re-iterated and re-established for those that “can” perform them, or have to privilege to be celebrated for their successful performance. Illustrated through the documentary, the ball creates a space of an alternative manifestation of gender. As participants take on exaggerated roles of “normal” people, their heavily embellished outfits, highly stylized hair and intricate glittery performances create another type of gender expression which celebrates its own performativity. As nothing is inherent and essential to performance, gender is treated in the same way. There are no essential male or female characteristics, as all that matters lies on the surface. If it is through the repetition of acts that gender is consolidated, then it is the restructuring of such repetitions, that triggers the replacement of gender, with genderqueer. Some people have a gender which is neither male or female. They may identify as both male and female at one time, as different genders at different times, as no gender at all or dispute the idea of a gender binary (Richards). This transformation of social relations then becomes a matter of transforming not just gender acts but the hegemonic social relations established by and within the acts themselves. In this way, what is shown is that any gendered ideal is simply socially created, performed and most importantly, fictional.   
            It’s one thing to say that gender is performed and another thing to say that gender is performative.  Performance usually implies that one has taken on a representation which is crucial to the gender they are and which they are presenting to the world. Moreover, each representation is established through an amalgamation of characteristics comprising their believability. However, performativity presupposes a series of consequences with each performance. In this way, the treatment of either male or female gender identities as concrete, is simply due to the consolidation of these representations by the believability of their performed characteristics. Thus if the distinction between the two is expanded, then the acts themselves are also expanding. Some acts are for women and others are expansive in terms of what is a woman. Hence, the proclaimed unity of preconceived characteristics placing androgyny as the ideal is a false ontological utopia on the part of radical libertarian feminists, or any pink-washed unaware by-passers. By treating what are merely cultural differences and artefacts as absolute essences reinforces the binary itself. By putting forth a female specificity as the ideal, what is perpetuated is the inherent stereotype itself, while also a generalization which may or may not correlate to the concrete lives of women. Gender expression is not one’s alone. It is expressed as well as expressive and thus delimits one in a shared cultural situation which in turn may or may not enable and empower them, as seen in the example of the film. Taking it even further, Paris is Burning is an old viewpoint on ballroom. The culture itself, has expanded in modern-day times to a lot more intricate, freeing, non-binary categories. However, the documentary being within the mainstream of queer cinema, still functions as a point of reference. It shows that as Levy said” Style and appearance is pervasive in speech, vocabulary and manner but more importantly attitude”. If in the same way, gender expression itself is pervasive, then androgyny simply sets up another unrealistic stereotype for people to follow. When talking about androgyny, it should be perceived as a cautionary tale of stereotypes. If we speak of androgyny it should be only to call attention to the lie that specific characteristics are, in truth, more natural or more desirable in one gender as opposed to the other. (Warren 181) What should be established is a genderqueer space of acceptance for people to express their gender in society with no preconceived notions. During WWII, Hitler asked “Paris brennt?”, wondering whether the city had fallen. The documentary, and I, are urged to answer this question. It’s not only because Paris DuPree’s ball and runway are “hot”. More so, by walking down that runway, what will burn is not only the accepted gender spaces that the participants were allowed to occupy but the consolidation of those spaces at large. In other words, it is not only Paris that is going down in flames, but gender itself.

Jennie Livingston, Paris is Burning (1990; film).     

Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” in The Twentieth Century Performance Reader, ed. Michael Huxley and Noel Witts (London: Routledge, 1996): 120-134.

Levy, Emanuel. “Paris is Burning.” Emanuel Levy. http://www.emanuellevy.com/review/paris-is-burning-1/. 7 April 2006. Accessed on 20 May 2018

 Richards, Christina. “Abstract.” Non-binary or genderqueer gender.” Taylor & Francis Online. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09540261.2015.1106446. 29 Jun 2015. Accessed on 20 May 2018.

Warren, Mary – Anne. “Is Androgyny the Answer to Sexual Stereotyping?” The faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences of the European University Viadrina. http://www.kuwi.europa-uni.de/de/lehrstuhl/lw/depolitbez/Lehrveranstaltungen/seminarmaterial_2010/WARREN.pdf. Accessed on 20 May 2018