not in Primary anymore

a time to dance: art, celebration, and laughter in activism

“Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears.”

-Frederick Douglass

“Positive sexual images and what they manifest saves lives because they affirm those lives and make it possible for people to attempt to live as self-loving instead of self-loathing.”

-Queer Nation Manifesto

 “Comedians don’t start out to change the world, but in the end, that’s what they do.”

-Stephen Rosenfield, founder and director of the American Comedy Institute in New York City

“I need a break from activism at the moment. It just stresses me out,” many an activist has told me.

The moment you start to become socially aware, you realize how oppressive the world is and how these oppressive systems surround you. They are perpetuated not only by religious and political leaders, but in everything we do, say, listen to, and watch. Sometimes, it feels overwhelming to try to fix it all.

I understand if you feel like you need a break.

But what if activism doesn’t always have to be so stressful?

If you belong to an oppressed group of people, sometimes you show the strength of your community by standing up and shouting.

But other times, you show your strength by laughing. Your “break” from activism has the potential of being part of your activism.

Because there are two things that those who hate us don’t want. They don’t want us to stand up for ourselves, and they don’t want us to be happy.

Can we do both to spite them?

It may be important to note how many of the best performers, musicians, comics, and artists come from communities that have experienced serious forms of violence, their celebration, music, and laughter born out of cultural pain.

Within the queer community, we have our share of artists and poets throughout history. And of course, we have the invention of the drag performers, the sacred clowns of queerness.

Maybe laughter and having fun despite the pain plays an important part in empowering the oppressed.

There is a time for protests and vigils and discussion groups and deeply thinking about problems and solutions. Those are so very important.

But then there’s also a time for celebration and artistic creation and connecting with others and parades.

And all of those might be just as important for the revolution.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
     under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time
     to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a
     time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a
     time to dance…”

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-4


9 Responses to “a time to dance: art, celebration, and laughter in activism”

  1. SMason

    I absolutely agree. In the last two years as I’ve become more aware, my artistic career has blossomed. I’ve done works dealing with the contradictions I see in Mormonism, I started a comic on tumblr (Anxiously Engaged) after seeing The Garden of Enid, and I have addressed some of the inadequacy ws I’ve seen in my city. This isn’t very eloquent, but art definitely gives me time and room to think through many of the aspects of activism that stress me out. It let’s me make a place for myself in that struggle and to put the struggle somewhere so I feel it’s not filling up my brain.

  2. Carrie

    The doctrine is clear. Acting on homosexual desires is still a sin.

      • Jaime

        Sodom, Gomorrah, and the five other cities of the plain were destroyed by God due to rampant homosexuality. Please point to where such an act happened in the scriptures due to interracial marriage.

      • Carrie J

        You obviously can’t point to a place in the scriptures because you don’t understand the differences between doctrine, policy, and opinion. The complete plan of salvation simply doesn’t work if you can’t reproduce. Calling evil good doesn’t in fact make he evil good.

      • Shelley Denison

        Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed because people weren’t helping the poor. Ezekiel 16:49 says “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

        Brigham Young prophesied that death would come on the spot to anyone who married outside of their race: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty.”

      • Shelley Denison

        As for the argument that the Church’s stance against interracial marriage was an opinion rather than doctrine, here’s a statement from the First Presidency in 1947: “there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.”

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