Lancelot, in his own words: “When I was younger, I had these specific aversions to other’s masculine femininity, drag queens, and gay pride. I remember thinking as a young kid that I didn’t want to be seen as “gay” just as much as I didn’t want to be seen as “straight”. I didn’t want my gender or sexuality to be policed, monitored or critiqued in any way. However, I wore eyeliner and “girls” clothes for three out of four years of high school, and was attracted to men long before that. I was exploring sex with both guys and gals when I lost my virginity as a teenager. But then, it was just sex and I loved all different kinds of people. I partied a lot, painted, did a little writing, moved around every couple of years; I was aloof. I was overly susceptible to constantly living between two worlds or two states of being- my parents’ separate houses, sober and intoxicated, art and writing, awake and dreaming, and ultimately sexuality.
I think I came to understand the words “gay” and “queer” through performance media and my process of developing as an artist and poet. It probably wasn’t until I was living in New York and starting college that I realized how establishing and identifying myself with sexuality could inform my gender, create new aesthetic stakes in my art making, and invert the negative attitudes of people who thought what I desired was inherently flawed. I didn’t want to choose sides, but instead draw attention to my specific, gender duality and see where it landed me. I ultimately reached a deeper sense of compassion and understanding toward myself. I finally wanted to be someone who lived vivaciously and honestly, abrasively if it meant inciting others to be impassioned and stronger.
I took a class once where I had to do a drag performance on the spot. This really freaked me out. But when I took what I learned and filtered it through my own sensibility, there I stood in front of my class wearing nothing but a towel, my whole head masked in a thick layer of white, acrylic paint, dancing Butoh style under spotlight. I’ve never experienced anything so satisfying. After that, I think pushing sexuality and asking what it means in relation to gender, or being “queer”, is to be otherworldly…a strange monster . . . and I find that pretty cool.
I am constantly mediating crippling depression and anxiety. I would like to overcome this daily preoccupation with less paranoia about whether people might react negatively toward me; I already give myself a hard enough time. There were times I felt conflicted or embarrassed about my feelings toward some of my male friends, but they never judged me for it, and being honest always made bonds stronger. I got made fun of for how I dressed in school, even for keeping diaries, but that was pretty short-lived. With the assumption that many people experience self-hatred or violence against who they are, I consciously do not relate my sexual identity with doubt and shame. Sexuality is maybe the one part of my life that I love to celebrate. I am thankful for my own ability to not allow it to breed internal guilt so severe that I’m harmful to myself, or allow myself to be a victim.
“Coming Out” was not a proclamation for me. My sexuality progressed and developed naturally in various and unpredictable ways. Anyone who was in close proximity to me witnessed it happening and accepted what I was doing. On separate occasions, my parents discovered I was dating a guy when I was 16. I talked to them separately about my wonderful girlfriend freshman year of college, and then how another boyfriend took me out for my 21st birthday, and so on. My mother tends to worry and my father is skeptical, but regardless of how they really feel, I can now talk openly with them. I guess in some ways, I still haven’t “come out” to distant relatives but if they were to ever find an interest in my sex life, I would have no problem telling them about it. More importantly, my friends and family can see who/what I am through my actions and physical presence, allowing me the freedom and encouragement to say and do whatever I want. I still have a lot of breaking out to do; my image and energy are too internal for my new tastes.
I recently moved to Philly from Brooklyn. I heard that if you’re not gay here, you’re a minority and I thought that was funny.”