I WILL NOT DISAPPEAR
We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath the dim glow of lamps and fires in the living room of my home, away from the neon lights of bars and clubs. It is January 1st 2018, and in the midst of this champagne celebration with all our thoughts focused on the future, I can feel my past swell up at my feet. I write so I don’t forget.
An immense pride for the journey that has been made and the self that has been discovered. From a swirl of lights and voices lost to the loud music and a time when we watched each other across dancefloors to this moment now of kinship and knowing.
Suddenly I am thrown backwards to the times when I didn’t know, when I couldn’t see and was not certain who I could be. To the first time I walked into that space,…I was overwhelmed.
The silence deepened, but when I saw her I saw myself reflected back at me. A me I did not know I could be. Older and wiser, she was confident and kind, feminine and strong…every contradiction I had thought I needed to resolve. I came alive knowing I could become myself.
‘Let’s go’ I said, ‘I need to know more. Teach me the ways you are true to yourself so that I can know myself too.’ Mentor me.
We went up to the fire where the other women sat. I stretched out like a cat, safe and warm in their company. Their secret stories purred from their lips and they sang songs I could never have known. Here and there, I could recognise myself in their stories.
And like a young lioness I sprang to my feet and hunted for more of this history.
But I had no ideal mistress, no queen to search for in the past. If it weren’t for these women I would be ignorant to the cause.
And on I raced, through the libraries and archives of the state. From dusty shelves and boxes I read what I could from an invisible history. Every once in a while I paused, finding familiar faces much younger than I know them now.
Let’s break out from our hiding places now. Let’s reclaim our lives. We must not forget our past as we look to the future.
The words were scarcely out of my mouth when I looked again around the living room of my house. We have have all known this journey of finding ourselves. Of identities broken and repaired, questioned and despaired over.
For ten years I have grown with these people. For ten years I have found parts of myself I thought I had lost, in them. For ten years I have been learning about myself through the experiences of my tribe. For ten years I have watched as our spaces became smaller and smaller, now invisible…we gather in our homes.
And so with my face ashen and worn, dusty from excavating my past I declare my intentions
- I will work for my tribe. I will collect and share stories to help others find parts of themselves and by doing so connect us with our histories so they are not forgotten. We will remain rooted.
- I endeavour to help create spaces where relationships and friendships can form because our bonds will not be broken or homogenised.
- I believe in the strengths of this community to forgive but to never forget. Prejudice still lives and we must remember this when we are told their spaces are now our spaces.
- I will stand alongside the fighters of social injustices and I will nurse the wounds of those injured in those battles.
- I will continue to educate and be educated. Knowledge is power.
In making this stand I do so conscious of my position as an artist and the potential power that this has. I endeavour to enter this work with open ears and an open heart, to listen actively to the needs of my tribe and those involved throughout. We are in this together.
This is an invitation to explore our identities with each other, to seek out our past as a way of looking to our future.