State of Unions

Photo Credit: Lisa M. Tillmann

“The State of Unions: Politics and Poetics of Performance” shows Lisa Tillmann delivering a poem and slide show expressing her fear and anger in the wake of the 2004 U.S. elections. While acknowledging the many ways men like those in her research community are marginalized by sexual orientation, the performance challenges them to make fuller use of the privilege afforded them by sex, gender expression, race, class, and education—to move beyond what Tillmann calls “in-activism.” Audience members offer mixed responses, some praising its provocative content, others criticizing her position and tone, which some received as alienating, even as “gay bashing.” Using Buddhist criteria for right speech (Is it true? Is it the right time? Will it be helpful?), Tillmann revisits this experience to glean ethical lessons.