I want to take a moment to thank you. I want to thank everyone who's come in and out of my life and waded me in closer to the eye of the storm. Thank you for challenging me, for calling me out on my shit, for telling me what I needed to hear to grow. Thank you for rejecting me, thank you for showing me where my audiences are and showing me that I don't need your validation. Thank you for teaching me that success is a journey and that the real trick to everything is how well you can improvise and turn nothing into something. I spent all of 2016 working on one of the most exciting projects I've had the opportunity and ovaries to work on.
"Oh, Bouy" was something of a beast. I wanted to create a big body of work that not only re-introduced me to the world as an artist/activist, but that would open up a conversation about the role of toxic masculinity in our lives. More specifically how we treat women who endure male aggression daily, how we treat rape and domestic abuse survivors, and what life is like after sexual trauma.
Volume 1 of Oh, Bouy is a welcome package to my soul. I wrote about the very things that have made me suicidal and the things that have made me work hard and hold on to hope. The project navigates the discourse of rape culture through a fashion series, a nude series, and a self-portrait series that all led me to the conclusion that our road to a solution in any political or social space is through actively communicating and participating with each other. The most daunting thing about releasing this part of the collective was sharing my writing with everyone. My writing has always been somewhat of an act of surrender, where all barriers are brought down and I'm sitting at your feet with my heart in hand giving you the chance to open it or throw it away. So to open up myself so publicly about my experiences through poetry was an interesting challenge.
Volume 2 of Oh, Bouy was the hardest thing for me to do because I challenged myself to forgive my rapist, to forgive the ex-lovers who used to physically abuse me, to forgive all the men who've hurt me to try to look at the situation of toxic masculinity from a broader perspective. The volume was a visual album that was aimed at lifting women who endure and survive male violence daily, to look at how men can be victims of male violence and how all around there needs to be more men involved in discussions about rape culture. If not to at least bring up the need to better educate the younger generation of boys on what consent means, then to at least hold each other accountable and try to find common ground on how to tackle this destructive cultural phenomenon. It was the first time I performed any of my spoken-word poetry and it was weird to hear myself speak. Just weird. It was almost surreal because there have been times where I've listened to the words and it felt like the person speaking those words was someone else, like I was no longer that person who felt trapped by their trauma.
Throughout the culmination of my "Oh, Bouy" collective, I had been looking at the project as if it were an album. The words were the percussion and the images were the melodies and hooks. So after making Volume 1 and Volume 2 I decided that there should be a b-side to the whole project, something that focuses on what Vol 1&2 didn't and so I wrote The B-Sides film and Volume 4 book. I wanted to talk about what navigating love and sex after being raped have been like, I really wanted to present this film that was this sort of loop of different men acting out different scenarios I've been in since recovering from rape.
We open with a sexually charged scene where this man sort of has a meltdown as he's trying to feel comfortable in his skin. This was based off of all the nights I've spent with men where I go from being 100% into the mood and then from one second to the next having an all out panic attack and trying to pull myself together. From there we go to this sort of spiritual purgatory where this man is again dealing with the same issue of comfort in his environment and finding himself more at home in a torn down house than in his own properly kept home. I think it was incredibly important for me to include black men in this because the film is all about navigating manhood through vulnerability and it's not often that we get to see black men be fragile on screen let alone black gay men. So I was really lucky to have had Ben and Malik come on board and film the scenes we did, it was certainly an eye opening experience that showed me that this is why I shouldn't give up. Why young artists shouldn't give up. There needs to be more diverse imagery in the world that lifts communities altogether and I think as millennials growing up with the burdens of previous generations we get discouraged easily when it comes to pursuing art careers. Which brings me to my next point.
I'm currently editing a film I directed in December with some actors I had worked with while in college and the project is called "Mariposa". The film's cast consists entirely of LGBTQ identifying individuals and follows this sort of collective mentality about moving forward and growth. It's challenging because there's a lot I want to say with just this one film and I'm concerned about how successful it will turn out but like Tim Gunn always told me, I'll just have to "make it work".
And this is something I want to bring up for everyone (probably just two people are reading) but if you have an idea, if there's something you want to put on paper, film, etc, you find a way to make it happen. Don't let money discourage you, don't let peers discourage you, don't let your family discourage you. It probably seems like I'm always working on something and I always get asked how that's possible and truthfully it's one of the hardest things to do; to keep making work for free that no one really needs. There's no incentive for making the work I make, there's no guarantee that it will be good or well received, and I don't make the work that I make to please. I make it because I need it to feel alive, to give me a reason to wake up.
I don't know what's next for me in 2017. All I know is that I'm working on my film, "Mariposa", and that I'm dedicating the rest of my time to funding and making my "As Dolls As Boys" film. I'll most likely become inactive as time goes on, I'll most likely repost old work. I'm not out for the count, I'm just taking a step back and recollecting myself so that I can deliver a type of project that I haven't been able to deliver to you before. Thank you for the support you've given me, thank you for cheering me on, and thank you for telling me I'm an elitist snob who deserves to be rejected and hated by the flickr elite and all other art platforms. It certainly has fueled a fire in me.
So come on everyone, let's get to work on our beautiful projects, and if anyone is interested in working together feel free to get in touch with me through any of my social medias or via email.