Monday, December 24, 2012

Coming out of the Closet and increasing visibility. . . as an artist by Odilia Rivera-Santos

Social media is a place in which we can be as free as we want to be with our opinions, goals and dreams; however, depending on the kind of work you do, your strong opinions, political affiliations and general goofiness might get you in trouble.

Being an 'artist' is the new Gay
Many artists are secretive and lead double lives. I knew an adult education teacher who played the part of a dominatrix on a cable show -- no pun intended. The 'adult education' was reading comprehension and GED prep. She whispered to me one day that one of her students had seen the show and mentioned it in class; her face was pretty red as she told me. Some creative types have lost their jobs over being too provocative or opinionated about something or other, and this made me think being an artist and using social media is akin to being a gay person in the 1970s.
Many companies scoff at our life of giggery -- doing short-term assignments in civil life in between performances and creative fellowships in which we were paid to sit in the sun in an exotic locale to manipulate syntax and talk shit with fellow writers as peacocks glided by not caring we were from New York.
A friend of mine, an African American actor and singer, recently went undercover as a civilian -- she now wears a suit and speaks calmly in complete sentences, like someone who studied accounting, not movement and motivation and enunciating like a Shakespearean. Her demeanor is staid and controlled as is her hair as are her clothes and I am reminded of Anthony Perkins in Psycho. In the civilian world, we artsy types dampen the vibrancy that helps us reshape reality as if creating animals from balloons.

I love being a personal trainer and a dance instructor and navigating my way through social media and there isn't a competitive bone in my body. Competition implies there is scarcity in the world and we know some people have gold-plated toilets, so the world is rich and full of opportunity. We don't need to compete on any front.

I accept myself as I am -- quirks, mistakes, and miscalculations are part of my life and every human life.

Increasing visibility is as important for an artist as it is for a gay person. The world needs tough sensitive people who continue to strive and face adversity with an occasional break from the tedium of rejection. But the tedium is part of the meditative practice of being who one is, deepening one's acceptance of one's own character and knowing the right audience is right around the corner  -- it's just that there are so many corners.

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