Queer, Ill, & Okay is an experimental performing arts series exploring queer artists relationships with chronic illness.
Queer, Ill, & Okay is a experimental and emerging performance series featuring queer artists living with chronic illness and was started shortly after my own HIV diagnosis in 2012. Queer, Ill, & Okay first appeared at Links Hall for Poonie’s Cabaret. It was born out of my search for creative works about living with a chronic illness that resonated with my experience. I decided to turn toward my community as I have often done in the past to find understanding. I have worked with a wide array of Chicago’s LGBTQIA & Gender Non-Conforming community members and performance artists over the past few years and there the idea found life!
The experiences of queer identified people living with HIV and other forms of chronic illness (Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, Mental Health diagnosis, to name a few) comes with a complex set of issues in navigating the everyday world. How our bodies move through space, how they challenge us, betray us, celebrate us, and how the world outside of our illness relates to us as co-workers, family members, lovers, and community members create a mosaic that is often underrepresented. It is 2014 and we can easily observe significant changes to how illness is visible and how treatments have advanced. Yet, stigma remains.
Through ballet, drag, spoken word, film, music, poetry, burlesque, puppetry, rap and the ever emerging fields of performance 10 artists take stories from their lives to reveal the intersection of queerness and living with chronic illness. This is a CELEBRATION of the body, mind, spirit and the relationships we form with the world around us. Artist’s such as the WHAT’S THE T? writer and former About Face Theatre Education Director, Sara Kerastas, Center on Halsted’s Director of Youth Programming and author of Red Dirt Revival, Tim’m West, Neo-Futurist alumni and host of PBS’ Quilty, Mary Fons, and Northwestern University’s Queergasm Featured Artist Dirty Grits as well as dance artist Christopher Knowlton, national burlesque performer Cruel Valentine and writer Patrick Gill. These artists have created completely original works, never seen before, to share captivating stories of their lives living with different forms of chronic illness.
The questions and conversations posed by Queer, Ill, & Okay speak directly to the heart of stigma and prevailing issues of oppression that exist in our everyday lives. To support his work, to support these artists, and to engage an active dialogue with our audience confronts these issues and produces a vehicle toward progress.