“Story, in other words, continues to fulfill its ancient function of binding society by reinforcing a set of common values and strengthening the ties of common culture. Story enculturates the youth. It defines the people. It tells us what is laudable and what is contemptible. It subtly and constantly encourages us to be decent instead of decadent. Story is the grease and glue of society: by encouraging us to behave well, story reduces social friction while uniting people around common values. Story homogenizes us; it makes us one.”
– Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal.
On the day the Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell vs Hodges decision making marriage equality a reality across the country, I received an enthusastic text message from one of my hometown friends: “WE WON!! We didn’t win every battle, but we finally won the war!!”
It’s been easy to stand on the mountain of the marriage equality win and consider the thing done. But from that vantage point — from that ecstatic high — we can look down and see the war is far from won. Eighteen trans women (including 15 trans women of color) have been murdered so far this year. With upward of 40 percent of homeless teenagers identifying as LGBT, the epidemic of homeless queer youth continues unabated. Being LGBT continues to be perilous in the workplace; 29 states still have no employment non-discrimination lawss and up to 43 percent of LGBT workers have experienced being fired, denied promotions or have been harassed because they are queer. A fifth of all single-bias hate crimes are committed against LGBT individuals. And in some parts of the global community, just being out or percieved to be out could still cost a queer person their lives.
Queer people are still compromised. Queer bodies are still in danger. Queer voices are silenced. Queer lives are still a narrative of struggle.
But they’re also narratives of much more. It’s as easy to reduce the queer experience to a narrative of victimization as it is to consider marriage equality the end of the road. Queer lives are also producing great art, shaking the foundations of opressive systems, changing the way we view love, sex and gender (and almost everything else under the sun), and celebrating the value and necessity of the Other in our human community.
That’s why we created Bearded Fruit. I am a playwright. My husband is an artist. Our creative lives both traffic in narrative. And in this moment when we need a conversation between the narrative of struggle and the narrative of triumph, we wanted to contribute something useful to help move our community forward.
So… Bearded Fruit.
Bearded Fruit is an online media project in search of creative queerness. Through podcasts, video interviews, stories and art, Bearded Fruit will highlight individuals, organizations and communities that transform their experience of queerness into art.
Pico Iyer writes “It’s not our experiences that form us, but the ways in which we respond to them.” Bearded Fruit is a document of those responses: informative, entertaining and instructive and inspirational.
We see Bearded Fruit as an online meetinghouse for queer people of all stripes to gather, share their stories, chew on ideas, and collectively map the topography of contemporary queerness, particularly in the stories of queer people who are finding unexpected, innovative and courageous ways to express and live their queerness.
Then again, all of us who are queer live queerness bravely. Courage is an immutable quality of queerness. To claim an identity that is questioned, feared, attacked or destroyed by those who don’t understand it is an act of limitless courage.
To live that identity — well, to live it is a fierceness beyond words.
So let there be fierceness. Let there be humor. Let there be heart. Let there be anger. Let there be truth. Let there be hope. Let there be all the complexity that our queer lives have to offer.
And let there be community. Let us be one.
Welcome to Bearded Fruit. We hope you stick around for the ride.
– Cody Daigle-Orians