by B.Michael Peterson.

Recently I watched a video interview with a group of activists and protesters in response to Sharon Needles’ Nazi performance in Atlanta on June 27, 2012. These protesters raised questions of racism to this spooktacular drag queen and performance artist, Sharon Needles. Realizing the anguish, pain and impeding inner thoughts racing through Sharon’s mind, it got me to thinking about two sides to society: artists and everyone else, aka the repressed.

Sharon Needles is a queen of shock, keeper of torment and a performer that causes us to think, to be educated, to experience a side of the conversation on the other side; a different perspective. She is not just a drag queen or a performer, Sharon Needles is an artiste who is doing her rightful job and social responsibility to society by educating, cultivating, probing and enticing the general public to think about a different perspective. Call me crazy, but I do believe that’s what well-oiled playwrights, directors, actors and any other artists do everyday.

People all over the maps refer to Needles as a racist, and it has been suggested by a few to hang her from a tree. I ask “why” exactly? For decades, artists have poked and probed so many issues to their peers, so that they could reconsider and reelvauate their stand, opinion or outlook. The art of being an artiste is not meant for everyone, and especially not if you think it’s a joy ride. When you hear someone say, “Everyone’s got a story so what’s your story”, what they really are meaning to ask you is, “What’s your perspective?” Through my eyes I observe everyone trying to live their life as an artiste, without the knowledge of computing some essential elements of artiste-hood.

In short, drag queens like Sharon Needles are not just drag queens. Needles is a performance artiste and if it’s something you don’t like, then don’t condone it…but perhaps also sit back and let the magic of performance art open your eyes to a world you just might not understand.

(More at New Queer On The Block)

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6 Responses to Queer Voices: The Art Of Artiste-Hood Is Not Intended For Protesters To Understand
  1. Blackface is not art. White people using the N word is not art. Glorifying nazi imagery is not art. I’m really disgusted that this defense of Sharon Needles exists. It’s not that we don’t understand art, it is apparently that you don’t understand racism.

  2. Is this article even serious? Oh yeah performing as a nazi on stage for cutesy ~artise-hood points~ is totallly worth ignoring how that makes people within and outside the community who y’know, may be Jewish and/or People of Color, or People with Disabilities that may not appreciate the ~art~ of donning blackface or dressing as a nazi stormtrooper. Believe it or not but ~art~ isn’t a catch all terms hipster queers can use to magically absolve themselves of racism. Art. Can. Be. Racist.

  3. This is insulting on so many different levels. Q Center needs to hold its tongue on racial issues until it figures out a way to be held accountable to the PoC community. Articles like this are inflammatory and offensive. As a black queer who lives close to the center, it’s a slap in the face every time I walk by after bullshit like this is published.

  4. Nazi’s put my parents in concentration camps, beat my mother , raped my aunt, murdered my grandparents,uncles and aunts, my mother ended up in mental institutions for much of her life…this person who is saying that I do not understand art because I don’t think glorifying murderers is art, is an ASSWIPE!!!!!!!!

  5. This blog post misses the mark entirely. It isn’t because people of color don’t understand art that this problem has arisen. In fact, there is no way to separate this art from its message.

    The premise that art is not racist because it is artistic expression cannot stand. The art in question clearly communicates its message: diminishing portrayal of Black women and the putting on and taking off of race as a costume, which is an act that depicts privilege in a visceral and physical way.

    The second problem with the post is that it isn’t appropriate for a white person to say that the minimizing of a minority culture isn’t racism,when in fact, using the power of the white dominant voice and its privilege to minimize the concerns of people of color.

    I expect better from people in the queer community and from the Q Center.


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