Dancing with Pride: Continuing the Conversations

“Dance is powerful because it lives in the body. LGBTQ+ people living freely in their minds and bodies is a powerful thing! This is for me what Pride is about. Taking what we know to be internally true and manifesting it for others. It’s a call signal for other LGBTQ+ folx.”

Mary Bounds, Washington, DC

We know that the act of answering questions can sometimes be met with more questions. Following up from our Dancing with Pride: conversations with LGBTQ+ choreographers, we celebrate the many contributions of those participating as we also continue the conversations online.

Below are those unanswered questions collected from our panel, including who offered the question and the date on which it was offered. If those of you reading this now want to be included, comment below or email Matthew at mhcumbie@gmail.com. Happy Pride (all year ’round)!

Questions & Responses

Question from June 27, 2020: “I’d love to hear people talk about their specific relationship to DC and building community here. Grace Lee Boggs once said that staying in one place for 80 years was one of the most radical acts she ever took. I think about that a lot as someone who has moved around a bit.” — Alison Whyte, Washington, DC

Gabriel Mata’s response: Currently, I am in a position where I have lived in a home for almost two years. That is the most that I have ever stayed in a house/space, it’s a bit odd and I have found that the feeling of comfort did not come easily. However, the broader picture is is that my husband and I are planning a family. We have decided that we want DC to be our home and where we grow our family, art, and community. That really has me thinking about the questions and how I would like to invest and engage the space. I get these sensations that it feels odd that I am not from DC, nor the US. But I have been fortunate to make family with every community that I have lived in. A lot for me is growing/developing and it excites me to know and wonder what I will discover. 

Matthew Cumbie’s response: Hi Alison! I appreciate your calling into our conversation the work and contributions of Grace Lee Boggs, and really appreciate this question. My own relationship to place is something I’ve thought a lot about over the past few years, alongside a lot of thinking about my relationship to DC specifically. In truth, when I moved here in 2012, I couldn’t wait to leave. I imagined that I would be in DC for 2-3 years for some work experience and then off again. That shifted, thankfully, when a number of things aligned in my professional and personal life around 2015. Among that was some creative work I began doing. Moved to better understand and know the histories that have shaped my body as an LGBTQ+ person, I wanted to experience intergenerational LGBTQ+ spaces. Since I couldn’t find any, I started to organize queer artists, community members and leaders to be in conversation and creative action together. This became my body of work Growing Our Own Gardens, which- among many things- led to a long and deep partnership with local LGBTQ+ historical organization Rainbow History Project. One of the outcomes of this partnership was our Queer History Walk program, which charts a walking tour through specific neighborhoods of DC and offers ways to move through the stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ DC through the interpretations provided by a community history scholar and a dance artist. After doing a number of these, I began to see DC in a different light- and I began to see myself as a part of these stories. Feeling differently the many relationships I had to people and places in DC- past and present- offered a sense of rootedness I hadn’t really known. I felt held by this place, and deeply connected to what happened here because of who lives, and has lived, here. I think, like a lot of things in life, in order to ‘build community’ somewhere, I needed to be able to imagine and see myself there first.

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