Growing Our Own Gardens

“Grown out of my discomfort of not knowing the histories of my LGBTQ+ ancestors or the communities I was a part of, I began working with LGBTQ+ artists and communities to surface those stories and connect with queer folks of all ages. I wanted to know what a process that centered queer joy and hardship- across generations- would look like. I wanted to know how this could change my relationship to the places I lived and worked. I wanted to cultivate a different understanding of what it means to be queer in this country- for me and, hopefully, others.” — Matthew Cumbie

Growing Our Own Gardens is a intergenerational performance project rooted in queer world-making. This body of work has evolved into an iterative process that partners with local LGBTQ+ artists and organizations in multiple cities to use performance and engagement as a platform to surface stories, struggles, and possibilities of queer communities: to reflect and re-imagine LGBTQ+ life in our communities and country.

Since 2015, Gardens has had a number of iterations, ranging in scale, scope and formality. Central in its organizing has been a commitment to both performance and engagement. Over time, we have held performances in parks, bars, studios, and stages; we have led community workshops in LGBTQ+ health care facilities, community centers, and artmaking spaces; we have co-facilitated a series of queer history walking tours, partnering choreographers with community historians from the Rainbow History Project to both learn about queer histories in specific neighborhoods of DC while also creating small dances to ‘document’ these stories; we’ve led conversations online and created a screendance; and we’ve shared multiple evening-length performances that are deeply tied to the queers stories of the places they are about.

We want to recognize the support of those who have sustained our work over the years, including (but not limited to) the following organizations: Arcus Foundation, Berkshire Pulse, Big Rig Dance Collective, CACHE Studios, Colby College, Dance Exchange, Dance Place, the DC Center, National Endowment for the Arts, the Rainbow History Project, Texas Christian University, and the Whitman-Walker Health Center.

For a full timeline of Growing Our Own Gardens, click here.

Photo by Ben Carver, featuring Andy Torres, Sam Horning and Jazzmin St. James D’Monaco in Growing Our Own Gardens: a queer world, unfolding