Leonard Nimoy worked hard to escape a future limited by his being typecast as Mr. Spock; arguably the most iconic character from the Star Trek universe. He struggled to express other aspects of his personality, interests and talents. Of which he had plenty. It is quite possible (certainly ‘common wisdom’) that such effort made the resulting output (photography, books, music, tweets, and plenty more) all that much richer: art through struggle, art through striving. The image of the suffering artist is another stereotype. I don’t think that a life filled with poverty, death and disease are essential elements for creative output but it sure seems they often assist us in reaching the deepest reaches of our true Self.
His first biography is entitled “I am not SPOCK” and a later one is “I Am Spock” – I suspect the truth is that he was “Not Just Spock“. Certainly his Author’s Page at Amazon is filled with diverse titles.
As I understand it, a tenet of Buddhism is that ceasing to struggle against, to accept, what ‘must be’ is a path to peace. As with so much advice I think it’s a mixed truth. Too quickly ceasing to struggle against death cuts a life short- denying friends and loved ones the full measure of a life and who knows what other achievements. Surrender at the right moment and perhaps experience a peaceful passing. The secret seems to be balance; perhaps best summed up with the iconic Serenity Prayer.
But I didn’t intend to dwell on death. Rather the thoughts prompted by the passing of “Mr Spock” are how we as queer folk, we creative types, may benefit from achieving a balance of the stereotypes often applied to us: queer, gay, Top, bottom, feminine, masculine, flamboyant, normal, closeted, withdrawn, anal-retentive… Rather than saying “that’s not me” perhaps we need to accept- nay, embrace- that many of these are (to a greater or lesser degree) a part of us. Despite the best efforts of marketing and political ‘experts’ to reduce each of us to a single, simple target demo we are rich, diverse, complex beings. Fundamentalism is any approach to complex issues (spiritual, political, sexual or any other) that attempt to offer a single, universal solution. Life is far too rich for such restrictive world view.
As I was finishing up this post the following story crossed my Facebook feed: it seems that openly-gay actor Russell Tovey (now in HBO’s Looking) said that “I feel like I could have been really effeminate,” but thanks his Father for “not allowing me to go down that path” (as reported at Fusion.Net). I respect his right to speak his mind- so long as my right to speak my reaction is also respected.
It is worth reading the full Guardian article for more background; Tovey was bullied for not presenting a ‘sufficiently masculine’ appearance. While I can appreciate the fear such an attack brings up (I’ve been assaulted, gay-bashed, more than once) his reaction is the less-empowering ‘identifying with his attackers’. If he has to remind himself that he can only love himself because he fooled others into thinking he’s butch, isn’t that an admission that his inner Self really wants to “relax, prance around, sing in the street,“?
Sadly that pseudo-masculine, nearly-straight machismo he is so proud of seems to have led him to issue a series of non-apology tweets that just reinforced my opinion that he truly believes his machismo somehow makes him ‘better’ – not, “more suited to his career” or “better fit to his internal sense of self” but ‘more of a real man’. And that is offensive.
And of course I couldn’t let this Tovey thing pass without a quote of relevant lyrics from Romanovsky & Phillips:
” ‘Straight-looking Marine seeks straight cop to please’
How straight do they look when they’re down on their knees?
It’s a taste that I’ve never been able to savor
This preoccupation with sexist behavior”
“Give Me A Homosexual” from ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’
music & lyrics ©1987 Ron Romanovsky – All rights reserved.
We must never forget:
The Stone Wall
To those who came
Stood tall and proud
(Sometimes on their knees-
but still proud)
Spoke out against oppression
(Sometimes in whispers
but still speaking)
Fought the good fight
Beaches, bars and, at times,
on the street
Stood up and said
Never took the ‘easy way out’
Finally took a stand
inside the stone wall.
© Copyright 2011 Brian Gryphon All rights reserved.