All posts by RexySpice

On Black Lives Matter, Activism, Sex, and the meaning of “Pride”

(I originally posted this on my personal facebook, and decided to reproduce it here. I think these are important things to discuss, and I want to add to the wider conversation. This also goes well with my last post about feeling initial reticence to keeping certain elements of my upcoming album intact in the wake of Orlando. And this only strengthens my resolve: F*ck it. There ARE divisions within the LGBTQ2SA community, we need to address them, and this is NOT the time to soften blows!) 😉
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Ok, so I have been processing the whole ‪#‎BLMTOPride‬ thing. I had an initial reaction in the immediate moment which, after further reflection and perspective, I will admit came mostly from a selfish place (calling myself out here). Ultimately I AM onside with how things went down and I’m sorry I ever felt differently. Yeah, I ended up being stuck at the starting gate with the other bannered groups for over an hour (the stop did cause a cascade effect, time-consumption-wise, with the remainder of the parade). No matter, that. Activism isn’t supposed to be convenient. It’s supposed to provoke, enrage, challenge the establishment, inspire conversation–check, check, check. It is naive and misinformed to think that Black Lives Matter were attacking LGBTQ2SA culture–on the contrary, their demonstration was a continuation (and a REMINDER) of the inherently activist nature that queer culture’s roots are based upon. To me, the corporate sponsorship that now defines the event isn’t a sign of “how far we’ve come,” but rather how diluted our focus has become. Just like abolishing slavery didn’t end systematic racism, marriage equality hasn’t killed institutional homophobia. Ultimately, for me personally, this feels like a cautionary tale in getting too comfy with comfort, if you will. Add that to the week full of lessons learned–fine, I’ll take it. 😉

I DO want to confront one perspective that I thankfully haven’t seen much of online, BUT which was the basis of a heated in-person (imagine THAT!) debate I found myself in on Sunday: in my humble opinion, raw, uncensored SEXUALITY is (still) political (TOO). I’m all for calling out the corporatization of Pride, but please don’t lump that in with groups likeTNT!MENN and such. TD Bank may be aiming for nothing more than an increase in new chequing accounts with their conventionally “hot” (and likely NOT queer) models for hire, but the REAL queers getting down and dirty IN YOUR FACE (mainstream body shape acceptability be damned) at the festival are NOT part of the de-politicization of Pride–in fact, they (WE) have been one of the few REAL political highlights of the whole thing for YEARS! You want to “protect the children”? Go ahead and explain LIFE to them, like you’re SUPPOSED to–kids are always, always WAY more sophisticated than we think they are. (Don’t YOU remember being a kid?) This is NOT about “sex vs politics”–SEX *IS* POLITICAL, and indeed THAT is one of the core values of the political heritage defining Pride! 👁 We aren’t all just happy gay people aiming for the homo version of the perfect spouse with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence (mortgaged with TD, obviously)–a chunk of us have NO INTEREST in that, and our life choices are JUST as valid! And we are all sexual beings of ALL kinds of identities and persuasions, and we’re NOT going to modify ourselves for ANYONE’s comfort!

Finally, if you find yourself agreeing with Margaret Wente about ANYTHING, you really need to examine just how progressive your personal politics really are. JUST SAYIN! ‪#‎PEACE‬ 😼

June 2016 update: Orlando, and the need for an Arsenal

Hey all,

It’s been almost three months since my last live appearance. Although it’s been quiet on the onstage front, I’ve been busy behind the scenes prepping for the album that I hope to finally have released after years (decades, even) of false starts and near-misses. I want to make sure everything comes out in a way that meets my vision 100%–a tricky balance when that vision is ever-evolving. The good news is that the tracklist has been finalized and if all goes well, I should have a master ready to “print” later this year.

I’ve got pie-in-the-sky hopes for this record, and I’m going to do my best to hit the moon–while remaining realistic and grounded about its actual (for lack of better terms) “critical” and “commerical” prospects. I feel like my greatest strength is as a lyricist. So if these songs engage lots of people in some heady, stimulating conversation about some of the topics at hand, that will feel like success to me. Having said that, I’m very excited about (finally) framing my lyrics and melodies within a musical context that they have always deserved. My buddy Jeff will be providing some much needed punch (as in, drums) to some choice cuts, and I can’t stress it enough–my engineer/coproducer/co-conspirator Myke is a genius. You’re the greatest, Myke!

So anyway, it’s Pride Month here in Toronto and around the world, and this year’s festivities have obviously taken on a more gravitational turn in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. As a queer POC I was obviously as horrified as most of the rest of the world by what happened. In addition to firing up my anti-partriarchal impulses, it also gave me some brief pause with respect to my raison d’etre as an artist–if only temporarily.

For Pride last year, I put out a song called “I Wish I Were A Lesbian” (currently streaming here), a song that I wrote to confront more superficial aspects of gay male culture–some of that which I myself have felt compelled to buy into and perpetuate, despite my best intentions. I released it the week before Toronto Pride last year, as a sobering kind of statement on the body-fascist-corporatization of what is supposed to be an activist demonstration. It was to be included on the upcoming album, but in the wake of Orlando I wasn’t so sure that would still be a good idea.

I knew–and I know–that people could misinterpet “I Wish I Were A Lesbian” as some sort of self-loathing rant, but I wanted to take that risk because I believe it’s a discussion the community needs to keep having. I’m not a prude by any means–I completely advocate sexuality and sexual expression that breaks monogamist, heteronormative mores, and nowhere in my song do I refute that. (I have a few other songs that go further in ADVOCATING that.) Body fascism and the prioritization of image over substance ARE issues in queer culture, and terrorist attacks or not, that certainly hasn’t changed. And it’s an important part of who I am as an artist — the misfit in a sea of outsiders (now I’m getting REALLY pretentious, hahaha!). So… yes, the song will remain: on the upcoming album, in my repertoire, and as a part of my — ahem — Arsenal.

That’s another thing I briefly considering modifying: the title of the upcoming album. I had decided months ago it would, indeed, be called ARSENAL, and then this bullshit happened. Would this still be appropriate? Am I just the most insensitive fuck in the universe? Oy… and then one of my best friends said, “Keep it. I’m pissed off at this situation. We NEED an Arsenal!” And he’s right. We do. We’re not going to win this fight by cowering, by placating, or by walking on eggshells. Queer activism didn’t get this far by hiding and sanitizing, and it’s not time to start that shit now.

The weaponry in my Arsenal, if you will, is music and words. There is truth to the old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword–and as Woody Guthrie insinuated, a musical instrument is a machine that can indeed confront and kill fascist ideals.

Anyway, that’s all I got for now. I’m trying to alter the look of this website slightly, to match better the look of the album artwork, which at this point is all still in my head. But still! My pal Aaron Ber is helping me make this site even better, and hopefully that will all come to full fruition soon. Anyway, happy Pride, and I hope to have a gig to announce to you all soon.

Love,
Rexy


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YouTube re-upped / thank you re: Mar. 3

As the album continues to gestate, I am excited to be re-joining Arlene Paculan on stage this coming MARCH 3RD (Thursday), for a musical installment of her WonderFest Series at Folly BrewPub. I will be doing two sets and the beer is local and tasty if you’re into that sorta thing. Done! Thanks to all who came out. 🙂

Also, after a period of me figuring out how to consolidate everything, my YouTube channel is once again linked from this site and on its menus! Enjoy–more to come!

rexy



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FIRST SHOW OF 2016: FRI. JAN 22 @ HIRUT! (done! thank you)

The fantastically talented singer-songwriter Arlene Paculan has invited me to join the lineup in her latest installment of “Super Men” at the Hirut on Friday, Jan. 22nd, and I couldn’t be more flattered.

Jan22POSTER

It’s a pay what you can event, and I will be sharing the stage with Arlene, FourOneSix, and Michael Oesch. Throughout the show, there will be visual art displayed by local artist Stephen P. Arcand. The music starts at 8. I’m looking forward to this, my first performance of 2016, and continuing my ongoing road-tests for the upcoming album. Come on by and indulge in some Ethiopian delicacies while taking in the art! If you’re on Facebook, you can RSVP here.



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