Monthly Archives: May 2019

Sober Birthday And Boy Feelings

It’s kind of a strange day today. For one thing, it’s my 7 year Sober Birthday, which is super exciting. I ordered a lemon chiffon cake for myself and ate a slice, gonna slowly work my way through it the next few days. Being sober for seven years is a long time. I didn’t even know I was gonna quit drinking until the day I did quit. I kind of knew it was not going well for me. I’d quit pot like, a few months previously. And I just sort of substituted booze for weed, and it was not a great scene. I’m kind of a messy pukey drunk. So I do blood tests to check my liver because of the medications I am on for bipolar, and during the liver check they said it was kinda fucked and I needed to stop drinking immediately. So I did. I don’t know what made that so easy. I mean I really did “party” hardcore for my whole 20’s and part of my 30’s. And it wasn’t really so fun, more like embarrassing. And dangerous.

I remember when I first got sober and was around drunk people I realized how vulnerable they were for the first time. I mean also they can be very annoying. But there’s something that sort of makes me think of them as large rowdy children and it makes me worry for my friends in altered states. It also made me think about my own history as a drunk stoned person and the situations I would find myself in, some of which were dangerous.

Some things I haven’t been able to figure out as a sober person, and it makes me feel some things. Like, I haven’t kissed anyone these last seven years as a sober person, because I realized I really relied on substances to be brave enough to ask to kiss someone. And sex has been right out. It’s actually been longer than seven years, but the being sober thing complicates all of this. At this point I’m not even sure I will remember how to kiss someone properly, and I remember I was once a really exceptional kisser and I just don’t know if I have that in me yet, or if the first person I kiss will be patient enough not to write me off right away for being rusty. It’s not really like I am saving myself for someone to be with the rest of my life, it’s just that making advances is really complicated. Probably falling in love with unavailable women over and over didn’t help either. Also right now I have Invisaligns and although kissing is supposed to be fine, I’m still self-conscious of it. I don’t really feel undesirable though, that’s not really it. And I don’t feel like “OH GOD I’m never gonna kiss anyone again” cause I know someone wants to kiss me and it’s gonna happen soon. It’s just that the last seven years were filled with hesitation and being drawn to the wrong people, and I guess probably figuring myself out too. I didn’t realize I would want to parent children, for one thing, which changes my long term plans for people.

I’ve gotten sort of better at my career in terms of making things happen. That’s a good feeling. I’ve been slowly getting better at meeting new people. I’m more productive, which sounds like a capitalist trap and maybe it is, but also it feels good being able to create so much more work than I did when I was wasted all the time.

Anyway, it’s been a good seven years of growth. I have a drivers license, live somewhere else, did a degree, had some career achievements. My psychic says the love thing is just gonna take time cause I guess this woman I end up with is someone I meet while traveling, so it’s not even gonna happen here. But I still want to put out the intention of wanting to form a longterm relationship someday.

The boy stuff is sort of always around, and not really related to being sober but was also something I was thinking of today. I’m really reluctant to say I’m not a girl, cause part of me is, I’m genderfluid. I’m not gonna do hormones or surgery and I like she/her pronouns. And I even still ID as a lesbian cause I exclusively date queer women. I like that my skin is really soft even compared to other women, so I don’t want to change that, or get hairy, or lower my voice, or read like a cis man. I like my body basically and don’t have dysphoria. But damn do I feel like a boy. There are some things that all point to me being happy with my gender, but still my gender presentation is fairly masculine. I still do my nails. I have pink hair but it’s short. I’m really contradictory but basically I still like being seen and recognized by femmes who call me handsome or say something about me being a boy while they run their fingernails across my skin. I’m colourful by traditional boy standards, but that’s just who I am.

A while back I saw an article about lesbian boys and I kind of scoffed at it. But now I kind of see their point. It’s a confusing thing. I like all my soft parts. But sex with me is sort of a fluid adventure and even as a bottom it involves sort of taking turns having the dick and stuff, and like treating my body certain ways that to the outside observer might just seem like cis lesbian sex but there’s something just a bit boy about how I like to be treated. I still need to explore it more, and like I said above the last seven years have been solitary. I like having my breasts touched and not every boy is into that. I like being penetrated too. But also there’s some interest in femmes who are fluid with the way they fuck too. And even tho I’m mostly a submissive I still like strapping it on and pleasuring my partners. I’m not sure where this idea that all subs/bottoms do is take and not give comes from. Anyway, ha ha it occurs to me this blog post is mostly about sex as a sober boy than as just being sober and also a boy.

I don’t want to say I’m not a woman though. I think because I’m never gonna have the cis guy experience. And also because I’m not gonna pass as a man. And I don’t want to. BUT DAMN I appreciate when people see the boy in me and recognize it and let me know.

Post Biennial Feelings

Thirza At Whitney Biennial

I am back from the Whitney Biennial 2019! I went down for the parties/openings. I don’t have work showing in it until Sept 20 and 21st when I am screening two videos (2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 and Just Dandy) but I wanted to meet some artists there and see what people were showing. And yeah of course the chance to see the fancy stuff! It was overall a positive experience for me, I met new people, felt respected by the people who worked for the museum and appreciated by my cohort of artists even tho they didn’t get to see my videos yet. I think some of them looked me up though, so that’s nice. I felt like it was mostly a positive space as a 2 Spirit Indigiqueer person to be in, although I have something else that conflicts with that which I will mention later here.

New York itself was kind of a new experience this time, even though it was the third time I’ve been there. I found the people I met really friendly and open and I hope to return more often. Some people offered me spare rooms to stay in next time, which was sweet of them. I might do a workshop with another group of artists down there. I went to the Cubbyhole which I have heard about for a long time. And omg of course we went to Stonewall Inn for a drink, which was small but being such a historically significant part of a queer collective past made it feel really important and almost emotional to be in. Above is a picture of my friend Elwood, my Mom Ruth Cuthand, and I in front of the bar in the rain. Mom made a weird face cause it was rainy and she didn’t know what camera to look at ha ha.

I felt like most of my time there was trying to get some place or another. But maybe next time I’ll stay closer to Manhattan and not all the way in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Riding the ferry was sweet tho.

OKAY so like I had said I felt mostly safe as an Indigiqueer artist at the Whitney, and I think a couple other Indigiqueer/2S friends I’d gone with both nights felt that way too. But I put a bunch of other mostly Indigiqueer/2S/Queer/Trans artists who are friends on the guest list, and when they came they like really went looking fucking amazing and fierce and they were great. But the security at the Whitney followed them around the whole time they were there and made them feel uncomfortable. And in Canada, well Canada sucks but in places like the National Gallery and so on they would be a lot more respected by the security instead of being treated like a threat. They were gifting blankets to myself and the other Indigenous artists in the exhibition which was so sweet, but the blankets sort of threatened security, and some medicines they put down for the late great James Luna got confiscated. So sort of have some mixed feelings about that. I mean there is so much to be unpacked there but I really just got home yesterday and haven’t sorted it all out in my head yet.

I celebrated last night by going to Lizzo here in Toronto with some of them and that was super fun. I’m glad I got to see her perform in a smaller venue because I think it’s gonna be the bigger places from now on for her.

I did one media interview while I was in New York, which was nice. I know I am supposed to be capitalizing on this opportunity, but not sure it’s gonna totally work out that way for me, for various reasons. I’m just going to continue trying to do the work I do, which I feel is important. There’s a core part of me that is still basically making videos for a teenage queerdo that I was living in Saskatchewan in the early 90’s not seeing myself anywhere. I know someday I’m gonna find out someone kept hanging on because they saw some outlines of who they were and who they could be in my work. Some isolated Indigiqueer/2S youth somewhere in the prairies wanting some sign that they aren’t a freak. Or that maybe if they are a freak, that it’s a good thing. I don’t think that’s such a weird reason to make art.

Remember Why You Do This

I have been trying to come to peace with wild big themes of fame and attention and celebrity, and sort of who gets uplifted, and who doesn’t. And trying not to feel sore about not being famous or something I don’t know. I was talking with my Mom tonight on the phone because I hate having these feelings so I need to remember why I am an artist in the first place. She and I have both been making largely political work through our careers, and my father also. And Canada just doesn’t really have a system for art stars or anything. And when I tell people I’m in the Whitney Biennial a lot of people don’t know what that is. But then it’s like, do I really want to even be an art star? Like is that why I am making art? To be famous? I mean honestly that’s really not my intention with the work I do. I started making videos because I wanted to create representations of under represented communities, like teenage Indigenous lesbians, and then all the other multiplicities of marginal identities I picked up along the way and the people I grew to love and work with. Cause I remember growing up what it felt like to be a weirdo and alone and like I was the only one like me. And I didn’t want someone else to feel that way, like they couldn’t be complex and strange and having a sexuality that doesn’t involve men except in occasionally embodying feelings of transmasculinity. I’ve always said this in every artist talk I have ever done, I make representations of under-represented and under-served communities. I speak about and to 2S/Indigiqueer people. I’m really clear about it.

So I guess part of me thought the Whitney thing would be the big break, and I’d like finally be on the cover of something, I don’t know. But Canada is more excited about Venice because Canadians go to Venice and as a general rule Canadians don’t go to the Whitney Biennial because it was made for American Artists. But in a way this is good because it’s finally making me confront that old desire to be famous. I don’t know where it came from. Maybe it was some kind of ego compensation from when I was a bullied little kid or something. But does it really matter? Or is it really the art that matters?

When I think about my life and my future it’s not really like, driving around in a Mercedes or eating caviar or sleeping in king sized beds or even really doing interviews every week. I think about some really practical things like the stories I want to tell in my work, and visually arresting scenes I want to film, and children I want to raise and my home I want to live in and doing things in my community. I can still do all of those things without being famous.

And then again I think back to my under-represented and under-served communities and it’s like, yeah how can I even think I would be famous when I make work that not everyone can extend themselves to empathize with? Like some cishet people are just not gonna celebrate a kinky old fat NDN masculine lesbian. And it’s not that that’s okay, that’s just where they are in their personal evolution, and not much I can do about it.

But I was talking with Dayna Danger on Friday night in Kingston after our opening at Agnes Etherington Art Gallery and they were saying that they felt I made space for them and the other loud sexy challenging 2s artists coming up now. And when I think about it, maybe it’s true. And maybe that was the point. I was always trying to help people get video skills and encourage emerging 2s artists. I always kept it in the back of my mind that the reason I made videos with such DIY aesthetics was to subtly encourage other filmmakers and video artists that they could make something too without having the big production values and the big grants. And I guess it worked. And really that’s what I should be celebrating, that there’s a space for this work to be seen and embraced and people pushing the envelope.

People try to get famous in all kinds of destructive ways. And probably I could be more famous if I changed the type of work I make and made really consumable images. But I honestly didn’t want to be a celebrity, I wanted to change the world, and those are two very different things.