What’s Queer about the Beginning of the World? by Jason Lipeles

Photo Credit: Orly Ruaimi; Jason Lipeles leads a workshop at the 2019 Reciprocity Artist Retreat in Los Angeles.
Poet and performance artist, Jason Lipeles, discusses his newest project and how it relates to his understanding of love, death, and Judaism.
In my current project, I interview artists, writers, and theologians beginning with the question, “What’s queer about the beginning of the world?”
In one interview, artist and author Peter Cochrane responded with a vision for queer utopia: spiraling minarets, a new form of reproduction, and gold lamé overalls.
In another, author Anna McCormick explained, “When I think about the term ‘queer,’ I imagine it as the beginning of multiple worlds. Worlds within worlds that queer people have always had to find and create for themselves out of necessity.”
At times, the conversations spark writings that pay homage to the artists’ imagined worlds. Other times, I begin with an image from a day dream and follow it to its natural conclusion.
Recently, I wrote a piece about a friend that began in a roller skating rink and ended inside the horizon line, her eyes gazing at the sun. In a related piece, a queer couple joined Barbra Streisand and a gaggle of angry queens parading down Main Street—ready to rewrite the Constitution.
And, of course, in the midst of thinking about beginnings, I can’t help but think about endings. So I’m also writing about my friend who died 18 months ago and the worlds we would have created together.
Slide from Red Velvet Curtains Part, 2019; a slideshow performance inspired by queer beginnings. Text and design by Jason Lipeles.
The imagined worlds are both unfortunate and forgiving, optimistic and cynical. And, without too much stretching, I’ve come to believe that this mixing is undeniably Jewish. Because, what’s more Jewish than mingling love and death in the same breath?
And even with these competing emotions, I can’t help but pull these imaginings further and further into the hopeful space of love because, truthfully, it feels like the only way to move through life.
If all the fish are going to drop dead, and if the raging fires are going to burn every single tree, and if my friend is still dust, then why can’t I imagine a world where angels wear sparkly jockstraps, and honey squirts from sprinklers, and it’s always the first day of the month?
Why can’t I imagine a world where finding love is as easy as finishing this sentence?
Untitled (Cherries), 2018. Photograph by Jason Lipeles.

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