Sept. 28, 2022

Season 4, Episode 11 (Balance)

Season 4, Episode 11 (Balance)

Transcript
Eric:

Hello and welcome to the Q lounge, I'm Eric

Gil:

and I'm Gil.

Eric:

join us as we discuss news stories and life situations, as they relate to the LGBTQIA plus experience, please visit us at theQloungepodcast.com and hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcasts. If you would like to follow us on social media, you can hit us up on Facebook @theQloungepodcast or on Instagram or Twitter @theQlounge. Hello. Welcome to the Q lounge. I'm Eric

Gil:

and I'm Gil

Eric:

and we are super honored to be joined today. With balance. How are you doing balance?

Balance:

I'm doing well. I'm doing really well. Thanks. Thank you

Eric:

so much for joining us. You have quite the resume. I think all of our guests from this season have quite the resume, but you have quite the resume. You're a doctor of East Asian medicine, you have a master's in dance and professional dancer.

Balance:

It's a MFA, a master's in fine arts and dance.

Eric:

Okay.

Gil:

Okay.

Eric:

Yeah. Okay. Master in fine arts. You're a dancer. You're a dancer for years. Yeah. Yeah, you do some beautiful interpretive. Movement work that I just recently saw. Nice. Yeah. What else did I miss? You're just an amazing person

Balance:

around. In addition to the doctor of east Asian medicine I'm also a licensed massage therapist and I've that's right. Been doing body work a lot longer. So it was a transition from dance to body work to Asian medicine.

Eric:

That's awesome. I totally spaced the massage therapy. So thank you for reminding

Balance:

that's and I actually, and I con I continue to do all three amazing, which is really kinda amazing.

Eric:

Yeah, it is. And you have, like I said, you have such the resume, it was bound to happen. I was gonna forget something,

Balance:

Aw, thanks.

Eric:

When did you realize that you were part of the G B T QIA a plus community, or how did you realize.

Balance:

I think like a lot of people there were stages. Okay. Because in a physical sense, being a competitive swimmer as a kid. Oh, wow. I had some early interactions with kids my own age so there was that kind of information because, 19 I was born in 57 in Columbus, Ohio 68, 69 was really puberty, hormone, beginning kind of thing. And and so there were these interactions with a couple of boys my own age, and then we move twice. Middle school. And then my senior year of high school, we moved from Williamsville, New York outside of Buffalo to Shreveport Louisiana. Oh, wow. That's a big, wow. Yeah. And at first I was thinking, it was gonna be really exotic cuz it's Louisiana, but Northern is very different than, Shreveport Inc Baton Rouge and it certainly is not new Orleans. Yeah. So that was the first time I got called a faggot. By kids in school. But the other thing was. A lot of the males in the school would just go off on, they'd approach me after hearing me talk and say where are you from Yankee? So there was this kind of dual animosity about being a Yankee and a fag. And I really, at that point, didn't even have much of a language for understanding who I was I knew who I was attracted to. And and that was really the extent of it. And so jump to and we can talk about the queer bashing that happened at that high school later, but it was really College having my first adult sexual experience with another man. Okay. That would've been like, oh gosh, just turning 20 fall of 1977. Okay. And and so that was a bit of a wake up because at the time I was going to a school in Nakadish, Louisiana, which was a dry parish. And no gay bars, no nothing. Yeah. And so spring of 78, I transferred to LSU and Baton Rouge. Okay. And I had to go in early because they hadn't received all of my transcripts. And I'm not sure why I had to show up early, but I did. And that, first two weeks in January before school started, I went down to the gay bar and that's where it that's where I just whoa, it was just this big aha that it wasn't just about, hidden fur of little sex, but this was a room filled with men dancing and primarily, mostly a gay male bar. There were women there as well, but then it was the interaction, seeing guys holding hands and seeing guys kiss each other. And although it's a private place, but it's a still big and therefore public. Yeah. And that was it. And it was the disco era I literally, between school where I'm dancing all day and And then almost every night I would go out, and just dance my ass off, it was it. So that was the big blossoming.

Eric:

Okay. You're totally speaking to,

Balance:

but then doing that for one year and in February of 79, I'm now in the Baton Rouge city police academy.

Eric:

Oh, wow.

Gil:

Oh, wow. Okay.

Balance:

and that only lasted until October. So we graduated in April. I was second in the class and I did it to break away from my family financially. Okay. I had to drop outta school. Oh, wow. Because my parents were the kind of folks who, I hadn't come out to them yet. And I had come out to one brother and one sister. And they both were saying don't tell mom and dad don't tell mom and dad. And and so I just knew after that first semester in Baton Rouge, that there's no way I could go back home to Shreveport for the summer and I could do the same job. I was a lifeguard and a water safety instructor. That's what I did at home. So I could, in fact, I did it right there at the university. So I had the job and everything. Oh, rent was like ridiculous. It was like maybe a hundred dollars a month back then. And I lived like a quarter mile from the campus and, Louisiana Baton Rouge. At best you're just throwing a sweater. Yeah. It's semi-tropical there was that kind of atmosphere with school, but I knew that I had to break free from my parents, so I couldn't afford school right off the bat. I had to wait a whole year, so I was off my parents, so my parents can declare me a dependent. Okay. And then I qualified for what they now call the Pell grant. But back then it was called something different. And in that year off, I had to get a job and I just, I thought of police work as social work and I was a very kind of socially conscious kind of awareness in all sorts of ways. I had two uncles that were officers. That was my choice. The, I just noticed that the police academy me was. And, starting a new three month program got in, went through that. Now mind you, this is 1979. So it's the year after Harvey Milk has been assassinated and Anita Bryant is, still doing her thing around the country. Ah, and it was really homophobic environment to be in. Yeah, absolutely. But I learned after years and years with my, my nuclear family sibling units that I actually grew up in a homophobic environment. So I actually had some practice dealing with that. Yeah. And so cut to, at some point it must have been like August. There was one other male officer I knew who was gay and we were basically caught out at the gay bar. Okay. And within a week he resigned and then it was another month before I even got called in. And I'll never forget that conversation with the captain who was on my, the, chief officer on my squad. And because he asked me, he, he claimed that he didn't really understand why I was getting, this what was called punishment detail. They were basically moving me downtown and I was walking a beat doing parking meters, and and, sweltering, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, summer heat. And He claimed to not know why I was being punished and he says, but there is a question I wanna ask you. And I knew, of course, what he was gonna ask and he said, there's a rumor that you're gay. Now, mind you, this is 1979 Louisiana. There's sodomy laws. I know this. I'm not gonna admit to my Yeah. Superior officer. You know what, if he, I wanted to believe that he was being sincere, but what if he was trying to get me to admit it? Yeah. And and just that quick thinking, I just looked at him and said what does that have to do with my work as a police officer And he says, absolutely nothing as far as I'm concerned. And I answered let's just leave it at that. So what I did then was I did that for just a couple of weeks, and then I I put in for my vacation. And when I, when they approved my vacation the day before I was to leave, I gave them my two week notice. So that ended that chapter, but it taught me a whole lot because I got to see the racism issues like huge. Yeah. From that power perspective at a really young age, that's so impressionable. I had already witnessed it so much in the south, primarily because I grew up in white, middle Western suburbia, where there, we had the black housemate for a while. That was really my only interaction. And she was like family to me. Yeah. And I remember in New York we had two black kids in our high school. And then we moved to Shreveport Louisiana where the population is, greater for African Americans than it is for whites. And and so it was the first time in my life, really at the age of 17 that I even was in close proximity to that many people of color. And I'm just a very open hearted accepting person. And I guess, because of ways that I saw family members acting with our housekeeper, that didn't make sense to me. She was just as much family as anybody else. And I couldn't understand why people would talk down to her, that, that just didn't seem right. So I guess that was a really important. Early thing just about the race issue. And now living here with the Ray Navajo and the Zuni, that whole aspect of it, really gets informed. And then, I think that's part of why I love New Mexico. It's so rich and it's diversity with Hispanic and Latinx and it just, it's a miracle that we just get to really live in that kind of a rich environment. Yes. And so yeah, that whole 79 thing was just a real big wake up call again about The race issue being forefront in my face. And then that was I would say the whole experience of being in the police department and the timing with the Harvey milk and Anita Bryant, that's where my kind of queer activism really was like, okay. Yeah. I know my boundaries and the police department taught me a lot about how to take care of myself physically. if you're outnumbered act like you're crazy, just go berserk. that's literally what they teach us. that's some good advice. Yeah. It might have changed now because, I just can't imagine being in law enforcement right now, the, just the sheer weight of the equipment would just be awful. Yeah, no, that's true. Yeah. And then it just continued from there because my early coming out years were the very beginning of the HIV aids issues and then going all the way through the nineties with that and having this really elegant and beautiful meeting of doing first learning to do body work, 95, 96, 96 is when the protease inhibitors came out. And I remember being invited into a hospital by a friend of mine who by that point, weighed may be a hundred pounds and was within months of the end of his life. And basically because his Medicaid wouldn't cover respiratory therapy, the, he told a nurse that I was studying massage and they let me come into the hospital just to and I think back to my mom was a nurse and her favorite part of nursing back then she studied, in the late forties, early fifties was massage. She would give me and my brother massages after we'd come home from swim practice. And I was thinking like why can't a nurse, then be caring enough if she knew enough to tell me, oh, you need to do a little Tabo to loosen up Thele in his lungs. I'm like thinking like you're his nurse. Why aren't you doing that? Yeah. So that was a crazy lesson early on about our medical system. And yeah. And if you're poor. Whatever that means. Monetarily is what it means in this country. And our beautiful capitalist regime that, it just astonishes me, and jump to being in practice. Now, just under four years, it's like, whoa, I had a patient pass this year and part of it was just witnessing how challenging the system was for him to get through it. And it was this long waiting period of not getting answers and getting shuffled around from the VA to, the public system with private system actually the corporate system. And and so it, that was another kind of lesson of like how inept at times, our system is because of what it looks at. And so now I'm gonna do a palliative care continuing ed, because I wanna be a little bit more prepared because it's not just the patient, it's the patient's family. And really being able to counsel them through that process, other than, of course being openhearted through the whole process. But again, it's just that thing. Okay. You've probably had more

questions

Balance:

that was no,

Eric:

no. All of this, you talk as much as you want. Like you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met and

Balance:

so Aw, thanks.

Eric:

How did your friends and family take it when you came out? What was that like for you?

Balance:

It was really interesting. 1978. I tell my brother Jeffrey who's a year older and my sister Katrina who's three years younger. They were like Two of my closest siblings. I have two older brothers and four younger sisters. Oh, okay. And so there's a lot of us and they were the two that were like, don't tell mom, don't tell mom, don't tell mom or dad. And so I didn't, and then I was dropping hints. Okay. And my mom knew exactly who to go to and my mom never goes direct. Okay. She would never come to me and say Gregory, even as cl there were times that my mom and I were just so tight, it's we could just read each other's minds. And yet if she felt troubled and it wasn't just me, any of the siblings she, if she wanted to find out about Jeff, she would come to. if she wanted to find out about Katrina, she would either come to me or Mary Anne, the sister that's between us, so she knew where the bridge, the real bridges were. Okay. And she used that to leak out information. very subversive, we learned how to be a dysfunctional codependent family, primarily from our mom. God love her, that's, she was a master at it, so she eats it up out of Jeff and Katrina and then confronts me. The next time I happen to come home. Okay. And doesn't confront me until I'm just finding, I'm looking at her and my dad's like totally silent. Hasn't barely said, boo. And my mom's just got that tone, and I'm like, yeah. So what's going on? And that's when she's you don't know I'm like, no, I don't know. She goes, but let's go into the other room. Okay. And she goes, I know about you. And I had learned by then, if this is early 79, I'm only 21 And so I know my mom well enough, I'm like, I'm not gonna give it to her. She's I'm gonna make her say it. Yeah. And so finally I'm like, and so it goes back and forth. I'm like, you know what I know about you, you know what I know about you? And so finally I'm like, what about me, mom? He goes, you're a homosexual and I just shot right back with technically mom, I have been with women also, so that would make me bisexual I wasn't gonna get into it's maybe kinda like really 98% homosexual mom, but still I'm gonna hold onto that 2%. yeah. And and I, just always have it's just, it's broader for me. And you first look it up in the dictionary. This is unique. I like that. We're all unique. We're all queer. Yeah. Yeah.

Eric:

We lost your audio.

Balance:

Came out oh, hold on about the mom of a homosexual.

Eric:

We lost your balance. We lost your audio.

Balance:

Do you have it now?

Eric:

Yes. I think we have it now.

Gil:

Yeah, we should be okay.

Balance:

It's probably because I'm too animated. So my mother basically outs herself to me. It's she knows what she's doing is saying, Hey, I know that I'm the mother of a gay son. And then she proceeded to out me to all the other siblings and my dad. Oh, wow. And back then, I didn't have the savvy quite yet to say. You had no right to do that, right? Yeah. But she did. But to end that argument, I find she was getting so hot and hated about it. That I finally looked at her and I said, mom, if you ever tell me, I need to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. You'll never see me again. You will lose me as a son. And man, she just shut right up like that. So I caught her just in time. Wow. And basically my dad and I, we had one simple conversation years later. And he was really a very fundamentalist Catholic. Wow. And I thought it was a physician. He was gonna take it better than mom did. And it was the reverse over time. She really got pretty cool with it. Okay. But only after my lesbian sister Katrina came out and hood, did mom call. First after Katrina came out, me wanting to know why I didn't tell her my mom. Wasn't my place to tell you that. Yeah. Why would I put my sister through the same kind of living hell I've lived through? And my mom was me. What do you mean? You've, you're living through a living hell. I'm like, oh, mom, wake up, look how, you know how Chuck treats me Maryanne treats me. Patty doesn't even look at me. She told me that at the time, I think Kelly was probably seven, my youngest sister. And Kelly's the only one that I have a relationship with anymore. She still lives in Shreveport, God love her. And when she turned 18, I, was given permission by mom to, to have the talk with her. And so we were on our way to the shopping mall and. We got out of the parking lot, outta the car. And I said, Hey, I just wanna let you know something, I just want you to know that I love you. And I'm your big brother and I'm gay. And she just looked at me and she's yeah, I know. she's do you really, does everybody really think I don't have ears? Everybody's been talking about it in these whispers at home. She was so cool. I just adore. Oh, that's lovely. And she's still my baby sister and she's over 50, go ahead.

Eric:

Oh, no, I, so how was it for you to have to hold that until she turned 18?

Balance:

We were just really close. And so she's a total Disney fanatic. Okay. And I, I am the one that took her to Disney movies as a kid. My parents, were in their, they were both in their forties when she was born. Okay. And she pretty much flew, grew up hearing my dad say, he was too old to have had another kid which is a pretty harsh thing to grow up with. Yeah. all seven of us have our different takes on mom and dad. It, it was really a screwy dynamic. At some level I knew that I had to keep the stuff that I was doing as a youngster with my teammates. I knew I couldn't talk about that. Yeah. But. I guess on that level, I was just, I just learned early to keep certain kinds of secrets

Eric:

did, do you have, did it contribute to any type of internalized homophobia? Did you have anything like that you dealt with or struggled with?

Balance:

I the only aspect of it I ever get is if I feel I'm in a threatening situation. Okay. if I walk into redneck bar now today, it would be totally different. I would totally walk into a redneck bar in my total radical fairy, two spirit Walts between, dangling earrings, skirt, over a pair of pants and a bustier with a man's vest. I would totally do that now. Okay. But in my twenties there was just that fear of getting physically assaulted especially after what had happened in high school. Cause I literally, I was a gymnast and I literally ended up landing up upside down on top of my head on a solid gym floor. Oh my God accident. And I was in the hospital and a concussion and I, live with the chronic pain to this day. My neck is, a little twisty and compressed I could be six foot if it wasn for that. So yeah, there's always, adjustments and that kind of internalized, not so much what if somebody finds out, but I just don't wanna be a target. And, grad school in Philadelphia, that was when was that? That was 82 to 84. And and then I left in 85 and came back in 88 and just, remembering, like there were just certain parts of town where you just had to be really cautious. Yeah. And that's where all the gay bars were. So back in the late eighties during the act up periods the Philly queer community had its own like posse, it would always be at these pairs, usually three or four, they had, vests and caps and they all had walkie-talkies and they would just walk that downtown area. And if anybody, was getting harassed or needed help, and they could just, call into the radio station or the police station with the radios. And the police were really, supporting that whole effort back then. For me, it was like that experience at that first gay bar really just blew doors open. Yeah. Going to school at LSU back then I started out, we were all PE majors because they didn't have the BFA in dance until later. Okay. And I did switch, But when I got there in 70. It was a PE degree with a dance emphasis. Okay. And and I loved teaching and I had been a jock. It all made sense to me and I loved the kind of scientific aspect of the body, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, all of that. And being able to be in that environment and take certain courses with football players, basketball players, there were a lot of jocks taking phys ed courses. And so if I was walking across the quad with, a leotard, and I'd pull a pair of shorts over my tights and that I would walk from class to class. Yeah. Cause you. Everybody smells sweaty in Louisiana. you don't always have time to strip off your clothes and put on street clothes and head across campus to your next class. And there would be people that would be making cat calls and, then a football player would show up and pop this person on the shoulder and say, leave our friend alone. oh, awesome. Because for a lot of them, particularly in classes like biology and kinesiology, I was their go-to study geek. The sciences always came really easily for me. And I was constantly being pushed to go into medicine. I did. Eventually. Yeah, I, I helped tutor a lot of these athletes through their. their more difficult science classes. In the field and they had my back, that's awesome. So it, it was really a fun time. Late seventies, early eighties as, as much, craziness going on, I was in my twenties and I loved what I was doing when I came back and they had added the BFA. My last two years was nothing, but all fun classes, music appreciation, philosophy of art. All my dance classes. Choreography, improvisation, theater classes. Art history, it was, I was just immersed in art. That's amazing. Art and all the visual arts for the last two years of my seven years of undergraduate education.

Gil:

you finished though? That's what count? Good.

Balance:

I did. I did. So I have a BFA and I have the equivalent of a BA in general studies because I was there for so long, but you. There you go, that's just paper. You can't take it outta here. No, not gonna fall out all on its own.

Gil:

What is your experience? Because not to live. And this is what I always like to ask because like a lot of us, the younger, the millennials, the gen Z, we don't know much about the eighties from the gay perspective, because a lot of our community died right. Going through the nineties. So I grew up in the bay area. Yeah. You're talking, I remember it my age. Yeah. Like I said, you're walking you lived it, from coast to, being in the deep south. So I wanted, if there any more perspective or did you see the difference, how it was handled in Louisiana versus being handled when you're out in Philly, in the bigger cities, the big, like urban areas?

Balance:

Yeah. In, in the one thing about Louisiana is they had new Orleans. Okay. And new Orleans was early on. One of the big cities hit. Okay. Along with New York, San Francisco, new Orleans was right there in the mix. So they got a heavy dose of it. And the one thing about particularly Southern Louisiana is very Catholic. Okay. And there's, my that's one of the things I admired about my dad as a physician, he was an MD, but he was a Catholic physician. Okay. And he would I, as a gymnast in college, if somebody fell off the apparatus, my dad was like on the floor and to that person faster than anybody else, he truly was a good Samaritan. Oh, I'm gonna get all teared up. So that notion of providing from the heart was certainly an early thing that I had witnessed from him. And it's really a tradition. He, whenever he associated with hospitals, he always worked directly with Catholic hospitals and they do have a mission. Now at times they've also been problematic. particularly with HIV and aids. Actually I can, I have to take that back. I'm basing that on Rohoboth McKinley here in Gallup. They're a they're a Christian hospital, but they're not a Catholic hospital. And I've walked in there and just felt creepy crawling because they're so anti this and anti that yeah. And so that's that's just a a powerful kind of thing to witness. So in Louisiana, I think we just benefited from having one of the big cities that was affected and that it was a large Catholic population that, had a really genuine caring heart. Okay. Philly was definitely more violent, it, but it was, I didn't live in new Orleans. I lived in Baton Rouge, which at the time was about 200,000 people, and it's really spread out. So it doesn't even really feel, it just feels like a big zoo cause it's so lush. It's just incredibly lush down there. And so Philly was, yeah, just a little bit more of that kind of urban scare urban violence that you just find in urban areas because of so many different oppressed populations, I think, one of the greatest things that kind of started coming out of that HIV aids era was the notion of allies. Yeah. And, because the lesbian population that supported the dying gay brothers, that was like one of the first mentions of, allies, the need for allies. So I always try and bring that into the conversation, whether it's, gender issues sexual equality, racism, ethnicity, it doesn't matter what the ism is because all isms seem to be schism. And so if we can just, come back to this, which is why I don't get religion when they all talk about coming from the heart, I'm like, okay, where's the fucking proof. I'm not impressed by your huge tabernacle or your huge, or that you've got 3000 people in an arena just, throwing the greenbacks in because they're lost for anything else. Yeah. And it's a big show. Yeah, that's the part about religion? That's my walk away from religion just had to do with really being raised by my family because of the kind of questions I asked. They're like, oh, he's going to be the family priest. And I was really enraptured with. The theater of it. But by college I really had a questioning mine. And I remember, I think it was the philosophy professor who said, it's not so important, what you believe in it's just important that you believe in something yeah. Beyond this life or else what's what's the reason. Yeah. Then I just read this great little quote that basically said, that does a disservice to this life. And so just keep focusing on this one. I like that. Good to that. Yeah. You'll get to that. And I think, for me that's just yeah, I've lived it long enough that I can see that picture, I'm looking. I don't know how much longer I'm gonna live. I don't know how much longer I wanna live. If this kind of current civil unrest, political hoo-ha yeah. Doesn't shake itself down. I don't wanna be a part of a civil war. I really do not. Yeah. And I think the media and the P politicians have to like, just learn to diffuse the situation instead of compounding. How do you think it is now? Like in modern time? Like when we have like monkeypox and they're trying to equate it to an STI and to a, to aids HIV how is that is that reminiscent of any of that for you or, oh yeah. As soon as that started. I was like here we go again. But then I also started reading gay men are now limiting their are self limiting their number of sexual contacts and the number of different persons. And it's yeah, we went through this once before those of us that are still alive. Yeah. Yeah. So hopefully we've, educated the younger generations behind us. I'd like to think that we still carry on that queer, aspect of our, sharing our life experiences with those that are younger because that history is really important. Absolutely. I've been able to witness that with, what, one of the big things that brought me to New Mexico back in 98, On my cross country road trip was Fairy sanctuary here in, in New Mexico. And it, at the time it was two years old. And so I'd lived there for three and a half years learning all sorts of wonderful things about reconnecting back to the earth and and, gentle earth building techniques and the study of permaculture. And the notion of being a steward of a space, safe space for queer folk to come out in the country and camp and get away from, the techno whatever, cuz back when I landed there in 99 for good or to live it, we. We, we were limited by our solar power system and the telephone system that the telephone line ran across the surface for a quarter mile. Oh wow. And every now and then the rabbits would chew through it. so we'd lose. So you gotta walk the whole line, find where, so those were those, being a part of that though, the notion of holding sanctuary for others was what carried me into the new millennium really with still being a part of this activist kind of culture. So that's definitely been just an ongoing thing.

Eric:

What do you think is what do you think of the importance of queer spaces? Do you think that's so important?

Balance:

I do. I do. I'm, it's interesting because right now the sanctuary's in this very kind of nebulous who knows what's gonna happen kind of thing. And I'm praying for the fact that it's just maybe going through yet another evolution it certainly the kind of environment that it was when I landed there back in 99. And and so I, yeah, I think safe space is really important because nobody to this I can only speak for myself. I know that I was not raised to be a fag and these youngsters that are coming out publicly. If I had come out to my parents at the age of 11 or 12, much less said, Hey, I'm fooling around with some of my, teammates it, it just wouldn't, my parents would've freaked out. I would've been, I would've been sent to some kind of psychiatric Institute. And so when these kids are coming out at much earlier ages and that certainly includes trans individuals it's. Yeah. And we have to have safe space for them and for everybody else, because of things like what's going on in Texas. Oh my God. Or these states are trying to force teachers to out, LT QI, I'm like what that's that is. Such 1984 stuff. I'm like, yeah. I had to read that in eighth grade. 1984. I read in eighth grade and that would've been 1970, so I'm, and now it's we're living it. Yeah. We're just living. Drones flying overhead all the cameras at the, intersections in cities. We carry a goddamn GPS or around with us. Yeah, we do. Anybody knows where part in Yeah. Google so much as I am about who knows what? But then I think it's funny that some teenage hacker can track Elon Musk's airplane. private airplane yeah. Very true. Power to the teenagers who have been schooled on this technology since they were, toddlers. But I do remind some of those little, okay. Boomer types that I've grown up along with it too. I just started a, at a different age level. So it's it's a fascinating world we live in.

Eric:

What do you think of the younger queer generation?

Balance:

I love them except when I've had a couple delivery throw that okay. Boomer, and yeah. Tossed their hand or whatever. I'm like, you know that whatever's gonna come back to haunt you one day. yeah. Yes. Because because it's important. I love the sense of freedom. That, that they have. I love that. That like with my kids sister's family her two kids, a son and a daughter, because Kelly stayed in Shreveport whenever I would come home to see mom and dad, she was there. So those are the two, the one niece and nephew that really grew up around me a lot. And and they're rather Southern Baptists. Oh, okay. And the kids just drifted to that because that's what all their friends were. And my sisters kinda eh, I'll go with the kids and but she's certainly not preachy at all. And she's the most loving sister and my niece and my nephew just ado me. That's great. So it's interesting to see. That kind of environment where, their kids also get to grow up around me or, I never feel pressure from them to yo tone it down. Okay. In fact my one niece that first semester of school Christina came with her husband and a friend of theirs to help another friend who was moving to Albuquerque. And we all planned a day to go to the zoo. And her son cord was like six years old at the time I think. And my hair was not as the longest it had been, but it was like down to my shoulders and I was wearing this scarf and I had these really cool sunglasses on it was, Albuquerque and April, and sunny. And so he started calling me Ms. Oakley. So miss in the south. It's is what any kid would call any female. Okay. they don't say misses and they don't say miss everybody is MI in, at least in Louisiana. And then Oakley was because of the glasses. Okay. And his dad got really upset and embarrassed when he heard him call me Miz. And it was funny before I could say anything, his wife, my niece said, oh, that's okay. Trust me. Trust me. That's okay. Now uncle ugly is what they call me. Uncle ugly is not upset by that. And so her husband, the in-laws have to learn a little bit about, accepting the queer uncle. Yeah. Perhaps. But that part of it's. And, mostly I have two older nieces, the two oldest of all the nieces because they had more interaction with me. we're just really close. And they're the type of people that would definitely, jump on anybody who had anything homophobic to say to anybody, not just about, a loved one. Yeah. So I do like that sense of allyship. Yeah. Being really much part of the younger generations because they get it. But that doesn't mean that there's still not pockets of oppression. And we know it is because of the political climate right now. Absolutely. Of, trying to take down all these, constitutional standards and turn us into a, Christian jihadic society. Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. I just saw a story where there was a pastor that was like giving a lecture. I wanna say it was at Colorado state, but I could be wrong on that. But I think that's where it was at. And talking about like how the trans people and the gay people were gonna go to hell and all this other stuff and how they were damned. And then the school basically like the students walked out and basically staged, like almost a whole pride parade, like right in front of him, just to make him that uncomfortable that he eventually left the campus. Good. Because they were like, no, you're not gonna do this to any of us. One of us is all of us. And I was like, I love that. There's a whole, we not me. Yeah. I think that's, that, that sense of American individualism is there's a strength to it, but a profound weakness, if you don't teach that strength comes from the community we're not, no, no being is an island, as the saying goes so the notion that any one person's way is the way is just absolutely crazy. Yeah. And to try and use the political system to force religious beliefs, it's wait a minute. That's antithetical to, yeah. To what this country was based upon, but then you take the native American view and it's Wait a minute. It's not just that. It's also based upon this whole other kind of oppression of, white supremacy and the privilege that has brought to those of us who are of European, just descent, literally for what, 500 years now. 600 years. Yeah. Yeah. And I don't think I ever would've really groked it, unless I had moved here and I've lived in New Mexico now longer than I lived anywhere in my life. Oh. And it's been some of the most challenging, but, I just love it. Especially with the monsoon season that we've had a really big one, this, it's just been a complete turnaround from the last several years. Absolutely. we had no monsoon season for the last two years. I

Eric:

know, I think we had more rain this past year than we did in two decades.

Balance:

It's down like a waterfall great. I do wanna talk about those pieces that you saw because that kind of cuz that's the performer in me now. Okay. And I'm actually using our little open mic stuff at the gallery, which is right across the street here. I'm in my clinic by the way. Okay. I don't I'm off grid at home, so I don't have internet or anything like that. And I love it. That's why it's that way. Yeah. When I was in school, I met up with one of our patients at the student clinic. She and I started doing an exchange, so I would go to her place and give her body work. And she was an acting coach and she had this tiny little room with a little performance space at one end. And she would use that as her coaching space. And so I would give her body work and then I would go in and I would start working out these ideas for a piece called PTSD and me. Okay. And because my PTSD diagnosis came in January of 2014. Oh, wow. Literally a year before I started school and so the notion of working with vocational rehabilitation, which helped me through school they were requiring that because of my diagnosis that I, had to follow doctor's orders and take whatever medication they wanted to prescribe. And at that point I was only on prim, which is a antidepressant and, but in my head, I just didn't wanna do it. And I would even hear my dad saying he thought that using those kind of medicines were not really wise medicine And I would just keep hearing him in my head and. So that was actually a motivation to go to school. Cause it's if I wanna treat myself with that kind of medicine, I'm gonna have to go learn it. So I can at least treat myself while I still live here. My home is paid for, I'm not giving that up. Yeah. And I built my own cabin and that means a lot. And what I would do is start working out ideas in this rehearsal space. And part of that reflected on my first therapist I worked with really showed me how, like the beginnings of my PTSD was in the family. Okay. That there was all these subtle signs particularly from the males in the family. Hiding your emotions. Like anytime I would cry and I am the biggest cry baby. You take me to a, a sad story movie and I'm gonna cry. I was constantly being shut down and being told that, that was weak. That was weak, and I think of this piece I did in grad school called big boys. Don't cry. Cuz that was a phrase I would hear. Yeah. And it was the first real performance piece solo performance art piece that I did that wasn't really I love choreographing, just lovely flowing, beautiful rhythmic dances with lush to use it. I'm a romantic in that sense, but I also have my like political statement art and that's generally come more from my solo work and so I started just creating a script, a. Much like a jazz musician creates a score for a jazz improv because my pieces now are improvised but within a they're set parameters, for it. And so basically I'm telling a story and I like to use movement as a way of exaggerating the emotional impact of that story, because I'll alter my voice. I alter my breath and moving allows me to keep it really invigorating for me. And so there's a little bit of acting skill that's involved, but mainly it's about having just focused on how the dynamics of the body can relate to the emotion that's being showed demonstrated. Now when I'm at the stages. So I have this, loose score to follow. And now I'm just at the stage where I get up on the stage and I'll just pick one of those little flashcards and say, okay, this is what this is about. What kind of movement is gonna come out of that? So I'm actually in a creative process where I'm performing so that I can create a piece that will then be pieced together and become, like an hour long piece. And then that's awesome. Big dream would be to take that to universities and colleges, as a way of saying, this is how to make some of the most important kind of work you're ever gonna make is when it comes from your own life. And you have a story to tell and you tell it this, these are the techniques that I've. Honed over, 35 years of on and off performance. It's really invigorating, next month I turn 65 and it's really exciting to be in this tiny little performance space and not knowing exactly what I'm gonna do. And then get the feedback that I've got, which has been pretty amazing. It's fun. I just it's, if it wasn't for my art, which I certainly consider my medicine also to be that why am here and do what you like.

Eric:

Absolutely. I love that. I think that's amazing.

Gil:

Do you have any advice for your younger self? If, when, when you do reflections, you're looking back that you would give yourself?

Balance:

I would've had more sex earlier. yes. Yes. I agree with that. For myself, there was always that fear factor. And I can look back on times where so like one of my swim buddies when I started first started college, I went back to Ohio state. So I'd B been born in Columbus. I've spent this year in Louisiana. I wanted to get away from Louisiana. So I I go to start school at the Ohio state university. And and of course, the sexual energy just ramps up when you get to college. Yeah. Cause you're just surrounded by raging hormones and people that, don't have mom and dad looking over their shoulders. Yeah. And. And I was getting hit on by both. And it was a little too much for me cause I, I didn't have any social skills and to really deal with it. And so I was just running scared, but I remember when I had to go back for orientation in August. The swim club that I used to compete at was open And so I thought drop by. And so I'm having this great conversation with the manager, my one kid sister's record, still stood up on the board and we hadn't been here for, eight years. And so he tells me, he says, Hey, you'll never guess who's the swim coach now. And. So when he names the name, I just, I freaked out cuz it was the one guy who was one year older than me. And he had, hit puberty earlier. And so he had all aromas that created these sense, I didn't know what getting turned on meant, yes. So just the smell of him and some of the interactions he had were, and they were still like a 12 year old and a 13 year old fooling around memory of those moments. But then to think, okay, at that time I was two months from my 18 year old, my 18th birthday and he was 19 and I couldn't go see him. Oh, wow. And I have the greatest fantasies about what if. I just couldn't take myself because part of it was what if he isn't in that same space? Yeah. What if he's freaked out about what happened? When we were kids so there was that going on. And then there were just a number of things pretty much that first freshman year where I just avoided things because it was just, I, I guess I wasn't ready to take that next step. And then I transferred to this school in Louisiana in Nakadish and was there for two years and that's really where I began experimenting, but it was so hidden because in, in the two years that I was there, I had only two interactions. Oh, wow. Okay. Because it was just such a closeted redneck atmosphere that fear of just getting beat up, you

Eric:

know? Yeah. And you've had that experience before too

Balance:

younger. I had it, it's don't back me into that corner now. there's one thing I definitely got out of the police department was how to take care of myself. That's good. Like I said, if I'm outnumbered, I, I will grab anything and everything. I will go with zerk. I, yeah. It's I'm, if I'm going down, I will go down with the fight. Yeah. And and I also, I tend to be pretty vocal when if I'm in a public situation and I hear somebody say something to somebody else or I hear somebody say, oh, look at that fag I'll at least turn around and give them the look. Yeah. But I think the one that strikes me the most. is the number of times that kids have asked a parent, mommy, is that a man or a woman? And, particularly if it's a, if it's a mom, they tend to, be like really shocked and they'll start apologizing. And so my protocol is I just put a hand up to the mom and say, just hold on a minute and then I'll get down to the kids' level. And I'll say, I'm a little bit of both kids get it. They don't have a problem with ambiguity. Their life is ambiguity. We're the ones that are forcing them into boxes, right? Yeah. Or not us per se, but adults in general parenting education. And so then I go up to the mom and particularly if this is, it doesn't really matter whether this was a son or a daughter. I want both of them to learn and hear this. Like, why would you. Think that I'm insulted to be mistaken for a woman. Why should that be a problem? You're sending the signal to your son or your daughter that it's okay to be thought of as less than simply because you're a female. Don't give your job that lesson and don't give it to your son. What if he turns up to be a brutal rapist? Because of that lesson at that early age. Yeah. And so I'm really big on training, parents and grandparents about, don't stifle that child in their inquiry, let them understand that the world's not black and white, people ask you what my favorite color is. Rainbow. Yes.

Eric:

How do you think the LGBTQ I a plus community could be better.

Balance:

The first thing that does come to mind, and this is from direct personal interaction has been with I'd say 30 something. That's where I felt really unheard. Okay. And and in particular with gender pronouns and all of that, I remind people I'm 65 and my PTSD is great lead due to a traumatic head injury at a very young age. So my brain just done work the same way as everybody Take that, for a note, but the other side is. If you're going to not hear the elders, don't expect us to hear you back. And so this issue came up about pronouns and I referenced sitting down and having a conversation with Leslie Feinberg back in this would've been 92 or 93. Wow. About and Leslie wrote the book transgender queers or transgender warriors and and her legendary kind of Fictionalized account of her own life of passing in Buffalo, New York in the fifties, and being a part of the labor movement and the commonest party movement and all of this stuff about worker party, and she and her partner, Minnie Bruce are two of the most, prolific writers of their day and they were dealing with, all those fluid pronouns 30 years ago when these kids were born. And so I'm just trying, share with them I understand where you're coming from now. Will you listen to where I've been? Yeah. And know that I've been a part of that conversation now for the entire time that you've been alive. So I don't need you to try and educate me on pronoun use. I get it because I got it back then. So that's been the one really big challenge that I've felt is more about the, please let's continue to honor all of our voices and don't don't be like the white gay boys in Rohoboth beach, Delaware whose only sense of value was the dollar sign. Who you worked for, excuse me, who you worked for? How much money you made, how big your pecks were how many hours you spend at the gym? What was the latest, circuit party you went to. What particular summer house were you in? It was such a frat boy. That side of it was such a frat boy mentality. It still cracks me up to this day. Watching the Philly, Baltimore and DC party, circuit Queens, as I was, doing my in ROHO beach Delaware. I was just there for the,

Gil:

on a lighter note. Do you have a musical di. So like Mr. Eric here is a huge Janet fan. I am a huge Annie Lennox fan. Did you have one where you're like, oh my God, I love this, this artist growing up or

Balance:

first one that came to mind. Okay. If I go through the eras, the first would have to been Diana Ross and the Supremes. Okay. Iconic. Yes. Going back sixties and then seventies, it would've been more like so Carol King, okay. During the seven prolific songwriter and then Miss Donna Summer, of course. the disco era, but almost any of the disco divas would totally be bowed down to, along with Sylvester. Of course eighties in nineties, I was really not. Into other than Cher and Tina Turner. Yeah. Absolute icons. And and then lady Gaga, not so much going crazy for, but really admiring her for being the voice that she has been, absolutely. Through all of her career, which is pretty astonishing to, do what she started out doing, wearing, dresses made of red meat. singing with Tony Curtis, not Tony Curtis, Tony Bennett. Yes. Those jazz records. She's an incredible vocalist. She really is. Yeah. And I love people that are show people and I love anybody out there. Who's who has been an ally and she, and Cher certainly. Certainly being very vocal,

Eric:

absolutely. A thousand percent plus What do you think is the important, what is your opinion on pride and do you think it's important

Balance:

I think it changes for people. It was hugely important to me. Back to the eighties and nineties as was the marches on Washington and the aids quilt. Those were huge events to me. And even at my years at CMS one of my favorite Albuquerque prides it would've been 2000 or 2001. And we had this huge ISIS puppet that one of our stewards had. Helped a group of women make. And because we had the space at the sanctuary, it was always cause she was like nine feet tall. It was the kind of thing where it was made on a backpack And and then her body went just up from there. And so she's about nine or 10 feet tall and had these huge hands and these big pendulous breasts and, the very iconic horn of ISIS as a crown And so everybody could recognize her. And so that year I got to walk down the parade route as her and And it was really sweltering hot. And so I didn't have a shirt on and I had a really nice body back then a thin body my dancer body. That's what I mean. And then a sarong. Oh, wow. And Theran, wouldn't stay on So I was able to like rest one arm like this and grab the sarong and wrap it around like that. So basically I'm like laughing, doing this great parade, cuz I'm basically walking buck naked down central avenue, but the women, she's become such a kind of feminist icon. And the eternal mother and that's why she was designed this way. Cuz kids and women would run up to her and I would just bend forward and these breasts would, nuzzle them and grab 'em and it was really incredible. And the times that we've had booze, when the sanctuary used to have a booth the pride Fest. Yeah. So I think, yes, I think it's great because it's allowed other people of minorities and oppressed groups to say, Hey, we can all do that. Yeah. And as we can see, it's very much still needed. I think, particularly for trans kids right now. Absolutely. It's, the environment is just so down on, on them from all these different angles that, the kids that are going through that and my kind of take on spirituality is those kids are here to teach everybody a lesson. Yeah. Just like any other human being is here for, and these gender questioning ideologies are really important because, I think it's really important about the notion of non-binary because it comes up a lot in just a general philosophy. And one of my favorite things is if we truly live in a multi-dimensional reality, everybody can be right. There would be no wrong. Now I know that's a real stretch for people to really gro, but it's that notion of binary nature. Yeah. Rich versus four, let's wipe out the middle class. So we only have the two classes. Yeah. And this notion of restoring the middle class. That's still classist. Yeah. Ideology get rid of that system. Break down the money system. There was this great article. I gotta go back and finish reading it. And it was about money is not real. Money is a philosophy. Yeah. And that's a good point. That phrase was like, wow, that's it. You're choosing to live by the dollar sign instead of by your heart or by your blood relation or any of those other things that throughout time, human time have been really valued and important. And even diversity, notion of, this separateness of black versus white. Oh, you're white. And then everybody else, because they're just not white. I just don't get. Because I can look at white people and say look at me, I'm really white, but I got freckles. And I know a couple of people that are even whiter than I am, but, there you go. So that notion that white really isn't an ethnicity, it in and of itself is just an idea, if I look at my ethnicity, it's like my dad said, I'm Hines 57, I did the ancestry.com and my ancestors come from a lot of different places. Yeah. I've been honored to participate in two different native American ceremonies. Awesome. And one of them over, over a 10 year period and my lesson from doing that was Pray in your own native language and two work with your ancestors. And so that's what I do in that kind of spirit work is one of my favorite journeying experiences was doing a journey inside my body because most of the workshops and teachings and stuff always had this thing about upper worlds and lower worlds and middle worlds, and, traveling through that. And I thought what if I just, I could just go inside my own body? And so I entered into my heart and as soon as I had that reckoning, I became a red blood cell. And Eric, I think you'll truly appreciate this. I'm swirling around in, from chamber to chamber in the heart. And I go out in the aorta and it's like all of us, a whole bunch of us. And as we keep going through smaller and smaller arteries to arterials the passageway keeps getting narrower and narrower. Yeah. And when you get to a capillary, you can only go single file. So that's happening in this journeying experience. And as soon as we get to the single file we change and now we're all these red robed monks going down cavern steps. Oh wow. And all of a sudden we get to this Archway and the gentleman in front of me turns around and it's almost like I'm looking in a mirror. Wow. And he, and these are his words. He says, I'm your uncle. On your maternal side, I'm an ancestor. We're Druids and there's one lesson. The lesson is forget anything and everything you've read or heard about the Druids. There's one teacher, the teacher is the Oak as in the Oak tree. Yeah. And then I came back into my own body and that was that. Wow. So trusting that. And I even ended up doing a painting of my uncle turning around to face me. And and so it's because of my experiences with these native American elders that I'm able to trust the validity of that experience. Wow and say, yeah this powerful in my heart of hearts. I know that I met this great whatever uncle. And he had a message, to deliver and I was open to receiving it and that's how I, that's my spiritual law that, and my healing one when I'm in here whether it's hands, Gua sha, cupping, the herbs, the kitten, whole kitten caboodle, it's spirit work. It's it has to be, it can only come from that place for me. there's a lot of technicians out there and that's great, but the heart is what people really respond to. I think particularly after two years of this COVID stuff check down and all of that. I think people are really in need of, some just real loving care. Yeah, absolutely.

Eric:

I agree with that. I want to say thank you so much balance for joining us today. It's been, thank you. Amazing having you. I'm so glad we finally were able to make this happen. Me too. yeah. Thank you so much. It means a lot. Thank you to all of our listeners and we will catch you on the flip side. All

Balance:

Thanks. Nice meeting you Gil.

Gil:

thank you for listening to us. We hope you enjoyed your time in The Q Lounge. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions on topics, or if you would like to be a guest or contributor, please email us info.TheQlounge@gmail.Com or through our contact page at theqloungepodcast.com. Don't forget to subscribe to continue listening wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to be our sugar, daddy hit that donation button.

Eric:

Until next time live in your authenticity.