In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • “Not Nothing”
  • Allen Conkle (bio)

This performance is entitled “Not Nothing” (Figure 1). The piece was inspired by and organized based on some of Yep’s structures in the article, “The Violence of Heteronormativity in Communication Studies.” The piece embodied and processed the notion of “soul murder.”

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Figure 1.

The performance was designed and structured through Yep’s conceptual framework of Interior-Individual, Interior-Collective, Exterior-Individual, Exterior-Collective. The first part was Interior-Individual and asked the question: What does it mean to require what breaks you? This section of the work was in response to the embodied experiences of reconciling the internalized homophobia of youth with the act of engaging in one’s sexual desires. This also was a reenactment of the visceral reaction I had the first time I read the article. I felt it deep in my bones, my heart split into pieces, [End Page 177] and I felt that finally I was understood. The way that I was feeling and being in the world was clearly articulated for the first time. Each time I reread or have my students engage in this article, I still feel it in my murdered soul. Maybe reading the article resuscitates that part of me that was never allowed to live; as a queer man developing in the world, I was attacked by the small town that I lived in; by my brother; by my father; and by the threat of a new emerging virus, HIV (Figure 2).

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Figure 2.

In the final part of the piece, “Exteriors and Interiors,” I looked at the negotiations I had to make between numbing the pain of my tormented childhood and the acceptance and transcendence of the pain inherent in growing up as a gay man in a homophobic space. I embraced a vessel full of blue water and precariously carried it through a crowd immersed in a dark gallery/theater space. When I was exhausted I gently and carefully placed the vessel in a corner. I had written the words, “This Hurts Me. I Don’t Feel This at All” on dissolving paper with a material that was a water-based oil crayon. As the audience watched the paper dissolve, the text itself lifted off of the paper, and floated to the top of the water. This represented the complexity and impossibility of healing and letting the past pain “dissolve,” but acknowledging the horror and beauty that a residue of remembrance that somehow keeps the lights of hope alive. This commemorates the struggle that informs the way that I must live in the world, that even though many changes have taken place in the last decade as LGBT individuals gain some rights and visibility, the practice of life itself is ultimately intertwined with and informed by the brutality of the past (Figure 3). [End Page 178]

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Figure 3.

[End Page 179]

Allen Conkle

Allen Conkle is a scholar and a performance artist. Allen received his Master of Arts in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University and his Master of Fine Arts in Performance from the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. He is currently a lecturer in the Communication Studies Department at San Francisco State University.



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pp. 177-179
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