Art, Activism and Sexuality of Self

by Leroy MooreLeroy MooreHello Blog Readers,My name is Leroy F Moore, Jr., Co-Founder and Community Relations Director of Sins Invalid:  An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility. This is an intro blog for our readers about me, my art, activism and views about sexuality, embodiment and disability.I’m a 40-year-old Black disabled straight single man living in Berkeley, CA.  I have Cerebral Palsy. I grew up in New York and Connecticut. I moved to San Francisco in 1991.  I’ve always been interested in the issues of race and disability.  As a Black disabled young man, I questioned the lack of diversity in disability communities and organizations.  Following in my father’s steps, I become an activist in social justice movements.  I have worked in many non-profits and created cultural art spaces.  In addition to my activism, I also have a passion for poetry, journalism, performance and music.  I am also a journalist and founder of Krip-Hop, which is Hip-Hop by artists with disabilities. For more information, go to history of Sins Invalid is a story of friendship, shared identities, politics, art and dreams between Patty Berne, the Director of Sins Invalid, and me, beginning in 2006. If you want the detailed history, you can buy the book, Telling Stories to Change the World from our website!  In our chapter, Patty beautifully writes the delicious history of Sins Invalid as a story narrative. Today, Sins Invalid has grown and our family and community have expanded beyond the San Francisco Bay Area to the national and international connections. Sins Invalid is a groundbreaking performance event that celebrates the sacred nature of fierce desire and claims all bodies as beautiful.  It is also a place where artists can share their political voice with others in our performance-based workshops, and where we invite discussion around race, embodiment, queerness and other identities that make up our work.Sins Invalid embraces issues of sexuality and embodiment around people with disabilities.  Honestly, being disabled I thought I would never have a chance to put my thoughts out there on a platform like what Sins Invalid has provided.  Like many individuals with disabilities, I didn’t see this issue displayed in the media, taught in schools, or discussed in any other spaces when I was growing up through the 1980s. Like any young person I was searching to get my needs met. One of those needs was, and still is, to explore my sexuality and feel welcomed in my family, community and with friends when I let my feelings be known.Thank God things have changed since my youth but I was left with open wounds from my youth.  It was a trip to be a young Black disabled boy in those times, before the impact of the civil rights\cultural movement of people with disabilities.  Looking at television during my youth gave me the notion that I was the only Black disabled youth on the planet.  There were a couple of pieces in the media that broke through the status quo and left me thinking: The television version of “Porgy & Bess”, showing Porgy as a Black disabled beggar who falls in love with Bess, a prostitute.  The 1990’s movie “Gabi”, about a disabled Latina poet\writer who grows up and gets her heart broken in relationships.  That movie showed a sex scene with two disabled people that blew me away.  These movies, along with my new sense of activism planted in me by my parents, started to make me re-think my sexuality and sense of invisibility.As a co-founder of Sins Invalid, I see the work we do as more than performance. It is a part of life that needs a public discourse, more education, a complete political frame with an openness to talk, a part of life that asks us to organize and create art that reclaims our sexuality.  And reclaiming isn’t easy — we can’t only give voice to what is safe and easy to digest for our community and the world.  Patty and I also bear witness to people with disabilities that have painful stories to tell around sexual abuse, and individual or institutional violence.  These stories are a part of our healing and growth as individuals, as a movement, and as the mirror that we are holding up to the world.  That is why Sins Invalid is more than a performance; it truly is personal, political, tender, radical and liberating.I have to open my own closet around sexuality and my disability and how it has played a role in my life.  Not until recently did I give myself the vision of seeing me in an intimate relationship.  I would always have the thought, “who would actually go out with me?” I used my disability as a fence to block the reality that everybody has a need to be wanted and to share their hearts.  Today, I’m still working on breaking this wall down.  It is funny I call myself an activist for my disabled brothers and sisters, but when it comes to sexual, intimate relationships, I am not a really good self-advocate.  Sins has taught me that one of my rights is to own my sexuality and to realize that all humans need to be loved in all ways.  I am growing.  Sins is growing.  Our community is growing.  Let’s continue and grow together.In future blogs I would like to dive into topics of the media and its portrayal of disability, social justice, art, cultural expression, movement building and individual growth with sexuality, relationships and embodiment…all around our multiple identities as people with and without disabilities.Please read other Sins Invalid’s bloggers.Until Next Time,Leroy F. Moore Jr.Sins Invalid blogger