Kimberly Dark - "The Gayness: Love and Hate in America"
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Kimberly Dark - "The Gayness: Love and Hate in America"

San Diego, California, United States

San Diego, California, United States
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see link - April 2011 - Penn State University


I attended three of Kimberly Dark's performances/workshops: "Is That A Dude? Gender Disruption: There's More to it Than You Think"; "Gender, Race and Money", and "Complicated Courtesies".

The first of these involved an examination of the gender binary and its impact on society's tolerance for gender variance and its perceptions of sexuality. Through a combination of discussion, interactive exercises, and a series of incisive and insightful personal stories, Ms. Dark makes an excellent case that misogyny still lurks in our culture, informing society's views of sexuality at a level that for most of us is unconscious. The audience for this workshop was mostly LGBT students, so the message may have largely been "preaching to the choir", but I personally found that having this dynamic revealed, and having language put to it so that the argument can begin to be made to others is greatly empowering. And regardless of whether attendees got the message, were transformed by it, or even agreed with it, I cannot believe that anyone could attend this workshop and not be left with a great deal of food for thought.

Gender, Race, and Money was a radically different kind of discussion. Rather than dealing with abstract intangibles such as gender and sexuality, this was a very down-to-earth exploration of the realities of personal finance in the context of race, sex, and social class. The conversation began with a discussion of the difference between assets and wealth. Then using this important distinction, Ms. Dark engaged the audience with a series of interactive and highly effective visual exercises that portrayed the differences in opportunity among people from different racial backgrounds, different social classes, and between males and females. Throughout, the audience was encouraged to view their own assets and potential for wealth in terms that give an important dose of reality to college students, especially to those from disenfranchised groups. And yet this was not done in a way that was at all disheartening or pessimistic. In fact, all of Ms. Dark's messages are profoundly positive and affirming, and it is this ability to approach and deconstruct a negative social dynamic in such constructive and encouraging terms that leaves such a striking impression.

Finally, Complicated Courtesies was an immensely fun series of well told personal stories that invites you to consider carefully whether there are facets of your personality that you are keeping to yourself unnecessarily, or are clumsy about expressing, and encourages you to be yourself, gracefully and lovingly. Again, there are so many messages in this performance that it is hard to imagine anyone who comes away from it merely entertained. Ms. Dark explores deep themes, topics that are difficult to talk about, feelings we don't like to admit having, or even feelings we don't like to admit seeing in others. And yet, she is able to address all of this with humor and grace, exposing the more ridiculous aspects of our society so that we can all recognize them for what they are, laugh at them, and hopefully move on.

I thoroughly enjoyed these performances, and came away from each entertained, educated, and extremely thoughtful. My head stayed full during the drive home following each performance, and the themes stayed with me long after I got home and thoroughly discussed them with my partner.

Dr. Annika Miller, Math Professor - [OCT 2011] Susquehanna University


"[Dark lays her] stories bare for all to see, in a way that is both refreshing and challenging: refreshing because they deal with issues that are often hidden and get short shrift in the world of entertainment; and challenging because they expose some harsh realities of modern social structures and ask the viewer to find the humor in them."

-Hawaii Island Journal

"...we relax and let her sensual voice recite the very well-written, well-thought out poems... Kimberly Dark is the voice you heard that time you saw the one you knew you couldn't have, the instant you realized all your dreams had come true, and the poetry is the answer to the question you ask everyday. Yes."

-Muse Apprentice Guild

"Dark's powerful feminine stage presence and poetic style held the audience transfixed from start to finish as she spoke on gender..."

-Nouveau Queer Montreal

"Dark's love poems are candid... and helped earn her an enthusiastic standing ovation from an audience of several hundred."

- San Diego Union Tribune

"She doesn't emulate other people's style; she doesn't mimic what you think poetry is. Her voice is literary and sensual...It's unafraid. It's assertive and yet can be very tender. She's very dramatic and is definitely a performance poet..

- Southern California Gay and Lesbian Times - various


Discography

Location is Everything (2008)
You Are My Singing Lesson (2002)

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Bio

Kimberly Dark is an award-winning lecturer and storyteller. She’s also a sociology professor whose work on diversity issues, gender and sexuality has helped audiences and students experience their power as cultural creators for nearly two decades. In 2011, The Advocate newsmagazine profiled Kimberly Dark as one of the top six speakers on LGBT issues on American college campuses today. In 2010, Campus Pride named her as one of 25 "Best of the Best" speakers and performers on college campuses. The Gayness: Love and Hate in America is an entertaining and thought-provoking program that helps students sort out why things get so tense when we start discussing gender and sexuality in modern America. Using engaging stories and audience interaction, Dark models how we can have more productive dialogue on gender privilege, discrimination and sexual orientation in everyday settings. “The Gayness” is not all about just being gay or straight – it’s about how we define and love ourselves and others – and through these topics, we can reclaim a sense of power to create positive social interactions – on the small scale in our communities.

NACA:

• 2009 – NACA Northern Plains Training Showcase
• 2009 – NACA National Training Showcase
• 2006 – NACA West Lecture Showcase

Recent Publications:

* Ms Magazine blog - current contributor

* San Diego U-T op-ed current contributor

* "Mommy Queerest" monthly column for mamablogger365

* "Put on a Show with a Message" Campus Activities magazine 2012

* "Butch Dykes and Macho Men" in The Lucid Eye 2011

* “Personal, Powerful, Political: Popularizing Research as a Career” in Popularizing Research Routledge, NY 2012

* “My First Lover was not a Lesbian” in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver 2011

* “Public Woman” and “Litter” in The Art of Poetic Inquiry, Backalong Books Nova Scotia 2011

Honors and Awards:

* Top Six LGBT Speakers and Performers on American college campuses, The Advocate Newsmagazine, 2011

* Institut fuer Alles Moegliche Artist Residency, Berlin Germany 2012

* Djerassi Writing Residency, Woodside CA 2011

* Campus Pride, 2010 Top 25 “Best of the best” speakers and performers promoting LGBT inclusion and understanding in the U.S.