in “Below the Belt” Allison Moorer describes the role music plays in the son of her autisitc son John Henry.
What he once couldn’t process at all now gets him through rough spots. If he becomes frustrated or upset, I turn to music to soothe him. These days, it’s one of the only things that can make him stop crying. If I want him to pay attention to me, I sing to him. We play records in the house and practice silly dances. What I know now that I didn’t know on that August 2011 afternoon is that because his antenna is set so high, he can feel music deeply. It moves him. And it does connect him to the world outside of his mind, though I don’t understand exactly how yet. I often find myself wondering what it is that he hears as he turns his head toward a tree when the wind rustles its leaves, or when he notices a formation of birds flying overhead, and he smiles. I suspect he hears music all around him because he stops what he’s doing and he listens. My son has taught me countless lessons, but the biggest one may be that there is music in everything.
Today, Guernica Magazine published a great, insightful and inciting interview with South Asian trans performance duo DarkMatter. For instance, this is how they expand upon the above statement that Alok never met a man:
Janani Balasubramanian: I think what Alok was saying with the idea of how we’ve never met a man in our lives, is that manhood is not just an ideal of gender; it also becomes a set of ideals around race, class, respectability, purchasing power, whatever. I’ve never met a single person in their lives who’s rich, has no feelings, goes to the gym every hour, drinks protein shakes all day. This person doesn’t exist.
Alok Vaid-Menon: They’re a fairy tale. What’s difficult is that gender has become only the domain of trans people and women. But we all have gender, and we all have a stake in ending gender.
In a conversation led by Guernica’s Kevin St. James, they discuss gender, performance, colonialism, capitalism, disappointing your parents and the importance of cracking jokes. It really is a must-read, whether you agree with their stances or not.