This Saturday I was chauffeured to Firefly Farms, the brainchild of UT professor Erin Smith, by a kindly man and his guest in a four-door sedan. Along the way I threw up — Valentine's had been a lonely one — and spent a bit of time collecting myself when we reached the farm.
It is still a work in progress. Remnants of fixtures lined parts of the gravel driveway as men whose names I did not know sought to repair the basement. The den and kitchen areas, however, were functional and chic in a hipster sort of way (this, here, is no insult) and the company was interesting, to say the least.
Over porridge and poetry we members of the workshop wrote down stereotypes of the gay community and discussed them in detail. No topic was left untouched — from the pinnacles of queer theory to the fine details of pornographic representation, we vouchsafed our knowledge of the marginal and reworked our ideologies as they conformed to sometimes-grim realities.
The discussion leader was an adjunct professor and pagan who dressed as fancy as she talked, or as we all talked — we dismantled one certain stereotype in favor of that of the intellectual dandy. Several Ph.D.s sitting in a room together will do that.
I was most impressed by the ease with which people discoursed on sensitive topics. I was a perfect stranger to most in attendance, yet within a few minutes was talking about matters usually best left private. The rhythm of the generative discussion was circular — the woman sitting next to me was attending in lieu of her gay teenage daughter who had to be somewhere else — and we all passed anecdotes to each other, built upon them, and delivered them anew.
Everyone had some involvement with literature or creative writing. I am a literature major myself. And it is only when immersed in a discussion like we had that one comes to value the insights gleaned and scoured from the depths of literature. The vast disseminations our species has heretofore put onto the page have a curious way of synthesizing: one somehow figures out how to talk about pornography because one can quote Michel Foucault or Judith Butler and come out all the more enlightened for it.
We will meet several times and will deliver to Knoxville a set of performances open to the public as we culminate our discussions. The date for that, UT student, is upcoming.
Jeremy Brunger is a senior in English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.