Josue “Sway” Laboy is one of my favorite young heros. He’s courageous, kind, talented, powerfully vulnerable, committed to growth and honey, he is FABULOUS. He is also a performance artist crossing fields from poetry to drag. He is also doing an awesome event at Parliament in Royal Square on Friday, July 31st to open up Equality Fest weekend, a performance piece called “The Bedroom Sessions”. (https://www.facebook.com/events/1465323607100642/). I wanted to find out more about the debut of his new piece and also find out a bit more about this hometown hero’s story of courage and self-acceptance. Meet Sway.
The idea has been steaming for about a couple of years now, and with everything that has happened these past few months, years, in terms of equality; it gave me the push I needed to get this out there in some way. It comes from many corners of my life and shows how, through everything, the time I spent in my bedroom was crucial. I created my own realm of possibility. A piece of that will be shared during the show. Or, rather an idea of it.
I feel as though a performance piece is a medium where nothing is defined. What you come to see, is an artistic expression of someone’s vulnerability and strength. To me, it allows a person to draw from many avenues of expression and make it their very own, whether for inventive or reinvention purposes.
For the audience, I would like them to feel as if they can embrace their sexuality. Accept the things that make them uncomfortable, and hopefully leaving with a sense of exploring those parts they keep hidden. For me, its a step into the future. I’ve been setback not only by natural occurrences but by fear itself. You never know how much fear can imbed itself into your creative process, stopping you breathless until you face it and shake the nerves that come with it.
Not a small challenge…but for Sway it’s one worth taking on. As a very young man he realized he was gay but Sway experienced an array of responses from the different schools, foster families and members of his birth family as he went through the layered process of coming out to those close to him.
As a little kid, I loved music and would do a performance every once in a blue moon for my mom or few family members. My next door neighbors encouraged me further. While in foster care, the first family I lived with were a glorious bunch, who not only encouraged me but supported me as well. The second time I lived with them, I came out. They showed me acceptance at a greater level than when I came out to close friends, although that too was just as special.
When I was 14, after being out for about half a year, I had experienced a tremendous blow to my reality and quickly slipped into a depression. I moved down to Florida to live with my father, who I can out to after five months. My friends at school were kind and I rarely had issues. Two months later, I moved home with my mother during winter of ’06. We argued over difference in beliefs and acceptance. We’re much better now, as we’ve accepted each others “differences”.
So what do you want people to know when they come and see you perform, or hear you read poetry? What would you let other young people know who are going through their own journey of self-discovery?
I would like them to know that there’s always a new day, and only you can make it better. Words exchanged can relieve many of our emotions but if we get caught up in them, we can’t face the inevitable truth. We’re all human and equal, regardless of our masculinity or femininity. Accept yourselves for who you are, as well as others, because with positive action and attention, comes miracles. You’ll be let down at times, of course. But if another is not there to lend a hand, even though there will be – give yourself the hand up that has always been there, to guide you every which way.