Now in its fifth year, the unique Bay Area based non-profit arts organization Sins Invalid is building momentum and garnering a following, both within the disabled community and in the mainstream, as it presents its message that people with disabilities are sexual beings too. The disabled are a minority who remain widely misunderstood by the general population. Since 2006, when the performance project Sins Invalid was founded by Patty Berne and Leroy Moore along with Todd Herman & Amanda Coslor as a platform for artists with disabilities to present their own sexual identities (rather than a misinformed mainstream media), the pioneering group has produced a series of works such as acclaimed mixed-media production An Unshamed Claim To Beauty at San Francisco's Brava Theater in 2006. This year planned events include the Sins Invalid Showcase, April 8 -10 at Z Space in San Francisco, and this weekend's Resident Alien: The Sins Invalid Artists In Residence Show tonight (Friday, Jan 28) at 8pm and tomorrow at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco.
As co-founders and persons of color with a disability, both Moore and Berne are quick to make the analogy between people with disabilities and other ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT community. They note that all share that sense of exclusion and misunderstanding from an often well-meaning but generally ill informed mainstream who lack true insight into this "other" world which is "alien" to them -- hence the title of this weekend's Sins Invalid Artists In Residence Show: Resident Alien. "The idea of 'alien' came up a number of times. Lateef McLeod wrote a poem called "Not of This World" that explores that kind of othering, talking about the perception of disabled people as kind of monstrous or alien," said Nomy Lamm, the Artist In Residents' director. "Then, there are two artists, Fayza Bundalli and Redwolf Painter, who are culling a family history around colonization and the impact of colonization on their bodies, which led to their disabilities. The show is about the ways that so many of us in this culture are treated as aliens and not given the same kinds of rights. And yet, it is not about being victims; it's about how we come into our power in that context."