Ly Thien Co Friedrich: Dreaming to Live, Living to Keep Dreaming


Advisor/tutor: Amithab S. Rai

July 2021


What do we live for? Why do we want to live? We want our loved ones to live to the fullest. It is easy to forget about living, when you are always going towards the future. I must remind myself that survival and living are not the same thing and that pushing one another through hardship is in its essence not about survival, but about living.

Actually just now, I was rereading some interviews by icons and legends of the Ballroom community and I was reminded of the difference of living life when survival is a daily practice anyway. A queer community of colour living through the 80s and 90s, living is a choice as much as death is a sentence. Kia Labeija’s poem “Drafted” is about living and not knowing when you will die. Being born HIV positive, this visual poem touches these fragile borders in such a delicate way. She speaks of her mother’s destiny to lose her battle against HIV, but also how she is the living will of her mother, who keeps telling her to keep her head up. She speaks of how the icons who have passed are immortalised in the lines, shapes and boxes of the dance that connects us: Voguing. When you realise how living changes shape, your own perception of it must change and be aware of the responsibility towards life around you.

I suppose I wanted to start this with a reminder that we all have to live together, that each action has consequences and that we cannot look at anything without heart and humanity. Yes, even despite the ones who try to render us not human, but the essence no one can take. We must remember to relate to each other and when we relate to do so with kindness, and to live sincerely. Every choice we make in how we act, interact, treat each other, is our responsibility. Once we assume responsibility, we are ready for the consequences and it informs our choice of whether we want to hurt, profit off, uplift or take care of the people around us. And again in the words of Audre Lorde, “I urge each one of us to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices”.