A personal life story, in a nutshell, told 5 feet off the floor. Omi ± Polone is a personal insight into one's gender identity and journey to personal growth. Christopher explores the sliding scale from deep personal shame to acceptance and pride, in which he allows theatricality to transition the intimate vulnerability into self-assurance.
As a young gay man growing up in Northern Ireland, I would frequent various queer hubs and find comfort surrounding myself with other marginalised queer individuals in a search of where I could fit in society. Belfast wasn’t very kind back then towards us. We were berated on TV and the radio. There were protests on the streets. Although the world was evolving to accept us, Northern Ireland somehow always managed to take a little longer. And so, we flocked to the bars and the clubs to find community.
I slowly began to notice a hierarchy of beauty and acceptance among gay men: those that didn’t seem gay were at the top, whereas the more feminine men — whom I found myself amongst — landed at the bottom. I began to experience the toxicity and inner turmoil of not looking masculine enough. I found myself hating my naturally softer traits: I was trying to roughen up my voice and find different ways to alter my body. I couldn’t be happy looking and acting like who I was, simply because I believed that these traits I didn’t possess and desired were so important. I was so wound up in what I wanted to emulate that I couldn’t accept who I was.
And so, hence the fear of my own natural femininity.
Throughout the period of self-acceptance, circus was my release. It taught me healthy ways to let go and accept my body. To find strength and pride in my abilities and thereby find strength and pride in myself. As an art form with a strong emphasis on self-expression, it is always inherently personal. It allows my body to communicate and speak in ways that my voice cannot.
Light design: Edwin van Steenbergen
Video: Saskia Habermann
Artistic coach - Arthur Rosenfeld
Nominated and selected as laureate for BNG Circusprijs 2020
Special thanks to Thomas Falk, Birgit Haberkamp, Lisa Chudalla, Eva Schubach, Saana Tolonen, Julia Gut, Manon Verplancke and Emmen Jude Donnelly.