Tilke Elkins


Suntop in Bathtub

Suntop in Bathtub

These are the people I live with. And the dog. When this photo was taken, Kyla Wetherell lived with us, but she missed the shoot. She has since fallen in love and moved out. I miss her. We have two cats, now, not pictured. They are probably nice and definitely reclusive but they don’t make up for Kyla. Anyway, left to right, we are Joe Dillon (student of engineering, writer), Luna (pug, lover of fluffballs), Kat Reinhart (student of developmental neurobiology, cyclist), Nathen Lester (student of psychology, dabbler), Tilke Elkins (artist, author), and Nicholas Walker (inventor, programmer). I’ve known almost everyone here for years: Joe the longest, for nine years, and Kat the shortest, for six months.

Suntop Action

Suntop in Action

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Compared to me at my peak, in junior high school, I am not homophobic. I wasn’t even that homophobic then, on the full scale of the trait, but “gay” was definitely a put-down and though I didn’t know that I knew any LGBTQ folks at the time, I had the sense that they were lower on the hierarchy of normalcy than I was.

I’ve come a long way. Last fall, for example, a young woman leaned her upper body out of the passenger window of a passing car to shout “fag!” at me, and I was merely amused. (Tilke told me later it was probably because I was wearing red pants. Heterosexuals are allowed to wear blue, black, khaki, and camouflage pants.) It’s impossible to measure, of course, but if you forced me to say, I’d guess I have about 1% of the homophobia I had then. I don’t mean to make that sound like that’s a big deal—it’s just growing up. One of the main things I think “growing up” means is coming to not feel threatened by things that aren’t threatening.

But getting rid of what co-counselors call ‘oppressor patterns’ like homophobia is kind of like learning to tune a guitar; the further you get, the harder it is to do. Tiny increments that used to be inaudible to me, now sound teeth-grindlingly out of tune. It’s like my mom always says, “Whatever you focus on expands.”

I’m thinking about this because I’ve started taking a ballet class—two, actually, four hours a week—and we started right out with a move that poked me right in the homophobia, a ballet leap called grande jete. It’s a beautiful motion, but I get a little uncomfortable watching men do it. And there’s something about doing it myself that makes me squirm. And being seen doing it e,specially by strangers, set my emotional alarms off. I haven’t been able to deconstruct it much, yet. My body just shouted “wrong!”

I’m looking forward to whatever insights come from this. My first guess is that it’s fear of ridicule. Whatever it is, facing it could really help my dancing. I’m from the punk rock generation. We’re not allowed to be passionately graceful. It has to look accidentally or clumsily graceful. That is holding me back.

Here’s some amazing leaping (though I don’t think any of these are grande jetes):

Just in case any of you have tried to click through ‘my band’s website’ on the right in the last couple months and were frustrated, that site is now back online. It’s worth checking out, too, I think, just to see the websmanship; it was created by our friend Zen Zenith, incorporating artwork by Tilke Elkins, so it’s very cool.

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