“Queer, Ill and Okay,” Joseph Varisco
In LGBTQ community dance and performance circles, it’s hard not to know about the work of Joseph Varisco. Host of the ongoing Poonie’s Cabaret at Links Hall, Salonathon co-curator and currently working for the Alphawood Foundation’s “Art AIDS America” exhibition, Varisco and his company, JRV Majesty Productions, have labored tirelessly to advocate for LGBTQ visibility. His annual performance program “Queer, Ill and Okay” is at the heart of those efforts. A platform for “artists living with HIV and other forms of mental and chronic illness,” the program has been running since its premiere in 2013 at Links Hall. A packed house for the 2014 installment at Defibrillator Gallery helped dancer Christopher Knowlton share the story of his diagnosis with cancer, which he felt like he needed to “turn into something positive.” Other performances spotlight the struggles in dealing with a wide range of illnesses including depression… and the stigma of being a LGBTQ person with an illness in the first place. The series, by shining a spotlight and providing a platform for sharing these stories, helps create a support network that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Best of Chicago 2016