Mar 072012

By Ellen Deatrick

The Undressing Normal: (Un)conference on Sexuality for Those of Us DisLabeled took place February 10 at the Clarion Hotel in Lexington. Roughly 70 people attended—a diverse group sharing at least one purpose: they wanted to talk. Or should I say “we,” since I was one of the attendees, eager to engage.

In preparing to cover this event, I had someone ask me: “So is this going to be like an unarticle?” I thought about how an “unarticle” would look. One of the guiding principles of an unconference is: “whatever happens is the only thing that could have.” I like it. Yes, this will be an unarticle.

Six months ago, a steering committee met—that is, what became a committee. Then, it was simply a concerned group of Kentuckians. Latitude Artist Community led the synergy, sparked by the summer incident in Hazard County and looking to extend discussion on issues surrounding sexuality, disability, and gender identity. Back in June, two gay men with intellectual disabilities were forced from a Hazard community pool for what some deemed excessive displays of affection. While all parties involved appropriately resolved the situation, the events highlighted how few resources are available for educating disability caregivers on sexual matters, notably on LGBT support.  Co-owner of Latitude Bruce Burris flatly stated: “Since we’re accepting the idea—finally—that sexuality is, most people would agree, a normal part of life, it is about time that we should start talking about this.” Continue reading »

Jan 192011

In our last issue, Bruce Burris’s article “Tomb of the Unknowns,” which detailed the struggle to access cemetery records at Eastern State Hospital, generated a lot of reader response. We here reproduce some of these responses. Many detail the frustrating efforts to generate information about deceased loved ones who may (or may not) be buried on the site of Eastern State. Continue reading »

Dec 082010

Eastern State Hospital and Kentucky State Archives blocking access to death and burial records for ESH cemetery

By Bruce Burris

Founder, Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Project

Eight summers ago, directly behind the Hope Center, on Eastern State Hospital (ESH) property, I blundered onto a small wildly overgrown space surrounded by a broken chain link fence. I knew it to be a cemetery only because a man mowing grass on a property nearby allowed that it was when I asked. He also mentioned that he thought there were over 2,000 people buried there, a number that was beyond my ability to really grasp. Somewhat ironically, I was only there in the first place because I was searching for an appropriate space to start a community garden.

Since that day, it has been established that this tiny spot, not much larger than a typical middle class backyard, contains the remains of between 4,000 and 7,000 people — mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, politicians, shopkeepers, farmers … humans. Further, these numbers do not include the remains of the many thousands more we believe to be scattered throughout the original ESH property. Continue reading »

Jan 292010

By Amber Scott

We Will Someday, Someday We Will, on exhibit at Institute 193 through Feb. 20, is artist Bruce Burris’s optimism and activism captured in visual art form.

The pieces in the exhibit are sculptures, paintings, drawing and installations, but despite the presence of different media, everything is threaded together with a decorative text that has become Burris’s signature style.

Well, it’s held together by the text and the message of the exhibit, which is best exemplified by this excerpt from a picket sign attached to a 20-foot handle that’s part of the show: Time to fuckin stop our bleeding mountaintop.

Burris, who is best known locally for his work with Latitude Artist Community, is, according to Phillip March Jones, creative director at Institute 193 and curator of this exhibit, the only contemporary artist dealing with the issue of mountaintop removal. Continue reading »