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smalina's picture

I really loved Sunshine's use of Clare's logger story to help formulate an avatar and an identity. I found myself easily overlooking this aspect of Clare as I read the story, because it is so easy to use other, neater, words to label him, such as disabled, trans, or queer. Still, Eli Clare writes about his rural roots as a source of great love and fulfillment, even if they come with immense amounts of pain. For this reason, I chose to use this image of flannel as Clare's potential avatar. Flannel is, of course, symbolic of a rural environment, but it is also a stereotypically "dyke" style choice. These two identities seem to cause Clare a great deal of trouble and grief over his inability to reconcile them (as he explains, the LGBT community is so often based in urban environments, and finding a queer community meant abandoning his hometown). I also particularly liked the way the material in the image is frayed at the edge, demonstrating some level of incompleteness or potential for more, which it seems Clare could relate to as he continues to reconcile his many different identities.

I chose to give Eli Clare the username "maninthecage" after reading the section of the book about freak shows. Clare makes a very interesting point about the less obvious benefits of the freak show--though the individuals put on display were often treated miserably and used as objects, they were at the very least given the opportunity to show off their bodies and earn money from the endeavor. Some amount of autonomy was gained by the opportunity for disabled people to make their less-seen bodies public. Eli Clare has made himself public in a very different way: by becoming an activist and an author. He is, by making his story public, putting himself on display; hence the concept of the man in the cage. Additionally, as I've already mentioned, Clare has struggled with feeling constrained by a variety of different identities--some he was born into and others he took on and sought out--and the image of the cage creates an atmosphere of limitations imposed by someone other than himself. 


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