David Covey in silhouette
Photo credit: David Covey
Dave, your work as a lighting director and choreographer has taken you from the Ohio State University’s Dance Department to Europe and several countries in Africa. As an artist and professor in the field of dance, how do you think the dismantling of DOMA will affect the artistry you bring to students and to other artists, nationally and internationally?
Right now I have no idea if the demise of DOMA will affect my work as a gay man, lighting designer, or educator in higher ed. The creative process and teaching, for me, are cultivated through life experiences and hard work. That the federal government will now acknowledge the union of same sex couples legally will probably have no direct impact on my work, or my personal life. I have never personally been a big fan of the institution of marriage, but I am happy for those who choose to be married, that a major hurdle has been removed for the LGBT community, and I hope the remaining states where it is not “legal” will quickly see that they are on the wrong side of history and take action to put this nonsense to bed.
I view the demise of DOMA as a sign that big and important change in attitudes and policy are possible. Given the current state of our government with partisan politics and obstructionist practices where nothing is accomplished and the country continues to pay the salaries of fat, bald, white men who do nothing but advance their hateful policies, in the face of the struggle of so many people, on so many levels, this decision to confirm “gay marriage” stands as a symbol to me that important positive change is still possible.
Over the years I have been fortunate to have traveled and performed across Europe. And last year I spent a month in three countries in Africa. Reflecting on this, the people and cultures in both Europe and Africa have a much different perspective on what happiness and success means. In Europe I was constantly embraced by the openness and generosity of our hosts. Our collective goal was to create art-magic, but unlike here in the United States, where I constantly feel like I am “fighting” to make a creative action occur, in Europe it is part of their collective consciousness. Life is beautiful and together we can make it even more so.
Same thing in Africa, except those beautiful people face a much more extreme existence of life and death—pure survival. What they deal with on a daily basis makes all of the problems we in America face seem incredibly trivial. No food. No water. No house. No doctors. No retirement. No bed. No car. No father. No mother. All dead from AIDS. And we are worried about… what?
But yet again, in working with them to make art-magic, they were transformative in their hunger to learn and graciousness to share. And again, I found this to be core to their existence. The power of art, the power of beauty, the power of connecting to someone who shares in that, is the truth that I have learned, that I embrace, and hopefully will have some influence on the world where we all can live together in peace and love.
This is what the end of DOMA means to me, and how it might affect my work as an artist and professor. We are all equal. And that is the fucking truth. I dare anybody to tell me differently.
David Covey, a professor in The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance, serves as Production Coordinator and teaches dance lighting, production and composition. His research interests include lighting, choreographing and various aspects of visual arts. He received a BESSIE award for lighting BAM Events choreographed by Merce Cunningham in 1998.