My name is Fosse Jack. At least it is in some circles. To others I am James or Jim (even Jimmy if you’ve known me long enough), but I would greatly appreciate it if you never call me Jimbo, or make clichéd Star Trek references concerning the deceased. I don’t find it humorous.
I am a dancer, an actor, a singer, and a burlesque performer. I am a producer, a director, and a theatrical writer. I am a friend, and lover; a brother and son. I am a social idealist, and think communism is a really cool idea. I believe in loving your food, and treating both animals and the environment responsibly and humanely. I consider myself a spiritual disciple of a man shrouded in myth.
I love Burlesque and Musical Theatre; Lady Gaga, and Jason & DeMarco; soccer and hiking; Hiyao Miyazaki and C.S. Lewis; Tennessee Williams, and Mary Zimmerman; Dungeons & Dragons, and video games. I am a knight in shining armor, a bleeding heart idealist, and a fashion loving urbanite. I am gay, in both the contemporary and archaic senses of the word, “vanilla chai” and poly. I am many things, and I am always discovering more about myself.
I grew up in the south eastern United States, Georgia to be specific. From the tender age of 5 I lived in the college town called Statesboro, connected Georgia Southern University, than in a rural suburb of said college town. I started high school in a farming community called Brooklet (I kid you not), and I spent most of my summers on the Gulf of Mexico. It was a pleasant way to grow up; if hot, muggy, and entirely too filled with biting critters. I had good friends, suffered less than my fair share of childhood torment, and had a family that loved, supported and expected a lot of me.
Within our southern, Bible Belt community, my family was considered ‘moderate’ … or in PNW terms, not-quite raging conservatives. Born into and raised in the United Methodist tradition I was a firm if naïve Christian.
I loved the stories in the Bible, and could tell you many of them by heart. I loved the poetry of Genesis 1, the stories of David and Jonathan (Jonathan is still my favorite biblical character), the imagery in Ezekiel, and the stories of Jesus. I embraced the teachings of love, forgiveness above all, and could never stomach the idea of eternal damnation, and argued against the concept of a loving God who could willingly condemn someone to suffer forever. It just wasn’t right.
Still, I was socially conservative. I frowned on alcohol, thought heavy metal music just a little bit evil, and couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like Jesus. I felt that sex belonged in the realm of marriage, not because marriage was necessarily holy, but that sex was and belonged in a ‘temple’ of sorts. I followed the main stream Christian stance on homosexuality, and marriage, but in truth I had no real concept of what it meant to be homosexual. I just thought… they are doing something kind of icky. What that “icky” stuff was, exactly, was beyond me. In fact if you had asked me if I knew any gay people, I would have said no. I probably was friends with several, and just never assumed or understood. I still don’t like making assumptions about people, but back than… I couldn’t. I had no reference. I was so far in the closet, that I was “in Narnia” and I had no intention of leaving that place anytime soon.
My family moved to the West Coast when I was a sophomore in high school, to a little town called Hoquiam. A place more socially backwards and depressing that the tiny farming community I had lived in, in Georgia. It was a place where ‘rednecks and hicks” did not have the excuse of actually being farmers. It was a place where I grew disgusted of liberals who abused the system, and conservative who were afraid of the system. There was no idealism, and no tradition. It felt like a lost world.
I finished a year of high school in Hoquiam before enrolling in the Running Start Program and attending class at the local college, almost exclusively. My goal was to be done with Hoquiam quickly.
After graduating with my HS Diploma and AA Degree, I made the decision to attend Seattle Pacific University. My plan (since I was ten or twelve) was to go into Christian ministry, and SPU was the next step in that plan.
Little did I know that Seattle Pacific University, a conservative Free Methodist school populated largely by conservative Presbyterian students, would be THE turning point in my life. My journey from here would take me to where I am today, not through the backlash that conservatism can sometimes induce, but through a gentle opening into a wider world and the removal of the blinders I had long permitted myself to wear.
[Behind the Scarlet Curtain is a monthly blog series that looks at the lives of people in and around the Burlesque Community. What drives us to do what we do? Where do we come from? Are we different from everyone else? As I get to know people in the community I find that I want to get to know them ever more. If you are interested in being interviewed for this series of biographical shorts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]