ARTWORK

Assotto Saint, Memorial Flyer
Memorial Flyer

1994

Xerox copy

11 x8.5 inches

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i was born on all angels day
but throughout my life
i’ve been a bitch out of hell/
don’t nobody show up at my funeral
to call me nice or some shit like that/
save it for turncoat cocksuckers
who on their deathbeds
open their mouths wide to claim god/
—Assotto Saint, Devils in America

Assotto Saint performed from 1973 to 1980 as a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company but stopped after an injury prevented his further participation.

In November 1980, he met Jan Holmgren and they founded a theatre company, Metamorphosis Theatre, and electronic pop music group, Xotika.

After becoming an American citizen in 1986, Saint wrote in an autobiographical piece, “The Impossible Black Homosexual (OR Fifty Ways to Become One),” that he is the “one who on the day he naturalized as an american citizen sat naked on the current president’s picture & after he was finished called the performance ‘bushshit.'”

During this era, he began publishing poetry in anthologies such as In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology (1986, edited by Joseph Beam) and Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time (1988, edited by Carl Morse and Joan Larkin), and in his own chapbook, Triple Trouble (1987). He was a participant in the black gay writer’s collective Other Countries and was also a poetry editor for the anthology Other Countries: Black Gay Voices (1988), and founded Galiens Press to publish work by black gay poets.

He was also a mentor to other emerging LGBT African American cultural figures of the era, including Essex Hemphill, Marlin Riggs, and Melvin Dixon.

After Saint and Holmgren were diagnosed HIV+, Saint became an AIDS activist, including appearing in Riggs’ 1993 film “No Regrets (Non, Je Regrette Rien).” He was one of the first African American activists to publicly disclose his HIV status. Holmgren died on March 29, 1993, and Saint died on June 29, 1994.

G.E.

Work by Assotto Saint (1957-1994)