Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeremy De’Jon Guyton.
Hi Jeremy De’Jon, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was born and raised in a nook of south LA where the 110 and the 105 meet and the planes coming into LAX soar so low overhead that as a child, I thought I could reach up and touch the sky. The lullaby of cars whirring down these asphalt arteries became my childhood soundtrack and I would cast my dreams on these jets each time they appeared as shooting stars in the night sky.
I first performed in church plays and school recitals and would later study theatre at Georgetown University before moving to New Orleans in 2012 to continue performing and managing youth programs at a local dance non-profit organization. As an educator, I’ve committed to being both a mirror and a resource to young Afro//queer youth moving on the margins of culturally accepted norms of Blackness and sexuality. This has also been a key focus of my art-making and storytelling; my desire is for future generations of Afro//queer starlings to see themselves reflected in the beautiful cosmic array of our stories, pain, community, and love.
My artistry also engages in legacy work. I was adopted by a single father in 1990 who would transition to the ancestral realm in 1992 due to complications from AIDS. I chase his voice in the rehearsal room and we spend time constructing memory space – living in the in between for hours, slipping deeper into the edges of our consciousness. I am reminded, through my father’s journey, of the consequences and harsh realities of this world and am held accountable to his legacy to pursue liberatory spaces for my communities.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
When COVID hit in 2020, my career was gaining momentum and I was working as Solange’s assistant movement coordinator, a position that took me across Europe and to the Sydney Opera House. And then, lockdown came, and it all suddenly stopped. I returned to south LA to support my mother; I never imagined my return would mark our last seven months together in this earthly realm. The past three years have tested my faith in my craft and the resilience of my dreams. These bumps in the road are widely shared experiences that are integral to my journey and are prepare me for my next chapter.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I fancy myself an alchemist – I transform spaces into new worlds through film and live performance. As a dynamic interdisciplinary artist, I create work that explores vulnerability, grief, and liberation. I move on creative impulse. My practice seeks solutions and relies on the magic of my grand//mother’s resourcefulness to alchemize dreams into realities, albeit ephemeral. It is the ephemerality of my practice that draws me in and invites me to stay—nothing has to last forever and everything evolves to fit the needs and desires of an ever-evolving body of work and play.
The work I am most proud of is my growing bar room sessions series.
Bar room sessions was initiated in December 2018 with four other dancers and a DJ in New Orleans. I was growing increasingly frustrated by the whitening and “straight”ening of Afro//queer club spaces that I would frequent – the dance floor had evolved from sanctuary to cage with unwanted touch and gaze and I was craving space to write, sweat, move, indulge, draft, listen to, and live in, narratives of Afro//queer resistance and liberation. I, like so many of my community members, found family in the club; it was the first time I saw multiple representations of Afro//queer authenticity and where I first felt safe and seen.
When COVID drove us all inside, I returned to my childhood home and continued this process as a solo work, creating in my parents’ bedroom closet. The physical closet I danced in was a manifestation of the emotional and spiritual closet I had left in 2008. In returning, I was confronted with the pain and trauma of my adolescence and began shaping a closet disco to facilitate the healing and repair needed for myself and my relationship with my grand//mother, who is now an ancestor.
As I deepen in this work, I am archiving and documenting closet discos of my Afro//queer siblings, inviting them to share their stories, weaving a tapestry of urgent histories that serve as blueprint for Afro//queer youth.
Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I’m hopeful that artists will continue to gain more equitable compensation and treatment over the next decade. Some major wins have happened in the past couple of years that have shifted what the treatment of artists across the industry and I’m hopeful this trend will ensure some permanent changes.
- Website: www.jeremydejon.com
- Instagram: @jayguy_
Malachi Middleton, Maiwenn Raoult, Molly Stinchfield, Andrew Lipovsky