In light of a city buzzing with a queer film festival, I started thinking about what opened my eyes to my queer, feminist, trans-positive consciousness in art; Where do I lay my roots, so to speak?

The answer: not so simple. I often hear others talk of their first recognition of what it meant to be queer. They range from sexual experiences, a talk with their parents, or simply a realization brought on by something incredibly abstract. My root is more of a root-system; tangled, tight, and complex, it is hard to discern where it starts and where it begins.

I say this primarily because my queer politics came significantly before my queer sexuality. It occurred to me at a very young age that being queer was O.K., even normal, while it occurred to me much later in life that I, in fact, identified my sexuality and gender presentation as queer.

So? I want a root! Everyone else gets one! I don’t want to be the only one at the pride parade with an amorphous queer past! My solution: I’ve decided to pick my own queer genealogy.

Well, I shouldn’t say that; I’m not picking it, per se, but creating a new concept of what the root is. Instead of this instant shock of knowledge, I’m looking at what gave me my sense of openness and acceptance when it comes to gender and sexuality. I’m taking a close look at my history to help trace my little queer evolution, in mind and not just body.

Can you guess what my brain came up with? You guessed it: Art. Art of all forms helped mold my open-minded baby brain into the big queer tree it is today. First and foremost, I can tell you all with confidence my first queer realization came when I was about 11, reading a book my lesbian Aunts gave me (thank god I come from a family of queers!) called “Weetzie Bat” by Francesca Lia Block. Block’s writing is full of characters with all sorts of gender presentations and sexualities: little girls wear skate shoes and boys look for their princes all within short, succinct, bath-tub reads meant for our young ones. The pleasure I got from reading a story about a guy loose in L.A. looking for his special someone was unmatched. The stories were glittery, effervescent, and just bursting at the seams with open minds and hearts. I still read Weetzie’s story at least once a year, along with Block’s series of stories, and they still lead me close to tears every time.

But, it doesn’t end there. I was lucky to grow up in a house full of music. “Name that Tune” was a family favourite, as my dad flipped through the car radio and gave us 10 seconds each to guess who the artist and song were. Tracy Chapman, Ani Difranco, et al. filled my living room and my head. I was listening to messages of queer acceptance long before I realized what they were. And, it was awesome. I remember the first time I realized someone was gay… and it barely registered. It was just another way people were, and it felt awesome to have already learned queer acceptance before I learned exactly what queerness was.

And this isn’t to extol any superior evolution I’ve had that others haven’t-- not in the slightest. This is to extol the power of art in our culture. Imagine if every kid was exposed to the litetature of queer people, people of colour, disabled people, trans people, and so on? Imagine if every kid learned acceptance before they even had a chance to shape their own behaviour; the opportunity to follow ones feelings, impulses, and creativity would only multiply with the multiplicity of influences these children received.

And I think that might be pretty awesome.

Check out The Image.Nation Website if you feel like queering your current mindset (and you’re in Montreal, of course) or do some googling to find out where your nearest Queer Film Fest is!

Creative Commons License