Home queer home

The 25th annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival wrapped last night with a party at a West End dance club called Celebrities. Sweetie and I came in late as volunteers, but I did one shift and she was able to do three. We also went to several of the films: five for me, I think eight or nine for her. Volunteering, working with great people, chatting with really nice film goers, seeing friends and acquaintances, and watching some really good films—it was all a wonderful experience. À la prochaine!

For anyone taken aback by the word "queer," it's quite common in these parts. I know it's still derrogatory in many places, but we reclaimed the word a long time ago. We have a queer film festival, queer arts festival, other queer events, and even Qmunity, which bills itself as a "queer resource centre." I think it's a fantastic word. I will sometimes use the usual string of letters in writing, but the bloody thing keeps getting longer, and I would rather say "queer." There are definitely reasons to assert our separate identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, questioning, etc. etc. etc., but somehow to me queer feels inclusive without erasing anything. The Ls, Gs, Bs, and Ts don't always have much in common except for the fact that we are neither straight nor narrow. We're here, we're queer, and everyone is getting used to it.

VQFF really is a wonderfully diverse and inclusive event. Its programming reflects that. The staff and board of Out on Screen, the organization the produces the festival as well as the Out in Schools initiative, reflect that as well. Festival volunteers, including me this year (and hopefully in years to come), also reflect the diversity.

For me as a femme bisexual woman married to a femme bisexual woman, diverity and inclusiveness are important. Even more important is feeling at home. Not all queer events feel that way. Many of the Pride festivities seem to be mostly about gay boys and drag queens doing the same things they have done for decades, which to me feels boringly conservative. It's not surprising that there is a separate Dyke March and Festival as well as a Trans March during Pride week. If a space doesn't include you, you make your own space. I felt that last night at Celebrities, where the live entertainment consisted of, yep, drag queens. It was the first time at the festival that I felt like I was in someone else's world.

Moreover, it's often difficult for bisexual people to feel at home anywhere. We're gay, we're straight, we're both and neither. The film Pariah, a beautiful, emotional coming-of-age story about a black lesbian teenager, included the Trope of the Evil Bisexual. That hurt a bit, but of course such people exist, people who have a gay fling and then run back to their straight lives. As with any group, there are all kinds of bisexuals. It's like being a lawyer. You have to keep telling people that you're one of the good kind while they continue to doubt that such a kind exists.

That's why I love "queer," and that's why I love the VQFF. I belong. I am included. I am home.

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