Creating visibility: Self-portrait of 2-QTPOC curator
and graphic novelist Elisha Lim
When Cult MTL asked me to write about the upcoming 2-qtpocmontréal, I nearly spit out my sandwich. I am a 2-QTPOC fanqueer if ever there was one — I read the blogs, buy the cupcakes, and my apartment is littered with zines and posters produced by the culture’s many talented and dedicated artists and activists. Since receiving invitations to support and participate in the 10-day (August 10-19) program of art exhibitions, workshops, lectures, performances, and dance parties back in June, I have been looking forward to Pride in Montréal like never before.
Like so many 2-spirited, queer, and trans people of colour (2-QTPOC) here and elsewhere, I am used to feeling invisible. So the idea of shirking invisibility to write an article about a festival that does just that — bringing visibility to 2-QTPOC art and artists — was mindbending.
It is not as though Montréal has not seen 2-QTPOC events and organizing in the past. As proud curator Elisha Lim told me, 2-qtpocmontréal “stands on the shoulders of fierce organizing that has come before, like Push It, the Ste-Emilie Skillshare, Ethnoculture and GLAM.” But for these initiatives, their organizers, and the 2-QTPOC communities they centre, surviving in Montréal and Québec is challenging. In a city and a province where identity issues so often turn back to language, race and the experiences of racialized people often disappear.
Co-organizer Kama Maureemootoo, a Francophone who is new to the city, has often asked where Francophone 2-QTPOC people are in an Anglophone and Allophone-dominated community. But Maureemootoo is left optimistic: “I really think the importance of the festival is that it is creating visibility.” Two featured artists and several co-organizers are lifelong Quebecers, Francophone, and racialized, and a full evening of French programming is scheduled August 16.
A part of this year’s Pervers/Cité festival, 2-qtpocmontréal is entirely organized by and features exclusively the work of 2-spirited, queer and trans people of colour. Nearly all of the program’s 12 events are open to everyone (with the exception of The Other Tongue, August 18, a writing workshop that focuses on experiences of racism and avant-garde literature).
Knowing how tough it can be for indigenous folks and people of colour to put themselves out there in a society that consistently sidelines them, I was curious about the choice to have so few protected spaces. When I asked Lim, they said that their mandate ensured that the organizing committee and the packed roster of artists did prioritize indigenous and racialized people and what they need from Pride. Lim went further, saying that it was important to them that most events be open to all: “I want to build hype, to have an audience where all people can see a stage full of racialized people and have that look normal, and still expect a great, fun show. And put these people in their programs next year!”
A vernissage of the work of six artists, including the celebrated Walter K. Scott (of Kahnawake), and up-and-coming Montreal native Kesso Saulnier is on now through August 19 at artist-run centre articule (262 Fairmount Ouest). This weekend, catch the opening party, Dischromatique, (Friday, August 10, at Il Motore, 179 Jean-Talon Ouest) and what promises to be a bombastic night of performances at self/lust (Saturday, August 11; Studio XX, 4001 rue Berri, Room 201, with the support of Sophie Le and HTMlles). If you are looking for me, I’ll be trying to hang on to my sandwich at the Queer Between the Covers Reading Night (Wednesday, August 15, le cagibi, 5490 Saint-Laurent).
Check out the full 2-qtpocmontréal program here.