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The Queer History Project (QHP) launched in 2007 and sought to collect and record the stories of queer, trans, and Two Spirit people to ensure our histories endure for the future. Over a five-year period, QHP collected stories through interviews, workshops, and a website where the public could post their personal experiences. The project culminated in a collection of short films and art exhibitions shared through the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and Celebrate Queer Vancouver, a month-long series of queer cultural events accompanying the 2011 North American Outgames and Vancouver’s 125th anniversary.
In all, nine short films were produced, and 14 local artists were engaged in film work and art exhibitions during the project.
Queer History Project films included:
The Love That Won’t Shut Up | Ivan E. Coyote and Veda Hille | 2007
Rex vs. Singh | Ali Kazimi, John Greyson and Richard Fung | 2008
The Portside | Daphne Marlatt and Aerlyn Weissman | 2009
Laughing Behind Enemy Lines | David C. Jones | 2010
A Film for WG | Gwen Haworth | 2010
In the Garden | Debora O | 2010
Untitled | Byron Chief Moon | 2010
I See the Fear | Joe Average and Jamie Griffiths | 2010
The Gay Spirit | David Myers | 2011
Thank you for letting us tell our stories, not telling us what our stories are
In 2010, Out On Screen collaborated with photographer Sarah Race and videographer Sara Buchanan to explore some of Vancouver’s queer chosen families. The project collected photographs and video interviews of chosen families – 2SLGBTQIA+ people bonded through friendship, love, and mutual support through hardship, health struggles, oppression – and joy, not by blood.
In 2011, the material was gathered and curated into a media exhibition at the Queer Arts Festival, the Museum of Vancouver, and in a video booth at Little Sisters’ Book & Art Emporium.
The Chosen Family Portraits exhibitions were part of a series of activities we called Celebrate Queer Vancouver running from July 21 to August 21, 2011. This calendar of queer cultural events surrounded the 2011 OutGames, hosted in Vancouver, and overlapped with other local queer events including the Dyke March, the Queer Arts Festival, and Vancouver Pride.
Eight photos from the Chosen Family Portraits project were also selected to be displayed on plaques dotted throughout Vancouver. Each plaque included a photo, a quote from the pictured family, and a fact about the area’s queer history. The plaques were concentrated in the West End, Davie Village, Commercial Drive, and Chinatown. The plaques were designed by Cheryl Hamilton and Michael Vandermeer of ie. creative and had an estimated life of at least five years. Some of the plaques are still displayed today, though many became damaged and had to be removed over time.
The Chosen Family Portraits project was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Vancouver 125, the Museum of Vancouver, Options for Sexual Health, the Vancouver Foundation, Arts Partners in Creative Development, and Tinhorn Creek wines.