Call Me? is a moveable, archivable wall layered with words and images that LGBTQ+ people use to self-describe that will grow over time as audiences respond to what is already there. This work aims to document the messy and contradictory nature of trying to pin down LGBTQ+ life in self-contained terms and symbols–as well as the nuance of the intra-community discussion around how we describe ourselves.
Call Me? draws on the histories of queer communication networks, such as Bob Damron’s queer travel guides, “The Chart” in The L Word, and the work of the artist collective Kiss & Tell – in particular their 1986 work Drawing the Line. Queer theorist Kathryn Bond Stockton has described the idea of ‘growing sideways’ for LGBTQ+ people; how we evolve together in complex non-linear ways. Drawing the Line opened up a route for recording this interwoven, non-linear, self-contradicting history; Kiss & Tell and “The Chart” focused on sex in their work, while we aim to explore LGBTQ+ self-description in all its forms.
In the last 50 years, the LGBTQ+ community has experienced an evolution in language comparable to the Cambrian explosion as we become more visible and gain more time and space to reflect on our identities. The members of our group have lived in a wide range of places and times and, as a result, have used a wide range of language to describe ourselves. Talking through identity labels and symbols in a group like this requires a great deal of trust; the understanding of the history of LGBTQ+ identity gained through this vulnerable conversation is infinitely richer and more complex than the flattened version too often found in historical documents.