Places of Queer Joy

Esti Shapiro, Sarah Evers, Lillian Climo, David Hubbell

A group-generated map documenting places of queer joy and the stories behind them. Add to it by manipulating the map to the left or clicking the button below for full page access.

Queer joy is a many-layered thing. In our group discussions, we emphasized the complicated nature of joy and reminded ourselves that joy can be found in shared experiences of both love and suffering. For many of us, the search for a queer community stemmed from a place of lack or loneliness. While these feelings are difficult to overcome, there is a unique joy in becoming a part of a community that understands emotional complexities. In many ways, our work has focused on sharing and celebrating the communities that have understood us. Because we have been relegated to digital spaces, we took inspiration from other queer projects that exist virtually. We drew in particular from “Queering The Map,” a website that allows visitors to pinpoint their experiences of queerness on a world map. However, while Queering The Map allows for anonymous submissions that do not fall under any specific theme, our project relies on sharing openly with our peers. We discussed spaces of queer joy and used video and visual aids to further personalize our work.

For many of us who fall into Gen Z or Millennial demographics, the internet has served as a site for early self-discovery and community building. With our group forced to communicate only through email and Zoom, we have created a new and personal digital landmark. Through this work, we have been able to honor the virtual nature of our class and take advantage of our ability to reflect on the spaces that we have occupied. The digital format allows us to travel together to places that we no longer exist within, and sometimes no longer exist at all. In many ways, this project is a virtual road trip. It is also the formation of a new community that builds upon our individual histories. Perhaps if the project is to go on, we would find ourselves creating maps that pinpoint digital spaces like video chats or email threads. This too is a marker of community and a unique experience of joy and togetherness. Additionally, we have worked to give equal time to the students and elders. Because our project focuses on intergenerational dialogues, we felt it important that everyone is given an opportunity to learn from each other, rather than the elders teaching the students, or vice versa. The work that we have created allows everyone in the group to engage with one another.

Our group has been able to conduct mini-interviews within our meeting times, where both the students and elders have shared stories. After deciding on locations of queer joy, we spoke about our experiences in these spaces for a few minutes. This act of sharing was almost a way to reintroduce ourselves to each other and begin to explore personal histories. Following these interviews, those of us who are students elected to focus our project on the collaborative map, rather than the visuals we presented in our first draft. Once again, this idea draws fairly directly from “Queering the Map”, although our work is both more limited and more expansive. Our community is small, but non-anonymous and often sharing with greater detail than is exhibited in our sources of inspiration. We have worked to embed the video interviews into our pins and create an interactive experience that matches our idea of a “virtual road trip.”

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