Queer it Up!

Project Overview

A queer performance night with the goal of starting a critical queer subculture in Cologne, Germany.

Identifying the Problem

Cologne is said to have one of the most popular gay subcultures in Germany. Yet after attending several gay events in the city, Louisa discovered that the scene is dominated by white, privileged men. Through her work with an autonomous feminist NGO, Louisa had become familiar with not only feminist critique, but the importance of approaching topics from different perspectives of race and sexuality. She was struck by the absence of critical standpoints towards whiteness and the sex, gender, and sexuality binaries, and was motivated to create space where these issues could be explored by politically active youth.

Creating A Solution

Louisa decided to organize a queer performance night as an opportunity for members of Cologne’s queer subculture to think about and discuss race and the sex, gender, and sexuality binaries in a creative and safe environment. She worked with several friends to identify an appropriate venue and performance artists whose work would help contribute to the goal of bringing politically active youth together to think about queer subculture in a new way. They reserved a local kiosk bar for the event, and invited three artists to perform: Ottoline Calmeijer Meijburg, Pralina Orgasma and Sisi W. They also invited a feminist DJ to perform after the event.

Louisa and her team advertised the event through Facebook and word-of-mouth. About 50 people attended the event, most of whom had also been frustrated by the lack of diverse perspectives within Cologne’s queer subculture. The audience enjoyed performances by two drag queens, as well as the poetry of a spoken word performance artist who raised the issue of street harassment of LGBT people. All three performers engaged with audience members about issues important to the city’s queer subculture, and the room was full of energy and optimism about how the participants could work together to create future events and dialogues.  A feminist DJ performed for the aftershow party. 

Lessons Learned

Louisa learned that the most important element of organizing an event like this is to begin planning well in advance, delegate responsibilities, and coordinate effectively. She also realized that it can be difficult to create an event that encourages performers to address whiteness, especially when the performers themselves are white. She encourages others wishing to address whiteness within queer culture to be willing to have honest and courteous conversations about the subject, while maintaining a respectful critique.

Funding

Audience members were charged an entrance fee in order to cover the cost of the event venue. Louisa offered free drinks to the performers, in lieu of cash payment. She and the co-organizers also sold homemade food to raise money for a cultural and political queer bar in Cologne.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Germany Germany 2015

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