In our latest KET Talks podcast we discussed the many different meanings and angles of the word ‘queer’.
What better way to demonstrate them than bringing you some fresh examples from the world of literature and television?
The House of Impossible Beauties
For a long time, ‘queer’ was used as a derogatory term for people who didn’t live by the rules of heteronormativity. People like the characters of Joseph Cassara’s 2018 novel, The House of Impossible Beauties who were pushed to exist on the margins of society, and yet they did it with fearless authenticity.
Cassara’s dazzling debut – which is largely inspired by Jennie Livingston’s legendary documentary: Paris Is Burning – mixes the real-life events and characters of Harlem’s ballroom scene with the fictional story of a young trans-woman, Angel, living in New York City in the mid-eighties.
After Angel falls in love with Hector – a beautiful and charismatic dancer – the pair set out to create the legendary house of Extravaganza. Its other members: Venus, Juanito and Daniel are shunned and kicked out by their biological families for being trans, femme or queer but together they create their own home that provides the acceptance, love and support, that was denied to them so brutally by mainstream society.
The Extravaganzas are resilient and determined to exist in their own right while navigating through abuse, drug addiction and the devastating consequences of the growing AIDS crisis.
The House of Impossible Beauties and the fate of its members will surely stay on your mind long time after you turned the last page of this powerful novel.
The LGBTQI+ community successfully reclaimed the word ‘queer’ and turned it into something positive and empowering.
Empowering others is exactly what HBO’s latest docuseries, We’re Here is aiming to do.
Three well-known drag queens, Eureka O’Hara, Shangela Laquifa Wadley and Bob the Drag Queen (who all competed in different seasons of the Emmy Award winning TV reality show – RuPaul’s Drag Race) take to the road to visit small towns across America with one special mission in mind: building communities.
They organise one-night-only drag events while mentoring some of the local residents, and help them transform to become their new drag daughters.
Aspiring drag artists, a Navajo-born native-American, a guilt driven former homophobe, straight allies, and a trans man and his fiancé are all sharing their unique and moving stories. They are exposing themselves with their vulnerability on centre stage and in front of the camera, not only to get out of their comfort zone but also to heal, to forgive and to connect.
We’re Here shows beautifully the transformative power of drag while giving valuable lessons in how to build truly inclusive queer communities where LGBTQI people, people of colour, people living with disabilities, and straight allies stand together for a kinder world.
Cause y’all know by now: We’re Here, We’re Queer! Get used to it!
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