Discover more from Queeries
Queeries: Designing Reality Equitably and Madly
aka Q:DREAM ✨✨✨
Queeries: Designing Reality Equitably and Madly (Q:DREAM)…
…will spotlight NYC’s queer architects, designers, organizations, and places at different scales, with a participatory component for folks to recognize and celebrate the spaces they call “home.”
“Designing Reality” creates space for imagining worlds where queer folks have autonomous agency over their lives, while “Equitably and Madly” expresses parallel principles of equity of access, pride, and extraordinary imagination.
tl;dr—Queeries is going to exist in 3D
at the Center for Architecture in New York City, November 16, 2023 - March 23, 2024!!! Here’s the news on the Center for Architecture’s website!!!
Read on for more context!!!
The spark for Queeries began right before I graduated with my M.Arch. I was feeling anxious about leaving the safety of grad school, where I had come out as nonbinary & trans, and met and formed my first consciously queer relationships. How would I stay connected with my queer kin once I’m deep in the industry of architecture? How would I still have community, even if we weren’t physically together? And where were all the queer architects, anyway?!
In 2017, I applied for a funded fellowship available to Columbia GSAPP graduates with a project called: “QUEER QUERIES: Surveying + Community-building for LGBTQ Designers in the Built Environment.” I did not get the fellowship. But no worries. I kind of needed to fly out of the nest that is GSAPP, anyway.
2020 arrived and the pandemic hit!! Whew. I started Queeries from the privilege and safety of my apartment.
In 2022, I applied for a New York State Council of the Arts Independent Projects Grant. I didn’t get it. The feedback I received was: why? How will this benefit architecture and the arts?
… wellllllll …
Why? Since 2013, countless Bathroom Bills—legislation or statutes that deny access to public toilets by gender or transgender identity—have been proposed and/or passed by cities and states across the country. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are currently 492 (!!!) anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S., most targeting transgender people.
Why? We can all feel it, and some of us have experienced it first-hand, but research “proves” it: anti-queer extremist activity is growing. A new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found significantly more incidents of anti-drag protests, threats, and violence than previously reported. Anti-drag efforts are accelerating amid growing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment from conservative politicians. (The Pr*ud B*ys (yes, some of the same people behind the January 6th United States Capitol attack) is the leading group behind anti-drag activity, according to the report.) Let me hit it home: 14 transgender and gender non-conforming people have lost their lives so far in 2023 due anti-queer violence.
Why? I’ve been writing about being a queer person of color since I came out in 2015. As a visibly queer architect, I have spoken on numerous panels to share my experience and offer my advice on improving the profession, written about queer safe spaces, and have served on the thesis committee of a queer student investigating non-traditional spaces. But my queer spatial practice is far from merely a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative: my goal is to queer architecture by uplifting and highlighting the voices and stories of queer architects and designers.
Why? The cycle of shame is broken and the harms of erasure begin to heal every time a queer person tells their story in a safe space. “Home” can have divergent meanings, particularly for folks in the LGBTQIA+ community who may not feel “at home” in their bodies, or do not have a “home” to return to because of family rejection. Highlighting queer perspectives and expansive definitions of “home” is vital to address systemic impacts of queerphobia, both within and beyond the field of architecture.
So in May of this year, I applied for the Center for Architecture (CFA) Lab Residency, a multi-month, multi-disciplinary residency program that aims to invite a greater diversity of professionals to participate in the fields of architecture and design. CFA Lab encourages considering outside perspectives, asking critical questions, and devising innovative solutions to systemic problems in architecture and other design professions. This year’s theme is “home,” a concept that can take on many different meanings, especially in post-COVID New York City—and especially for queer folks!
I’m looking forward to commiserating with and learning from my fellow residents. Kholisile Dhliwayo is working on a counter-narrative oral mapping project that celebrates the creativity and ingenuity of BIPOC communities as active agents that shape the city. Karla Andrea Pérez will document the existing homes of individuals who live with the status of “undocumented” in the New York City area through video, photography, and interviews, to recognize these spaces within an architectural discourse that doesn’t pretend to aestheticize or romanticize their homes.
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Once again, thank you for reading this newsletter. It really would not exist without you.
I hope these words inspire in some way, shape, or form.
Until next time,