Five things to see and do at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival

Workshops, performances and readings run June 17 to 28

It’s not kismet that this year’s Queer Arts Festival ends on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Flashback to June 28, 1969 in New York City, in what was the touchstone moment for gay rights in both the U.S. and Canada.

Police raided an underground gay bar in Manhattan and all hell broke loose. Violent counter demonstrations broke out in the aftermath. It was high time for America, and the world at large, to take a long look in the mirror.

Within a year, the first gay pride marches were happening in major U.S. cities. Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969. Gay rights groups were operating across North
America by 1971.

In that spirit, the Courier presents five things to see and do over the course of the festival, which runs June 17 to 28 at the Roundhouse Arts Centre.

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Crown the Queen

Teiya Kasahara riffs on gender, stereotypes and expectations against an operatic backdrop in her production of The Queen in Me. The show runs at 7 p.m. on both June 21 and 22 and recalls Kasahara’s time as a professional opera singer and how they reconciles those experiences as a queer, feminist, person of colour.

The TKO trio

Happening now and running daily until June 22, the TKO Lab experience is a female-centred music production drop-in lab for queer, Indigenous and allied youth. The free workshops are led by Kinnie Starr, DJ O Show and Tiffany Moses, who help participants with hands-on training in poetry, spoken word, DJing processes and electronic music platforms such as Ableton, Pro Tools and Logic. The whole thing wraps up with a collaborative performance June 23. Signing up in advance is encouraged and info on how to do so is online at queerartsfestival.com/technical-knockouts-workshop.

Dialing in the diaspora

The Frank Theatre Company gives a voice to experiences of refugees and immigrants in the LGBTQ+ community with a performance of Diaspora. The pay-what-you-can performance is rolled out in text, video and physical theatre formats, asking audiences to examine and look beyond what it means to a member of the community outside of the western world. The performance will be led Frank’s artistic director Fay Nass, along with immigrant artists and community members. Diaspora is slated for 7 p.m. on June 25.

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The Queer Songbook Orchestra rounds out the closing night of the festival on June 28. - Photo supplied by Tanja Tiziana Photography

Ready, set, orchestra

The Queer Songbook Orchestra sets the table on closing night with a celebration of queer backstories and narratives from yesteryear. Those stories will be woven together by local narrators Monica Meneghetti and Jaye Simpson and some of the nation’s more well-known composers including. The show gets rolling at 7 p.m. on June 28.

End game

The festival’s 12-day run wraps up with shaker central in the form of the Stonewall 50: Glitter is Forever Party. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of what helped spawn modern-day Pride events, the Glitter is Forever party’s tagline is “Stonewall was a riot — now, we dance!”

Festival passes, dates, times and more info is available online at queerartsfestival.com.

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