An Introduction by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
On June 12, 2016 a man entered PULSE, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida and used a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol to murder 49 people and wound 53 others. The club was hosting Latin Night. The vast majority of victims were Puerto Rican and Latin@. This was the largest massacre of LGBTQ people in U.S. history. It continues a seemingly relentless wave of gun violence in the U.S. It is part of a tapestry of year that included significant legislation against LGBTQ people in the United States of America.
My original impulse was to immediately “do something”. I asked people on Facebook to find their nearest gay bar and go read a poem in front of it. We got these gorgeous homemade films. I didn’t ask folks to identify whether they were LGBTQ or not. I think everyone should know where their nearest gay bar is.
And people did know. Or people didn’t know and they decided to find out. And then I needed to decide if we would run them right away. After a lot of thought we at Voluble decided to wait. I decided to wait a bit. Because the shooting at PULSE is an unspeakable tragedy and it is also a symptom of a larger and continued threat against LGBTQ people in the United States of America. Across the nation hate crimes against LGBTQ people are on the rise, particularly against trans women of color. Because of legislation like North Carolina’s HB2 Bill it is becoming harder to live day to day as an LGBTQ citizen. Suicide rates among LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth, continue to be staggering. These poems and people reading them, whatever their sexual orientation, are part of a world where LGBTQ life is often as terrifying as it is joyful.
In the worst way and in some of the best ways these films are timeless. I look forward to a day when we might consider them dated. And yet. It will never be out of date to go find your nearest gay bar. To name it and claim it and love it as truly local to you.
These films are being run alongside Oliver Baez Bendorf’s beautiful series on LGBTQ artists and The Joy of Coloring. They are part of a long-term project here at Voluble to document and celebrate and make space for visions of LGBTQ life in the world.
We invite you to send your own film or map or essay that tells us about your LGBTQ experience in your world.
Selection from “Queerly is the Night” by Serena Chopra
“Going Santa Fe” by Jane Eaton Hamilton
Excerpt is read from her poem published in 1997 by the League of Canadian Poets.
Video recorded on iPhone by Donna Dykeman.
Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of 9 books of short fiction and poetry, including the 2016 novel WEEKEND. Jane’s books have been shortlisted for the MIND Book Award, the BC Book Prize, the VanCity Award, the Pat Lowther Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award. Her memoir was one of the UK Guardian’s Best Books of the Year and a Sunday Times bestseller. She is the two-time winner of Canada’s CBC Literary Award for fiction (2003/2014). Her work has appeared in publications such as Salon, En Route, Macleans and the NY Times. She lives in Vancouver.
Explore The Fountainhead Pub
“The Solitude Shop” by Matthew Lippman
Christopher Soto Reading “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” by Ocean Vuong