Think about the last time you and a friend might have decided spontaneously to do some things that you couldn’t have seen yourself doing before.
But with the right instigator suddenly you’re packing up to go camping just out of town, trying acro yoga, making your own zine, throwing together a horror-themed photo shoot.
There are ways of being part community that make their own kind of creativity. And the queer community in all its forms is particularly good at that kind of thing.
A community that used the Camp in the term ‘Friend of Dorothy’ and other similar quips, created their own fabulous inside-joke references to find one another. A community that produces provocative queer music icons like Peaches and artists like Tom of Finland, Heather Cassils and Zackary Drucker, understands this creativity and art.
Just about anything might be possible with the right people around you, both as the instigators and as the audience you want to give to, to represent and to construct and foster.
It was in this kind of space that the makers of Her Story (http://herstoryshow.com/), a six-parter web series about queer women loving and learning one another came about.
Co-writer of the series and starring actor, Jen Richards, has previously spoken out in a well-crafted piece for The Advocate about the ways in which calling out and in can be both poisonous, destructive and alienating for especially the transfeminine community.
But she also engaged with how there are ways to hold humor and affection, and further produce community support through warmth and support for those of us who are in need. Because for so many of us, our communities can be all we’ve got.
And one of these ways is to make the kind of sliver of representation and creative community that you want to see in the world – through, perhaps, a web series!
I was first introduced to the series through a diverse group of friends of mine, primarily femme-identified people, who openly embraced the series for the kind of representation they’d been longing for of their lives and loves. They chatted across social media about the world of the series, and added to their own links around and through it.
Which is not to say that they didn’t have quibbles with the representations – which is always a likely thing when there are only so many stories and personalities who can be represented in any space.
One of the characters is aggressively anti-trans in the series, a fact which contains some harshly confusing moments around why it might be that the community that she lives in keeps her in its fold. But it’s also read against her work as a worker at a shelter, a space in which the harm that people can do to one another must be so vividly and tangibly present that fear and hatred must seem like the only response sometimes.
Unfortunately it’s the same kinds of experiences that all kinds of queer community have in common too often.
When I spoke to the executive producer of the show, Katherine Fisher, we talked about the ways that community can be so supportive, and even how it enveloped her in the making of the series, and since its release. Looking forward to the likely possibility of a second season, we started to agree that even the tensions within finding good queer representation had, themselves, the chance to be productive.
So perhaps the answer looks more complicated than the simple ways we want to reject those who spread toxicity and rejection, and instead find ways to create and come together through trauma negotiations. It won’t be easy. But it might be amazing.