How many recognizably queer places are there in any city or town? Queer bars, dance parties, and businesses exist, but their holds on space are always threatened by whims of the government and the market, as evidenced when lesbian and gay bars disappear in highly trafficked places like NYC. But is queer space really so tied up to commerce? Does it really only exist in cities with dedicated gay neighborhoods? Or can it now, with our global interconnected community, be something more? Such are the questions that Queering the Map, a new crowd-sourced mapping project, explores.
Created by Concordia University student Lucas LaRochelle, the project attempts to map memories and experiences from queer individuals all over the world. LaRochelle told the McGill Daily about how they came up with the idea:
I was biking home one day when I passed by a tree where I’d met one of my first partners. There was an intense feeling that I recognized in biking there; a feeling of queerness coming from action. In that sense, I became interested in capturing the feeling of queerness in relation to specific environments, and to then map them out.
Some points on the map range locate physical landmarks, such as the Southern Oregon University Queer Resource Center or the Moontree feminist bookstore in Kuala Lumpur. But the vast majority chart memories from the straightforward — such as a point in Utah that reads “Came out publicly in college” — to the poetic. One in Florida reads, “We were celebrating our anniversary, and I finally told you the name I had chosen. It sounded so right coming from your lips.” Another from Saudi Arabia: “I once cared for you more than I cared for myself. The first boy I have ever loved, and still do.”
Queering the Map now includes points on every continent except Antarctica. If you find your queer little heart turning cold and alone, this is the place to go to feel just a little more connected again.