PUBLISHED BY Brindle & Glass Publishing Ltd.
Teetering on stilettos, a drag queen saunters between oversized trucks and SUVs clogging the avenues of Whyte and Jasper. Her tight clothing and heavy makeup is contrasted against a mass of orange and blue hockey fans whose faces are caked with more powder than hers.
Hardened stereotypes set against overlooked sexual minorities clamouring to be heard is an age-old struggle, but the voice of the LGBTQ community in Alberta has long been present through the tradition of the Loud & Queer Cabaret, with the development of queer culture manifesting itself through various modes of art. After 20 years of L&Q success, the release of the accompanying anthology, Queering the Way is not only an affirmation of queer culture, but also an affirmation of life.
The anthology of writing — everything from cabarets to one-acts plays to beat poems — is categorized into three distinct sections: “Queering the Way Into Forbidden Landscapes,” “Queering the Way by Voicing Otherness” and “Queering the Way by Creating New Artistic Landscapes.” Editor Darrin Hagan makes an effective decision dividing the anthology up, as different emotions are spread evenly throughout, all the while representing a collective movement towards change in new climates.
Twenty-two different artists contribute to the anthology, all with different perspectives. The LGBTQ community has, in the last 20 years, not only firmly planted itself in Alberta’s culture, but also become a centre for the creation and celebration of queer art.
Humour punctuates the anthology despite the heavy subject matter of some works. Playwright Rosemary Rowe’s in-depth analysis of Anne of Green Gable’s sexuality (“The romantic, or ‘bosom’ friends, Anne Shirley and Diana Barry were, in fact, totally doing it”), opens the book, deeming Anne of Green Gables to be the only novel of the period to be “subversive and rich in codified lesbian information.” Rowe creates an entertaining argument with interesting results.
On its richest level, this book is a testament to both the pain and joy that affects people’s lives. Diving into difficult subjects that society would rather skirt around, the anthology also expresses an exposed sense of fear.
Laurie MacFayden authors a beat poem entitled “for Theodore,” a frank reaction to a preacher’s eulogy that inaccurately depicted her friend. A powerful piece, it states, “we are all teetering on the edge of brokenness; we all have our trips in and out of the darkness.” The statement of the power of fear resonates throughout the piece. Whether by “a face in profile, a leer, a switchblade, a baseball bat,” or by the “dancing denizens” of a nightclub “never once acknowledging (one’s) presence,” the poem demonstrates a community facing fear with the utmost courage.
To take in a collective work, especially one so diverse as the Loud & Queer Anthology, is not an easy task. There are so many different points of life addressed in such a small, innocent-looking volume that it can be overwhelming. Yet because of this, it bursts with life. Queering the Way is a resounding work, with the utterly unmistakable qualities of authenticity and pride.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.