Being queer can be really isolating. Even using the word “queer” is a controversial point in the LGBTQ community. You might have grown up in a place where you didn’t see other queer people, where it wasn’t talked about, where you felt like you were the only one. This is the experience for a lot of queer people, and as the physical spaces of queer neighbourhoods and buildings disappear, there’s a fear that they’ll be forgotten.
That’s where Queering The Map comes in. Created by Lucas LaRochelle in 2017, it’s a global map where the pink streets are dotted with pins sharing stories of queer experiences. The map had to be taken down briefly due to a flood of homophobic, transphobic, and pro-Trump messages in February 2018, but LaRochelle was helped by a kind group of volunteers and the site went back online (with a new screening process) two months later. It’s pretty fitting when you think about it; throughout queer history, there have been people who have tried to inflict hatred upon the community, but its members have always come together to support each other and show that love is stronger than hate.
It started as a local project in Montreal, but Queering The Map now has pins all over the world. Some are stories of love, some are stories of queer spaces that have provided comfort, and some are of milestones in people’s personal journeys of discovering and accepting who they are. You could spend hours reading the stories behind these little black pins, but here are some I’ve found:
“It wasn’t meant to be a flirtatious moment. You were a friend of my room mate, we were supposed to meet up at the front of the mountain to play music. My room mate never showed up, so it was the two of us. You played guitar and I recited some poems. We were still teenagers. It’s corny when I think about it. You told me you had a girlfriend, and in my head I felt jealousy and anger, it didn’t make sense. But at that moment I understood I could be in love with a man.”Montreal, Canada.
“ Got dared to kiss a girl at a flat party here. Now she’s my wife”Christchurch, New Zealand
“the first time i went home after realizing i was queer. i knew my family would never accept me. i tried my best to appreciate everything and everyone and i treated that trip like the last time i would ever go home. because it most probably was. i haven’t gone back and i wish i could.”Kerala, India
“ Never been so terrified to kiss someone. Never been so alive.”Nairobi, Kenya
Queering The Map is a testimony to love; self-love, romantic love, and the support from friends and family members as their loved ones discover themselves. There are many sad stories on this map too, but Queering The Map is creating a community where these people can feel heard, hopefully bringing an extra bit of love into their lives. It’s an amazing project and makes for brilliant reading.
Maybe you’ll click on a random spot on the map and read a story that resonates with you. Maybe you’ll read a message about an ex and think “Been there.” Maybe you’ll search your hometown and be surprised to see a pin there, showing you that you aren’t as alone as you might think. That’s the beauty of Queering The Map; it shows us that there’s more queer love in the world than we might see at first glance.
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