This Project Dedicated to Mapping Queer Spaces Is a Precious Tool for Our LGBTQ Community
We just stumbled across the website Queering the Map, “a community-generated mapping project that geo-locates queer moments, memories and histories in relation to physical space.” We’re loving the mission of the website and the incredible stories we’re finding on it. From first-time love affairs to important historical milestones that aren’t found on the pages of school textbooks, there’s a whole lot of queer identity to be found in the cross-streets of this online archive.
“As queer life becomes increasingly less centered around specific neighborhoods and the buildings within them, notions of ‘queer spaces’ become more abstract and less tied to concrete geographical locations,” the website reads. “The intent of the Queering the Map project is to collectively document the spaces that hold queer memory, from park benches to parking garages, to mark moments of queerness wherever they occur.”
There are no guidelines to what constitutes “an act of queering space.” If you take one look at a certain location, and the stories already added there, you can see that anything that involves ‘the queer experience’ counts as queering space.
Some of the stories we found in New York City include:
This is where I held a boy’s hand for the first time in public, and it was thrilling and exciting and joyful.
Watched four seasons of ‘The L Word’ on my phone under my desk while working here.
First time out in drag in NYC and where I met so many amazing friends and people.
Did acid at NYC Pride and realized I’m trans.
‘The Queen’ documentary shot here, immortalizing Flawless Mother Sabrina.
Heard kids calling each other gay here (elementary school playground after school). When my mom picked me up, I asked her what the word meant and she said, “When a boy is friends with a lot of girls.” LMAO.
Every week I get to perform music with my beautiful queer family at band practice.
But the website isn’t immune to anti-LGBT hate, either. Earlier this year the site was attacked by right-wing trolls who flooded the project with pro-Trump messages, attempting to undermine its archival, sentimental and representational intent.
The project’s Montréal-based founder Lucas LaRochelle told The Outline, “Queering the Map now has a moderator panel that is collaboratively reviewed to ensure that no hate, spam or unsafe content (such as addresses, phone numbers or people’s full names) makes it onto the site.”
Regarding user information, which has become a hot-button issue recently after news spread that a gay online social networking app was sharing the HIV status of its users with third parties, LaRochelle promises that people who engage with Queering the Map are protected.
LaRochelle adds, “Notably, the project qualified for Cloudflare’s Project Galileo initiative, which protects sites with marginalized content against being hacked. Queering the Map does not take any user data, such as a contributors location or email address, so as to keep everything posted to the site completely anonymous.”
As queer locales are quickly becoming extinct due to gentrification and technology, a preservation tool like Queering the Map is important to conserve our queer identities. Whether you’re adding a story about how Will & Grace affected you as a teenager or how that boy you fell in love with at the age of 16 taught you a thing or two in the bedroom, sharing these stories in a place where they are archived for all to see is profound.
It also helps illustrate that the queer experiences of one person can be very similar to those of another, linking everyone together under the diverse and wide umbrella of our LGBTQ community.