By Robert Mangelsdorf – Published July 30, 2014

Throughout history, tyrants have banned “degenerate” artists or artworks under the argument that they posed an imminent danger to the social fabric. The theme of Queer Arts Festival is a defiant response to that.

ReGenerations, which opened July 23 and runs until Aug. 9, embraces the premise that art can be dangerous, even revolutionary. In the intimate act of sharing, both artists and audiences find meaning, transformation, and the strength to enact change.

This year’s festival brings together artists from over 20 countries navigating queer identity across the international diaspora, speaks to healing and renewal by addressing topics such as addiction, and provides solidarity for those struggling for queer rights.

The festival’s remaining highlights include:

Alien Sex

Tentacles wrestle the sexual status quo; secret identity exposes itself; and the Empire is challenged by authentic expression in a work that mixes whimsy, savage poetry, heartbreaking vulnerability and B-movie joy.

Get your alien on in this transdisciplinary evening, featuring the work-in-progress presentation of Alien Sex. Come dressed in an outfit original to your planet of origin. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed queer aliens.

Actor/director and Alien Sex instigator David Bloom brings together an exciting team in a multi-genre, multi-generational feast. The all-star cast features Vancouver genderqueer creators Olivia B (performance poet/tap dancer) and Floyd VB (performance poet/visual artist), propelled by the visceral and immutable life force of taiko drummer Eileen Kage, composer/dancer/video artist Sammy Chien, actor/dancer/visual and performance artist Robert Leveroos, and photo-based artist/actor SD Holman (of BUTCH: Not like the other girls).

Drawing upon energetic interpretations of the transgressive BDSM poet Linda Smukler/Samuel Ace and the divisive heterosexual playwright David Mamet, gay, lesbian, bi, queer, straight, vanilla, kinky and yet-to-be-named perspectives collide in a speculative fiction that explores the beautiful, and sometimes inexplicable territory of human sexuality.

July 31 at 7:30-9:30 pm; $20 (all funds raised go to support the Pride in Art Society); 181 Roundhouse Mews 

I Sing The Body Electric: Walt Whitman and The Beat Generation

Just in time for Pride weekend, Erato Ensemble’s I Sing the Body Electric celebrates the queer spirit of Walt Whitman and the Beat Generation, who dared to express an individual language and lifestyle in the midst of the conservative social mores of their times, changing our culture forever.

Walt Whitman’s poetry is the basis for an emotional love story of two men – from meeting, to falling in love, to separation by war and death. Music by Kurt Weill, Charles Naginski, William George and world premieres by Lloyd Burritt and Ben Schuman. The Beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Diane Di Prima inspire new works by David Del Tredici, David Sisco, Jerome Kitzke, Steven Ebel, Anthony Ocaña, a “Beat Madrigal,” and a world premiere by Catherine Laub.

Aug. 1, 7:30-9:30 pm; $30 General Admission; $15 Youth/Seniors/Underemployed; 181 Roundhouse Mews

Queering the International 

QAF’s signature visual arts exhibition, Queering the International, features a lineup of established and emerging artists from around the globe who are immigrant, indigenous, undocumented, displaced.

Recent homophobic events in Russia, India, Uganda, and elsewhere have made it timely to highlight artists who address queer identity on an international scale, and whose work celebrates the complex human condition. 

Queering the International asks the artists, “What is queer, what is international, what is your diaspora, and what is identity?”

Brought together by the curatorial talents of Zimbabwe-born Laiwan and curatorial assistant Anne Riley, who is of Dene/Cree ancestry, it features artists from a range of nations including Brazil, Canada, the Cree Nation, Guatemala, Guyana, the Haudenosaunee Territories, Hawaii, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad, the United States, and more, covering a breadth of viewpoints and perspectives from queers near and far.

Until Aug. 9; by donation, gallery hours 10:30am-10pm weekdays; 10:30am-4:30pm weekends; 181 Roundhouse Mews