Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival to highlight two-spirit and indigenous perspectives this year

Georgia Straight – Mar 6, 2017 – Craig Takeuchi

With the theme UnSettled, Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival (QAF) announced today (March 6) that this year’s Queer Arts Festival will explore two-spirit viewpoints and issues through art.

In a statement on the QAF website, curator Adrian Stimson explains the visual arts exhibition will address the absence of two-spirit people and art from popular culture and that the artists will “expose the issues of historical extermination of two-spirit people, the lack of alternative aboriginal sexuality and gender in contemporary western culture/media, the two-spirit movement and future as a part of the reclamation of two-spirit identity and practice.”

Stimson also points out that homophobia was introduced to indigenous cultures through colonization.

“Two-thirds of the 200 Indigenous languages spoken in North America have non-negative terms to describe those who are neither male nor female, speaking to the primacy of multiple genders and sexualities within aboriginal cultures. Being identified as two-spirit often meant carrying unique responsibilities and roles within the community, knowledge keepers being one of the most important.

“Homophobia came with colonization, as the Urban Native Youth Association attests, ‘The religious dogma of the Residential Schools erased a proud and rich history of Two-spirit people in most Aboriginal communities. As a direct result of the residential school experience, homophobia is now rampant in most Aboriginal communities, even more so than in mainstream society.’ ”

George Littlechild

Several highlights at the festival will provide further exploration of two-spirit perspectives in a variety of media.

Musical elements will include the Chippewa Travellers and the Allegra Chamber Orchestra performing Cris Derkesen’s Orchestral Powwow on June 24.

A poetry and spoken-word event (June 26) will feature singer-songwriter Kinnie Starr, DJ O Show, and Tiffany Moses on June 26.

Online male hookup culture, fuelled by apps like Grindr, will be reflected upon in a dance piece by lemonTree creations entitled MSM [men seeking men] on June 20 and 21.

Dance works by Byron Chief-Moon and JP Longboat with Full Circle First Nations Performance will be paired together at Greed/Resolve, a program focusing on commerce, greed, and disenfranchisement, on June 27 and 28.


Local curators June Scudeler and Lacie Burning, with Vancouver’s Indigenous Media Arts Festival, will present an evening of indigenous film, video, and new media art on June 23.

The festival will be held from June 17 to 29 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews).