YMCA Woman of Distinction

Published in Vancouver Sun, June 4, 2014

Shaira Holman recognized as Woman of Distinction.

By Matthew Robinson

Shaira (SD) Holman, a photographic artist and a driving force behind Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival, accepted a YWCA Women of Distinction award Tuesday for her work at the trans-disciplinary arts festival.

“Shaira’s vision has transformed the festival from a tiny volunteer-run organization to one of the fastest growing cultural festivals in Canada,” according to the YWCA’s nomination of Holman, which praised her for showcasing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender writers, musicians, filmmakers, and visual and performance artists in the community.

“I have to give credit to the Y — the Young Women’s Christian Association — for choosing a bearded, butch, Jewish dyke for this award,” Holman said in an interview minutes after receiving the award. “It was really lovely to be honoured in this way.”

Holman said she started the Queer Arts Festival — which began as the Pride in Art exhibition about seven years ago — because there was nowhere else at the time where she could pursue art on identity.

Holman recently announced her intention to take a year off work at the festival to focus on other projects. Those include touring Butch: Not Like the Other Girls, her well received and most recent photo exhibition, which Holman intends to turn into a book. She will also work on a pair of projects based on recent transformational events in her life — the 2009 death of her wife, Catherine White-Holman, and a cross-Canada pilgrimage Holman began a few months later in her wife’s honour.

View the Vancouver Sun article here.