NorthStar Community Center, 106 Lathrop Street, Lansing
Funny how a night of drunken chatter can lead to momentous ideas. Like QueerFest, a three-day radical festival in East Lansing that is dedicated to the liberation of queer people.
“We wanted to organize something together for the greater good of all queer people,” said organizer Melissa Kim. “I personally fell into this festival just by accident. I had just moved from Flint to Lansing and didn’t really know anyone. I met Andy (Field, QueerFest main organizer) at a party and we hit it off.”
The punk-themed party, which takes place from Aug. 17-19 around the East Lansing area (participants are asked to visit NorthStar Community Center first), was created out of the organizers’ determination to develop a safe space for queer people to gather, groove to some music, and take in a drag show and some informational workshops. Kim thinks an event like QueerFest is necessary for LGBT people of all ages.
“I remember how hard it was personally for me to come out, and if I was armed with all the info you can find at QF this weekend, it would have made it much easier. It’s also nice to gather with like-minded people and know you’re not alone.”
Kim stresses the importance of holding an all-inclusive event like QueerFest even as other festivals – like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, she notes – continue to deny people.
“It is unfortunate that Womyn’s music fest is not inclusive for trans people. I think of how far the gay and lesbian movement has come since Stonewall, and then see how far it recesses when it comes to transgender (people). We wanted this event open to all creeds, genders and colors. Love is blind and so is our event.”
In addition to local bands, graffiti artist Samski will hold a workshop on Aug. 17. Kim believes the artist will fit into the do-it-yourself/anarchist theme. Also, there will be a stenciling workshop, which will help participants create their own stencils.
“Many times in this world visual objects convey more so than words. You can sit and listen to a speaker talk about issues and people forget what was said by the next day. If you pass by a dumpster with a political message, sometimes that image sticks in your mind longer and makes you think.”