Queer youth ’80s remix

Vitamin Q takes us back - and forward

Slogans like: “We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Not Going Shopping!” are officially part of a queer history project.

Oh, don’t run to cover your grey hair. Be glad the obligatory crew-cut and “Ten percent is not enough!” T-shirts are in somebody’s fashion archive.

Be even happier that queer youth are paying attention to those kiss-in years.

“We want to make sure people know it’s being remembered – that it’s still important for members of the community to see that we can celebrate what they were able to do,” says Julie Auerbach, an 18-year-old participant in Vitamin Q, a new art installation and theatre performance event.

Last year’s queer walking history tour called I Don’t Have Time Is The Biggest Lie journeyed through homo history from 1965 to 1985. This year with Vitamin Q, a new group of young queer artists takes on the period between 1975 and 1990.

“We learned about queer culture in Toronto, about the bathhouse raids, the Lesbian Organization Of Toronto, Queer Nation,” says Auerbach with a confident smile. The musician and theatre enthusiast was pleased as punch to be a part of this year’s art and history collaboration.

“Working within a group of queer-positive artists makes it a lot easier. You don’t feel like you’re being judged or holding back what you want to say.”

Guest artists were brought in as part of a mentoring process: stand-up comic Gavin Crawford, ‘zine queen Rita Fatila, theatre artists Diane Flacks and Sarah Stanley, among many others.

Vitamin Q will begin at the AIDS memorial in Cawthra Square Park, then move to the steps in front of the Second Cup on Church St and finish at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St).

“The theatrical pieces are not re-enactments of history, it’s the youths’ take on their own expressions of the history,” says theatre director Franco Boni, who facilitates the program along with visual artists Florencia Berinstein.

After looking at the sweep of the community’s history, young Auerbach thinks a lot has changed for queers – especially queer youth – in the last 10 years.

“There’s more choice within the queer community, more and more options for subgroups within the community. People are constantly questioning what it means to be queer and from that people can define for themselves what it means.”

Boni and Berinstein started the project together last year in the hopes of creating a better working relationship between youth and older member of the queer community.

Auerbach feels the work is paying off. “There’s a conscious effort to try and nurture young people more; we’re able to find support and resources. The climate is changing. I mean there’s still a lot of pressure and things we need to work on, but I’m never in physical fear for my life. Things are a lot different than they were even five or 10 years ago.”


There are two performances of this free show: at 7pm on Fri, Aug 25 and 2pm on Sat, Aug 26, beginning at Cawthra Square Park (519 Church St). Expect goodie bags: each audience member will receive a scrapbook, with ‘zines and pieces of visual art to bring home for your own queer history collections.

For more info call (416) 975-8885.

Read More About:
Culture, Arts, Theatre, Toronto

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