By: Wayne (ChatJunkie)
On June 27th ACG I attended a workshop on Homophobic Graffiti, part of a program called Project Attach. I have always had a fascination for graffiti, this was something I just had to take part in. I've been photographing all types of graffiti around Guelph for a couple years now. I have travelled to Toronto to the famous Graffiti Alley three times now. Graffiti Alley is the place where Rick Mercer does his rants on his CBC show “The Mercer Report” and is located behind businesses in the Dundas/Spadina area of Toronto.
For the Project Attach workshop we were to go out around the city and photograph any negative, homophobic, transphobic and biphobic graffiti. Through an open discussion we learned how individuals who experience homophobia are more likely to have risk factors for HIV infections. The project was meant to start a dialogue about homophobia in our community so that we can document it, and challenge it.
Each participant was given a disposable camera, (cameras were returned to ACG for developing), tips for taking better pictures and a short list of places where graffiti could be found. We were given several weeks to complete the task, which was a good thing because, speaking for myself, it wasn't as easy as I had thought to find negative messages.
My experience is that anything negative can be something small added to other graffiti, which can be directed to the reader or directed towards the original artist. The addition may be small but the words can hurt in a big way.
Last night, November 22nd, we finally got to view what we had accomplished collectively. While we enjoyed Subway sandwiches drinks and cookies, we had a view of the slideshow and had an open discussion on what message we were seeing in each slide. It was important to hear how each of us read the message, how this can affect anyone else reading it. We came to an agreement that we didn't find much negative graffiti that much of it had positive messages which we found to be a good thing.
One slide in particular said, "i think they hate me so i hid". I found I could relate to this one in a different way than what the discussion brought out. For me it reflected how and why I hid in a closet for all those years. When I was a teenager it was the 60s, I couldn't come out, it was not acceptable, people hated homos, so I hid it.
This is another project from ACG that I am proud to have been a part of, to be a part of the team who was able to produce these results. The book is fantastic, 113 pages of great photos and messages showing examples of homophobia, marginalization, forms of oppression, genderism, resilience, being an ally and self care.
Funding for the book was provided by Public Health Agency of Canada so thanks to them for making this possible. Thanks to Megan DePutter for starting the project and to Olivia Kijewski for facilitating the unveiling.
All I can say is: what’s next?
Posted on Mon, November 26, 2012 by Chat Junkie filed under