Queers in Art & censorship at the 1990 Gay Games

We have to dare to be specific, and speak out about who we are.—Donimo

In 1990 during the lead-up to the Gay Games in Vancouver (marketed as “Celebration ‘90”), Donimo was interviewed by Mary Anne McEwen about the Queers in Art Artisans Market that she co-organized, or, more specifically, how the board of the Games censored the Market by not allowing them to use the word “queer” in their name. Starting at 11:48 in the video, Donimo pulls no punches about language and exclusion:

…if we can be really nice. If we can look like the posters that they’ve got around town. If we can be really white and really thin and really conservative and really able-bodied, and really nice, then the outside world will accept us and we’ll slide in. For us as an organizing committee, that’s not what this is all about. This is our party. And this is for us to say hey yeah, this is what springs from the gay and lesbian creative imagination. Particularly from us. Not some generic, creative works. This is our stuff. And language is a really powerful tool, and it can certainly be used against us. And the more we can expand our language and be brave enough to use it, the more power we have.—Donimo

By the way, the t-shirt Donimo is wearing in the top image (which she designed) reads:
maverick immoderate dissident subversive zealot radical nonconformist heretic.

Queers in Art t-shirt designed by Donimo.

Later, during the Gay Games, Donimo attended a writer’s panel featuring Dionne Brand and Jane Rule. She asked them to weigh in on the board’s censorship of Queers in Art (around 2:25 in this video) and Dionne Brand responded with:

The movement will not suffer because you speak against inequities in it. It will grow. So just do it.—Dionne Brand

Posted by:
Terra Poirier
Email:
terrable@gmail.com