Dear Drew Dennis and the Out on Screen Board,
As you know I have adored you for years and you have treated me extremely well as an artist. I am thankful for being treated so well as performance artists are rarely compensated fairly for our time and labour. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for this!! I write this knowing that we all are learning (myself included) and with lots of compassion and care.
After I read all the online information in Montreal I went for a run and I found myself crying. I found myself complicit in things that are happening so far away by having my NYC/ Berlin film in my hometown festival. It just goes to show that we are all interconnected everywhere.
If you accept money from Yad b’Yad for their ad connecting the state of Israel and LGBTQ communities, do we as filmmakers then all become complicit in these deaths in Palestine? The death toll from recent strikes is 1,900. As someone who has existed almost entirely in radical communities for the last 15 years, in my international art practice, I find this deeply disturbing.
By accepting this money you have put the filmmakers in a very difficult situation where their work is being celebrated under an Israeli flag, which stands in for genocide to many of us. We would not have chosen to accept this ad - there is a hum of us talking unhappily offline.
The first time I became familiar with the situation in Israel/ Palestine was through an Israeli group called Black Laundry at Queeruption Berlin in 2003. They taught me that all oppressions are connected and that we need to act in solidarity with each other and that it is possible to move forward together, fighting for not one aspect of change but for all change! Let us choose as queers to stand with Palestinians as brothers and sisters.
I see my friends from all corners of North America share links over and over about VQFF on Facebook. Is this what Vancouver queers want to be known for? We are open minded and open hearted west coasters. I find that change can be a painful process — learning to break through the shells of our old selves. Growth can also be painful but sometimes communities unfortunately need this friction in order to grow. This is a perfect time to learn to be better allies and stand in solidarity with Gaza. I think it’s a good thing that SFPIRG has suggested hosting learning workshops for volunteers/staff in this letter. We queers need to open our eyes and hearts to what is really going on in the world.
Please think these things through. I have utter faith in your good heartedness and I know that we all learn from our mistakes throughout this thing we call life.
I am considering pulling my film ‘We Don’t Want to Marry’. But I have faith that there will be resolution, learning and change that will come about from all of this. Don’t let VQFF go the way of Frameline. This letter represents my desire for a more radical human-spirited approach to funding, that lives in a place of loving kindness.