Six Six Six: days 666 — 670

The Tournament of the Beast

Homoween, VGVA’s annual Halloween-themed tournament, was last weekend. And as chance would have it, it fell exactly on day 666 of my challenge! How on the nose is that? Of course, this being gay volleyball, the costumes leaned less spooky and more silly or sexy. And practical, because you were supposed to be able to play in them. 

Following that fun and exhausting day, we present a whole week of sad wet leaves—still clinging to their tree or on the ground. In its way, though, the last one is breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a whole spectrum of colours here, from deep red to green, and every leaf is unique in how it’s positioned, how its bits are rotting, how it’s holding rainwater… it’s weird and gorgeous and a bit disturbing, and it’s totally going in my Year 2 retrospective, which is now less than 60 days away. Time flies!

More classically beautiful: a few maple leaves gracefully resting on a patch of… clover, I think?… by a tree on Nelson Street. I shouldn’t be shocked at seeing green, this is Vancouver after all. But I was shocked at seeing bright new green. It’s a great reminder that, even in this season, life keeps sprouting and growing.

Trees and the things that grow on them: days 661 — 665

Leaves. Some are still on their trees, but quite a lot are falling, or fallen. Fallen leaves everywhere.

Here’s something interesting I only just noticed this week: there are a bunch of oak trees in New Westminster, specifically around the Sapperton neighbourhood, but I don’t remember seeing any in the West End. Maybe they’re there, but nobody’s leaving great big piles of leaves lying around? I mean, thank you City of Vancouver and landlords for keeping the sidewalks clear, but maybe I need to look up more.

But then the day after writing the above paragraph, I did see some oaky-looking leaves on the ground in the West End. Funny how minds work, isn’t it? I had oaks on my mind, and there they were. I’m not sure they’re actually oak leaves, though. The lobes are pointier and further apart, but I don’t know what other tree looks like that.

But that’s not nearly as interesting and funny as what I noticed last Tuesday, on a maple tree just up the street. It’s mostly bare now, exposing these weird little growths. They must be some kind of parasite, but the internet was no help, and all I could get out of my botanically-minded friend is that it’s definitely not mistletoe.

They’re pretty, though. I wonder how long they’ve been growing there, and I just haven’t noticed. How much nature is around me even in the heart of the city, just waiting for me to discover it?

Paved with gold: days 651 — 660

Magic light

Seems I’ve been focusing more on sunsets than fall foliage lately. Could have something to do with (a) leaving work late, and (b) an unusual—for October—stretch of clear weather.

Let’s start with WordCamp Vancouver 2018. Throughout the day I learned about Gutenberg—never played around with it before that day, and it’s super cool. There are still bugs and accessibility issues, but I can see Gutenberg’s massive potential… and how it could have made at least one recent WordPress project a lot easier. Oh well, here’s looking to the future.

Speaking of future: it’s not all deep dives into code here at WordCamp. Ryan Chmura just talked about his journey as a mostly self-taught web developer: things learned, mistakes made, dissatisfaction with his current job, everything. Good stuff, and super refreshing and humanising for those who think WordCamp speakers are born with expert knowledge and flawless public speaking skills. 

I haven’t thought that in a long time, especially since my own (succesful) stab at presenting in a WordPress meetup last June. So, who knows? This is absolutely something I can do again. Maybe WordCamp 2019…? Hey, I better start preparing now!

On the way home I walked past Nelson Park at just the right time of day, when the light set the very air and trees on fire. Guaranteed no filter!

My trek to the Storm Crow on Wednesday took place at around the same time. No fall foliage, but a lot of towers painted gold by the setting sun, reflecting the light back at me. When I blogged about this photo from last month I said I’d include it in my year 2 retrospective… but now I’m not so sure. I think it’s been replaced.

Mind you, it’s not just the setting sun that can work magic—shorter days also means a later sunrise, and longer shadows in the morning. Fall means a lower sun and a bit more fog in the air. Put those together and what do you get? Gorgeous Jesus lights in Blue Mountain Park.

Don’t know how long I’ll be able to shoot these. I’ve been lucky so far, weather-wise, but it looks like things are turning wetter and colder. I’m not wild about that, but I’ll do my best to find the beauty in all those shades of grey.

Just a joke: days 646 — 650

It’s the best medicine

Humour is a weird thing, but I believe it can be studied scientifically.

Experiment: take 14 or 15 budding standup comics, fresh out of a 5-week class, and have them give a 5-minute set one after the other in an apparently random order. 4 were men, all cis and straight*. The rest were women, all cis and only one openly queer in her set.

(* None of them pinged my LGBTdar and I figured they’d have worked it in their material, so I feel pretty confident in my diagnosis.)

Result: all the women were funny, including the friend I’d gone to see. None of the guys were that funny. Jokes about Trudeau and other politicians, one guy joked about offending his Indigenous wife’s relatives with the word “Indian,” another joked about creeping on 15-year-old girls or something… Their humour was largely lazy or mean, revolving around making fun of other people. The women talked about sex and menstruation and relationships and little details of life that are hilarious when viewed in the right light. There was empathy there, which I just didn’t get from the guys.

Conclusion: cishet dudes aren’t funny.

Does that sound harsh? Sorry, guys, I don’t make the rules. You can’t argue with science. And this isn’t an outlier, either; I’ve been to other default-straight standup shows that were much worse, with cringey overt misogyny where all punch lines boiled down to “cos bitches, am i right?” I don’t need that kind of crap in my ear-holes.

Anyway, let us talk of happier things. Like foggy Sunday nights. I’d come home from vball still photoless, but fortunately I spied the Sheraton hotel surrounded by a nice halo of foggy drizzly damp. That would do nicely.

And fall colours. And more fall colours. And yet more fall colours. And a gorgeous shot of cloudy morning sky over Davie Street. Y’know, if self-discipline to go to the gym isn’t enough to get my ass moving in the morning, maybe the thought of more photos like this will do!

It’s not actually a Stargate: days 641 — 645

Chevron seven, locked!

This post is all about warm tones. The soft gold of a sunset, the russet on wood hues of a cider drink at the Storm Crow, the earthy tones of a cooked turkey, and oh look another sunset.

The only exception would be Friday night: as I came home from work, not feeling very inspired, I turned around and shot my street, with a glimpse of the North Shore mountains and orangey evening sky in the far background. It’s nice, I think, but kind of nondescript, so I’m extremely puzzled at how popular it eventually became. 23 likes on IG and 9 on Facebook, which for me is a lot. What am I missing? Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining, I just… don’t get it. Not the first time this happened, and I figure that’s the way it goes. I’m good with it.

Saturday, just on an impulse, I went for a walk in Yaletown. I’ve shot photos of it before, mostly in the summer before and after grass volleyball. The real target (which I wasn’t even thinking about, but is obvious in hindsight) is this thing, which is very definitely not a Stargate. I’ve driven by it a million times, and always vaguely thought it was an homage to the franchise, even though the proportions are wrong. Turns out, though, it’s an homage to Yaletown’s industrial past, and this particular ring was part of the previous Cambie Bridge, which was a swing bridge to allow bigger boats to pass. Fascinating! This was all before my time, since Yaletown was all prettied up and gentrified for Expo 86. Only a few mementos like this exist anymore, including Engine 374 in the Roundhouse. I wonder how many others are around? That’d be a fun hunt.

The vegetarian spider: days 631 — 640

In her pretty little parlour

It’s been days of random stuff, taking in what Vancouver has to give me.

The Harvest Moon after volleyball. Harvest moons are apparently supposed to be orange for some reason, but I really couldn’t tell. And I’m a bit peeved that my phone still can’t take better full-night moonshots. Also, I’ll be honest: I’ve been doing that thing where I laze around all day Sunday, and only get off my ass to go play Intermediate. This shot was taken as I got home and realised I didn’t have a photo because I didn’t want to do yet another shot around the gym.

I really need to be better about that.

Mind you, Monday was looking up. Here’s a rare morning commute photo, of pigeons near Vancouver Centre Station. I also took a few closer shots of that one pigeon on the bike, but it turns out pigeons aren’t that pretty up close. Who knew?

Lately I’ve been pulling longer hours, so here are some photos I took as I got out of work: Granville Street. The West End from Burrard Bridge. The sunset from Burrard Bridge.

On Thursday I took the scenic(er) way home, along the waterfront for a bit. I really like this photo of Harbour Centre behind 333 Seymour, almost making it look like it’s the same building. And here’s one of North Vancouver. I do miss not having a physical zoom, but this photo’s all right.

I’m pretty sure I’ve shot the Vancouver Block Building before… maybe it was only years ago, back when I used Flickr? At first I wanted to capture the building alone, but that turned out to be impossible. I don’t mind though, this is a really good shot, contrasting the lovely white stone with the more modern glassy towers. MicroSoft wasn’t around in 1912, was it? No, I’m thinking of IBM. Which I don’t think is that old either but I’m too lazy to check.

Looking it it now, the photo has a little bit of a slant, which usually I try to correct before posting. This is all right, though. Gives the whole thing a certain je ne sais quoi. I’m slowly edging out of what I thought is acceptable, photography-wise. And maybe I’m making mistakes along the way, but that’s the fun of exploring.

The next day, coming home through Davie Village, I spied with my little eye… a spiderweb. Actually two webs, each with a pretty orb weaver in the middle, in some bushes by the sidewalk. I got as close as my lens would allow, careful not to disturb the webs, and noticed the biggest spider had a little seed in its web. Neat! Useless to her, but it made for a great picture which I’m absolutely including in my Year 2 retrospective.

And it got me thinking: are there any vegetarian spiders? Turns out, yes! Or, sort of. Bagheera kiplingi isn’t totally herbivorous, but it seems to be pretty close. Just goes to show, Nature has enough tricks up her sleeve to one-up any silly little jokey hashtag in your photos.

Werq the stairs: days 624 — 630

In which I reminisce about bookstores past

The weather in Vancouver is still mostly good: sunny when I go buy slip covers at Bed Bath & Beyond; or when I stroll to work in the morning; or when Vancouver House is framed by the setting sun and wispy cirri, and when I turn around and see Yaletown towers all tinted gold.

That one’s going in my 2018 retrospective for sure!

Things turned a little wetter on Thursday, though that also brought RAINBOWS. Believe it or not, I don’t remember seeing many rainbows in Vancouver. Maybe the conditions aren’t right, because if it’s overcast all the damn time you won’t get proper refraction? Don’t ask me, I’m not a rainbowologist.

But speaking of rainbows, it’s time for a stroll down queer memory lane…

1221 Thurlow Street was torn down last week. Not a big deal, I thought at first; the little Korean ribs place had been vacant for a while, and it’s far from the only West End spot to suffer this fate. However! I picked up on my social media feeds that this address was a very special one, for between 1983 and June 1996 it was the home of Little Sister’s, Vancouver’s LGBT bookstore. And then I did remember looking up the place when I moved out west in August ’96, because of course I did. And I vaguely remember being confused about which address it was at. I probably checked out both just to be sure.

Funny coincidence: the Vancouver Men’s Chorus sang a specially commissioned song about Little Sister’s in their summer show this year: the store was on the second floor above a restaurant, and on the landing was a little bulletin board where you could post classifieds, catch up on what was happening in the community, or cruise other book-lovers. Though I’ve never known the store at its old Thurlow Street location, I can easily imagine what it was like. Let’s travel further back…

After coming out in 1992, one of my my favourite places to hang out was After Stonewall, Ottawa’s LGBT bookstore. David Rimmer, the owner, was the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet; he was the first to tell me what “Stonewall” meant, and sold me the freedom rings that were all the rage back then, and which I still flaunt ever year at Pride. It was on the second floor too! 105 Fourth Avenue, just off Bank Street. A quaint little house in a quiet neighbourhood, easily accessible by transit. And am I dreaming, or was the House of Speculative Fiction located on the ground floor? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was. Boy, there’s a gateway drug for you: grab all the curious folks and fill them with tales of other worlds, other genders and sexualities, then get them curious about the other bookstore upstairs…

After Stonewall was a safe space, where a young queer nerd could stop and relax and learn and try to find himself. It was cozy, and crowded with books and magazine racks and greeting cards and the little table with jewellery across from (ie: 5 feet from) the cash register. Their new space at 370 Bank St was bigger, more accessible and closer to downtown, but maybe it lost some of that cozy familiarity? Then again, maybe that’s just nostalgia talking. I believe both After Stonewall and Little Sister’s gained more than they lost by moving to their new digs. We don’t need to hide our bookstores away on second floors of small old houses anymore.

Still… yeah, I get it. If I heard 105 Fourth Avenue was torn down, I’d mourn. And first chance I got I’d visit the spot, and try to listen for the ghosts, the sounds of pages being turned, of baby queers hungering to discover a history and culture they never knew.

But hey, let’s end this post on a happier note: RuPaul. I remember reading about her for the first time in The Advocate (probably) and being very confused with how articles mostly used “she/her” but sometimes “he/him”—hey, we’re not born knowing the nuances of gender and drag, right?—She was at the ’93 March on Washington, which I still probably have a VHS tape of somewhere. I remember clearly one bit where she said “People always ask me where I see myself in ten years. I see myself in the White House, baby!” Which, well, didn’t quite happen. But Ru did go on to superstardom and, as problematic as the show is, RuPaul’s Drag Race has elevated many, many queens to stardom as well, and brought drag into the light.

A few of these drag stars were in Vancouver Saturday on the Werq The World tour: the top four of Season 10 (Eureka, Asia O’Hara, Kameron Michaels and Aquaria); Valentina from Season 9; Kim Chi and Bob the Drag Queen from Season 8. It was an awesome evening. Bob is hilarious, Kim Chi is gloriously nerdy, Kameron is beautiful, and I guess Asia will never live the butterfly thing down.

Who knew all this would be possible twenty-five years ago? Who would have thought parents would ever bring small children to a drag show? Who would have thought a year ago I’d ever be a Drag Race fan? But it is, and they did, and I am. Just goes to show, you never know what the future will bring.

Fringe and foilage: days 611 — 623

[sic]

It’s still summer—technically—but you wouldn’t know it from looking around. The sky’s greyer, the air is cooler, and the trees are turning all sorts of lovely shades.

We start off late Labour Day evening, as I went on one of my impulsive walks and ended up at the A-Maze-ing Laughter public art thing by English Bay. I’ve shot a few public art pieces in this challenge so far, but never this one. Maybe because it was out of my way? But I walked around the laughing men, noting how the light changed when cars turned from Davie on Denman. Tried to use that but there wasn’t enough traffic late at night… oh well, I didn’t need the extra light anyway.

The first photo of fall foliage marks the end of summer, right? These half-orange leaves up the street had been taunting me for a few days, and I finally gave in on the way to work. Other fallen leaves beckoned, and eventually I started seeing red everywhere.

I’m told film folks call this “the magic hour”: that time when the setting sky tinges everything with just a hint of gold. It looks especially lovely on Vancouver’s silver towers, and the little patch of reflected light in the water is a great bonus. I’d say I was lucky to catch it, but this was just one of about ten photos I shot on Granville Bridge. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Another way I know summer’s over? Indoor volleyball is starting. Whether that’s drop-in at Britannia or with VGVA, no more burning my feet on sand, or slipping on goose poop at David Lam. I’m gonna miss all that, but I’ve also missed indoor 6’s play. So it’s all good.

(Also: Jeebus, my 18th year! They’ve been pretty good years overall.)

Mid-September is Fringe Festival time, and one of the shows I planned to see was a Die Hard parody. Problem, though: I’d never seen the movie! Solution: watch Die Hard with my Fringe-going friend so we’re both ready!

So let’s talk about the Fringe Fest. I saw a total of 9 shows: 4 on Saturday the 8th, 1 on Monday the 10th, 3 on Thursday the 13th, and 1 on Saturday the 15th. In order:

Fake Ghost Tours: a very silly and definitely 100% true peek behind the veil at Granville Island’s supernatural past, complete with stories of horny sailors, man-eating seals, burning bees, tragic crinoline and ghost gentrification. Some parts could have used a little more planning (walking around on narrow streets, and getting in people’s way when we stopped), but even the goofy janky stuff was clearly rehearsed and polished. 2 irreverent thumbs up, and I’m glad it wasn’t raining.

Dyck Spacee: an improv number in the style of an old-timey radio show about a daring detective and his tough-as-nails secretary sidekick… which fell flat. Maybe other performances were better, but in this one they had a lot of trouble keeping up the energy, the narrator (I felt) took too much control of the action, and the other players couldn’t play off each other since they were all facing the audience and their mics. So it seems to me the show’s very format was working against it.

I posted a hashtagged selfie to enter some draw but I felt kind of bad about it.

Die Hard: The Musical-ish: Oh my sweet Eighties, I Eighties loved this Eighties song and dance extravaganza to all things Eighties. A fourth-wall-breaking retelling of the movie’s plot, with the expensive scenes papered over, drizzled with Top 40 hits from the era, it was a delicious feast for the eyes and ears.

Hullaboo and the End of Everything asks “what happens to imaginary friends when their human stops believing in them?” It’s a quirky and affecting piece about growing up, gracefully accepting the inevitability of change, and facing the moral choice to become a monster. Awesome.

I picked Trevor and Margaret mostly because it was playing at XY in my ‘hood. It’s the… interesting tale of an unrepentant abusive asshole, his girlfriend and his father. I liked it? Kinda? Well done, though it was unpleasant to sit through sometimes.

Fun fact: in the director’s notes, Trevor is identified as a gay man, though he’s played by a straight man and doesn’t himself identify as gay (he has a girlfriend / fiancée and sleeping with guys is just “a hobby”). Interesting bit of casting.

Precious Little: I’m a sucker for stories about stories. About language and communication and consciousness and memories and difficult life decisions and oh my god this was so good. Hard to summarise since there were so many interweaving plotlines and layers, but trust me, it was wonderful.

Bonnie & Clyde: The last days of the notorious outlaws, as they reminisce about their lives and we flash forward to their deaths. My friend was bored out of her tree, but I loved the acting, the contrast of gritty reality vs soaring legend, past dreams vs precarious present. Maybe not everybody’s cup of whiskey, but I liked it, and that’s all that matters.

The Shape of Things: a tale of art, truth, betrayal and transformation. Beautiful, cruel, infuriating, hurting so good in all my heart’s tender spots, it was all those things, and smarter than me, because I seriously did not see the twist until it was right in front of my face. Great job.

Angels and Aliens: an awkward hookup leads to a universe-controlling game as two roommates process their feelings for each other while competing to shape human destiny. Smart, sweet, funny and wonderfully acted. Many thumbs up.

Goodbye grey skies hello blue: days 597 — 610

I can breathe again

The smoke hit its peak in Vancouver right after the VQFF ended. Even at night the smog was visible, and the moon very orange. Sunsets were very, very orange. The North Shore Mountains were very, very grey.

Tuesday was the worst; for whatever reason I wanted to see what Lost Lagoon looked like, and I was not disappointed. I do love this photo—and I am planning to including it in my Year 2 retrospective—but I hate what it represents. I don’t want this to happen next year, but I’m scared that this is the new normal until we run out of forest to burn.

The very next day, things were looking up! And kept looking up that evening as I enjoyed a drag show at XY in support of Positive Living BC. Look at all these lovely ladies!

Visually, sunsets were back to normal too, which means a lot of sunset pics. Here’s Digital Orca, one of the many public art pieces around the Convention Centre! And here’s a nice little one taken from Prospect Point. I’d been wanting to make the trek there for a while, and now I know (a) the best way to do it, and (b) that I can walk under Lions Gate Bridge. And (c) there’s a pedestrian walkway under Second Narrows Bridge, overlooking the train tracks! Now that’s one for my bucket list.

But also, in this late August week, I saw many hints that the summer was ending. I call this series “Shadows on Buildings in the West End”. You wouldn’t see these angles if the sun weren’t so low in the sky. The annual end-of-summer BBQ and croquet evening at my friend Kenn’s house in the burbs is another sign of the times, as is my annual pilgrimage to the PNE to check out the horsies and cows and pigs and assorted critters; and also, the main exhibit which seems to always be some permutation of nerdy sci-fi stuff, and an excuse to trot out old arcade games. One year it was Missile Command, this year in happened to be Donkey Kong. Not that I’m complaining (too much), but it does get kinda repetitive. One year they had a whole thing on the history of candy, that was original. I’d like to see something like that again.

The seagull framed by the setting sky, I don’t know what that portends.

So here we are, heading into September. I’ll miss summer, with the outdoor volleyball and Pride and all those fun activities. But I’m okay with this. Cold and rain and snow will help me appreciate the summer more when it comes around again. And hey, rain has its own beauty, as does fall foliage of course! Not to mention that indoor volleyball starts next week. I’m looking forward to this new season, and to see what I will make of it.

PS: because I couldn’t find a way to fit it anywhere else, here’s a photo of a bee landing on a flower. It was one of half a dozen I took around the Maillardville Village clock, and I didn’t realise later just how gorgeous it is. Look at those wings, they’re only a little blurry! According to Wikipedia a bee’s wings beat 230 times / sec, and according to the EXIF metadata on my phone, the shutter speed was 1/3906 s. Holy cow, I didn’t know my phone could do that! Thanks Pixel 2, I got to marvel at a bit of Nature I never thought I’d see just with the phone in my pocket.

The 2018 Vancouver Queer Film Festival: days 583 — 596

Moving pictures in pictures

The week after Pride is always kind of weird. My first draft for this post was titled “The in-between time”, because it really is: a few days between big public pageantry and parades, and the more low-key (but no less sincere) pageantry of queer cinema.

BC Day, I finally got my ass off the couch and down to Sunset Beach, where for some reason I decided to walk / crawl down to the end of that little spit of rocks facing Burrard Bridge. I probably looked like a huge twit edging my way cautiously along those rocks, and I probably won’t do it again soon because it really wasn’t that fun, but the view was nice.

You know one thing I love about the West End? All the random little gnome doors and things. This one is on the 1500 block of Nelson Street.

Oh, and the other way this time of year is “in-between”: grass volleyball at David Lam Park is over, and all I have left is the memories of the junk food I had at the nearby DQ.

Thursday, the opening gala! I’ve already blogged about all the feels the show made me feel, so I won’t repeat myself. Summary: all the feels.

Friday, Octavio is Dead!‘s overly shaky cam made me leave halfway through. Too bad, though, because it looked really interesting. I meandered towards the seawall and walked home, snapping a pretty sunset on the way.

Saturday I had to check out the brand-new Burnaby Pride! Not so big now, but I’m sure it’ll grow. And that night I saw Alaska is a Drag, which is actually not a biopic of Alaska Thunderfuck. No, it’s a very enjoyable story of boxing, drag and crazy dreams in a small Alaska fishing town. I felt the resolution came right out of nowhere but it was a fun ride.

Sunday, the Sets on the Beach tournament, which meant summer vball season with VGVA was really and truly over. Which is a bit sad, but it means I get my Sundays back for a little while! I had planned on seeing a couple movies that night, but soon figured that was absolutely not going to happen. Too bad, I really wanted to see The Fruit Machine; Freelancers Anonymous looked good too.

Monday: a double showing of Troublemakers 3.0 (a super-inspirational series of interviews between local LGBTQ+ elders and youth) and 50 Years of Fabulous, the story of San Francisco’s Imperial Council. I went for the history, because though we have our own court system (the Dogwood Monarchist Society) I always saw it as a rather silly and outdated social thing, but I was impressed by the good they’ve done, and still do. Plus I learned a lot about pre-Stonewall queer history! And had to laugh at how the first Empress named herself after Joshua Norton, who also reinvented himself as royalty. Only in San Francisco!

Hey, remember that nice pink sunset from Friday? Say goodbye to all that. The smoke reached us, and a week later and the sky still hasn’t cleared. In fact it’s only gotten worse. I took a break from movies Tuesday—had to pace myself, and nothing really jumped out at me, so that was all right.

After White Rabbit, the Wednesday centrepiece gala, I wandered home and took a shot of Emery Barnes Park. Not my first, but I wasn’t feeling super-inspired, photo-wise, and my head was full of the movie. It was a weird and kooky piece, and apparently very open to interpretation. One saw it as about moving on from trauma, and being present and grateful. Me, I didn’t get the “trauma” part; I saw it more as a tale of alienation and performance, each of us locked in our little worlds reaching out for true connection. When you find it, that’s a real gift. When you connect with yourself, your inspiration and your bliss, that’s a gift too.

Or at least, that’s what I got from it.

Thursday: out at SFU Woodward’s I saw the amazing Saturday Church, a musical featuring queer / trans youth of colour in New York. It’s beautiful and heartwarming with gorgeous song and dance numbers.

Friday at the York Theatre: the first show was a short (1/2 hour-ish) film on the Vancouver Men’s Chorus, followed by a Q&A, but preceded by a great song-and-dance number of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Goddamn, that song is catchy. And it was followed by The Coast is Queer, the annual (and always excellent) showcase of local LGBTQ+ filmmakers.

Saturday: a documentary on the Leitis of Tonga. I found it a fascinating look at traditional Pacific Islander third genders, royalty and old social orders, imported Christian homophobia and transphobia, and modern human rights discourse—but still centering the real flesh-and-blood people at the heart of it all. Great stuff, but that’s what I expected from the makers of Kumu Hina. The other show I saw, Malila: The Farewell Flower, was less engaging. I was intrigued by the description of a tragic love story steeped in Buddhist spirituality, but I feel it lost a lot in translation. Oh well, that’ll happen.

Between shows I went out for a walk in Gastown.

And the closing gala: The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a movie about fundie Xian gay therapy that still managed to be pretty funny. Didn’t think they’d manage it, but here we are. I think they must have toned down the real psychological torture somewhat, though what we saw was still very nasty. Quibble: I would have liked to see the main characters do more than run away—that place needed to burn! Still, I’ll take what I can get.

Summary of my VQFF experience

(hey, haven’t done one of these in a while!)

Number of shows seen: 11.5. Not a bad number, though!

Favourite feature film: 1985. With very close runners-up Saturday Church (which won the OutTV Go People’s Choice Award) and 50 Years of Fabulous.

Favourite short film: Pass the Salt and Colors (winner of the Gerry Brunet Memorial Award for best short). Oh, and The Pigeon.

Shows I would have liked to see but didn’t: Oh boy, there’s a lot!

  • Octavio is Dead! on the first Friday— I saw half of it, so I guess that counts? Would like to see the rest.
  • The Fruit Machine on Sunday — I already knew some of the story, but it never hurts to brush up. Unfortunately I realised I’d have no energy after Sets on the Beach
  • Freelancers Anonymous also on Sunday, looked like a fun time
  • A Moment in the Reeds looked sexy and I heard good things about it later, but I gave myself a night off Tuesday
  • The Coast is Genderqueer — I really wanted to support this new show, but there was no way I could see both this and the Friday night shows I had planned
  • Indigiqueer Shorts From Turtle Island — I really was tempted, but I wanted to see Leitis in Waiting (which I enjoyed) and Malila: The Farewell Flower (which I didn’t enjoy so much).