Queering The Map
Hayley Anderson chats to Lucas LaRochelle, the founder of a new interactive map, to find out how the project came to be
Untold love stories and people’s personal LGBTQ+ journeys are mostly left unknown to the wider community, with the memories of what happened and where simply fading with those involved. But what if those memories could be preserved? What if those memories could be shared and remembered by people all over the world?
Thanks to 22-year-old Lucas LaRochelle, from Montreal, Canada, this has become possible.
As the founder of Queering The Map, a community generated mapping project that geolocates queer moments and memories in relation to physical space, Lucas has ensured that people’s stories will continue to be told and digitally preserved.
Lucas LaRochelle, founder of Queering The Map
“The project comes out of thinking about what it could be like, what it could feel like, to have a collective memory of queer experience and how that would translate to a feeling of connection through physical locations,” they explain.
“It’s a way to express all the different ways in which queerness is inhabited and in a way that resists dominant narratives of what it means to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
For Lucas and Queering The Map, which to date has more than 18,000 pinned moments, it all began at a tree in Montreal which they would pass every day on their way to school.
Having met their first long-term partner under the leafy branches, this particular spot became important to Lucas for many reasons.
“My attachment to that tree grounds me in a feeling of queerness.
“I started thinking about what it could feel like to be in an environment, where I would walk by a bench or walk by an old dilapidated building and know that at some point some queer experience had occurred there.”
This growing yearning to preserve more than their own queer moments inspired the Concordia University student to launch the interactive map.
From realising there is no contradiction being both gay and Muslim, to a man coming out to his older brother during a hike in Africa, intimate moments from across the globe started to be shared, with more people being introduced to the map after a DJ in Montreal posted the map on his social media.
But the project’s success took a knock when earlier this year, the map was spammed by Trump supporters who created pop-ups on the page which read: “Donald Trump, best president, make America great again”.
The map wasn’t down for long though, thanks to the growing support of fellow community members.
Lucas said: “When things start to scale up, opposition starts rolling in, so I wasn’t shocked and the response to help fix it was amazing.
“I’m in awe of all the unbelievably moving, vulnerable things people are writing.
“It’s important to use the internet as a network environment to allow for a constant conversation of what it means to, what it feels to be a queer person today, in the past and in the future.
“I want to ensure that this project can continue to be that kind of space for the community.”
To find out more, visit queeringthemap.com.
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