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Stonewall 50: The Future of Global Queer Liberation Art & Media
Please use this form to submit your proposals and abstracts. If submitting a workshop, roundtable, or panel, please fill out this form for each presenter

Stonewall 50: The Future of Global Queer Liberation Art & Media
A symposium organized in conjunction with the Toronto Queer Film Festival (
OCAD University
Toronto, Canada
November 7 – 10
Proposal deadline: Extended to Thursday, August 1
Everyone is welcome to apply. All participants will be paid and we will be offering a small travel bursary for those outside of southern Ontario.

Questions or concerns? Email

Confirmed plenary speakers: Jasbir Puar, with more TBA

On Turtle Island, two key moments in 1969 are often cited as formative moments in the development of LGBTQ rights on the continent: the Stonewall Riots in New York, and the federal Criminal Code amendment in Canada that decriminalized certain privatized sexual acts, often articulated as the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Because 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of these two moments, both the colonial states of the United States and Canada have been enacting their own commemorations that aim to fold these events into larger mythologies of a benevolent state granting rights to a fledgling minority. The Canadian Government has released a commemorative coin, World Pride is being held in New York City this year, and across Turtle Island pride organizations, film festivals, and other queer institutions ran largely by wealthy white cis gay male settlers are toeing the party line and repeating the same story about 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the birth of the LGBTQ rights movement in Canada and the United States.

We think this is bullshit.

Recent work by activists and scholars, particularly the Anti-69 collective, have noted that the Criminal Code amendment did not, in fact, decriminalize homosexuality; instead, it made it legal to engage in sodomy and buggery in private, subsequently giving the state the political and judicial justification to crack down on these acts as they occurred in public. Likewise, trans sex workers like Miss Major continually remind us that the Stonewall Riots marked a moment when a group made up of largely sex workers and trans women of colour were tired of police raids on the bar and fought back against the state. In the aftermath of the 1969 Criminal Code Amendment and the Stonewall Riots, state violence against queers did not decline, as our governments would like us to believe today -- in fact, it only increased.

We think it is time that this history, its mythologizing, and its whitewashing, needs to be reckoned with.

In conjunction with the Toronto Queer Film Festival, we are seeking participants for a symposium on the theme of Stonewall 50 that aims to challenge the white settler mythologies of an LGBTQ rights movement and reassert the necessity of global queer liberation art and media practices in our current political times.

As ever, TQFF’s mandate remains to decolonize queer and trans art and media histories and practices. This symposium seeks projects that embody the spirit of the legacy of the Stonewall riots against police violence and/or center a commitment to decolonizing queer and trans liberation histories, art, and media. We take the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall to not only reflect on where we have been, but how we want to imagine queer and trans liberation art and media for the next 50 years.

We are interested in contributions that think creatively about Stonewall, about the idea of being “stonewalled” by the dominant cis white settler queer institutions. To evoke Sara Ahmed: has Stonewall stonewalled us? Has its centrality to our mythology and the whitewashing of its history obscured the material radical roots of the queer liberation movement and obscured the multiple ways queer movements have emerged around the globe? How can we reclaim spaces and art lost to homonormativity? How do we remember the legacy of Stonewall outside of “progress” narratives? Things look very different now than they did a half-century ago, but what does progress mean? Is it a straight line or a pendulum? If things get “better,” do they get better for everyone?

We are interested in papers, workshops, roundtables, readings, performances that critically engage and reckon with - through media and the arts - the history of Stonewall as a brick-and-mortar institution, as a site of origins, as an idea that structures queer cultural imaginaries. We are also interested in proposals that envision the present and futures of queer and trans resistance and liberation movements. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

Decolonial and anti-colonial queer liberation media & art
Queer liberation art, media, and movements in the global south
DIY arts and criticism practices
Stonewall as a business and its historical trajectory from seedy queer hole in the wall to verifiable tourist attraction
AIDS/HIV, especially centered around current and historical intersectional care strategies
Disability activism and global queer liberation
“Queering” the acronyms, troubling the presumed solidarity between lesbian, gay, trans, intersex, ace, queer, etc communities
Queer research creation and/or arts-based approaches to research and activism
Academic and cultural boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS)

While papers, roundtables, workshops, and other typical academic conference formats are welcomed, we especially encourage more creative formats including but not limited to: arts-based research, poetry, performances, music, readings, and artist talks. As a symposium organized with a film festival, we are particularly interested in contributions that engage in some way with queer and trans media and/or art practices.

As a grassroots organization embedded within our communities, the Toronto Queer Film Festival encourages contributions from folks across our community – not just academics embedded within universities, but also independent scholars, activists, artists, community members, and other people with lived experience that would provide valuable perspectives to discussions on global queer liberation art and media.

Everyone is welcome to apply. All participants will be paid and we will be offering a small travel bursary for those outside of southern Ontario.

Individual papers and presentations should be no more than 20 minutes. Roundtables, workshops, panels, should be no more than 1 hour and 45 minutes, including opportunity for Q&A.

Participants will be notified of their acceptance by mid-August.
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