("LGBTQIA Plus" by Sharon McCutcheon is licensed with the unsplash license)

This weekend, UO’s 2021 Queer Film and Media Festival, “Constellations,” brought together live virtual conversations with different queer creators. Although held remotely, “Constellations” pulled off a fantastic lineup of events, holding enlightening conversations about what it means to be a queer creator today.

Keynote with Kat Blaque:

To kick off the festival, animator, illustrator and Youtuber Kat Blaque delivered a moving keynote speech about her experience with gender identity, sexuality and being a transgender creator.

During her time in the animation industry, Blaque found the experience to be unfulfilling. She talked about her decision to move full-time to Youtube, making videos that teach life lessons based on her own experiences.

“I’ve learned that I’m very good at explaining very complicated things very simply, so I try to do that as much as I can in a very accessible way,” Blaque said.

Blaque also talked about her hope to broaden people’s understandings of identity through her content, as well as be a role model for trans youth. She has a commitment to continuous growth.

“I think I just found my voice by continuing to create,” Blaque said. “And then you find what pattern you fall into, and that’s kind of how I got here.”

Career Strategy for Queer Creators of Color with Jerell Rosales:

The following day, Jerell Rosales, a queer Asian-American writer and director, talked about his experience in the media industry and gave advice to aspiring queer creators of color.

Rosales directed the feature-length film “High School Lover” and won the Humanitas Prize award for screenwriting. At the 2020 Austin Film Festival, his latest film titled “The Terrorist” won a Jury award.

During the conversation, Rosales discussed how his identity as both a queer and Asian-American person were often obstacles getting in the way of opportunities.

“I used to be really down about it, like why does it always feel like I just can’t keep breaking through?” Rosales said. “And then I realized that it’s not about my circumstances or about what people might think. It doesn’t change the fact that I am who I am.”

Rosales encouraged queer creators of color to value their energy and time, to work through thinking of themselves as “less than” and to stay in their own unique frequency as a creator.

“When you put out your authentic self and tell your story, when you put that energy out, it’s the right energy that comes back to you,” Rosales said.

Lesbian & Queer Documentary and Archive Creation with Judith Raiskin and Courtney Hermann:

UO Professor Judith Raiskin and Portland State University Professor Courtney Hermann participated in a conversation about Raiskin’s research project, The Eugene Lesbian Oral History. 

The project consists of 75 interviews with lesbians who lived in Eugene from 1965 to 1995. During this time period, Eugene was heavily influenced by lesbians culturally and economically, but many of their contributions go unknown.

“If history isn’t recorded and documented and there’s no access to something like that, then that history never happened,” Raiskin said.

Hermann, a documentary filmmaker and media producer, is currently helping Raiskin put together the documentary portion of the project. She spoke of the impact of working with older lesbians, causing her to challenge preconceived notions about the older queer generation.

“For me, I think that just having those people to look up to and to know their stories is such a hedge against all those horrible prejudices that are ingrained in us,” Hermann said. “This project has really helped me feel good about who I am.”

“Futur Drei” (“No Hard Feelings”) Screening:

The festival concluded with a live screening of the German drama film “Futur Drei” (“No Hard Feelings”) directed by Faraz Shariat. 

In the movie, Parvis, a young gay Iranian man living in Germany, is assigned to complete community service at a refugee detention center. He befriends two immigrants — a brother and sister named Amon and Banafshe — and begins a romantic relationship with Amon.

“Futur Drei” depicts the harsh reality of immigration, struggles with masculinity and understanding difference, all through the lens of Parvis’ and Amon’s intense relationship. The film’s artistry and humanistic shots convey the reality of being a refugee.