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Madeline It was often a haven for me, having to deal with the stress of school- as a kid, I had a hard time fitting in at school, I didn't always have a good group of friends, it was sometimes very, very tough on me in those ways. So being able to forget about school for a little bit and just go to this extracurricular outside of school and just like relax a bit and explore my creativity, was really amazing.


Arwyn Art for me was a safe haven as a child and certainly as a trauma survivor and I'm not sure if there's a correlation between trauma survivors and artists, or trauma survivors and queer people, or all three but anyway. For me art was the place where I could go to be myself. I was a dancer and it's funny because in ballet it’s so gendered. But so many people have told me- so many of my students have told me- that dance is what saved them, right? They had a safe place to go.


Alessia I felt really wary about using the term ‘artist’ before because I grew up doing a bunch of different types of art like dancing, I love musical theatre, acting, and stuff like that, but I also have ADHD, so that was kind of like a difficulty in the sense that I liked all these different things and couldn't kind of have my attention focused on one thing only. So it was a lot of trying things constantly.


Mairead Yeah, and I feel like the label of artist, it feels very final and very official, and I struggled so much with saying, “well am I an artist?” because yeah, it's really hard to say you're an artist when you're still exploring and you haven't found- you know, so many people don't have one medium, and you know, so many people are not just, “I'm a painter”. And so it took a long time to realize, yeah you can just try so many different things and that's what makes you an artist is that you’re creative and you're exploring.


Liz I wonder like if there's a significant overlap between growing up queer and growing up being an artist, and obviously not all artists are queer but I don't know, most of the queer people I know are artists. For me, a lot of the experiences I associate with growing up queer are sort of also conflated into just growing up as someone who was artsy or like the creative one, you know, sort of those like tropes or whatever.


Mairead I think there's something about being an artist, that makes you almost more sensitive to your outside environment where you're, receptive to the good parts of your environment but sometimes you're also receptive to the bad ones. You just have almost like a thinner protective wall to your emotions. Like, their emotions are so close to the surface which makes them a really great artist. But then, like you said, that can also make them feel the negative emotions more strongly and feel that trauma more strongly. And I think also that openness to the outside world and openness to new experiences might also be something that might help someone come to terms with their queerness and be more open about that as well. So I think maybe that's one reason why so many artists are queer and so many people are artists.


Liz Yeah, that made me think too, I do think that I have sort of a belief in my head that more people would be queer if we didn't live in a world that was so transphobic and homophobic. And I think associated with that belief is like, if you're an artist and you're more sensitive and you have those sort of traits, that maybe there is like more of a likelihood that you’re queer because I think it's a certain level of social codification that make some people fit into roles that maybe they naturally wouldn’t. Are you actually anything without the environment you grew up in?

“I remember drawing myself as a boy as a child and I knew it was a way to imagine myself outside of the boundaries of girlhood… but I also knew I wanted to hide this”

Participant's self portraits at various ages and gender presentations

“When I was 13, I really started to come into my trans identity. when I got home from school I would dress up in 'boy drag', pretty much just my brother's clothes with my long hair tucked under a toque to give me a Justin Bieber type haircut. That was when I experienced gender euphoria for the first time”

“As a kid I was always very creative however growing up as a child of immigrants there were expectations of what it is that I would spend my time on, and the arts was not it. Coming out as queer at the age of 19 made me re-think a lot of my creativity and how closeted my mind had been and continues to be. Now at 23 I am re-opening that door to creativity and art and experimenting. It’s been hard to let myself explore and feel like a kid again while living a very not kid like life”

Illustration of a kid and a speech bubble that says, I wanted short hair so badly as a kid. I think I knew then and I wish I could have been ME earlier
Participant drawing of a blue dinosaur in a ballet tutu

“I made a ballet about dinosaurs stomping. I saw that ballet didn't have to be about princesses, and could actually have meaningful subjects”

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