Queer Digital Stories: Looking Back This post is the third in a series written by participants of our queer digital storytelling workshop. Below is the film created by Caleb Hernandez, Identity, followed by thoughts about the experience of making this film.
The Queering the Museum project was an intense four days of self-reflection. It asked that each person share a story. This request seems simple enough. What I didn’t realize was that this project would help me find a focus for my art, push me to confront my past, and serve as a reminder of the wonderful aspects of my life that I often overlook.
The process we underwent asked that we not only share our story, but to also listen and understand the experiences of the other participants. Our stories were all very unique and it was clear that there was no one Queer experience that could represent us all. This, I thought, was wonderful.
It made me interested in learning the stories of other Queer individuals. This, combined with photography, led me to create work based on Queer experience. From drag queens and their relationships with their mothers, interviewing self-identified Queer persons of all walks of life in their homes, to performing interventions on Jehovah’s Witness bibles to speak for my sister’s, father’s and my own experience in a controlling and unwavering religion.
This project pushed me to visit my hometown last summer and to speak with one of my aunts for the first time in 8 years. I was able to ask questions that I had been terrified to learn the answers to when I was younger. I learned that my father’s sexuality was fluid and he had contracted HIV and AIDS in 1993 and died of an infection the same year. This information had been kept from me since I was seven years old. The same visit led to a reconnection with one of my sisters. She found out that I was in the area and reached out to me on social media. She wanted me to know that she had a girlfriend and was going to come out to the family. She is now facing the same rejection that I had nine years ago. And I am happy she is now living her truth and has me to talk with.
I am so much more grateful for all that I have in my life. A supportive partner, a home, two wonderfully eccentric dogs, an education from one of the top 25 universities in the world, and a perspective that encompasses more than my own.
These are now part of my new story. A story I wouldn’t have been able to create without the guidance and reminders that the Queering the Museum project has afforded me. A story is worth telling and a story is worth listening to.
Caleb is a student at The University of Washington. He recently completed with a BFA in Photomedia. Having visited countless museums of all genres, Caleb understands that, not just that a Queer narrative is missing from museums, but also that it’s desperately needed. For all of the Queer youths out there that need to see a part of themselves represented and appreciated as important contributors to history.