Queering the map collaborative queer stories website
Trigger warning: discussing subjects of
warning: Adult content
Project by:
Lucas LaRochelle
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April 28, 2022
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Charting our memories with Queering The Map

Queer people have always been there, everywhere across the world. Queerness doesn’t know borders, and its only limits rely upon the means of communicating all of the stories within. Luckily with the internet, those means are multiplicating. Discover Queering the Map.

Everything started with a bike ride through Parc Jeanne-Mance in Montreal. As Lucas LaRochelle was riding through the public garden, they passed by a tree. It was the tree under which they had met their first long-term partner, and they had talked about their non-binarity. The tree seemed like a landmark for some of their queer memories, which motivated them to invent something that would allow people to mark their own queer experiences. 

The Canadian artist and designer launched Queering The Map in May 2017. At first, it was a simple map of Montreal where you could mark a spot and write some words about what links you to that place. The map then extended throughout Canada, and eventually the world. Starting only with five of their own stories, the website grew unexpectedly to worldwide fame within the community. 

When the project gained incredible momentum around 2018 through social media sharing, Lucas LaRochelle had to take down the website as it couldn’t handle such traffic. After calling for help to upgrade the website, a group of queer coders set up a GitHub, a collaborative coding platform hosting. Thanks to the community's help, they could increase the website security and develop a moderation panel to make the platform safer.

Queering The Map does not collect any user data and makes sure that no story added on the map includes someone’s name or personal information. This manual process takes an incredible amount of time, as each story needs to be read before being added to the map. Though the website is now very successful across the world, with more than 197 000 queer stories in 26 languages, it is in no way lucrative as the ethics of the project were articulated early on by Lucas LaRochelle. 

The beauty of Queering The Map resides in its intimacy. The act of anonymously sharing sometimes incredibly personal details about one’s queer experience is beautiful and powerful, as it allows people to be vulnerable and to connect despite geographical or political barriers. The self is never at the center, but the experience that can be shared with many around the world. Queering The Map is a major project for the representation of queerness in all its facets, giving everyone an equal voice. 

For Lucas LaRochelle, Queering The Map allows us to envision queer futures through queer pasts and queer presents. It is an act of resistance against the commodification of queerness in western countries when it is appropriated by imperialist capitalism and nationalism. It fights against preconceived notions of queerness, especially in non-western countries. 

Through the creation of QT.bot, an artificial intelligence trained on Queering The Map, Lucas LaRochelle extended their vision for queer narratives. The A.I generates speculative queer and trans futures, exploring all the possibilities awaiting us. To participate in the project, submit your own story on Queering The Map, and consider donating to the Patreon!

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