Apologies for the diary-style update, team: I’m quite poorly at the moment and my ability to blog and edit properly has fallen by the wayside along with my ability to breathe through my nose and, occasionally, stand up. My body is conspiring to try and spoil my time at SQIFF, but I am glad to say it has not yet succeeded. Here is a taste of some of the awesome things I’ve been up to here in Glasgow at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.
I’m mainly here because the awesome duo from Glasgow sex shop Luke and Jack presented a panel on sex and accessibility, and wanted me to come talk about the audio porn project. Naturally, I like any excuse to talk about audio porn and tempt other creative people into making audio porn of their own. I decided to stay for the whole festival because, honestly, how could I possibly resist the opportunity to go to some of the amazing events that SQIFF have put on? If you’re in or near Glasgow there’s still time to come to some showings, so check out that link and join in if you can!
Yesterday morning began with a trip to see a selection of mental health shorts, curated by See Me Proud – a collection of powerful short films highlighting different mental health experiences. Dale John Allen’s ‘Don’t Blame Jack’ was a deeply moving, and utterly beautiful exploration of bipolar and the sense of self. Russel Atkinson’s ‘Hanging by a Thread’ managed to capture aspects of panic and irrational thoughts in a way that anxious old me found frighteningly close to home. Beatrice Wong produced a superb Black-Mirror-esque exploration of trying to escape depression, and Krissy Mahan’s ‘My Crazy Boxers’ recreated an actual interview at a mental health facility – in which the atrocious counsellor became obsessively fixated on her underwear. Finally Linnéa Havilland’s short animation ‘Turning’ was an amazing short to end on – literally turning from frightening and traumatic to something filled with colour and hope.
I adored all of the shorts, cried a fair few times, and left with a huge admiration for all the filmmakers.
Virtual reality + interactive
Next I joined a group of awesome people for a trip to the Glasgow Women’s Library to check out some of the VR and interactive exhibits, which – as you can imagine – I was intensely excited about because I love it when people use tech in ways you wouldn’t expect to tell cool stories.
First, I played on a super-kawaii retro video game, which was set up to tell the stories of trans people in Japan. The creator had interviewed four different people and you used the game to navigate and converse with them, finding out more about their individual experiences. Kakkoi, ne?
Then there was the amazing audio project My Mother’s Kitchen, which consists of lots of snippets of different queer Australians telling you stories about family and growing up – tales from around the kitchen table, but which you listen to by rolling a ball around kitchen floorplans on a screen. When you land the virtual ball in a hole, you get a short clip from that person’s story.
I’m not summing it up well here, but it’s really interesting – the fact that you have to play the game to access the stories means you end up hearing the snippets in often quite random orders, and I found my feelings towards the family members described would vary drastically depending on which of the stories I’d ended up hearing first. In the first story I listened to, this almost-random ordering made it easier for me to understand and process the often deeply mixed love/hate relationship the subject had with their mum.
There were also short films created in virtual reality, like Potato Dreams (synopsis and image below), which I absolutely adored. Not just because it was an uplifting one, but also because it made the absolute most of VR as a medium to tell the story – looking above and around you added extra layers and atmosphere to the tale, while the bulk of the action happened within what-felt-like-touching distance, lending it the kind of intimacy that I love about VR itself.
Accessible sex toys
Later that evening, I joined Ian and Drew from Luke&Jack (so called because people come to their shop for two things ‘look and jack off’), Tabitha Rayne (the inventor of the amazing Ruby Glow sit-on vibrator), and producer and filmmaker Claire Maguire for a panel on accessibility and sex toys. Tabitha showed us her shiny new invention, designed with accessibility front and center (which looks awesome but I am sworn to secrecy so I’ll shut up until it’s on the market), and Ian and and Drew gave us an overview of some of the better accessible toys they have in stock, as well as a depressing wander into some of the challenges they’re up against in the sex industry. I mean seriously, sex industry, it is 2019: do you really need to write ‘only for girls!!!!!’ on your chocolate cocks?!
Then I did a bit about creating audio erotica, and hopefully gave some useful tips for people who might want to make some of their own. Claire hosted a great open discussion on sex toy accessibility and what people would like to see more of from the industry. During the chat we mentioned a few brilliant disabled sex bloggers, and I have promised to compile a list by the end of next week which I will totally do. For now, though, here are some recommendations to get started with if you’d like to follow amazing writers who talk disability + sexuality (cheers to my awesome colleague Aly from Hot Octopuss who put together these posts!):
Andrew Gurza (who got lots of shout outs too, because he’s amazing) has also got a Twitter thread where disabled creators have chipped in with info on their own projects – it’s a treasure-trove of cool creative stuff: podcasts, blogs, films, and loads more.
More to come…
Sadly after the talk I was pretty wiped and also a little worried I might collapse, so I went back to my hotel and lay in a dark room for 12 hours, which gave me enough oomph to write this blog post (woo!) and hopefully enough to make it through till wine o’clock this evening. You can tell I was pretty damn ill because normally wild horses wouldn’t be able to tear me away from hot porn, which was showing at just about the time I passed out.
Still, today is another day, and I am really looking forward to more amazing shorts, talks and even perhaps the Unicorn’s Den – where people pitch their ideas for short film projects on the theme of Queer Desire. I hear there is a massive cheque (like, a literal massive cheque) to be won, and then BDSM shorts later. Fuck yeah!
This is written in a rush as I wanted to get it up quickly, so I haven’t managed to include all the links/info I’d like. I will update later, but if you have any specific things you’d like links for pls do ask in comments and I will go through and polish next week!