From a little idea, to a yearly event, read how Yu Ra Kim’s Quiet Queers Craftalong became a creative safe space for LGBTQ+ crafters to celebrate Pride Month.
It was a swelteringly hot evening in 2018 when my friend and I were chatting outside a local, queer-owned tailoring store. Every Tuesday, the owners would open up their shop as a local knit night venue, and knitters, crocheters, embroiderers, and other makers would gather here to craft, gossip, vent, cry, and commiserate with one another’s highs and lows of the week.
It was June, and my friend and I were chatting about their plans to attend the local Pride festival the coming weekend.
“I’m queer, but I’ve never been to Pride,” I blurted out. Rather anticlimactically, this was the first time I came out to anybody in-person other than my partner. I hadn’t planned on it, but something about the rush from having been socialising in a safe, welcoming, and queer-friendly space for the past two hours had done something to my usually sealed lips.
“Oh, it’s so much fun! You should come with us!” My friend beamed.
I thought about it. The thought of spending several hours in the Indiana sun, surrounded by loud music, noise, and sweaty throngs of human bodies…it was enough to trigger my agoraphobia right there and then. I thanked my friend for the invitation, but let them know that I probably wouldn’t be attending.
That night, I thought about my conversation. ‘Surely I’m not the only person out there who doesn’t enjoy Pride like this?’ The more I ruminated, the more 'what abouts' popped into my head: ‘What about people with disabilities? What about people for whom there is no local Pride? What about people who aren’t out yet? What about people who, like me, are growing increasingly disillusioned with the incessant corporate rainbow-washing of mainstream Pride?’ Heading to bed, I quickly posted on Instagram, asking my 700-odd followers and friends what they thought about my hodge-podge idea. ‘Maybe I’ll have a nice quiet online Pride with a dozen or so friends’, I thought, as I drifted asleep. Oh boy. Was I wrong.
The next morning, I awoke to find hundreds of comments on my post, and dozens of DMs. It seemed that my late-night idea had struck a chord with makers who wanted to participate or contribute to the event. The post had gained virality, so to speak, being passed around by word of mouth to makers all around the globe, and I found myself quickly having to put together some semblance of an event.
Being a scholar of digitally mediated spaces and online communities, I had anticipated some response to my idea. I knew, from existing literature and conducting research, the impact online communities can have on individuals, but despite my academic knowledge, I had ironically and vastly underestimated the enthusiasm and positivity that the Quiet Queers Craftalong would inspire.
QQC is back for the third year in a row now. The event has given me purpose every summer, and has allowed me to give back to the online crafting community; a community that has helped me out during some of the dark moments in my life.
The 2021 Quiet Queers Craftalong runs from June 15 - August 15, head to the QQC Instagram page to read more about how to get involved!
Yu Ra, also known as knitboop, is a knitwear designer, notions crafter, and community event organiser. Her annual event, the Quiet Queers Craftalong, is a celebration of the talented queer makers and designers in the fibre crafting community, and provides participants with a safe and welcoming environment in which to celebrate their queerness and support queer makers.
Follow @knitboop on Instagram
Discover her knitwear patterns, and notions, at knitboop.com
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