What in the world is this?
you are (queer) here is a documentary film and creative writing project that will follow the journey of a queer, gender non-conforming writer (that's me!) across Asia and beyond--a round-the-world journey exploring questions of gender, spirituality, leaving and returning. Equipped with a camcorder, a notebook and pen, a head full of queer theory, and a heart full of questions, I'm setting out across the globe to explore what it means to be "queer" here--to not fit in (for so many reasons), and yet to still belong to this big old globe. This is a writing project, a video project, and a life project that I need your help creating--and that I want to share with you.When and where are you headed?
The journey launches this May 16 and will continue for an indefinite amount of time as I journey 'round the world (RTW). My soul-sibling and cinematographer O.K. Keyes is joining me for the first leg of the journey (SC to CA by trains, planes, and automobiles, and CA to South Korea by plane). And then Keyes is turning over the camera to me and setting me loose. After that, my journey will likely take me through South Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, India, Nepal--and onward (potentially) or elsewhere, depending on where my soul/inspiration leads me.Why this journey? What is this about?
I've been an activist, advocate, and educator in South Carolina for years and have built a life out of trying to make change happen. But there's something in me that needs to be changed now in order to keep making change. And so, in the midst of depression last year, I stumbled upon this idea--one that will not only refill my creative well and heart for service but will allow me to share my world and my journey with you.
As I've journeyed through my own questions of identity the last several years, I'm curious to see what happens when that journey continues abroad. What does it mean to be a queer, gender non-conforming traveler when norms of gender shift from country to country? What does gender even mean in these different places and spaces? And most importantly, will I be able to wear my fabulous bowtie collection along the way? Okay, that's not actually the most important question, but perhaps this is: How do I bring an anti-imperialist, intersectional, feminist lens to world travel? And to creating a documentary film and written works about world travel?
So the exploration will begin with questions and probably end with more questions, but in the meantime, we'll see what kinds of shenanigans I can get into as I go.And why Asia?
After I completed my undergraduate degree in 2006, I spent a year teaching and living in South Korea, and that experience forever changed who and how I am. I know it sounds weird for a white American to say this, but I felt more at home in South Korea than I had in most places in my life. In part it's probably because my role was clear: in the U.S., I felt like I should fit in and never did; in Korea, I knew I would never fit in--I was oeguk,
a foreigner--and so my not-fitting-in made sense and was expected. And still, I had a home there, and much of my (introverted, indirect-communicating) self did fit, in a strange kind of way.
Whenever I get the chance to travel abroad, I go back to Korea. So, I'm going to go back there first, to my (home-away-from-)home base, and then make my way across Asia from there. In an ideal world, I'll make it all the way around the globe on a multi-continental journey before heading back to the U.S.Why do I need your help?
The travel is self-funded, but donations are needed to make the documentary and other creative works that might follow--and all of those works take time, skills, equipment, supplies, and the time and space to write and film and create. So if you want queer, feminist, gender non-conforming representation in documentary film and creative writing, if you like work that upends expectations and yet fulfills (some of) them, if you love travel, if you like the community and creative work I've been a part of developing so far, and if you want a chance to join me on this journey, then donate to help make these projects a reality.Where can I see more of your work, or where can I learn more about your adventures?
You are more than welcome to follow along with my travels and explorations of gender, sexuality, place, and space at www.youarequeerhere.com
. That's also where you can find the story of how, out of the depths of depression, I made the decision to go on this journey around the world.
And if you're interested in learning more about my creative work (and maybe checking out some of my published stories and writings online), visit https://alexisstratton.com/awards-publications/
You can also get my full bio here: https://alexisstratton.com/Are you worried about any risks or challenges?
There are a lot of challenges and risks with international travel and creation--losing my camera/notebooks, getting stuck in a faraway country, natural disasters, people-made disasters. But, I'm a firm believer in getting back up again and rolling with the punches (thanks, Tae Kwon Do and international travel for teaching me both of those things), so I think that those experiences would be part of the journey, too. Keyes talks a lot about the "queer art of failure"--so I'm going into this with a mind ready for making mistakes part of the work itself, and recognizing that there are stories there, too.
Still, a typhoon or earthquake or losing film or something might make me sad/scared/cranky/stuck along the way and might delay the final project. But what an interesting project it will be!