Raziel Reid is a Canadian novelist and journalist living in Vancouver – and he both spoke and read at the 2016 “Empfindlichkeiten” Literature Festival in Berlin.
His young adult novel „When everything feels like the movies“ (2014) was awarded the 2014 Governor General’s Literature Award for Children’s Literature. The German edition, „Movie Star“ was published by Albino (2016).
01_If someone call you „homosexual author“, you…
Show them how well I can hold a pen with my asshole.
02_The most memorable moment of queerness in your childhood:
As a child I had an affair with a neighbour boy. The experience made its way into my novel Movie Star. He lived next door to my grandparents who were very religious. While my grandmother was upstairs in the kitchen baking pies for church charity events, he and I would be downstairs in the basement “playing”. We were nine or ten years old. There was a small fear that we might be caught, so we knew we were doing something worthy of getting in trouble for, but there was no shame. It was before society had gotten into our heads and made us self-conscious. It was instinctual and very passionate. I loved him.
03_A queer book that influenced you (how?)…
„Faggots“ by Larry Kramer was a quite stunning moment of my youth and inspired me to move to New York City. It introduced me to the queer underground world and helped me realize my life could be much more than what I’d been raised to believe it could be as a God-fearing Catholic boy. Kramer became my new God, and I’ve been a faithful disciple ever since.
04_A different piece of queer culture (no book: something else) that influenced you (how?)…
I remember when Will & Grace started airing on TV in the ‘90s. It was the first time I’d seen gay characters. I knew I was gay but wasn’t yet comfortable with my identity. It was both a liberating and shameful experience. I grew up in a small Canadian town. My dad was so uncomfortable when Will & Grace came on he’d leave the room. My mom seemed to like Will, but was embarrassed by the more flamboyant character Jack. Early on it was in my head that it’s better to be a more “straight acting” gay guy like Will than to be effeminate like Jack, an idea which is still perpetuated today. So many gay guys on hookup apps are looking for “straight acting only” and “no fems”.
05_In book stores, THESE are the authors/artists that you’d feel most honored to be placed next to:
06_A queer moment you’ve had in Berlin (or anywhere in Germany) that you’ll remember for a long time:
I spent this spring in Berlin, and during my first week here I attended the launch of Matt Lambert’s zine Vitium, which was published by my german publisher Bruno Gmünder. The launch was at Tom’s Bar which is rather infamous, and so I was introduced to the underground scene in Berlin and its artists while watching a live sex show. Quite memorable. I think I’ll have a live sex show at all my future launches!
07_Name some experts, authors, activists, name some places, institutions and discourses/debates that formed/informed/influenced the way you see and understand queerness – and yourself:
During my youth Warhol’s factory was the first queer scene I became interested in. Warhol said, “In my movies, everyone’s in love with Joe Dallesandro” and everyone watching was too! I loved reading about all the Superstars and was emboldened by characters like Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn. I felt like such a freak in my hometown, and they celebrated their freakiness — it’s what made them shine.
08_Name some experts, authors, activists, places, institutions and debates/questions that deserve more recognition/need more love:
I recently read One-Man Show by Michael Schreiber which is composed of interviews with the 20th century New York artist Bernard Perlin. He was a fascinating personality and visionary, I enjoyed learning about his life very much. He was connected to many other queer figures like Paul Cadmus, Glenway Wescott, George Platt Lynes, Denham Fouts, and had interesting anecdotes to share about them all. Perlin is underrepresented. He evaved the AIDS plague while living in Greenwich Village when it first hit that community. His survival alone is heroic and worthy of investigation. I’m fascinated by tales from gay artists who lived through the epidemic. The amount of loss they’ve experienced, and the way it shaped them and their work is something which should always be honoured.
09_Is there a queer figure/personality, a celebrity or a queer story/phenomenom that is very visible in the mainstream culture – and that makes you happy BECAUSE it is so visible?
James Franco is cool. He transcends sexual orientation which is very Hollywood, many people in the industry have fluid sexualities but they’re not all as open and willing to promote it the way he does out of fear of losing out on roles.
10_If universities/academics talk about queer topics, you often think…
If only they had an imagination.
11_A person (or, more general: an aspect of personality or appearance) that you find very sexy?
Gore Vidal because he stood up for what he believed in, and even when his beliefs were attacked or garnered him negative attention (as they often did), he didn’t back down. I admire his style.
12_Are you queer? How does your queerness inform/relate to/energize your art? And, on the other hand: Has your queerness ever been in your way or be a difficulty for you?
I’m privileged to be from a progressive country, Canada – where my sexuality has helped propel my career forward. My first job as a writer was for a queer newspaper, my debut novel is an LGBT teen story and was originally published by a Canadian press known for its queer content and run by two gay men. My sexuality has served as a foundation for my literary work.
13_There’s a video campaign that wants to prevent depressed queer teenagers from commiting suicide, „It gets better“. DOES it get better? How and for whom? When did it get better for you? What has to get better still?
“It” doesn’t get better. This world will always try to hurt you. What gets better is you. As you get older and find your footing you become wiser and more resilient.
all my 2016 interviews on Queer Literature:
…and, in German:
- Katy Derbyshire (Link)
- Kristof Magnusson (Link)
- Angela Steidele (Link)
- Hans Hütt (Link)
- Martina Minette Dreier (Link)
Kuratoren & Experten am Literarischen Colloquium Berlin:
Queer Literature: „Empfindlichkeiten“ Festival 2016: