“I saw a need and I just kind of jumped in and decided to start doing something about it.”
Pussy Liquor was flipping through the Pride Guide looking for events for her and her friends to attend two years ago when she noticed a gap.
“What I found instead was that all the parties were broken down by binary gender category. There were either men’s events or women’s events but nothing really in between or outside of that, so I felt like something was missing,” the 29-year-old says.
“A lot of my friends fall outside of the categories of gender of man or woman: they identify as trans or genderqueer or androgynous.”
Last year, Liquor launched Genderfest, an all-genders East Vancouver festival held during Pride Week. This Pride, the festival entered its second year, expanding to six events over 11 days, including a one-day conference of workshops and presentations.
The conference organizers received some backlash on Facebook this spring, after some community members noticed that none of the presenters or panellists identified as trans women. Liquor says that kind of criticism is a reality of activism and community organizing and that it is actually a positive thing.
“Although it can be really challenging at times, I do also find it really exciting,” she says. “It means that people are engaged, it means that people care, and it means that people are invested in what’s happening.”
She says it’s important to not just listen to critics, but to actually hear them and follow up and take action.
Liquor has committed herself to producing the festival for one more year before she moves on to other projects.
“I would really like for the community to get invested in Genderfest, to take it on, to give it a life of its own.”