Wussy of the Month returns to showcase local queer cuties we've got our sights on!
This month, we had the pleasure to interview and photograph Atlanta artist/organizer, Haseena Peera.
Haseena organizes Queer Youth Fest, an all-day festival showcasing visual artists, local musicians, and spoken word artists. QYF returns this Saturday to Healium Arts Center.
We asked Haseena a few questions about what to expect this weekend:
Tell us about yourself!
I am an Atlanta native, musician, director, artist, student and social advocate. My father is a Muslim East African / Indian immigrant, and my army-brat, Filipino/American mother in was raised catholic in the state of Arizona. I am currently majoring in Sociology and minoring in Psychology in Georgia State University. By day, I run a local, interactive, art center with my family in Candler Park.
I mainly use my time outside of school and work to perform with the local film and music project named "Cinema Novo" as well as occasionally playing a little bass for a Latin fronted, Queer Punk Band called "Bitter”. The visual arts as well as my music have helped me express my trials and tribulations with my past domestic abuse, current polyamory, previous Muslim upbringing, and present feminism. I am ambiguous on many levels, hence, my queer identity.
What is Queer Youth Fest?
Queer Youth Fest is a FREE local, music and arts day festival centered around Queer Atlanta. It is an all ages, all-inclusive festival that provides free food, free on-site testing, interactive art installations, speakers, and representation for many service providers specifically existing to provide for queer individuals and their families.
So, how did it all get started?
I was approached by a representative from Georgia Equality shortly after my Doraville Protest for Gay Pride Day after the Orlando shootings in few years back. They expressed the lack of public queer-friendly spaces for youth under the ages of 18 and 21; they paralleled it with the rapidly rising HIV epidemic among our youth in Atlanta. After one short meeting, we concluded that it was absolutely necessary to create a space that catered to people of all ages and identities, both by way of providing art, culture and information about what is available to them, (including free testing onsite.) Without creating a safe, communal, and public environment for us, the suicide, bullying, and death rate of queer people in Atlanta and cities across the country will continue to rise as well.
I want to bring back the positive use of the word ‘queer’. To me, it means ‘undefinable’, which is an all-encompassing adjective when we really think about it. Another unique quality about the event is that it is geared toward an audience ranging in age. The Atlanta Pride Festival can be a wonderful celebration for adults and youth alike but not everyone can handle that kind of crowd. Many queer events in Atlanta are hosted at late-night club settings with alcohol, limiting the age of people who can attend. Service provider’s such as Lost-N- Found, Planned Parenthood, Chris 180, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, The Health Initiative, PFLAG and many more will be available throughout the center to represent the resources they offer.
What kind of experience can attendees expect from their first experience at Queer Youth Fest?
It’s like a Mini-PRIDE Festival but with free food, interactive art installations, and no booze.
Healium Arts Center in partnership with the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth (ACFLY), will provide a safe, informative, and creative space for people of all identities and ages. The festival will feature two live local music stages, three art galleries, a meditation space, interactive art installations, and more than ten LGBTQ-focused service provider stations. The event aims to showcase local artists and musicians, while providing a queer-centric, open minded, and educational environment for the Atlanta community.
It’s funny, most people hear the name and think they are too old to attend, but this is not the case; we have college students, young mothers, old fathers, young adults- anyone and everyone walks through these doors!
Do you have any special plans for the future of the festival?
Hopefully this festival will continue to blossom and thrive. I hope to take the Atlanta Queer Youth Fest experience and re-create it around the nation. I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing individuals while organizing these events and every year I wish I could fit more and more. Atlanta as an incredible blend of intellectuals and culture, and as long as they keep coming, I will give it my all to keep it going. I've already started to partner with queer publications and queer social clubs so I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.
As for this year- the immediate future of this festival will be the WackedOutBlackOut Glow party at Jungle!
Queer Youth Fest is Oct 21st, 2017 from 2pm to 10pm at Healium Arts Center, 344 Candler Park Drive, Atlanta GA, 30307.
Owned and operated by a family of four, Healium has been open since 2014. The center is open every Wednesday and Saturday, providing art materials as well as an open jam space for the public to enjoy without fear of judgement or recoil. This particular art space is a host to a range of monthly events like Guided Nude Life Drawing, Sound Immersions, Documentary & Discussion nights, as well as Bonfires & Drum circles.
Using the shared space of Greater Love Ministries, Healium Center is non-denominational and not a registered non-profit, solely thriving off of donations from the public. Healium revamps the gallery and music stages to host the maximum capacity of patrons for The Queer Youth Festival, their largest annual event.
Check out Queer Youth Fest 2017 on Facebook for more details today!
All photos by local visual artist, .
Check out more of his work HERE.