All across Houston, far beyond the Fairview stretch of Montrose, are invisible traces of queer memories gone by.
Crowdsourced mapping project Queering the Map makes those memories visible. Drag your cursor across the pink-shaded landscape, and you'll find records of queer first kisses in the Heights, coming out stories from Angleton, and bad breakups at gay bars in Galveston. Some entries are lengthy paragraphs, while others tell a whole story in a single sentence: "I got hit on by a girl and I liked it; now we're sapphic sisters and live together."
The project comes courtesy of Concordia University student Lucas LaRochelle, who devised the project in a peculiar moment of nostalgia. "I was biking home one day when I passed by a tree where I’d met one of my first partners," LaRochelle told the McGill Daily. "There was an intense feeling that I recognized in biking there; a feeling of queerness coming from action. In that sense, I became interested in capturing the feeling of queerness in relation to specific environments, and to then map them out."
What came of it is essentially the queer (and global) version of New York magazine's "Love Map" project that curates "482 stories of kissing and hooking up, longing looks, and breaking up" in New York. LaRochelle's version dwarfs those numbers with thousands of markers dotting the landscape on all seven continents—even Antarctica. ("All penguins are gay," jokes one of the southernmost pins.)
Back in February, after The Outline first drew widespread attention to Queering the Map, the service shut down briefly when trolls spammed it with pro-Trump messages like "Make America Great Again!!! Donald Trump is the best president!!!" The site's now back with a set of moderators in place, and the whole episode reinforces the necessity of its existence. After all, if there are people seeking to marginalize the queer community, it feels important, as the site's "About" page states, to have "a living archive of queer experience that reveals the ways in which we are intimately connected."
You can now browse (or add to) the several dozen Houston area entries at queeringthemap.com.