A New Take on Nostalgia
This past June, I attended a Columbus Society of Communicating Arts (CSCA) meeting featuring guest speaker Deva Pardue. Deva is an accomplished creative who is currently Senior Creative Director at The Wing, a women-centered coworking space. During her talk, she mentioned that a top goal of hers is to create tactile experience of nostalgia for members of The Wing. That goal is apparent in everything from the interior design to the experiences members of The Wing have access to. As I thought about how I could apply that to Quiet Deviants, one question in particular came to mind: if nostalgia is defined by Dictionary.com as a “sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time”, how do I create nostalgia for queer history—that is, a history that is full of painful experiences?
I faced this challenge with the Black Cat Collection, and it’s frequently on my mind when it comes to the Quiet Deviants brand as whole. I’m trying to push myself past the low-hanging fruit of what being queer means, past simple labels, graphics, and phrases. The Black Cat Collection was my way of paying tribute to how indomitable the people at the Black Cat Tavern were on New Years Eve 1966 and February 11, 1967. Queer people are often portrayed as weaker, flimsier, and passive; stories from the Black Cat Tavern paint a different picture. 16 patrons were dragged out of the bar and laid face down on the sidewalk before being booked, and one bartender ended up in the hospital with a ruptured spleen.
Even so, over 200 people came back for the carefully crafted and organized demonstration in February. They had the discipline to be orderly and nonviolent in order to avoid more arrests: if a leaflet was dropped, it was grabbed off of the sidewalk.
To me, the Black Cat protests are a prime example of the bravery and persistence that people in the queer community have always had and continue to have. That’s why I made the cat design screaming and with blazing red eyes; it’s also why I chose black, red, and white as the colors. I wanted to make sure that the design would pop out of the back of the hoodie in a way that forced people to pay attention.
Perhaps embracing nostalgia in the same way brands like The Wing do isn’t realistic for a queer brand. Per usual, a different, deviant path will have to be taken, one of reverence and recognition of the good and bad parts of our history.