Fruit Loopz @ Pride is usually one of the highlights of the Gay Pride weekend. The alcohol-free all-ages zone is packed with creative kids and artistic folks showing off body-painting talents.This year, though, there's no tarot reader -- the spiritual consultant refused to show up, citing bad vibes. The adult organizers look nervous. They've called in extra volunteers because of a rumoured protest around a six-minute experimental video called Dent On The Wall.
The piece, by 19-year-old first-time filmmaker Jo-Anna Davidson, expresses the rage and confusion she experienced when her biological father came out to her as a transsexual woman. Members of the trans community are outraged by its allegedly transphobic undertones.
The piece itself isn't immediately striking. It's a fragmented, non-narrative film that focuses on a young, vaguely androgynous child in a flippy 60s wig and short dress.
Her trans parent is a caricature, a Jackie O-inspired transvestite with visible stubble. The characters move through a Daliesque world where they drink from glasses filled with pebbles and clocks serve as plates.
It's all surreal and stylized. Even the violence in the film is metaphorical: a spinning dollhouse topples , the child smashes photographs and tears the limbs off dolls.
Compared to the other videos in the program, Dent doesn't stand out.
First Down, a short that addresses gay-bashing, is far more chilling in its violence. Natasha Pike's Untitled offers far more insight into gender fluidity. If not for the controversy, Davidson's piece might go unnoticed.
The problem? The casting of a biological man in drag as the transsexual parent, which, to some in the trans community, sadly conflates the concepts of transvestism and transsexuality.
Reena Katz and Aleesa Cohene, two women protesting the film, argue that Davidson casts the issue of trans parenting in a negative light.
Another issue is that Davidson isn't herself queer-identified. Since the Queer Youth Digital Video Project ostensibly aims to give LGBT youth a means to express themselves, this has caused a ruckus within the queer community.
Janis Purdy, a member of the Fruit Loopz programming committee, says questions about the film came up at the final meeting before the event.
"Some people said we had to ban it because it was dangerous," she says. But ultimately the decision was made to show it.
"The committee felt that it was uncomfortable for us on a number of levels, given that the theme was Uncensored, and that as a youth advocacy organization we'd be going against our principles by preventing a youth from having her voice heard," says Purdy.
Davidson was not available for comment. Word has it that the backlash was part of her impetus for returning to the Yukon.
At her film's screening at the Inside Out festival earlier this year, Davidson issued a statement explaining that the film was her way of "dealing with the strong emotional overload."
Fruit Loopz organizers had promised to hold a community forum after the screening but cancelled it due to logistical problems. They had to vacate Tallulah's Cabaret by 6 pm.