Conversations with LGBTQ+ Circus Folks

Part 3, by Stacy Gubar

I also had the honor of interviewing circus enthusiast, V. V is a student of the Voice Project in Portland which is a program that uses the Circus Project’s studio and focuses on youth who hold marginalized identities. 

What part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym do you identify with?

I identify with queer in general because I am both genderqueer and have a queer sexuality. I have taken no medical steps to transition, but by some definitions I may also be considered transgender.

How has that affected your circus endeavors? 

Yes, the company I am a part of, the Voice Project, is specifically for youth who hold marginalized identities. 

What are the pronouns you use?

I use they/them pronouns. 

Have you found your specific circus studio to be an accepting environment?

Yes, at the Voice Project we all accept each other as we are. Even in public classes at the Circus Project people are always encouraged to share their pronouns and names and everyone is respectful of each other’s wishes. 

Have you found the circus community as a whole to be an accepting environment? 

It’s hard to say because I did not have access to circus arts before the Voice Project.

Do you know any other circus enthusiasts who align themselves with the LGBTQIA+ community?

Yes, about half of the Voice Project identify as LGBTQIA+

Have you been able to relate to their experiences or do you find they vastly differ? 

Some experiences are similar, but some vary greatly depending on people’s identity. I have, unfortunately, heard from others that they have been in studios or groups far less accepting than my own. 

Have you participated in/do you know of LGBTQIA+ support groups within the circus community?

I don’t know of any groups specifically designed to support LGBTQIA+ individuals, but the Voice Project acts as a support group because everyone is encouraged to show up as they are and build safe relationships.  

Do you feel the geographical location of your circus studio affects how people at the studio view the LGBTQIA+ community? 

I think it could. Being in Portland can affect how the LGBTQIA community is viewed because there is a high queer population here. People can gain more exposure and education living in Portland compared to other places which creates a more welcoming environment. Even beyond the circus world, Portland is pretty inclusive as a whole in my personal experience. 

What is some advice or encouragement you would like to share with other LGBTQIA+ circus enthusiasts? 

Unapologetically be yourself no matter what and have courage to be your authentic self because everyone deserves that. Seek out inclusive environments and have the courage to create those spaces as well by authentically being yourself. I think that having a supportive environment has made a world of a difference in my life. My mental and physical health has really improved. 

Anything else you would like to share?

Having supportive, inclusive environments is crucial for people’s safety, wellbeing and health. I want to stress the importance of creating these environments. The Circus Project has a mission of being an inclusive environment, but the circus world as a whole could use a call to action to push for more inclusivity and acceptance. We must create and provide supportive environments. They truly can have a huge positive impact on the lives of those who need them. 

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