Escape Velocity, a creative project of films and live performances made with trans and gender non-conforming young people in Melbourne, launches into Phase Two this week as part of the Future Echoes Festival.
In collaboration between St Martins Youth Arts Centre and Minus18 ,with support from Creative Victoria, three short films were released as part of Phase One of the project, portraying a young person facing a challenge, then gathering their courage to speak up, make a choice, or act in a new way that affirms who they are in the world.
“The films were based on a lot of experiences we all had as a wider group during workshops,” Wolfie En-Hui Sun who starred in Open the Door tells us.
“A lot of people had really negative experiences when using a public toilet because often people would look at them funny or in my case, be threatened by security. It makes going to the bathroom a really terrifying experience.”
Alongside the premiere public screening of the films at the Arts Centre Melbourne this Saturday, Phase Two involves more direct and personal statements by a group of young people about being trans or gender non-conforming, especially what that means in public places.
It also includes the Escape Velocity Walks the City initiative, where Melburnians are invited to walk hand-in-hand with local trans and gender non-conforming young people. As they share a unique journey, offering gentle connection and fresh perspectives.
“Audiences will be able to examine their responses to holding hands and seeing the city through the eyes of one of our young gender non-conforming person,” St Martin’s Artistic Director Nadja Kostich said.
“The work invites contemplation around intimacy with self and others in public arenas and is an example of how our seemingly small yet conscious acts can be radical and impact us and others deeply.
“Cisgender people don’t realise what it is like,” Wolfie added.
“You’re just walking down the street and you get stared at a lot. Or people are trying to figure out what you are, it is terrifying and intimidating when they look you up and down.
“It is exciting to be a part of the Escape Velocity Walks in the City, but I can’t help but also feel a bit nervous,” they said.
“Holding hands is pretty intimate and it will be interesting to see the conversations that arise out of the walk. Even moments of silence will still say a lot.”
The simple act of holding a person’s hand is something many of us take for granted, but through this simple and tender exchange, the hope is that it will create a catalyst for though-provoking discussions, especially in the LGBTIQ space.
“Society tends to not listen to young people, let alone ones who are trans and gender diverse, it’s good to hear the experiences that we have,” Wolfie told us.
“What cisgender people don’t realise is that public toilets or just walking down the street in public can be terrifying for us. And that not something they ever need to think about.”
Hopefully this will broaden their views on many levels, giving them a chance to step into our shoes, and get a feel for what it is like to be trans and gender diverse.
Escape Velocity Walks in the City take place from 23 – 26 October.