Interdisciplinary social practice artists Sean Fader and Maureen Towey will work in community to create, Queer American Memorials. Inspired by the Stumbling Stones in Germany and the Stonewall riots, Queer American Memorials is a nationwide project to develop memorials to mark locations where acts of deadly violence were committed against queer people. Fader and Towey have spent the past year working in partnership with MASS Design Group’s the Public Memory and Memorials Lab (who recently completed Hank Willis Thomas’ Embrace) which aims to unearth erased queer histories and reclaim queer spaces that were lost to hate.
Queer American Memorials is an evolution of Fader’s Insufficient Memory—an interactive Google Earth map which allows you to engage with a digital memorial to LGBTQIA2S+ lives. In 2018, Fader began combing through historical archives—including old issues of queer publications, many of which have never been digitized and are therefore hard to find—to compile a database of every LGBTQ+ person who was murdered in a hate crime in the United States while the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was being debated from 1999 to 2000. (The bill was not passed until 2009.) He drove 25,000 miles through 38 states to photograph the scene of every murder using an old Sony Digital Mavica camera that itself dates to 1999, just before the online sharing of photos on social media began to increase the visibility of queer communities. He then uploaded these photos to Google Earth, along with his short descriptions of each murder. The Google Database that is part of this work is freely available for you to experience on your own devices by clicking below.