Events | Haircuts & Social Justice: Three Generations from Los Angeles in Conversation. With Karen Tongson, Madin Ray Lopez & Reeves Gift

Online | June 17, 2021

With ongoing protests and initiatives against racial discrimination in the U.S., many are debating how today's political activism differs from that of previous generations.
Three generations, all non-white members of Los Angeles' queer community, come together for a conversation about politics and protest, social justice, identity and caring: Activist Madin Ray Lopez, filmmaker Reeves Gift, and gender studies scholar Karen Tongson meet at ProjectQ, a hair salon and communication center primarily dedicated to trans and queer, non-white youth who often experience discrimination and are at risk of homelessness.
From three different perspectives, they will discuss the pressing concerns for greater social justice and what ProjectQ in Los Angeles and other queer and anti-racist projects are contributing.

Karen Tongson is Professor of English, gender & sexuality studies, and American studies & ethnicity at USC. She is the author of two books: Why Karen Carpenter Matters (2019, forthcoming in Europe from Faber books, November 2021). and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011). Her writing and cultural commentary have appeared in NPR, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), L.A. Weekly, BuzzFeed Reader, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Public Books, as well as in other scholarly and public forums. She also co-hosts the Podcast Waiting to X-hale.
Madin Ray Lopez (They/Them) is the founder of ProjectQ. They knew very early on that they wanted to do hair for a living because it was a reliable career that also allowed them to use their creativity. Having experienced much trauma as a child, Madin made it their life’s mission to help LGBTQIA+ youth. They founded ProjectQ in 2012 and in June 2018 Madin opened The ProjectQ Salon & Community Center. Madin hopes to prove to the youth and to themselves, that tenacity speaks louder than circumstances.
Reeves Gift is a Trinidadian-American filmmaker from the D.C. area. Spending his childhood between Trinidad and the United States, he fostered a love for storytelling and traditional folklore. Reeves is currently a student at the University of Southern California at the School of Cinematic Arts, and wants to become a writer and producer in the television industry. He has completed projects and series for PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), the city of Los Angeles, as well as various photography projects.

Watch the video here.


The Kultursymposium Weimar is a discursive festival of the Goethe-Institut for new networks and ideas. The video is the Thomas Mann House's contribution to the symposium in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.


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