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How can we hack technology to aid future queer liberation?

Samuel Douek’s short film, STONEWALL 2069, speculates how transhuman tech will aid social justice 100 years on from the monumental uprising

It’s been 50 years since a police raid on a New York City gay bar invigorated the monumental Stonewall Uprising, which in turn sparked the queer liberation movement – still ongoing today. Though the world has transformed immeasurably over the last half decade, there’s still a mountain to climb in the fight for equal fights.

A short film, titled STONEWALL 2069, explores what faces the LGBTQ+ community and its allies on this mountain, and asks how technology can be utilised to aid queer liberation over the next 50 years. It was commissioned as part of the New Creatives project – launched in 2019 – which brings together Dazed, the ICA, and the BBC.

Directed by London-based filmmaker and artist Samuel Douek, the film follows a future trans activist in her quest to create ‘transhuman’ tech and upgrade the human body to make it more beneficial to its owner. “Over the course of history, humans have expanded the circle of identities accepted as human,” she says in the film. “Today marks an explosion with choice and freedom when it comes to identities. I believe technology will lead the way in expanding that circle even further to encompass transhuman individuals.”

In separate interviews, scientists, artists, theorists, and journalists reflect on how the LGBTQ+ community can appropriate transhuman tech “and queer it for their own means in this fight against a new oppression”. They also discuss how the ‘upgrading’ of the human body could “normalise the idea that we’re not necessarily stuck with the body we’re born with, which could be really positive in terms of trans rights”. 

Speaking to Dazed, Douek says: “We made STONEWALL 2069 in 2019 – 50 years after the first rock was hurled by a trans woman of colour. This was by no means the first time a queer person stood up for their rights, but history likes to earmark specific events as cultural landmarks. Will the same be said of the future? What will be the singular event 50 years from now that defines a cultural moment?”

Douek explains that the film itself “queers genre”, as it fluctuates between documentary, performance, and science fiction. “It was a dream project,” he continues, “bringing together a completely queer and minority ethnic cast and crew from the international community. The development process began with intense conversations of queerness and the future. We challenged ourselves to subvert ideologies and challenge gender and sexual binaries.”

Sakeema Crook, who plays the film’s protagonist, adds: “This was my first time working on a film that was entirely queer in cast and crew. STONEWALL 2069 was very much a beginning for me in terms of an activist journey, and the awareness of just how much we would use technology to connect and still feel seen and celebrated during the last year.”

“There is still work to be done as we grow more aware of the systemic inequalities desperate to uphold colonialist ideals as society’s default,” Crook continues. “The world is waking up to the horrors of binary ideals and Black vs white thinking. I see us as queer people continuing to discover and create ourselves, hope, and love among chaos, (and gain a) deeper knowledge of self with more appreciation for what’s possible in our freedom. We have always existed and made magic, so I see more of that.”

Watch STONEWALL 2069 above.

Directed by Samuel Douek

Starring Sakeema Crook

Creative direction by Joel Palmer

Art direction by Sacha Nicette

Science fiction art by Esmay Wagemens

CGI and VFX by Samuel Aldridge

Cinematography by Jack Hamilton

Styling and casting by Major Zcene

Production design by Sacha Nicette

Composition by J. Aria