Elsewhere’s QueerLab tells queer stories

Aubrey King, Staff Writer
March 6, 2015

Perched between the Artmongerz Gallery and Table 16 downtown sits an interesting museum. Reanimating an old thrift shop, Elsewhere adds a splash of joy to the downtown and Greensboro communities with an open atmosphere and various workshops.

Described by its employees as a living museum, Elsewhere allows its customers to explore an ever-evolving museum atmosphere while also serving as a meeting place for various workshops.

A more recent Elsewhere project, the QueerLab program brings together local youth for discussion of the LGBTQA lifestyle in North Carolina.

“QueerLab is a group of queer identifying youth that come together and work as an editorial team on the magazine ‘I Don’t Do Boxes,’” said senior and Elsewhere intern Sam Metzner. “I think it’s a really awesome way to get youth to feel empowered and let them share their voices and experiences.”

Past “I Don’t Do Boxes” publications live on the Elsewhere website, and they offer a fascinating perspective on life in North Carolina. Featuring poetry, stories and even recorded music, “I Don’t Do Boxes” combines multimedia in a deeply meaningful way.

The most recent issue of “I Don’t Do Boxes,” “Out Loud” incorporates sound into the magazine in creative ways.

“‘Out Loud’ invited queer youth, musicians and artists to explore the power of voice in different ways,” reads the editorial board’s description of the magazine from their website. “An accompanying compilation of music, sounds and recordings offer listeners everything from raucous punk anthems to ambient noise experiments, queer oral histories and queer-hop beats.”

Though both the QueerLab and “I Don’t Do Boxes” offer valuable experiences, they work best when they come together and discussion and expression work as one.

“Having other means of expressing ourselves and our creativity, such as music and writing, not only provides a great way of working through our own struggles but also creates something that other members of our community can identify and empathize with,” said an Early College junior who asked to remain unidentified.

The collaboration centers on Elsewhere itself. The small museum serves as a gathering and work place for the workshop participants and editors of the magazine. The space feels friendly and warm and seems to draw passersby from off the street.

“(My first time visiting Elsewhere) must’ve been my freshman year,” said Page High School student and frequent Elsewhere visitor Naomi Onadein in an email interview. “My friend and I were downtown, saw the swings out front and thought ‘this must be a cool place.’”

Though the museum will not open again until April, the experience of visiting is worth the wait. As any interested museum-goer makes their way inside, they are greeted by friendly staff and an eclectic atmosphere.

Everything from child’s toys to old journals and diaries line the shelves and walls of the enchanting main room. Set to the side, a small library of fascinating volumes of all shapes, sizes and types line the walls. In the back, a more open space allows ample room for meetings and discussions.

It is a distinct space, and distinct places breed unique ideas. One cannot help but feel creative wandering through Elsewhere.

Elsewhere offers the community a wonderful space to simply enjoy themselves while the QueerLab and “I Don’t Do Boxes” offer the local LGBTQA a place to learn and share. Together, they are quite a potent combination.

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