Haircuts & Social Justice: Three Generations from Los Angeles in Conversation

© Durfee Foundation

Kultursymposium Weimar 2021


This video is the Thomas Mann House's contribution to the Kultursymposium Weimar 2021 in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.

Kultursymposium Weimar 2021 YouTube Playlist

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 talk about the urgent need for more social justice in Los Angeles – and how ProjectQ and other initiatives can play their part.


Karen Tongson is Professor of English, gender & sexuality studies, and American studies & ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is the author of two books: Why Karen Carpenter Matters (2019) and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011). Her writing and cultural commentary have appeared in NPR, Los Angeles Review of Books, 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 Ray Lopez made it their life’s mission to help LGBTQIA+ youth. They founded ProjectQ in 2012 and in June 2018 they opened The ProjectQ Salon & Community Center. Madin Ray Lopez hopes to prove to the youth and to themselves, that tenacity speaks louder than circumstances.
Reeves Gift 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, the city of Los Angeles, as well as various photography projects.

The Kultursymposium Weimar is a discursive festival for new networks and ideas. Every two years, the Goethe-Institut brings together over five hundred people from all over the world to come together in Weimar to attend the event. Interdisciplinary and diverse, the Kultursymposium Weimar reflects the richness and complexity of global discourses and proposes new ideas for international cultural exchange. Each edition of this successful festival format has a different theme - in 2021 it focuses on »Generations«. 
Due to the pandemic, the third edition of the symposium in 2021 will take place online, accompanied by selected projects in Weimar and at Goethe-Instituts worldwide. The digital edition is accessible free of charge and without registration from all over the world. 



Language: English with German Subtitles

Premiere on June 17,2021 on Kultursymposium Weimar Youtube site