love bus, mongolia - a queer tour of ulaanbaatar

As human beings, we’re all on our journeys - spiritual, emotional, intellectual. A fact remains, though, throughout our human existence: love. Love is felt by all. Love is known by all. Regardless of our sexual orientations, or gender identities. And this is what the LOVE BUS was about.
— Anaraa Nyamdorj, LGBT Centre Director
This heartfelt show of talent led to a deeper understanding of the situations of LGBT people.
— The UB Post
We are making history
— Baya, Love Bus participant and activist

Photos by Agata Chmielecka

Love Bus was developed over a period of two months while I was artist in residence at the LGBT Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  The process comprised of meetings with staff, community members and allies at the LGBT centre, coffee dates, chatting to potential co-creators on gay dating applications, drinking vodka, crafternoons in my apartment, karaoke, karaoke in my apartment, communicating through facebook stickers, dancing to Katy Perry at underground clubs, eating Indian, house parties, sleepovers, getting haircuts, shopping, going to mountaintops and exploring the city.  Through this process, I made friends, was welcomed into the community's safe spaces and heard their stories.  Together we began to imagine a way for these stories to be shared in a creative way. 

A bus route was developed which stopped at destinations chosen by brave storytellers and activities were curated for the times that the audience was in transit.  The bus departed from a queer friendly cafe, made 3 stops and incorporated spoken stories, video contributions, guided conversations between strangers, games, a parade, a vigil, live songs and a birthday cake.  The tour concluded at an art exhibition showcasing the work of Nymka, "an artist with a unique perception of his surroundings." (The UB Post)

The diverse participants spoke about a range of experiences and issues, including coming out while grappling with faith, the need for queer-friendly spaces, finding the LGBTIQ community as a foreigner, raising a child with same-sex parents, the LGBTIQ people we've lost to hate crime and suicide and favourite date locations.

My heart explodes with love and thanks to everyone that played a part in making this happen.  Whether you stood up in front of a group of strangers to tell your story, or whether you texted me an idea at 2am - I thank you.

During Love Bus, this love lock was secured to a park sculpture where many (straight) lovers have left their love locks.  The engraving reads, "In loving memory of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people we have lost to hate crime and suicide"

At one point in the performance everyone on the bus walked together in solidarity from Gandan Monastery to Peace Avenue while amplifying the audio of Honorable Oyungerel Tsedevdamba's (MP) speech calling for human rights for Mongolian LGBT people.

Nathan's time in Mongolia was made possible thanks to Brisbane City Council's Lord Mayor's Young and Emerging Artist Fellowship.