The 100 QUEERIES project is a series of infographics on instagram by artist MICHAEL SHIREY. It is an exploration of 100 LGBTQ+ terms, cliches, and stereotypes. Every day he discusses a new topic, highlighting its history and relation to the community at large. That’s right, 100 days worth of juicy LGBTQ+ goodness and with pride month upon us, we thought there is no better time to share it with everyone!
We had a chat with Michael about the project. Read what he had to say below, and then see a few selections below!
DOABLE GUYS: Let’s start with a little about you. What do you do for your day job? And can you tell us a bit about your background in art?
MICHAEL: I am a graphic designer and brand strategist. During the day I work for an education nonprofit that raises money for STEM-based schools in Israel. I am also finishing up the last months of grad school at the School of Visual Art’s Masters in Branding program.
I have always been drawn to art. I was one of those kids who was obsessed with drawing Disney characters, which later translated to Power Rangers, Pokemon, etc. In high school, I was lucky enough to have a teacher who encouraged me to pursue my passion for drawing and apply for art school. I ended up at the Savanah College of Art and Design studying Illustration until, in my second year, a professor told me I wouldn’t cut it as an artist.
I switched majors to graphic design, fortunately, a pretty seamless transition. And design seemed to come naturally to me, which helped. Shortly after college, I moved to New York, where I realized I could do both design and art. I worked for five years at Gay City News, doing editorial and layout design, along with illustrations for the paper. That was my first exposure to the queer community.
To me, art, design, and branding are all forms of storytelling, which is what I really enjoy doing and part of what led me to the Masters in Branding program at SVA and to this project.
DOABLE GUYS: What sparked the idea?
MICHAEL: 100 Queeries is an assignment from my grad program. In the spring semester, I took “A Brand Called You” class with Debbie Millman, who is the chair of the program. It was an intense class focused on self-reflection and discovery, that asked us: What difference do we want to make in the world? Assignments ranged from drafting a personal mission statement and a writing a 10-year plan; our final project was the 100 Days assignment, based on the project by the same name started by Michael Bierut at Yale.
DOABLE GUYS: I know the posts vary in complexity, some having more slides than others, and some even animated! On average how much time does each one take you?
MICHAEL: Haha, yeah — some of them really end up being complex. On a good day, I can crank one out in an hour. Realistically, it usually takes me two to two and a half hours. That includes research, fact-checking, distilling the information down to a digestible story, and finally the illustrations. I was really eager to use animations at first, but I stopped after a while because it added another hour to the process.
DOABLE GUYS: How did you decide on the prompts? Have you actually chosen them all yet or are some still up in the air?
MICHAEL: You know, it’s a bit of a mix. I did start with a list, but I abandoned it pretty quickly — though I do sometimes reference it to make sure there isn’t a topic I’m forgetting. I knew I wanted to start simple: What does “queer” mean? What do all the letters in the acronym stand for, who designed the rainbow flag? Then I wanted to do was classify the types of gay men and gay women.
Then on April 12, Trump’s transgender military ban went into effect, and I realized that there was an opportunity not just to talk about queer history, but also about current events. I did this with camp, same-sex marriage in Taiwan, and the Equality Act.
I also knew pretty early on that I would dedicate a section to Pride in June. Because of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I wanted to dig into the history of gay pride and liberation, and show that journey from the Stonewall riots to where we are now — where Pride has become a branded holiday to many.
I have a rough idea of how I want to finish the project, which will officially be on July 10, but a lot of that will depend on where I end up at the end of June. And I mean, there is so much out there - it would be easy to find another 100 topics to discuss.
DOABLE GUYS: I'd imagine that you are learning a lot about the queer community by doing this. Does it require a lot of research? What has been the most interesting thing you've learned?
MICHAEL: I expected to learn a lot, but I’ve learned much more than i thought I would. I try to look up at least two sources per topic to make sure I am getting a well-rounded view on each subject. And some posts simply require more research than others. For instance, I feel like there is a lot of false or incomplete information out there on transgender topics, so I always end up spending more time on those to make sure I am doing them justice.
Most recently, I learned about Storme DeLarverie, one of the lesser-known transgender activists credited with throwing the first brick at Stonewall, along with Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. I had heard of Marsha and Sylvia, but never Storme. Judging by a few of the comments and messages I’ve received, that seems to be the case for many people.
DOABLE GUYS: Ideally what is the target audience?
MICHAEL: I go back and forth on this. I think I started it with straight people in mind. I’ve had LGBTQ+ friends tell me that they share the posts with their family or coworkers, many of whom are oblivious to a lot of these issues. At the same time, I’ve had a lot of queer people tell me how important it is to educate our own community, too. So at the end of the day, I think it’s both.
DOABLE GUYS: What has been the feedback so far?
MICHAEL: Better than I could have hoped. I started this project worried I would just be a voice screaming out into the social media ether. But overall, I’ve had nothing but positive responses. Even most of the critique has come from a good place, and I really appreciate people who take the time to correct me and teach me something. Only a handful of trolls, luckily.
DOABLE GUYS: What has been the most rewarding part of this for you?
MICHAEL: There have been a couple of instances of people who will reach out and tell me that I’ve helped them be able to better explain themselves and their identity to people. And that’s not something I ever thought this project could do. But it makes it 100% worth it.
Included below is the entire first post and links to a selection of other entries. Be sure to give them a follow on instagram to get them in your daily feed! @100queeries