My name is Chloé Deneuve. I work at Blue Zoo Animation Studio as a Senior Animator, and I am a very proud gay woman.
As a gay woman, to this day I still get a little nervous about constantly having to come out: to new friends, at work—and, really, anywhere I go. On occasion, I will be forced to field verbal abuse from strangers because of who I love. For a lot of people, being gay is still a struggle. It can affect your outlook on life and it can be the source of a huge amount of prejudice, discrimination and pain. We still have a long way to go before every single queer person can walk down the street not having to worry about any of that. Which is why having a community like Q-VFX is so important.
When I was asked to be a founding member of Q-VFX and to help shape its mission, I was thrilled. “So what is Q-VFX?” I asked at our first meeting. “A queer community in the VFX, Animation and Games industry, you say? Absolutely, I’m in!” When I heard that it was through Access: VFX, which is all about diversity and inclusion, it just made sense. Q-VFX, to me, is a safe space, a place where I can walk into a room and not have to be nervous about being myself. I don’t even have to come out, and how amazing is that?!
I was so excited when we had our first meeting at The Mill. We were all there because Sarah De Schot from ILM had this great idea. It was a fantastic meeting about why we were creating this community: a new, inclusive LGBTQI+ community hub where both our staff and aspiring talent could access information, events, mentorship and support.
The thing about working in our industry is that we often work per project, which means that we tend to hop around quite a bit from company to company. Having one constant community for us queer folk and our allies, a safe space for like-minded people to give and receive support, sounded like such a great idea, and knowing that this community now exists means a huge amount to me personally.
We decided in that first meeting that this was going to be something big. Therefore, we needed a launch to remember: a badass panel of influential and experienced queer, plus allies—and of course, DRAG QUEENS. Enough said! That’s what we knew our launch deserved, so that’s exactly what we did. Framestore kindly stepped in to host, and we compiled a panel of 5 people from different companies with diverse backgrounds and sexualities, with Simon Devereux as our guide for the evening.
What an amazing panel it was. Paulene Hamilton (Head of People and Talent at Blue Zoo Animation) and Denis Jose-Francois (joint Head of 3D Animation at Jellyfish Pictures) shared their perspectives on what it was like to live through a time when AIDS was at its peak and “queer” was not a word that anyone was fully comfortable using, to now, the present day. Sarah De Schot (Senior Digital Paint Artist at ILM), Kat Seale (Character Animator at Studio AKA) and Suraj Harrington-Odedra (VFX supervisor at The Mill) also explored the word “queer”, explaining how, for them, it’s an umbrella term for those who struggle with one label of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc., and is for anyone who has felt othered by society. Denis also had a great story about his time working in Japan, when it was said that bisexuals were “ushers of the devil.” But please head on over to the website to listen to the entire podcast, which was recorded live.
As if that wasn’t good enough, we then led into Drag Queen Bingo, hosted by the wonderful Lady Gala Bingo. We saw a lot of dancing, laughter, singing—even a lap dance! And of course, there was an array of suitably fabulous prizes, like Disneyland tickets, wigs and prosecco.
All in all, the launch was an absolute success. I for one felt so comfortable and happy just to be able to walk into a room and feel like I didn’t have to come out—but that if I had, I would have felt completely at ease. I feel very excited about the future of Q-VFX; we have big plans in play, so watch this space!