Kate Reid Visits SFUAD
Canadian folk singer and activist Kate Reid recently visited SFUAD to meet with students and faculty about her work. A prominent LGBT activist, Reid frequently references identity and sexuality in her music, but remains very relatable regardless of one’s sexual orientation. Her songs are often very funny with songs like, “Only Dyke at the Open Mic,” and “Ex-Junkie Boyfriend,” but have an underlying message of social justice and raised awareness. She played several of these when she visited Dr. Lisa Adler’s Feminist Theory class April 29. Between each song, Reid opened up discussions about what her music inspired in students. There was a lot of conversation over the role art plays in social justice.
“You’re taking on a responsibility as a media maker,” said Studio Art major Stephanie Thomas when Reid asked students about their own experiences with social justice. Thomas is an avid feminist and inspiring comic book artist who hopes to use her art in a similar way to Reid. She wants to make a difference.
One exercise Reid had students do during the class was to pick out 10 words from her songs that spoke to them. As she played, students scribbled down words in their journals. Toward the end of class, Reid challenged students to write a poem incorporating five of the words they had chosen in the span of five minutes. While the task seemed daunting to some students at first, many felt confident enough at the end of the exercise to share their pieces aloud. “This was the prompt I’ve been waiting for!” said Sima Fedorova, a freshman Creative Writing major.
“I just love coming here,” says Reid. “I love the students here and doing this work. I love coming into classrooms and talking about… art as social justice.” Reid believes students are really going to change the world moving forward and that art students in particular have a great influence on society. “I think [students] can make a difference by speaking out about things that they believe in and by challenging these sort of hegemonic structures our society is built upon. I think that’s what good art does. I’m not interested in art that doesn’t tell an interesting story or doesn’t do something that makes me think differently. I think students that take on that social justice lens are really important.”
Reid is a student herself, currently earning a master’s degree at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. She wishes to combine her music with this study and says on her website, “I’m really interested in how songs can be used to educate students so I’m studying the nexus of queer activism, folk music and education… as a friend of mine puts it, I’m essentially studying myself!”
Reid got into the music business after leaving her small town in Ontario for the more liberal area of Vancouver. She wanted to explore herself and her sexuality. “I was just trying to write my own story,” Reid says. “I was just writing songs to make sense of my life, make sense of who I was, [and] to try to figure out myself in the world but also to speak back to a lot of heterosexual ideas… and sort of create that space in music for voices that weren’t straight.”
Liberal Arts Chair Dr. Corine Frankland and Reid are close friends. Reid has been coming to SFUAD for four years now after reconnecting with Frankland at a festival several years ago. “I met Kate through her music…and it profoundly changed my life in terms of looking at identity,” Frankland says. “I found her music in a really turbulent time in my life where I was questioning labels and constructs…It was such a profound process for me. I think her music has influenced the way that I teach.”
Reid’s music is available on iTunes and Spotify. She travels to schools all over the United States and Canada teaching workshops and She will be performing this summer at New Westminter PRIDE. For more information visit www.katereid.net.