He Fucked the Girl out of Me is an interactive story by Taylor McCue, part retro-style game, part graphic novel, where Ann, a trans person, describes how she was drawn into sex work to pay for the costs of her transition. The viewer uses arrow keys to influence the movements of the pixelated two-dimensional figures, and walk through the virtual nightclub, for example, or talk to people. Ann uses onscreen text to describe the impact of her bad sexual experience and the effects of her sexual trauma’s. The project won the IDFA DocLab Digital Storytelling Award 2022.
We asked Taylor why she wanted to make He Fucked the Girl out of Me, her view of Pride and how she sees her place within the lgbtqi+ community.
What were your main motivations for making He Fucked the Girl out of Me?
The simplest answer was that shame was overwhelming me. It was incredibly painful to spend my entire life living in shame. Some people think I made He Fucked the Girl out of Me as an act of courage, but I was really just trying to make that pain stop. The best way to counter shame is to be open about what you are ashamed of. As someone who avoids pain, I didn’t even want to talk about what I was ashamed of, so I made a machine to do it for me. That machine is He Fucked the Girl out of Me. By having this trauma machine exist on the internet it could keep having the conversation for me over and over so that I could never retreat into shame again.
Do you think projects and films with this theme and perspective are still needed in this time?
I made He Fucked the Girl out of Me because I was in a ton of pain from shame and I wanted the pain to stop. I made it in an attempt to help myself and potentially save myself from spending my whole life in shame. I desperately needed He Fucked the Girl out of Me because I was the only one who could face the things I was specifically ashamed of and talk about it. To talk broadly about what is needed makes it sound like I am saving the world or have some special insight into what the world needs. I don’t know what is needed anymore but I do know as a fucked up person I find a lot of value in reading, watching, and playing things made by other similarly fucked up people. I personally feel my life is better because of things like this people make, and others feel their lives have been improved by games like mine and others.
Which reactions on your project touched you the most?
There have been different couples at two different times who played He Fucked the Girl out of Me and while they went through it, they discussed the game. Not in a judgemental way, or even in a horrible way, but in a way that they were checking in with each other. That even going through a traumatic experience they cared about each other. Somehow the trauma in that game brought both of those couples closer together. The warmth they shared touched me deeply and I still think about the capacity of people to love even in pain. The fact that love can still exist and even deepen in the face of suffering is probably the most touching reaction to me. I can’t really describe it with any way that does it justice, it’s really something you’d have to see for yourself.
How do you see your place within the queer/lgbtqi+ community?
I don’t think a queer community actually exists. I think there exists in the imagination an idea of a place to belong where you can find love, friendship, belonging, and meaning but I’ve never found that place. The closest that can exist are social events or small groups of friends that pop up, form, and fall apart constantly. My place varies within these friend groups or events but I don’t have a universal role. I founded the Queer Games Bundle with Nilson Carroll and have worked as an organizer on it for three years now, most recently with Caroline Delbert taking over as head organizer. My role within that was to work to promote the creation of queer games by queer artists and help raise funds for them to continue creating their works. I’m probably very good at solving problems or making works that are meaningful and I’m an absolutely dreadful person to invite to a party, queer or not. I think if queer people quit chasing the idea of a universal community or a place to belong they’d be happier. The closest things we can have to communities are the relationships and actions we take with each other.
What does Pride mean to you?
When I was much younger, pride month meant everything to me. At my first pride I had my cheap little pride flag and I was happily waving it when Bank of America's float came up. The employee grabbed my flag and told me “I need this. Here you can have this instead.” She handed me a keychain and before I could react the float had already moved on. I spent the rest of the parade holding a keychain. I never got the flag back. These days I’m a lot more cynical. I view pride as a lie that we all get together, wave our flags, and fall for one of the oldest lies humanity tells itself. The future is bright, injustice will end, and nothing can stop progress from moving forward. Part of why I started doing the queer games bundle was I decided if banks and other corporations could benefit from pride, then why not actual queer people. I hated the corporations and their pride events. Then this year, the alt right took it a step further and started threatening, boycotting, and attacking employees and companies for their pride displays and events. Pride month to me is the month I feel the saddest, cry the most, work the hardest, and see the most fucked up things. I've given up chasing the dream of having a community that can fill the hole in my heart but I still believe that I can have friends, fall in love, and experience some cool things. I hope that despite my despair, that everyone will have a good pride this year and forever.