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Stonewall TO marks 41 years

Stonewall TO marks 41 years

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Organizers want queers to continue demonstrating with 'bravery'
On Sunday, June 26, Toronto queers will show their pride a little earlier than anticipated.

Organizers of a grassroots march called Stonewall TO will meet at Queen’s Park at noon and take to the streets, marching to the 519 Church Street Community Centre. They’ll be paying homage to the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, which spearheaded the gay liberation movement.

For Sasha Van Bon Bon, an organizer and representative of the event, it’s a time to question the changes in queer culture often hastily labelled as progress. With the city’s ongoing threats to pull funding from Pride Toronto this year and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’s (QuAIA) self-removal from the 2011 parade, Van Bon Bon says she felt it was important to showcase a more political Pride.

“I was watching a lot of the things going on with the city threatening to pull funding because of QuAIA and QuAIA very quietly dropping off,” she says.

Van Bon Bon is concerned that when queer people partner with corporations or governments they are forced to compromise with people who have an agenda that is incompatible with queer liberation.

“From the point of view as a sex worker, it might be QuAIA on the chopping block at the moment... but sex workers won’t be far behind.”

“Pride was always about who we sleep with,” Van Bon Bon says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to kick them [corporations and government] out of bed and get back to community organizing…we are so brilliant and so capable of doing that on our own.”

But Stonewall TO isn’t just about defending QUAIA. It’s a march that, according to Stonewall’s Facebook group, seeks to “celebrate queer liberation in all its variances” and “break the city and corporate stronghold.”

The march will begin at Queen’s Park and end at The 519, where protesters will converge with an event called Back to Our Roots, described as “a day of dancing, performance, art making, mobilizing and activism,” according to a press release.

The event will happen five days before Pride weekend, leading many to identify it as a protest against the corporate parade and tourism event of Toronto Pride. But for Van Bon Bon, Stonewall TO “is not an alternative to Pride.” She’s quick to say that the Stonewall riots, spontaneous actions against police brutality directed at queer communities, had little in common with government-funded Pride parades of today. “What Pride has turned into does not speak to the experience of the vast majority of queers,” she says.

She points to the success of last year’s grassroots Take Back the Dyke event.

“It was completely community driven,” she says. The event eschewed police presence in favour of volunteer medics and marshals. Organizers put in $500 of their own money, which was quickly returned through selling baked goods.

“Why do you need a budget to march down the street?”

Francisco Alvarez, of Pride Toronto, says that protests like Stonewall TO are “welcome” in Toronto.

“Pride is not just the official event,” Alvarez says. “Commemorating Stonewall is a really great thing to do, and we absolutely support people’s right to… demonstrate however they want.”

Comments

This shit...
only happens in Toronto. What is it about our city that causes this? Why is it that we are the epicentre of political correctness in the universe. Not that political correctness is necessarily such a bad thing, but why have we raised it to such an exquisitely quivering level of correctitude. Google LGBTTIQQ2SA and you'll see that only in Toronto is it taken seriously. But seriously, what is it about Toronto?
Queer
I personally ONLY identify as queer. As a woman who is attracted to other women and men and all sorts of trans folks I find that it fits my identity quite well. I often speak of myself as belonging to a group of "queer women", referring to all those women who are attracted to other women in some way (regardless of whether they are also attracted to men or those who fall somewhere in between or outside of the gender spectrum).
confusion
I personally don't understand why gay/queer society across the Western world fixates on Stonewall, inflating its significance, mythologizing it, and usually politicizing it. I'm not saying it wasn't signficant or that it didn't happen, but it's become more like the Christmas Story, or saying that Christopher Columbus Discovered America. It means different things to different people, used for this or that. What really puzzles me is why in Canada we snooze through dates like February 6th (1981) and June 10th (2003) - look 'em up - but we hear some variation of the Stonewall story at least once a year. This year it's an anti-establishment pride demonstration, or something like that. Maybe next year it will be on American Apparell T-Shirts.
so many defs of queers so much obfuscation
michel, Your naivity is noted.
lengthy definitions
My quote comes directly from a Dr. C.J. Nash, associate professor Brock University, geography department. I found lenghter explantions and denials of other peoples input, puts one right back into the whole ball of wax of LGBTTIQQ2SA' (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited, Allies)I am comfortable with Nash's explantion of the word Queer.
Yes but
If I think about it, no one I know uses the term "queer", either to refer to himself or to refer to the gay community as a whole. I don't think I've ever heard anyone use the term in speech in that sense. It's just odd that some Xtra journalists (to use the term loosely) use it so often and in the way they do, as if everyone used it.
How does Sasha define queer?
When Sasha Van Bon Bon says “What Pride has turned into does not speak to the experience of the vast majority of queers,” I assume she considers queer to mean a subset of the larger LGBT community consisting of left-wing activists who deeply resent LBGT people who don't agree with them.
queer is not gay -- 101
You are both wrong in your meaning of Queer. The first person still thinks of queer as in its original meaning of dirty old cocksucker -- the epithet meaning, which many of us have now reclaimed like lesbians did with dyke. The second meaning is the false bullshit that is spread as truth to school kids and other Kumbaya we are all one desexed alphabet soup. Queer is a political stance about many issues that form an ideology -- some homosexual people are part of this but most are not. The ideology of Queer is no different than any other political or religious group in that uniformity of belief in the total package of Queer is the only requirement for inclusion. BUT one must adhere to it religiously -- all or nothing. Cult like in its grasp, Queer is the current incarnation of the confluence of many causes and peoples now united under one catechism. Queer no more represents homosexuals or gays and lesbians than does the term leftist or progressive or Roman Catholic. It is a politic. See the article on this site about the Toronto Pride art show that is so queer all the artists are straight! But they are Queer. Meaning politically aligned to the concept of political Queer with NOTHING to do with gay or lesbian or homosexual. Also one mistake that femme and michel made -- the umbrella letters are NOT variations of gay or lesbian or homosexuals. Indeed they have nothing to do with homosexuality often at all. You all need to read Queer Theory and Gender Theory and the new Transqueer Manifestos to understand why Queer is NOT GAY!
The meaning of Queer
Queer is an umbrella terms designed to be inclusive of a broad range of self-identifications. Within the gay and lesbian community, there are those who identify as bisexual, transsexual or transgender as well as those who do not want a label at all. Rather than use the more cumbersome acronym LGBTTIQQ2SA' (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited, Allies), we find the word 'Queer' to be a more inclusive term for sexual minorities and simpler. The term 'Queer' is also used by a number of organizations for this reason and is well-recognized."
Because
I guess the term queer has become more popular as the younger, various, community members share their voices and begin to take the lead in pushing for rights. Myself I don't mind queer as it's more inclusive and quicker to say that then list all the various TT2ILBG etc members

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