Queering spaces is not inherently a violent action. Although it requires going against the heterosexist grain and may cause some surprise, the only people who will feel any real discomfort are those homo- or trans-phobic enough to be upset by queers in any context. We have the right to go, like anyone else, into a bar and be ourselves. If a group of queers enters a space and someone were to find themselves “interrupted over a drink, on a date, [or] during a dance” and upset to the point that there might be a response “in fists or words,” then that violence is the problem, and is not our fault in the slightest.
It is this very violence – stemming at times from sentiments as mild as “Who are these people? And why are they bothering me at a bar?” and at other times from more virulently hateful opinions or ideologies – that is the real issue. The event last Thursday was held at Peel Pub, historically a gay bar pre-gentrification – and the site of a violent gay-bashing incident a few years back. Violence directed at queers drives our communities to congregate in spaces like the Village and prevents us from accessing spaces like Peel Pub when we feel so inclined.
The analogy likening a guerilla gay bar takeover to “’recontextualizing Club Choices…in a guerilla whiting operation” is incorrect. When oppressed communities create spaces, it is to protect themselves from hegemonic and otherwise omnipresent violence or hate. Thus, the “normalization” of these spaces poses a very real threat. In the case of “chalkies” who choose to enter such a space to try and deprive people of colour of their own space, the power dynamic is inverted. And that’s violence of another sort – racism.
The next Guerilla Gay Bar will be on October 19, so stay tuned!
Queer McGill Political Action co-ordinator