Commentary  Sit-ins are so last century

Re: “Queering Montreal” | Commentary | September 24

I was disturbed by the violent attitude that permeated Adam Wheeler’s Hyde Park last week.

I could not help but imagine myself, with a cohort of my chalkie friends, “recontextualizing” Club Choices, 1815 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, in a guerrilla whiting operation. What sort of reaction would we receive? In fists or in words, it would be angry. The response to a queer group storming a “hetero-bar” would be quite similar, I think. In either case, social differences would aggravate the ensuing situation.

But “power dynamics and oppressions” do not change the violence inherent to the action. The act of storming a space, however “political,” is aggressive. Thus it is not surprising that Wheeler’s call to action was couched in the language of war. What is jarring is the imprecision and brutality evident in his justification of this “war,” coldly and uncompromisingly divided into the side of the “deviants” and the side of the “moral masses,” the faceless, voiceless, unequivocally evil “them.” I hope that Queer McGill’s participants were able to explain the “need to keep challenging bars, restaurants, and venues” to the targeted masses of moral patrons, because Wheeler did not.

“Who are these people? And why are they bothering me at a bar?” Consider yourself interrupted over a drink, on a date, during a dance, wherever, by the surprise recontextualization of your surroundings. Your feelings on power dynamics, your complicity with oppressions, or whatever, would not be the primary source of your irritation. We must consider the genderless, raceless, sexless, apolitical significance of our ideological aggression, whatever its end purpose. There may be a “better way to challenge them than by bringing in a host of queers for a pervy party!”

Mike Prebil
U2 History