Toronto - People in Ontario, Toronto, and the rest of Canada have been fighting for human rights within the LGBTQ community, and in the past 30 years we have seen state-repression of queer/trans people de-escalate while certain protections for these communities have come into place. Many of these LGBTQ activists in this city have been coloured folk and women and trans folks also involved with global campaigns against apartheid, war, and occupations. We have seen how the politicization of an identity politics has opened the doors for many people to organize beyond the scope of their personal struggle and work in solidarity with other oppressed peoples. The history of radical LGBTQ organizing in Canada is vast, rich, colored and inspiring.
Many of us queer and trans people understand the limitations the mainstream lesbian and gay movement in that it focuses solely on citizenship rights. The danger lies in its use to exclude rights to certain groups of people, its connection to capital-accumulation based on theft, imperial wars and environmental degradation. Queeriot 2012 organizers understand that the way the lesbian and gay rights movement is going isn't going to make poor, undocumented, black, indigenous or non-status queer/trans people safer any time soon if we are only talking about inclusion of rights already reserved for a very select few.
Queer and trans people in the city of Toronto are organizing against government cuts to social services, to gain more affordable housing, for harm-reduction services, against environmental degradation and alongside indigenous sovereignty work. Many of these queer/trans people work to end discrimination and oppression that the state upholds, so queers work educating and uncovering the ways governments are hurting our communities and one another.
Queeriot Toronto was envisioned as a celebration of radical anti-capitalist queer/trans organizing in our city, and an opportunity for networking and building stronger relationships between anti-capitalist politics and queer radical organizing. Every Queeriot collective organizer is a community organizer in various niches in the city. Organizers came together in our collective desire to showcase how the city of Toronto's queer and trans community continues to find creative ways to the oppression, discrimination and violence we still face.
Stemming from two previous Queeriot convergences in 2010 and 2011, Queeriot Toronto focused on bringing together folks already working for change and against the advancement of the current socio-political suicide that capitalism has become. From August 31 to September 2, dozens of queer and trans folks gathered at the Bahen Centre at the University of Toronto and attended workshops that included topics like consent, radical sexual health, sex work in queer communities, healing and desirability. The convergence allowed queers to discuss the intersections of anti-racism, disability justice and radical organizing with queer and trans struggles. Most importantly, discussions around bridging the gaps between queer politics and the exploitation of the hetero-capitalist system.
Folks who came to workshops were diverse in ages, races, class and abilities. Queeriot attendees encountered a great need for radical queer/trans organizing and support in our city, one that takes people's struggles seriously and in where marginalized people's resilience is honoured and respected.
Queeriot Toronto organizers hope to bring an anti-capitalist analysis to queer/trans politics to the table and to allow people to organize within this framework freely, safely and with the support of our communities of struggle.
Rocio Velasquez is an organizer for Queeriot 2012. Contact Queeriot folks at queeriotTO@gmail.com.