R Conrad

Queer & Trans Activists Proclaim: 'No Future in Capitalism' at Montreal Pride

Filed By R Conrad | August 25, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: anti-capitalist, Montreal, Pink Bloc, Quebec

anti_bloc_8.jpg An autonomous, self-organized group of more than twenty-five raucous queer and trans activists took to the streets during Montreal's annual Pride Parade to voice their opposition to business as usual in Quebec, Canada, and the world.

Playing off Pride's futuristic year 3011 theme, this rag-tag, post-apocalyptic girl gang angrily proclaimed there is "no future in capitalism" while tearing up Viagra/Pfizer advertisements along the parade route, chanting "No One Is Illegal!" / "Harper You Suck, But Do You Swallow?!?", and leafleting the crowd. The sassy flyer outlines how the current economic, political and social climate, as well as shifts in global capitalism, compounded by heterosexism, patriarchy, and racism, are endangering queer and trans communities as well as those of people throughout the world.

More photos and details from the leaflet after the jump.

From Harper to Charest, the austerity measures affect us all:

  • Social safety nets are being dismantled. The public health care system is under attack. University tuition is being doubled.

  • Canadian companies act with impunity overseas, plundering natural resources and violating human rights. Meanwhile we occupy a foreign nation and continue to sign more "free" trade agreements that privilege corporate interests over working people.

  • Political dissent is being criminalized. Prisons are expanding. And the government responds to social problems with more and longer sentences.

  • Lands are being drilled for oil and shale gas, threatening our ecosystems and rural communities. Le Plan Nord speeds up the colonization and exploitation of indigenous people and lands.

  • The organizations that are the front-line defense for marginalized communities, be they feminist, legal, or cultural, are being defunded in a thinly veiled attempt reverse fifty years of advancing economic, cultural and social rights.

anti_bloc_10.jpgAs queer and trans folks we should know better than most the importance of community resistance in the face of government attacks and corporate opportunism. We know the damage that results from negligence and lack of social programs. We know the importance of getting out into the streets protesting, speaking with our neighbors, getting involved in our communities, and becoming conscientious objectors in sequins and binders, in high heels and leather boots.

Montreal's Pride Parade started as a response to police violence and impunity. As a collective voice of a community who had had enough bashing, homophobia, marginalization and criminalization. Who were taking a stand to defend their way of life that was under attack. And it can be again. C'mon Mary. Once more with feeling!

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'heterosexism, patriarchy, and racism, are endangering queer and trans communities'
That's OK as far as it goes, but I'll be a lot happier when LGBT start to include aces like me, instead of consistently voting not to recognise my sexuality.
Every time I read an article like this about a queer v straight protest, I feel like a homeless person.

it would be great if you could clarify what you're talking about because i really can't follow the logic of your comment.

Hey Ryan! I am not an asexual and so I don't want appropriate or claim to speak for their community, but I am aware of some of the issues involved so I can try and jump in and clarify a bit:

I think there are sort of two intersecting issues. One is that, in a broad sense a lot of asexuals feel marginalised/difficult being open in the queer community. As a sexual minority, asexual people are members of the queer community, obviously, but then lack of visibility in queer discourse can make that membership feel kind of secondary.

I think also there is a more specific issue that the poster is talking about, in that heteroromantic asexuals can often feel left out of a queer discourse that construes our struggle as being against majority that is in heterosexual/normative relationships. Being in queer opposite-gender relationships can sometimes leave one feeling without any connection to the community, and I think maybe this is what Mike was saying about feeling homeless when things are framed as 'gay vs. straight,' although to be fair I am not sure that I see the march intervention as being framed in that rigid a manner.

Anyway, like I said I am not asexual, so I could be mistaken in my comments here. Perhaps the original commenter will clarify or dispute with my remarks. Just wanted to shed any light that I am able to shed!

Ah, "aces" = "asexuals" - okay, now Chitown's comment is a bit clearer (thanks to Alex below). That being said: I didn't see this as in any way a "queer vs. straight" protest. Rather, it's a queers vs. capitalism protest, is it not?

Could you clarify your point in relation to that issue, of a queer critique of capitalism?

ditto what yasmin said. the the street intervention was not "queer vs. straight" nor does this article suggest such an attitude was taken. still waiting to actually hear what the issue is in clear, concrete terms.

aces is new vocab for me, thanks alex for the clarification!

I am against capitalism. In fact, I am much more involved in environmental/rural/anti-capitalist (yes, all that) movements than in "LGBT".

Yet, I respect gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people too much to use their march to advance other causes. I don't believe in forced recruitment.

A lesbian (etc) had as much right to be capitalist as any heterosexual. I think she would be wrong, and I would challenge her on that, but never use her sexuality in the discussion.

Just for curiosity: Weren't gay men, and transmen, in that march? Why the reference to girl gang?

hey yall. the girl gang reference is here because the theme of the anti-capitalist bloc was "post-apocalyptic girl gang" as decided upon after numerous meetings where consensus was reached by planners/participants. think tank girl if you need a pop culture reference.

and we can all play the part of girl gang members regardless of our assigned sex or gender presentations in our daily lives. it was a performantive street intervention honey! a chance to play with gender, dress up, have fun, and cause a mild ruckus!

I, too, am curious about the use of the phrase "girl gang" in this article. As a queer-identified men, my politics are much in line with anti-capitalist political movements, which are more encompassing of the intersection of racism, poverty, health care, etc. that are, of course, overlapping.

So this label as a "girl gang" seems a little exclusive. Is this label reflective of the fact that all of these particular marchers were female-identified or is there something else going on?

Thanks for the update, Conrad. While I'm not as passionately anti-capitalist as you are, I think you and the "girl gang" are bringing up important points. The thing that concerns me is the underlying assumption that we can produce and consume our way out of this economic mess. Turning the means of production over to the workers is part of the solution, but to what end? We'll still be turning out millions of widgets that we don't really *need*. When it comes down to it, we're asking people to change the way they live.

How can we convince people that doing more with less leads to an increased standard of living? Part of it includes translating "doing more" into living a more fulfilling life and "with less" into sustainable impact. If we do that we can, "beat [our] swords into plowshares and turn prisons into classrooms and hosptials.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 25, 2011 3:21 PM

That certainly looks like a fun way for an "autonomous, self-organized group of more than twenty-five raucous queer and trans activists" to spend a nice afternoon. (Generally "more than X" means "X plus 1", but who is counting anyway?)

It is certainly fair game to rile against the clear excesses of capitalism, or for any economic system or philosophy, for that matter. Anti-this, and anti-that is easy. The hard part is describing a system that works better, and that's not achieved by enumerating objectives like "legally outlawing poverty", as one very frequent commenter on this blog frequently does.

What's the group's detailed and long range plan? Over 30 "raucus-and-then-some" participants on a 2012 afternoon?

Indeed, Don -- "outlawing poverty" requires "mandating productivity" ... and our economy, and more generally the world we live in, cannot even do an efficient and effective job at matching able and eager workers with productive opportunities. Clearly, one part of the capitalist system that is not working right now is the employment/labor aspect.

Moreover, "mandating productivity" involves "outlawing laziness" ... and selfishly, I'm glad that law is not on the books, because just between you and me, this afternoon I would be Public Enemy No. 1.

(So far, my productivity ratio is one comment on Bilerico for every 90 minutes napping.)

Chitown Kev | August 25, 2011 5:44 PM


(But don't asexuals fall under the "queer" umbrella?)

Chitown Kev | August 25, 2011 5:45 PM

this was meat for R. Conrad

Oh, Kev ... I bet it was meat for a lot of us!

Chitown Kev | August 25, 2011 10:41 PM

"meat" s/b "meant"

damn typos

I know your comment is directed at Ryan, but I'm trying to understand your reference to "asexuals." What part of his post is that directed at? Is it used somewhere in one of the links? I'm really just not clear on this. Where do you see the word "asexual"? What am I missing?

to clarify again, as being someome who particpated in the demonstration, and as an co-organizer of pervers/cité which this demo took part of ( a radical queer festival based in montreal which reared is head for the 5th year this summer... perverscite.org ) this demonstration was not about identity politics at its core. It was not about pitting gay, straight, queer folks against eachother, or about everyone in the group identifying as gurls. it was more about producing a creative intervention to the idea that in 3011 everything is going to be fun and funky. It seemed to me a huge reason of why jumping in the parade was so important was a matter of represnetation. The parade was dominated overwhelmingly by coprporate floats advertizing their pharmaceuticals, and credit cards and corporate entities, which for all of the reasons that Conrad so elequently explained in this article we stand to create an aternative to. So as a group that sees the future of the system we are presently in more closely related to something out of a derek jarman film, or an octavia butler novel, instead of the jetsons, we collectively chose a theme that worked for the people involved and the context in which we were protesting. We have a vision for something different and we wanted to have that heard.
to respond to Don: pervers cité and most of the people whom attend the events are part of a pretty dynamic and active queer activist community in montreal, who organize many events throughout the year. So hopefully by 2012 we'll have learned from certain mistakes, grown in strength and be just as fierce!