Boycotting the Queers: punk space and/or safe space in Ottawa

Presented at: McGill Queer Research Colloquium

Abstract: A public petition to keep the Queers out of Ottawa is not a news story you expect in 2016. Of course, in this story, the Queers are a touring US punk band from the early 80s and the petition was started by Babely Shades, a collective of artists and activists of colour and marginalized genders. In response to the claims that the show and the band reinforced homophobia and racism in the Ottawa punk scene, the show was cancelled but soon rebooked as a benefit concert for local LGBTQ youth. The story was further complicated when a member of the local opening band Shootin’ Blanx publicly came out as a “proud trans man” in defense of the Queers. Ottawa’s punk scene was left uncertain of what it would mean either to attend or not attend the otherwise highly anticipated show. This paper looks to this incident and surrounding media coverage as a preliminary attempt to disentangle some of the many complex relationships and expressions of resistance, marginal group politics, and counter-public space in Ottawa.

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