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.

Advertisements

A queer queer street? Reading Ottawa’s Le/The Village

Presented at: Queer Research Colloquium 2016, McGill University. Montreal QC.

Abstract: In 2011, “Ottawa’s main street” was officially recognized and rebranded as “The/Le Village”. Discretely marked by a few placards, rainbow stickers, and handful of LGBTQ services, the six blocks of “Le/The Village” is strangely integrated into the landscape of the urban business core. Queer geographies provide important perspectives on how the gay village has become a normalized typology while also disrupting norms and providing important spaces of difference. “The/Le Village” reveals the tension between the physical and symbolic need for spaces of belonging, and the mainstreaming—in this case mainstreeting—of marginalized identity through territorial delineations and visible markers. This paper interrogates histories and analyses of the “traditional gay village” through a reading of both the visible urban landscape and media narratives of “Le/The Village” and the ways in which it conforms and deviates from a queerly normative typology.