Thursday, July 14, 2011

So much for "neutrality" within the media...

There was a terrible article posted in the Sudbury Star about a rally yesterday, linked here. The biggest issue I have with it is that they only interviewed the people who were part of the pro-"life" demonstration and didn't interview a single pro-choice activist.

I will write more about the rally itself later, but for now, this article. A group called Show the 'Truth' (I can't write it without putting truth in quotes or something because what they show is far from the truth) sent a bus full of people here to display graphic pictures on the side of a busy road about what they think abortion looks like. We got a small group of pro-choice activists to protest their event. Here are some quotes from the article...

At first, Connell said she thought the pro-choice demonstrators were aggressive, but said they eventually stood quietly.

This quote is entirely misinformed and should never have been published. At first, there was me and one other person there (a third had gone to get coffee). Two of us were holding a pro-choice banner when a busload of anti-choice activists pulled up with their signs and set up around us. We felt somewhat threatened by their presence as they kept closing in on us and squishing us into one particular street corner.

By the time there were about five of us there, they sent a few people to engage us in a debate in which they told us that we were supporting genocide and that by being pro-abortion we were also (obviously) pro-holocaust and we must support apartheid in South Africa as well. They had video cameras in our faces and would not stop recording us, even when we asked them to. We asked them to move away from us and we entirely stopped talking to them, and they just stood in front of us, blocking our sign and saying that they had every right to be there too.

One of the event organizers called the police afterwards, and we were told that if we wanted to protest a rally, we should do so far away from them or not complain about them getting in our personal space or filming us... but we were there first, so that makes no sense.

I'm sorry, but how does a bus load of people feel intimidated by 2 young women?

"There was a girl who got quite worked up," Connell said.

I'm not sure if they are referring to me here when I told them off after they said I supported nazi Germany, or if they are referring to my friend A, who started yelling at a man who was trying to engage one of our protesters in a physical fight, but I can assure you, they were as "worked up" as we were.

Also, can someone explain this one to me please... on the megaphone, they said (and I am paraphrasing... If you knew my glass of water was poisoned, and you let me drink it, would you not be an accomplice to my murder? Well, supporting abortion is like letting someone drink that water......

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My first Toronto Pride

Last weekend, I went to Toronto pride for the first time. It was such an incredible experience... I would like to just mention a few things about it, then relate it to an experience I had yesterday where an acquaintance repeatedly told a homophobic joke even after I pointed out that it was inappropriate.

There was one particular moment at pride that I think I will remember forever. I was watching the parade with my partner and a friend. Towards the beginning of the parade, there were a few groups that made me think about how much things have changed over the past decade. For example, school teachers were marching. Now, I do not recall there being any teachers who were 'out' and able to march in parades at any of the 4 high schools I attended, but I do recall a lot of teachers being made fun of for having non-gender typical traits and called many derogatory names. This was in the late 1990s.

Soon afterwards, there was a group of students representing Catholic high school students' attempts to establish GSAs at their schools, which made me think about how far we have left to go. When these students walked by, one of whom I recognized from a newspaper article, I got quite overwhelmed and actually cried. It made me think about how different my life might have been if I had access to this type of a group when I was a teenager.

I almost cried again when I saw the product placements, but in an entirely different way. There were pink razors being handed out to women from a portable bathtub looking thing that was being pushed by a few people (which reminds me, I was surprised by the fact that I didn't see another pair of unshaven legs on someone I would have identified as female). There were also the TD boys, men in little green underwear that represent the main corporate sponsor. I was intrigued by the lack of half naked females selling things... it seems within the queer community, men take over the role of objectified body. Even outside of advertising, the women whose bodies were not covered with clothing rarely conformed to hegemonic standards of beauty.

There was another aspect of pride that bothered me. By Sunday afternoon, Church Street was littered with garbage. I wish I had taken pictures of the amount of trash on the street. It didn't help that vendors and groups were pushing their leaflets and pamphlets, which were later tossed aside, or that there were relatively few employees emptying trash cans (all people of color that I saw). It just reminded me of kids trashing a house at the end of the night... still, the people were pleasant and the atmosphere was good.

Yesterday, after returning home from Pride, there was an incident that made me wish I were back in that atmosphere again (not the litter, but the more open and accepting environment that I experienced, especially on the Friday, which was referred to as Trans Pride Day). I play on the graduate student baseball team... we are in the lowest division and have never won a game, but it is usually still fun. The other team had a player on third base, and one of my teammates made a comment/joke insinuating that the player enjoyed spending a lot of time on his knees.

The player who this had been said to and the other people on my bench started laughing until I pointed out that it was a somewhat homophobic thing to say (implying that a man performing oral sex on another man is a bad or humorous thing). At this point, the group had stopped laughing and kind of looking around awkwardly, except for the guy who made the joke who repeated it more loudly. A friend of mine on the team walked over to me and started asking me about Pride weekend, I am assuming so that the other people would get the hint and stop speaking that way, which seemed to work for the time being.

When the inning was over and the rest of the players on my team came back to the bench he repeated the joke again, to which I responded something along of the lines of "Nice, tell the homophobic joke in front of the lesbian couple". I am not entirely happy with that wording because it implies that it would be ok to tell the joke if there were no identifiable queer people around, but I just responded without taking too much time to think about it. He shot me a dirty look, but nobody laughed at him this time, I am assuming because they were afraid of offending me.

I also think that it is weird that in some instances, such as this one, I feel compelled to say something about what I consider to be hateful speech. Yet, when people are directing it towards me (see here), I freeze and cannot say anything. Like, on a streetcar returning from Pride events in Toronto, a man was poking me and referred to me to my partner as her 'boyfriend' (even though I am not particularly masculine). Again, I froze... luckily, she knows me well enough to understand when I cannot respond and told him to leave me alone.