I feel especially honoured to serve as guest editor for this issue of the Inclusive Community newsletter given that June is Pride month in Kingston and many other cities around the world. This year will mark Kingston’s 29th annual parade, and the 39th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City that inspired this annual celebration of LGBT resistance and solidarity.
I am one of the many members of the Queen’s community who participate in the smorgasbord of activities put together by teams of dedicated volunteers over the course of the month. Many events are free of charge, and with the Queer Art Show at HARS (HIV/AIDS Regional Services), a Movie in the Square, a Pride Worship Service, a jazz night, and numerous parties and dances, this year's celebration has something on offer for everyone.
The Saturday of Pride (June 16 this year) remains my favourite “holiday” of the year, but as a scholar of queer studies and a participant in a range of progressive political causes, I inevitably feel some ambivalence about this celebration.
Since Kingston is a small and not particularly wealthy town, it has largely avoided the wholesale corporatization of Pride that has befallen larger cities. What was once a politically defiant, brazen, and sassy celebration of LGBTQ politics and communities has, in many cases, become heavily commercialized and mainstreamed.
In Kingston, Pride still has a strong community feel. Here, for instance, the parade features people rather than business sponsors. And official delegations from the police, the military, and corrections—institutions that have too often been a source of oppression and violence towards queer people—have not (yet) become standard features here. Since the early days of Pride, those politics have not just been about LGBTQ issues, but also about supporting and working with other marginalized groups.
It takes a lot of self-education and organizing to keep Kingston Pride as a grassroots, inclusive, and diverse project. We have similar work to do at Queen’s. This has not been an easy year for members of the university community seeking a more just, anti-racist, and non-binary world. But I am grateful to work in academic units where people teach and learn about the dangers that accompany not only glaring threats to positive social transformation, but also the most well-intentioned of movements for change.
So, with a dose of excitement and a dash of skepticism, I wish you all a very happy Pride!
Head, Department of Gender Studies
Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
P.S. Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Director of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, will guest edit next month's edition.