What’s the difference between an angry yellow vest and an angry queer or 2SLGBTQ+ person?
There’s no question of that in my mind, or in the minds of most other like-minded people in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, especially when it comes to the recent yellow vest attacks at Hamilton Pride . The question we’re asking is: why are there still people that don’t think so?
People who insist “both sides” have done something wrong. People who insist that if the queer community stopped being so “unreasonable”, there could be a productive discussion in which everything would be resolved. People who sigh with a sort of martyred world-weariness as they ask: “why can’t we all just get along?”
Countless Twitter posts and opinion pieces have been made touting those views, particularly by heterosexual individuals who don’t have our community’s lived experience. People who don’t understand this struggle, who just want things to be “peaceful”.
Has anyone ever considered that we are the ones who would very much like “peaceful”?
I, for one, would love the peace to celebrate my bisexuality in the park, proudly wearing as much blue, pink and purple as I could possibly fit on my body. There is nothing I would have liked more than to go to Pride Hamilton without fearing attack by religious extremists. Or to go to the “Hamilton for who?” rally without feeling my stomach drop as I read the words “Yellow Vest meetup point” written in chalk on the pavement just outside the bounds of the event space.
I’d love to walk around downtown Hamilton now without worrying about the yellow vest demonstrations at City Hall. Without wondering if, somehow, this will be the day the wrong person will sense that I am a queer woman. Without tensing my entire body every time I see a flash of neon yellow out of the corner of my eye.
The ones who don’t want things to be “peaceful” are the right wing extremists who attacked Hamilton Pride unprovoked. I don’t approve at all of the word “protest” in this context; that connects this group far too closely with legitimate community organizers trying to raise awareness for LGBTQ+, feminist, and environmental issues, among others. No, it was an attack, and so it should always be called.
More specifically it was an attack by a group that is anti-Semitic, anti-2SLGBTQ+, and Islamophobic, among other things. An angry queer or 2SLGBTQ+ person is angry because their right to celebrate their identity has been violated, and public institutions have been incredibly insufficient in protecting it. An angry yellow vest is angry because members of marginalized communities they hate dare to exist in public spaces.
Equating these two groups in their anger, especially in Hamilton right now, is harmful beyond belief. And no, the 2SLGBTQ+ community will not be “getting along” with people that consider it their “right” to attack them at their own celebration.
Furthermore, opening oneself to “reasonable” diplomacy is not the way to go. Hate groups do not act in good faith. They cannot be “reasoned” with. And if the community has to take a hard stance when the alternative is politely standing still to be hit with helmets, so be it.
Many of those who use these “both sides” arguments do not, or do not choose to, understand the social context behind these two different types of anger. It’s easy to not understand when it poses no direct threat to one’s daily life or existence. It’s easy to think of this as a homogenous “disturbance” when one doesn’t understand the demands these two sides are making.
The extremists want the 2SLGBTQ+ and queer communities to stop existing publicly and to live in fear.
The queer/2SLGBGTQ+ community would very much like to hold a Pride event in the park (which quite a few children and teens were at, by the way) without wondering if they’re going to make it home safely. Something that they currently cannot do.
I, for one, think the difference is as clear as crystal.