What Does Queer Resistance Look Like in 2020?

The theme for CBRC’s Summit 2020 is Resistance and Responsibility. Over the course of three days (November 4-6), we’ll be asking some important questions. Among them: How can we resist harmful, persistent disparities to create systems that look after everyone? Who – within our community, research, and health care organizations – is responsible for driving that change? And what does queer resistance look like in 2020?

To kick things off, we asked this year’s Keynote Speakers to tackle that last question.

Queer resistance looks like culturally sustaining, life enhancing, and structurally transformative practices in healthcare and education. Queer resistance is the practice of refusal. Young people are refusing racism, colonialism, economic, and environmental injustice. Young people’s organizing is also an affirmation of liberation, sovereignty, sanctuary, and sustainability. Queer resistance is refusing to be singularly defined by action against, but also action for. Indigenous young people are working from the ground up–the land, the water, and all of our relations–organizing and working together for a more inclusive, equitable and just future in healthcare, education, and social services.”

Jeffrey Ansloos

Jeffrey Ansloos, Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto (Plenary: Promoting Two-Spirit Health and Wellbeing: A Conversation with Two-Spirit Youth Leaders)

“Queer resistance is a vital force. Resistance is what enables us to actualize our very means to our survival as queers. Much of queer life is lived under constant threat of state intervention, surveillance, coercion and force, from police and public health institutions. We are over-policed, and over-surveilled, but rarely protected. Under the logic of policing and public health, the beautiful complexities of queer life are reduced to a thin risk calculus, where we are only conceived of as a problem to be managed, a risk to mitigated. Resistance to these forces is vital to our survival, and vital to realizing a life of flourishing for queers outside of oppressive state structures. Queer resistance helps us in moving beyond merely existing as queer, to flourishing as queer. This happens when do have the means to access and realize our own futures, our own safety, and our own autonomy.”

Alexander McClelland

Alexander McClelland, Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice (ICCJ), Carleton University​ (Plenary: Resistance to the Ongoing Criminalization of Communicable Disease Across Canada)

“Queer resistance is and has been rooted in Black trans liberation practices and disability justice from day one, despite the attempts to whitewash this history. I trace my lineage of queer resistance to Black queer and trans Mad Deaf and disabled heroes such as Marsha P. Johnson and Storm Delaverie and I honour their work and legacy… We are in the middle of a revolution in our consciousness as people turn towards abolition. We are also in the fight for our lives: Black people are being killed by police everywhere, there is an ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous communities being supported by the RCMP, and disabled, Deaf and Mad people are being targeted by the police at alarming rates. Queer resistance based in abolitionist thought is a way forward that could make the world freer for all of us. Until we are free!"

Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware, School of the Arts, McMaster University (Plenary: Activism as Speculative Fiction: Making Change for the Future)

“Queer resistance is how we confront yet another pandemic that unfairly impacts our communities. It is how we turn to each other to ask for the help we need and to offer the help we can. For some of us, it’s learning more about our privilege within our communities, and saying no to perpetuating persistent inequities. For all of us, it’s looking both within and outside our communities to reveal and redress unjust power imbalances in institutions, policies, programs, services, and social interactions. We do this together, through our everyday acts as well as through our community organizing.”

Nathan Lachowsky

Nathan Lachowsky, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria (Plenary: Making Visible the Impacts of COVID-19 on our Communities)

“Queer resistance means looking to our collective past and centering the voices that have consistently been pushed to the margins. All too often (and often despite our best intentions), we don’t challenge the oppressive dynamics that exist within our community spaces. This is work that all of us have a shared responsibility to engage with: we need to create community spaces that are inclusive to all. By centering the voices of Black and Indigenous folks of colour in our movements, we truly embody Angela Davis’ call to always attempt to lift as we climb.”

Vincent Mousseau

Vincent Mousseau, Public Speaker, Workshop Facilitator (Plenary: Dare to Challenge: Turning our Radical Roots to Address Racial Inclusion)

“To me queer resistance is simply being. Being here, being vocal, sharing our stories and being heard. I believe that queer resistance is not passive or hostile—it is direct. Being at this Summit, taking part in the conversations that challenge heterosexism and the binary is queer resistance. In my opinion, having the privilege of listening to the personal teachings from others is the best way to learn and resist that of which is forced upon us. I feel, I know, I wear all my stories. All my teachings. These need to be valued.”

Jessy Dame

Jessy Dame, CBRC’s Two-Spirit Program Manager (Opening Plenary: Resistance and Resilience Through Culture: Building a Two-Spirit Longhouse)


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About CBRC

Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) promotes the health of people of diverse sexualities and genders through research and intervention development.
What Does Queer Resistance Look Like in 2020?
What Does Queer Resistance Look Like in 2020?
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