Friday, 10 June 2011

Queer the Night: Demo Report

"Are you here somewhere?"

I wasn't - I was running late - but the wording of the text was quite thrilling.

I got there just as the demo was leaving and let the people stream past me. I went backwards and forwards trying to get a handle on the size of the demo. It was more than 500 - too big to count. I did some section counting and my best guess is 600-800 people. It was fucking beautiful.

I saw my friend who had been up to her eyes in organising the demo and told her my estimate (she was expecting it - I'm a little obsessive with demo counting).

"Black, White, Gay, Straight, Love Does Not Discriminate"

"Isn't love the ultimate discrimination - saying that this person is more important than anyone else." Taking chants literally is up there with head-counts as one of my favourite things to do at demos.

"Shut up Maia"

"You've done an amazing job." I give her a hug.

It was a joyous march - you can get a sense of it here:

Two young men had brought along placards designed to insight hate rather than fight it. One said "Iran executes gay people - which side are you on?" the Other "Israel is the most gay-friendly state in the middle east." . Slowly the crowd edged away from them leaving them alone.

Later on someone gave me a flaming torch and I resisted the urge to set their placards on fire ("on careful consideration it would just bring attention to them away from everything awesome" "Yes and they'd also have a burning placard to attack you"). Although having a burning torch and not setting anything on fire is quite difficult, and I had to content myself with lighting people's ciagerettes.

I couldn't hear most of the speeches. I was down the back and megaphones are hard to hear at the best of times.

There were lots of Green party MPs, and Kevin Hague gave what sounded like a good speech. I was surprised about the lack of labour party MPs. When Jordan Carter talked about needing to vote I tried to shout out "Not for parties with MPs who accept that supporting gay rights is hating God." But I couldn't make it work in the moment, so it came out as random labour party sucks rhetoric (it's not that pithy even now).

The most powerful speeches, of course, were of people telling their own stories. Stories of hate, violence, fear - and resistance. Brooklynne's speech spelled out so amazingly how important that resistance was - and the whole event was about collective strength.

There was a girl there in her school uniform. When I was in sixth form the Evening Post printed an article stating we had a lesbian support group in our school (which I don't think even was a lesbian support group). Our principal was on Kim Hill who asked her if she'd allow satanist support group. I didn't do any work in any of my classes the next day, because we just talked about it all the time (what were the conversations even about?). At Queer the Night, those high school kids whose gender and sexuality don't conform with what they're told they should be got such a different message than anything available when I was at school.

It is appalling that Queer the Night is needed, but amazing what the organisers, and everyone there managed to create.

* I have a little bit of a demo counting obsession. I count or try to estimate pretty much every demo I go on.


Anonymous said...

So great to see and hear passionate young faces and voices, on the streets again. Do love the interweb.

We can't change anything without that special energy, that power, and reckless confidence that seems to diminish inevitably with the years. Replaced mostly with fabulous new gifts, I know, but there's also jaded, cynical, staid...

So thanks for that. Recharged, having a good day already.


hinemoana said...

Great post - thank you for writing it, and for the videos. Great chants. Kim Hill fail, btw.


M Johnson said...

Two young men had brought along placards designed to insight hate rather than fight it. One said "Iran executes gay people - which side are you on?" the Other "Israel is the most gay-friendly state in the middle east."

But these are just statements of fact. Iran executes gay teens by hanging them from mobile cranes in front of cheering (male) mobs. Israel is fully gay friendly.

What am I missing here?