Queer History For The Future

By the authors of Out North: An Archive of Queer Activism and Kinship in Canada (Figure 1 Publications, June 2020), Craig Jennex and Nisha Eswaran

Vancouver Pride—like most Pride festivals across Canada—took on a new form this year. With nearly everything going virtual, there was much lost in us not being able to celebrate the long history of queer resistance in the ways we’re used to. And yet, the current political moment requires us to reckon more deeply with concerns many of us have had for a long time: that late-stage capitalism is depoliticizing queer life and erasing its long history of resistance to the state, to nationalism, to the patriarchy, and to racism and police brutality. The increased corporatization and sanitization of Pride festivals have, for instance, led to the reminders that “pride is political!” and that “the first pride was a riot!”

Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are both revolutionary uprisings against anti-black racism and police brutality and wide-spread efforts to organize for workers’ rights, wealth redistribution, and universal housing and healthcare. Such revolutionary work requires those of us invested in the celebratory nature of Pride to reacquaint ourselves with queer movements that have benefited from and supported anti-racist and anti-capitalist organizing. In Out North, we trace some of these queer movements in Canada as they are documented in the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archive. While we are now in an era of state recognition of gay rights, we ask how solidarity and kinship—of coalitional politics across race, class, and gender—were pivotal to the history of queer organizing in Canada. We hope that by returning to the past—and by better understanding the complex, coalitional history of queer movements—we might look with optimism towards a future in which we need no reminders that Pride is political, bound together with broader fights for a safer, freer, and more socially just future.

You can purchase your copy of Out North: An Archive of Queer Activism and Kinship in Canada here.