By Kristin Archer

I’ve been following the events since Hamilton’s Pride as closely as I can – thank you to the local LGBTQ+ community and its allies who are being so vigilant and vocal, for helping me learn more and keep me alert. I encourage you to follow and elevate the voices of those who are working so hard to keep us informed, and to stay up to date. I thought my role was best suited to listening and elevating those voices, but I want to make sure I throw whatever weight I have behind this cause in solidarity. (If you haven’t been following what is happening – head down to the end of this post for some suggested reading.)

I posted two photos from attending Hamilton’s Pride event in Gage Park on June 15. One, posing with friends in front of a pair of wings painted in the LGBTQ+ flag colours, saying what a beautiful day it was and that I was so grateful to feel the amazing energy from so many friendly folks, kids, families, and cute dogs enjoying the day. The other photo (which has since been picked up more than once by CBC Hamilton and received more traction than any tweet of mine that I can remember), had a much different caption: Blocking out a disgusting display of hatred at #hamont Pride. Love is louder always. Both photos and experiences were true for me, but as Cameron Kroetsch reminds us in yesterday’s op-ed in CBC Hamilton: “Yes, Pride was a wonderful celebration enjoyed by thousands of people but that’s not the story that needs to be told right now.”

I started I Heart Hamilton in 2011 with the mantra, “be a tourist in your own city,” with a few goals in mind: become re-invested in my hometown, explore the city with fresh eyes, get outside my comfort zone and try new things, and encourage others to do the same, wherever they may be. Hamilton has changed a lot even in those eight years, and it was fun to be part of a wave where Hamilton’s arts & culture scene hit a moment where things were burgeoning and being recognized, locally and beyond.

But how can anyone continue boosting Hamilton, myself included, and the fun things we have here, when it clearly isn’t a safe and welcoming space for everyone? I am mortified at the violence and hatred that occurred at my hometown’s Pride event on June 15 in Gage Park and everything that has transpired since then. I feel enraged, disheartened, disillusioned as things keep getting worse in response to it. What good is the hashtag #HamiltonForAll when we aren’t actively being shown by most leaders of this city what that means?

As Cameron Kroetsch also said when sharing his op-ed: “There’s only one side in this, let’s all get on it.” And my friend Kojo Damptey also reminded me via Twitter: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – MLK.” If you love this city, you can’t let this stand. We all need to do better.

Further reading:

Support Speqtrum Hamilton
Youth founded and youth run organization, created out of our own love and need for community in Hamilton. Skillsharing and meetup opportunities for queer and trans (LGBTQ2SIA+) young people age 17-29.

Community over hate: We must all stand up for our shared values by Cameron Kroetsch, CBC Hamilton
We have no choice but to find ways, uncomfortable or not, to come together as a community and stand up against this hatred in our city. Part of that means that our leaders must acknowledge where they have failed to protect us and to hold those responsible accountable.

An Open Letter to Mayor Fred Eisenberger by Dakota Lanktree, Raise the Hammer
It has been 50 years since Pride began. And that makes me cry, because, we really, really still need it. You see, the peaceful manner in which it happens belies the fact that Pride was born of protest against a corrupt police force that was abusing Trans* and Queer folks.

Mayor’s Response to Pride Day Violence is Disturbing by Graham Crawford, Raise the Hammer
I know he wasn’t present at the Pride Day festivities, but his response to the well-documented violence (statements and videos) this past Pride Day was both late in coming, and utterly generic when it did come. In fact, his statement was essentially a re-tread of a statement he made about anti-LGBTQ+ violence in 2018, promising to take actions then to ensure it never happened again.

Cedar Hopperton is on a hunger strike in jail, supporters say by Samantha Craggs, CBC Hamilton
[Matthew] Green [a former city councillor who is now a federal NDP candidate for Hamilton Centre] said authorities let violence by alt-right groups happen twice. “We now have two consecutive events in which two individuals, with two people videotaping, targeted and attacked vulnerable queer folk at Pride events. They are unprovoked, they are planned, they are coordinated and they are video recorded on social media.”

Pride 2019 Part 3 — Cops and Nazis, Hungover Pundit
I’ve been trying to find a way to end this on a positive note because frankly, this has been a massively demoralizing week for a lot of people in the LGBTQ community in Hamilton and the Niagara. And the only thing I can find to put a silver lining on this dark cloud is that word: Solidarity. People are coming together to challenge this injustice.

Official statement from Hamilton District & Labour Council
You have criminalized participation in PRIDE. Such an action not only validates Pride Hamilton’s decision to have your officers at a distance, but provides evidence of the threat that they present to the LGBTQ2SI communities.

Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ Experiences in Hamilton: Needs Assessment Survey
The LGBTQ+ Needs Assessment Survey has been the result of years of grassroots, volunteer community organizing and was developed and implemented through extensive consultation of our diverse communities and with support from McMaster University and The AIDS Network. With over 900 survey respondents, it is our hope that this fulsome and detailed data will be used to help improve the lives of Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ people who live, work and play in Hamilton Ontario.

kristin
ihearthamiltontour@gmail.com
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing an influential social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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