THE QUEER CITY
Dr. Catherine Nash has said that the “post-mo,” that’s post-modern, “generation is less interested in (or does not frequent as often), Toronto’s traditional gay Village and is utilizing alternative urban spaces in ways that rework the gendered and sexualized meanings of those locations and suggests transformative processes are underway for LGBT social, political and economic life in Toronto.” As we, here at the School of Cities, know from our everyday work, Toronto is rapidly changing, for better and for worse. The lessons of shifting queer lifeforms that work across the city are often unseen and we hope to learn more about the implications of this for the city today, and how this can be mobilized to better urbanism today.
Last summer, guest host and project coordinator of Cities Unmasked Thomas Elias Siddall conducted fieldwork in Beijing where they explored the effects of gentrification on transboundary migration inside queer communities and spaces. They noticed an anglo dominance of Chinese queer spaces, one that shifted the meanings of queerness; a lesson they learned was that diverse queer experiences means that the way we come to celebrate queerness in our cities should reflect diversity but not essentialize it. At the same time, the ways that queer communities organize and preserve themselves amidst powerful forces teach us a lesson about building their communities. In Beijing, amidst the difficulty in accessing antiviral medications, communities work together to ensure that these drugs make their way to people in need. In Toronto, communities and mutual aid organizations, organized online and in neighbourhoods, are working through the pandemic to ensure the material resources needed for survival are there when there is financial difficulty and resource poverty, and denial and erasure of peoples' needs. Simply, $2000 a month is not enough for many people in this expensive city, and so we seriously need to reevaluate our relationship to the city in order to build it better and to build it in a way that is responsive. That’s an imaginative, creative and queer process, and it will always begin with people.
Today, our guests will speak about and highlight their work, experiences, and/or ideas as lessons to enable better city building and we hope to begin a conversation about why queer work matters for urbanism. Now we would like to introduce our guests;