Marvelous Grounds: Queer of Colour Formations in Toronto

Jin Haritaworn, Nadia Kanani, Ghaida Moussa, Rio Rodriguez, and Syrus Marcus Ware

Friday 20 Novembermarvelous
3 to 5 pm
University College, Room 179
A reception follows this event – all are welcome!

This roundtable intervenes in dominant paradigms of space that map queer spaces as white and middle class, and non-white places as straight. Queer and trans people who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour are either missing from accounts of the city or imagined as recent arrivals in spaces they have long invested in. What are the effects of spatial segregation, policing and gentrification on various queer of colour communities? What kinds of spacemaking occur in relation to them? What would it mean to take queer and trans Black, Indigenous and people of colour seriously as geographic subjects? Marvellous Grounds discusses art, activism and writings by queers of colour that reconceptualize and reinscribe urban spaces whose official maps rarely include them. Examples include mural projects featuring queer of colour artists, the continued work of AIDS service organizations, walking tours that commemorate queer protest against policing and gentrification, cabaret, dance and performance arts programs and events that aim to empower Black, Indigenous and racialized queers, and the ongoing community making that happens in informal spaces such as kitchen tables, living rooms and public parks. In contrast to many narratives of ‘queer space’ that centre white realities, queer of colour spacemaking often remains unarchived. Besides celebrating queer of colour communities, these projects importantly unmap neoliberal conceptions of the city by putting the spotlight on issues such as policing, violence against transgender sex workers and the displacement of queer and trans youth, including from spaces designated as ‘LGBT’. At the same time, they open up alternative visions of what urban justice might look like. They put forth radical re-definitions of space, safety and collective care that often refuse racist, colonial and neoliberal visions of private property, security and territory. Above all, they inspire us to ask what transformative horizons may come into view, and what alternative worlds become possible, if we start with the affective maps of those who are not encouraged to take up space.

Jin Haritaworn is Assistant Professor of Gender, Race and Environment at York University. They have written two monographs, edited or co-edited four collections, and authored or co/authored several shorter pieces (in journals such as GLQ, Society&Space, Sexualities, sub\urban and Social Justice). These approach intersections of race, gender and space variously, including through metronormativity and mixed race, gay imperialism, and queer of colour organizing in Europe. Their latest book (2015), Queer Lovers and Hateful Others: Regenerating Violent Times and Places, deals with ‘queer regenerations’ in inner-city Berlin. More recently, they have started two research projects on queer of colour spaces in Toronto, through a SSHRC IDG and an Early Researcher Award (the latter conceptualized with Rio Rodriguez). They are also co-convenor (with Paola Bacchetta and Fatima El-Tayeb) of the University of California Humanities Research Institute Residential Research Group Queer of Color Formations and Translocal Spaces in Europe.

Ghaida Moussa is a PhD student in Social and Political Thought at York University,
where she interrogates the relationship between race and chronic unidentified illness. Her previous work has engaged with Western queer neocolonial solidarity with Palestine. She is the co-editor of Min Fami: Arab Feminist Reflections on Identity, Space, and Resistance (Inanna Publications) and the recent Feral Feminisms special issue ‘Complicities, Connections, and Struggles: Critical Transnational Feminist Analysis of Settler Colonialism’.

Río Rodriguez is a Toronto-based latin@ queer educator working in queer, trans and POC communities. Río is a Masters of Environmental Studies student at York University, and is assembling a portfolio that examines the history of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley district. The project focuses on key moments in the Village’s history that highlight the simultaneous displacement and erasure of queer and trans bodies of colour from public space. Río’s work further interrogates urban and neighbourhood planning that has claimed lasting public space for white gay safety while simultaneously criminalizing trans people, people of colour and sex working people.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community mobilizer, educator and researcher pursuing his PhD studies in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies (University of Toronto) and Sociology and Equity Studies (OISE). In 2014, he was awarded the Slyff Fellowship/Graduate Fellowship for Academic Distinction by York University. Syrus’ research focuses on experiences of marginality and the ways that the presence of racialized, trans and disabled people can challenge ‘static’ social environments. Syrus has authored several book chapters, journal articles and peer-reviewed publications about disability, the diversification of museums, trans parenting and sexual health for trans MSM, including the widely cited “How Disability Studies Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays” and “Going Boldly Where Few Men Have Gone Before: One Trans Man’s Experience of a Fertility Clinic and Insemination” (Sumach, 2009). Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by Now Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award (2012) for LGBT community leadership and activism.

This event is co-sponsored by the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies

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