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2SLGBTQ+ Community mobilizing to fight hate

Maureen Aslin

May 25, 2023
The 519 (Church St Community Centre) has been a hub for LGBTQ2S+ support and advocacy since the mid 1970’s in central Toronto, located in the gay village at Church & Wellesley.
As the attack on LGBTQ2S+ from the far right and right-wing bigots accelerates, the 519 in Toronto is stepping up its response and regrouping community resources to fight the hate. 
The Army of Lovers campaign, part of the 519’s advocacy, is hosting a panel “Enough is Enough” on May 31. This is their statement:
“2SLGBTQ+ people and their rights are under attack. Not just in the USA and across the world, but also in the city we call home:
  • Anti-2SLGBTQ+ protestors are showing up at drag performances and storytime.
  • School boards are navigating heated disputes around raising the Pride flag.
  • Gender-affirming healthcare is being impacted by transphobic bills, and so much more.
We are angry seeing anti-2SLGBTQ+ rhetoric infiltrate our neighbourhoods, schools, cities, and communities. We are tired of the hate facing trans people and drag artists. We are so over it.”
The far right and religious right have particularly targeted the trans community. The 519 has a long history of supporting trans rights and the trans community. In the face of anti-trans voices from within the queer community in the 90’s the 519 was a clear and consistent advocate for trans rights and visibility.
Army Of Lovers Campaign
In 2019, ‘religious’ groups preaching homophobia/transphobia began organizing, marching, and harassing people in the Church & Wellesley area.  The 519, in response to these attacks initiated the Army of Lovers advocacy campaign.
In September 2019, instead of waiting for the bigots “Freedom March & Prayer” to proceed up Church St to Wellesley, the Army of Lovers rallied, creating an hours long stand-off in the street. The religionists were blocked, and hundreds of LGBTQ2S people and allies took back Church St. marching from Front to Wellesley. After this decisive win in the streets the harassment by ‘Christian’ preachers waned. 
These attacks on 2SLGBTQ+ people are the result of a coordinated effort to accelerate and misdirect anger. Politicians and media are advancing their own interests by riling others to denying the existence of trans people, the rights queer people and stopping other marginalized groups from seeking justice and equity.
The 519 proudly states “Our communities, however, are not new to hate and discrimination. Generations of 2 Spirit, queer, and trans people have fought for our right to live in the light with pride and dignity. Queer history has time and again shown us that when we organize, we win fights. When we show up for each other, we win rights.” 
Enough Is Enough: a community panel addressing 2SLGBTQ+ hate is Wednesday, May 31, 6 pm at The 519, more information:

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