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Here's what these Montreal girls think about community

Feb. 7, 2018
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This article is part of a recurring Crybaby Zine feature in which Crybaby writers interview girls in different cities about topics relating to that month’s theme. For their Community Issue, Maggie Wilde interviewed these Montreal girls on the subject of community.  


Is your inner community intergenerational? Why or why not?

My inner community is intergenerational. I think that’s really important, and although I don’t have as many elder mentors in the city, I do have them in my inner community, especially in the small town I had been living in for the past three years on and off. There is a thriving First Nations community that has elders who are incredible, some with traditional knowledge, and there’s also some really rad, old-school lesbian back-to-the-landers out there. I think that intergenerational relationships require spaces where that can happen and where both voices can be heard. I think, especially in cities, elderly people and younger people are segregated into different places geographically within the urban sprawl infrastructure, so to even learn to trust those voices—or even hear them—is challenging. But I think, moments like this, that can happen. So in Montreal during the Pots and Pans movement during the student strike, that’s when lots of elderly folks came out on the street, and they were sort of this whole new energy that was coming to the movement. Which brought new significance to the movement.

Are there any movements you are involved in in your community?

I guess I’m not sure if the movement right now has a particular name. It’s sort of just anti-xenophobic—it’s sort of a counter-movement against the xenophobic and anti-Islamic (as well as racist) policies and bills that are being passed in Quebec, and how that is not representative of a lot of Quebec. But it still seems to be normalized within the Nationalist values we see here, which are very disturbing. So since I moved back, that’s been something I’ve been interested in, but I haven’t really been back for very long. Also, I guess my interests and work have been focused around Indigenous rights and contemporary Indigenous radical art movements. So I was involved in Idle No More, and there were also a lot of protests in the Yukon to protect the Peel Watershed, so I was a little involved with that. I do writing on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I guess I have a general involvement, but there’s no particular movement I would consider myself an organizer of.

When you think of a community you are apart of, what holds it together? Religion, common goal, identity, common risk?

I think it is a common goal in the communities that I feel are the healthiest. In my life, [the healthiest communities] are ones that recognize the accountability that you have towards the people within it, which means working through difficulties and challenges and not just ejecting peoples. Especially in small towns, you learn to understand people in a different way, which I think is part of what is so great about being a part of different communities. And being challenged by them is also important. It’s kind of like family, where you have your weird uncle or whatever, and you have to learn to love and deal—or at least tolerate—and find some sort of human quality in them.


Is your inner community intergenerational? Why or why not?

I wouldn’t say that my inner community is intergenerational, per se, and I think there are significant divides between older and younger gay/trans people and queers in general. However, I grew up and am still surrounded by adult women—gay women in particular—and many of these people are mothers to me, as well as friends. Without going too much into it, the ways those relationships shaped me are still becoming apparent and have always been invaluable. So I guess there’s no clear answer to that question—I think we participate in multiple inner communities, although my immediate group of friends are around my age.

When you think of a community you are apart of, what holds it together? Religion, common goal, identity, common risk?

I would like to think that what holds my community together is an unconditional love for each other (which doesn’t mean unconditional friendship), but in reality, bonds are formed on multiple levels. In Montreal, right now, for me, it’s harder to define. I could say I’m part of a community of mostly women, or a community of those loosely on the left, and more burgeoningly a community of politicized queers. Back home, identity is certainly a part of it—almost all of my friends are queers who share a certain mutual distrust of straightness. Common goal or politics is also a part of it—we all seek to help each other develop politically, and in so doing, I think, [we develop] as people. If I had to pick one all-encompassing label, both here and in Minneapolis, I would say I’m part of a community of lovers.

Are you part of any minority communities (not just ethnicity), and do you feel welcomed and accepted within that group?

Fuck... this is, like, maybe the most complicated. I don’t generally think of myself as a minority—I think whiteness really complicates that label—and legally I am not one, although I guess if we’re thinking about community or identity I technically am. I’m dubious about saying I’m part of a community of trans women—I think that for all intents and purposes I am. I certainly have trans women friends, meet trans women and love trans women, which is more than many of us get, but the reality is that most trans women don’t get to have what most people think of as “community”. Whatever “the queer community” is is no substitute, despite the fact that it often gets pitched as one. But that’s, like, really a whole other thing. In terms of comfort, yes, I think that I absolutely feel a certain comfort and reassurance when I’m around trans women or even aware of their presence, and I have experienced a trusting acceptance with trans women individually or collectively that I had never experienced before being out.