Queer Montrealers gathered for a vigil in memory of the victims of the Club Q shooting

Biographies and photographs were placed on top of gay and transgender pride flags in rememberance of the five victims. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

The local LGBTQIA+ community met in solidarity with queer Americans after a shooting in an LGBTQIA+ club

On Nov. 26, Montrealers gathered in the Gay Village for a solidarity vigil sharing their thoughts and grief surrounding the recent Club Q shooting. For many, this was a time to discuss the violence queer people experience on a daily basis.

On Nov. 19, the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a gunman entered the LGBTQIA+ club in Colorado Springs and opened fire where 25 people were injured and five were killed. This event has left Colorado’s queer community devastated, serving as a reminder of a past shooting that had killed 49 people at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida in 2016. LGBTQIA+ people throughout the world have spoken out in support of the victims and their loved ones. 

“Five lives were stolen away by systemic homophobia and transphobia,” said Celeste Trianon, one of the organizers of the vigil.

Trianon said that, while the shooter was responsible for the tragedy, the system itself was at fault. According to them, queer people experience systemic violence due to the spread of a far-right political agenda in North America.

“What kills us in the end is isolation, poverty, officials who never respect our identities,” said Trianon. “It is all the forms of hatred that we live every day that kill us and that is what we must fight against.”

Gabriel Paquette, a speaker at the event, said they came to support their American counterparts. 

“The thing about the queer community is that we’re not blood related so we’re all a little bit family, as idealized as that idea may be,” said Paquette. “When there’s an attack on a few of us, there’s an attack on all of us, especially when it’s in a space where we’re celebrating our joy of being ourselves, especially on trans day of remembrance. It shocked us to the core of our being, but we knew it was coming with the legislative violence in the US.”

Paquette also denounced the growing climate of hate and fear surrounding queer people in the US, a sentiment echoed by many in attendance.

“In Canada it’s coming as well. For example, in Ottawa there was an anti-trans demonstration yesterday [Nov. 25],” said Paquette, referring to an incident at an Ottawa high school surrounding transgender students using the restrooms corresponding with their respective genders.

They also mentioned how candidates in the most recent Ontario elections pushed for the abolition of support for queer children.

“In Quebec we have the particularity that there are language barriers so the American and British philosophies take longer to reach us but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have organizations that have the same issues […] and that are doing political lobbying to take away our rights in the long run,” explained Paquette. 

They cited, among others, the organization Pour les droits des femmes du Québec, a women’s rights group receiving funding from the provincial government and known to be trans-exclusionary.

The last survey conducted by the Bureau de lutte contre l’homophobie et la transphobie in 2017 found that “over 40% of the population surveyed has witnessed an act of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.”

Participants shared their worries but also their hopes, hugging those who were crying and trying to comfort each other.

“Today was about getting together as a group to try to send some love to those who are there [the US], our distant family,” said Paquette.

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