We have decided to release a statement after having some conversations about what went on in organizing the Montreal Winter Survival Reading. We’d like to thank all the people who took the time to talk to us, give us feedback and suggestions when they didn’t have to. We are grateful and incredibly humbled that people have taken the time to start a dialogue with us about where we fell short and how we can improve. We welcome more conversation and participation.
Firstly, we do not think that we took the time to distinguish the reading tour from the Toronto Queer Zine Fair Collective. This tour was not funded by TQZF money nor was it done as a way to represent the Toronto queer zine community or larger queer community in general. This tour was funded with money from our own pockets and was done as a way to personally cope with winter while also using the opportunity to raise much needed money for next years Queer Zine Fair. We were able to raise over $400 for next years fair with this tour and we want to use that money to ensure that we can help secure a bigger space, afford asl interpretation, bring folks in from out of town, pay performers, and artists, etc. We should have clarified this earlier and we didn’t, which was a major shortcoming in transparency on our end.
Secondly, we also acknowledge that using the TQZF name in conjunction with the Winter Survival Tour was problematic as the TQZF collective is still an all white collective, and therefore doesn’t tackle the issue of zine culture still being a predominantly white community, but rather perpetuates it and without any critique. After the zine fair in October we decided to open our collective to new members and organizers but haven’t publicly released a statement about it. This is part of the ongoing conversations we are having and work we are doing. There exists a fine line between disclosing too early and transparency, in that we are still in a processing stage of how we are going to move forward. We apologize for not prioritizing this statement and we intend to write more about this in the near future.
Thirdly, it was brought to our attention that the call for readers put out by one of the people organizing our Montreal reading was incredibly tokenizing and problematic. We did not write this call out nor do we condone what was written OR the ‘apology’ that was put out afterward on the facebook page on December 19th. We also did not see the call out until after it was posted. This, however, does not pardon us or excuse what happened. Thank you to the Montreal folks who took the time to explain to us some of the issues regarding white supremacy in the Southwest scene and how this call out and event contributed to it. We are not from the Southwest and so all we really know is what we’ve seen or heard on the periphery. However uninvolved in that scene, we still definitely do know that white supremacy exists in zine communities, and that that call out for readers was a perfect example of how white people tokenize people of colour and use them and their contributions in really insincere ways. We apologize to those who were made to feel alienated from the reading and to those who were hurt and maddened by the call out and the event itself. What happened with this reading is part of a much larger issue and we do hope that the discussion that began at the reading continues. As organizers we are learning all the time and we recognize that this event was unsuccessful in its attempt to be more inclusive and challenge white supremacy in our communities. We do not live in Montreal but we are willing to continue to be part of this discussion if people want us to be.
We apologize to the people who we alienated and hurt with this event. We realize that how it happened was not conducive to building meaningful communities across provinces. We acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do and that we should have been more transparent about where we were at and how we were going about doing things. We hope people will continue to have these conversations (everywhere, not just in Montreal as this is not an isolated incident) and we are keeping all of this in mind as we move forward from this reading tour and with our organizing. Once again, we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to speak to us and provide us with information and context. We appreciate your time and energy and know that we are taking this seriously. This dialogue doesn’t end here as we will continue to have these conversations both with folks affected by this in Montreal, Toronto and everywhere else.
In regards to the person who put out the call for readers in Montreal and who wrote the apology on the Montreal facebook event: we strongly urge you to rethink your role in this situation and the lack of accountability in your apology. We are tired of white cis men being able to disappear and step back when conflict arises from their problematic actions and then reappear when it is convenient for them. We are tired of doing work for these men and for having to explain to them why what they did was fucked up. We refuse to do this work for you and so this is all we will say about this.
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