Topline: Strength in numbers

In the face of increased violence, LGBTQ2S+ folks must come together

Ziya Jones

Hey, everyone. Ziya Jones here, Xtra’s senior editor, health. I’m writing to you from a sunny patio in Montreal, and hoping to God that you’ve been able to catch some summer brightness wherever you are. Thanks for spending part of your week with me. Remember, “Topline” is just a sampling—subscribe to Xtra Weekly to get the full newsletter and all the latest LGBTQ2S+ news from around the world. 

What’s the buzz 🐝?

Last week, news broke of a Pride flag being burned near a high school in my hometown of Mississauga, Ont. Two students allegedly took a video of the burning flag and sent it to LGBTQ2S+ classmates. It wasn’t until a few days later that I clicked through to an article about the incident and realized the students go to the high school I attended a decade ago. 

I was, to some extent, surprised. Cawthra Park Secondary School is known for its regional arts program, and, by virtue of being an arts school, attracts a number of LGBTQ2S+ students. The institution wasn’t exactly a haven for queer and trans students at the time I was enrolled there. During that period, Cawthra made news after its administration declined to allow a trans guest speaker to attend an event at the school. (They later claimed they declined the speaker because she had worked as a sex worker, as though that was somehow more justifiable.) 

Still, even in the late-aughts there were enough out queer students at the school that being a queer teenager there didn’t feel completely lonely and miserable. And yet, a decade later, police are investigating a “hate-motivated” incident. 

What were we thinking 💪

Homophobic and transphobic hate feels particularly present this spring. While brands may slap a rainbow background behind their logos and declare queer and trans rights won, we have been reminded over and over again in the past few weeks that our visibility continues to put us at risk. 

Earlier this month, a young queer man was visciously gay bashed near Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point beach and left unconscious with broken bones. As of early June, more trans people have been killed in the U.S. in 2021 than were murdered in all of 2019—this year is on track to become the deadliest on record for trans folks. As many cities begin to emerge from lockdowns, queer and trans folks have expressed anxiety about once again being visible in an increasingly public capacity. As the pandemic wanes in some areas of the globe, what kind of world are we re-emerging into?  


Instances of violence typically lead to a bolstered police presence, putting some—especially sex workers and queer and trans people of colour—at further risk of harm. As public life resumes, LGBTQ2S+ folks must harness community care to protect one another. But we have always found ways to care for one another and demand the rest of the world follows suit. 

Some of us have organized queer and trans-centred self-defence classes in the wake of homophobic violence. Others have created formal walk-home groups to keep each other safe at night. In Toronto, community groups and members have been working to reclaim Hanlan’s Point as a safe space for queer folks. And at Cawthra Park Secondary School, some faculty joined both current and former students in a solidarity rally this week. As we begin to return to “normal,” we must push for a more equitable norm than the one we left behind in spring 2020. Our work is not over until we are all safe. 

In other Xtra news 🌎

👉Porn performer Lotus Lain weighs in on everything you want to know about making porn but are too afraid to ask out loud. 

👉In the third installment of our “Protest and Pleasure” series, Chanelle Gallant explores how the push for queer and trans migrant rights shows us the ways state borders constrain a nation’s residents just as much as they control who gets let in.

👉Looking for your next beach read? Casey McQuinston’s latest queer rom com, One Last Stop, is a time travelling romp through New York’s subway system. 

👉A right-wing Hungarian politician recorded herself ripping up a book of inclusive fairy tales—and accidentally sent it straight up the bestsellers list.

👉“There Will Be Tears” is a much livelier album than its title implies. Pop artist Vincint’s new work is full of must-listen songs for your Pride playlist.

👉Want more headlines? Subscribe to Xtra Weekly.


All together now…

Ziya Jones

Ziya Jones is the senior editor, health at Xtra.

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