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Activism in unlikely places

Jer's Vision encourages queer community to speak up

REACHING OUT. Jer's Vision volunteers put up posters and pens at queer sites around Ottawa last week. The posters encourage people to write their wishes to Michael Marcil, also known as Dixie Landers. Credit: (Capital Xtra file photo)

Jer’s Vision is reaching out to Ottawa queers who aren’t normally active in the community and encouraging them to have their say.

Last week, Jer’s Vision volunteers put up posters and pens at popular queer sites around Ottawa, including stores and bars. The posters ask people to write get well wishes for Michael Marcil, the Ottawa gay man who was beaten in May at Centretown Pub.

Jeremy Dias, the founder of Jer’s Vision, says the posters for Marcil, also known by his drag name Dixie Landers, are just one way to get people more involved in issues affecting the queer community.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘Oh, it’s sad what happened to Dixie.’ It’s another thing to actually do something,” says Dias.

Jer’s Vision is also bringing activism to the dancefloor. On Jun 27, Dias went to Helsinki Lounge, armed with colourful markers and a plain cotton t-shirt. He asked club-goers to write a message on the shirt, which will be given to a city councillor to wear and display in her office.

The messages ranged from “I heart being gay” to “Fight for queer rights.” They may be clich├ęs, says Dias, but it was an opportunity for usually apathetic people to express themselves.

“I’m always surprised by the response to stuff like this. People who you would never expect want to do stuff like this,” he says. “People want to be involved.”

Dias says there will be more T-shirt campaigns on the way, since it’s one way to get queer concerns heard inside a politician’s office.