Can I just say, I have been so fucking depressed ever since I heard that an event volunteer asked a woman to put her shirt back on at Eastside Pride. What is wrong with you people?
Lots of us–men, women, trans people, etc–weren’t able to start accepting and loving our bodies until we discovered queer spaces. Dyke bars, play parties, Pride; these are places where I learned that fat can be sexy, that anyone can wear tiny clothes, and that a crowd of different shapes and sizes is a fabulous thing.
I am as full of body hatred and other nasty internalized biases as anyone else. Thank God for queer culture that keeps kicking me in the head and forcing me to grow up and love myself. It’s great that queers have taken up feminist challenges to the lies about what we are supposed to look like, and what parts of our bodies are bad or dangerous and must be hidden.
I’m stunned that the Eastside Pride organizers were not prepared to deal with complaints that were homophobic, sexist or otherwise contrary to the spirit of queer pride. Volunteers wouldn’t necessarily have had to say, “Fuck off, you narrow-minded losers,” to those who were offended by the scary naked breasts. They could simply have declared the event’s support of women’s right to be topless.
They even had the option of putting the responsibility on the Ontario Court of Appeal, which, in 1996, while the Pride Society was asleep or out of the country, made it legal for women to have their shirts off in public. I quote from their ruling, in which they overturned topless activist Gwen Jacob’s conviction for indecency: “No one who was offended was forced to continue looking at her.”
Apparently the people who complained at Eastside Pride were worried about the impact on their children of seeing bare-chested women. First of all, how stupid to imagine that seeing bare breasts is more harmful than being taught that parts of our bodies are offensive or dirty. And also, what the heck were the concerned parents doing hanging around at a queer event if that’s how they feel?
It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to understand that the right of women (and other folks with breasts) to be topless is a queer issue, that it’s part and parcel of our larger fight to be out and proud. That women who are trying to cool off or breastfeed or feel the breeze on their skin–or women whose outfits just look better with exposed breasts–should be able to go ahead and take their tops off. Especially at a goddam queer event where it’s all about flaunting it.