Gaybashers beware. Three intrepid Montrealers, with backgrounds in activism, law and crisis intervention, have created the Bash this Bozo blog to collect information on bashings. The idea is to get word out so that these types of incidents don’t occur in silence and secrecy.
“We have been hearing about bashings for years but it seemed like there was an increase in the past year, in Montreal,” says Anita Schoepp, one of the project’s coordinators. “We wanted to start monitoring stuff so that with time we could see if there are patterns, if these are random acts or if it’s more organized.”
Inspired by antifa/anti-racism movements that keep a close eye on neo-nazi activity, the blog is not limited to the Montreal area. “We focus on Montreal because it’s where we live and it’s our community, but we will post anything from anywhere.” Schoepp cites the recent brutal attack on a gay man in Thunder Bay as the impetus to branch out beyond Montreal.
The Bash this Bozo team isn’t certain yet whether there are any particularly unsafe areas for queers in Montreal. “It will take time to figure it out. It’s important not to make speculations with this because we don’t want to make people afraid of their neighbourhood or their city. We want this to be empowering and not induce fear.
“We see it as community-based research, where we have an archive and can share this information with others,” says Schoepp. The blog is not only about chronicling violent incidents after the fact. “We also really like the idea of people posting things themselves and becoming involved, whether it’s a story of a bashing or inspiring ideas as to how to deal with homophobia. It would also be nice for people to share survival skills so that we can learn about different coping mechanisms after violence.”
Schoepp knows first hand what it’s like to be subject to violence based on sexuality or gender expression, having been targeted when she lived in Alberta.
“Being threatened with violence has inspired me to talk more openly about homophobia and support people that have experienced threats or violence.”
Bash this Bozo calls for contributors to brainstorm creative ways to oppose violence. “Knowledge is always power and so starting the blog is one way of combatting bullshit,” Schoepp says. “We have also heard of a lot of stories of people having ‘fuck-ins’, or just going to spots where people have been bashed and being uber homo, with costumes, etcetera.”
At the moment, the Bash this Bozo site is bare bones. “We hope that people will start to feel comfortable enough to post their stories. If people want to stay anonymous then they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it for them.”
Check out and contribute to Bash this Bozo at Bashthisbozo.wordpress.com.