Both books are a part of a larger project titled “Marvellous Grounds.” Photo: Iain Sellers.
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Ottawa reveal of Queering Urban Justice held at U of O campus

Detailing history can be a monumental task. For historians, it means dealing with contradictory narratives, unreliable narrators, and seemingly impossible facts—and often, mistakes are made. So, for the editors of Queering Urban Justice, their goal was set a story straight.

On Jan. 15, three editors of Queering Urban Justice spoke to around 50 U of O students, members of the faculty, and outside community members about how LGBTQ+ residents of Toronto have been simultaneously pushed out of history, and out of Canadian cities.

“Marvellous Grounds started out as a space project, and that’s what you’re going to read a lot of in Queering Urban Justice,” said Syrus Marcus Ware, one of the book’s editors, to the audience. “We started working on issues of counter-archiving, and documenting queer genealogies of resistance.”

The event, which served as the book’s launch in Ottawa, was an opportunity for the editors to speak to students about their findings, and promote Marvellous Grounds—which is the larger project that also incorporates another newly released book by the same name, and an interactive blog.

“Marvellous Grounds has been a wonderful project to work on,” continued Marcus Ware. “It’s generative, it’s creative, and it’s been embellamative of the kinds of activism that QTBIPOC has been doing in this city, this province, and this country.”

The book launch featured a brief explanation of the project’s work, a reading of the first chapter and epilogue, and a question period for the audience to engage with the material.

When asked by an audience member about what they hoped their book would accomplish, Marcus Ware responded that he hoped to change the widely-held belief that LGBTQ+ leadership has only been white.

“So, what I hope would come out of these volumes are examples of the ways that we (people of colour) have queered urban justice … and reinscribing that into the narrative,” he said.

Following the presentation, Ghaida Moussa, another editor and a U of O alumna, told the Fulcrum that even if the book did not directly focus on Ottawa, there was a local link.

“The book mostly focuses on Toronto, but at the same time—because of Toronto’s positioning within Canada, it’s (also) a (history) of queer, trans, Indigenous, black, and people of colour … (in) Canada,” she said.

“I think that any areas that experience gentrification, experience some of the things that we’re talking about in the book,” Moussa continued. “In those places (there are) lower-income working class people—which generally overlaps with queer, racialized, and trans folks—(who) do experience the outcomes of gentrification, which is often displacement, increased placement, and that kind of thing.”

Indeed, while some students attending were asked to attend the book launch for their classes, some still described it as an enjoyable, and informative book launch.

When asked what her biggest takeaway from the event was, Emiley Prak, a third-year criminology student explained that “(she) learned a lot about it, about queer people, people of colour, and this sort of context—(and) how they feel excluded.”

So, the event served as an informative opportunity for students to ask questions, and for the editors to spread the word about their project.

“We’ve launched the book in Toronto, and now we’re launching it in Ottawa,” Marcus Ware said. “We’ll continue to launch it in some of the sister cities where there’s similar QTBIPOC activism happening.”

Copies of Queering Urban Justice and Marvellous Grounds will be sold in Ottawa at Venus Envy on 226 Bank St..