Last Friday was a first for me: I participated in a kiss-in, in front of the Russian Consulate in downtown Vancouver protesting the homophobic neanderthal shit-show developing in Russia. I’d considered going even though I didn’t have a kissing buddy (::sadface::), but what really clinched it was a Facebook conversation the day before, with the protest’s organiser. My contribution was—in response to people shocked that a gay person in Russia would support Putin’s new laws and be generally right-wing and paranoid about Western culture—that the rising paranoia and fascism in Eastern Europe wasn’t too surprising to me, given that I’d already seen something of it in Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride. In hindsight, it felt both (a) overly didactic and (b) kind of negative. Which, fair enough, there’s a lot to be negative about. And also fair enough, it was informative. But I do have this tendency to spout off interesting fact(oid)s at the drop of a hat, and sometimes I need to tone it down. This, I think, was one of those times. And I could and should do more than sit on the sidelines of this particular conflict and be like the Kids in the Hall’s It’s a fact girl.
So I went to the kiss-in. And kissed a few guys, which was fun. There were quite a few news cameras present, which made me very self-conscious. Seriously, I hadn’t felt like that since my very first Pride parade, waaay back in ’93. Man, those were the days, when gays and lesbians were still kind of exotic and mainstream media weren’t even talking about bi or trans folks.
But I stayed. And though I didn’t think I’d end up on camera, seeing as I wasn’t in the front row and didn’t do that much kissing, a couple friends mentioned seeing me on the news the next day. It was a bit of a shock, but only a bit. It really was not a big deal. My fears had made mountains out of molehills.
What did this protest accomplish? Maybe nothing tangible, in the short run. But then protests rarely do. And in this era of global politics and social media, who can say where things will go in the next six months? Whatever happens, I want to be a part of it.
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