The Canadian March for Life, Tomatoes, and Progress

[Today’s guest post is by Alan Trahan.]

For the second year in a row, I took my home-made “We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Pro-Life” sign out with me and my wife to March for Life on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Just like last

year, it was an incredible experience. I can’t count the number of people who came up to take

our picture, or just to quietly thank us for being there—even (or perhaps especially!) among

the many, many conservative Catholics in attendance. Only

one person we talked to told us that gay marriage was destroying families, and even he made

sure to thank us for participating first. It was an amazing crowd, with an opening address by

an Algonquin elder and attendees including both robed brothers of the Missionaires del’Evangile and the president of the Pro-Life Humanists.

After the march, when Billie and I decided to strike out early for our car, we were

accosted by a group of counter-protesters just past the police escort’s line of sight. They

pelted us with tomatoes while running past us, screaming, “We’re here, we’re queer, we riot!”,

flipped us off, and called us fascists. We were not the only protesters targeted; at least one

other group, the aforementioned Pro-Life Humanists, had their banner vandalized by the fruit-wielding

activists. And the previous night a number of people interrupted a candlelight vigil, causing a ruckus in which two people were arrested.

This feels significant not because we were violently persecuted—I mean, really, it was

tomatoes, my first reaction was to laugh!—but because these incidents are demonstrative of

the way some of the more radical segments of the left have been shifting. While the pro-life

movement has been expanding, developing, and reforming itself, explicitly prioritizing love and care over blame and harassment and

even helping abortion workers to leave the profession, it seems

like the most hardcore pro-choicers have been adopting the same tactics they used to love

accusing our side of. Recent incidents include bricks thrown through windows and aggressive disruption of pro-life events, and anyone on a university campus can tell you how difficult it can be to keep any kind of pro-life messaging intact and in place for long.

But the most important part of this, I suspect, is the fact that it was my transgender self and

the humanist group that were specifically targeted. (Stopped by a crossing light a safe

distance away from us, our new friends re-emphasized their chant with an outraged, “We’re

queer too!”, as if this somehow had bearing on the comparative validity of their mainly

vegetable-based argument.) To the marchers, it seems, even if we’re heathens, queers and

humanists are allies in a struggle that transcends any lesser differences. But to the counter-protesters,

we’re a clear and present danger. We’re evidence that this isn’t just the campaign of religious

patriarchy they want to dismiss it as, but a movement that can and will involve all kinds of

people, and is doing so more and more every year. I think that worries them, and I think that’s

a really, really good sign.

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