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Queer Presence at Occupy Vancouver

occupyvan1Words have meaning.

That is what the Occupy Vancouver might be remembered when it began on Saturday, Oct. 15, where thousands met on a cold and crisp fall morning on the front lawn and steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

From the spoken words to the words on placards, it was call for people to wake-up from their complacent and resigned lives and question. Question and challenge the economic system and the financial undertakings between finance and government since 2008.

This raly was one of a series of gatherings held across Canada that day with a two-fold objective: to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, which questions the current financial situation in the U.S. and to say 'Yes, we across Canada have the same concerns.'

Signs, from 'Waterboard (sic) Wall Street', 'UNHOLY TRINITY: Government, The Fed, Wall Street', to '$100,000 Student Debt What future?' were seen floating above people's heads.

At Occupy Vancouver, which began as a rally at 10 AM then took to marching in the streets, was a mix of young and old. Not the rag-tagged wide-eyed, starry-eyed, unemployed or idealistic youth or students the establishment media was bent on reporting.

Among the many different signs, not one was visible representing gays or GLBT people. But our presence was there. Buried in the long-winded Occupy manifesto taped to the a wall of the former courthouse were demands to end "illegal foreclosure process, inequality and discrimination in the workplace, age, colour, sex, gender ID and sexual orientation." A polyglot of home mortgage, equality and gender-bending for sure.

There was queer participation from a more personal level.

Like Dominic Turgeon, 45, of Britanna Beach, an unincorporated community of 300 located along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Even Turgeon, a fit and engaging man who owns his own fitness gym in Squamish, BC, had words about Occupy Vancouver.

"The peasants are pissed off," said Turgeon adding he thought of this line before coming to the rally. He talked about his concerns at symbol of capitalism: the ubiquitous Starbucks in downtown Vancouver with VERS magazine.

This is the start of something greater, feels Turgeon. "A movement of some sorts" against "greed and corruption" in both business and government. He mentioned the frustration of the Canadian people and the lack of "morals, ethics and integrity" in today's climate.

Another gay man who attended that day was Anglican priest Neil Fernyhough, Vancouver. Days before on his facebook page, he had to fend off remarks from people castigating the objectives behind the Occupy movement.

"To those who dismiss the Occupy protesters as hypocrites deeply involved in the capitalist system," wrote Fernyhough on facebook, "look at it this way: There are some things we can't control... but there are some things we CAN control, like the kind of society we choose to live in."

Fernyhough added people have the choice to be "cynical" and "complacent" or as he puts it this "can be the beginning of a positive transition to a new way of being human."

T-shirts for sale on the city's Robson Street a block away made some people stop in their tracks: BUCK FILLIONAIRES and I AM THE 99% each with the tagline 'Occupy Vancouver'.

There's even a toonie - or a buck - to be made even when the cause is against capitalism.

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