P!nk Bloc, the queer maple spring collective coming back to life

P!nk Bloc, the queer maple spring collective coming back to life

In the middle of the maple spring crowds, pink capes were sneaking around advocating humorous prosex slogans interspersed with positions for free education and against police repression. A decade later, the P!nk Bloc (Pink Bloc) is gradually coming back to life. The younger generation of activists meets the more experienced around new struggles such as climate justice and the housing crisis.

For Chacha Enriquez, one of the founders of the P!nk Bloc, this queer collective wants above all to be “very flexible” and it evolves with the activists who compose it.

“Yes, we have experience to bring, but the younger generation has experience too and they too have a lot to teach us,” explains Chacha Enriquez.

Chacha Enriquez, queer activist and college sociology professor

The expertise of some is therefore intertwined with that of others. Older activists bring their experience from the field while younger ones teach them more about current struggles.

“We feel that there is an urgency to act in the face of crises, we agree that the government is creating crises by refusing to deal with them, we are talking about the climate crisis, the housing crisis, the crisis in the health system,” says Chacha.

It is therefore during occasional meetings that the P!nk Bloc finds its energy of yesteryear, between memories of the past and fights of the present.

It’s quite interesting to meet between several queer generations to change the world together.

Chacha Enriquez, one of the founders of the P!nk Bloc

Five in a living room

From a meeting between five queer students from UQAM in the Chacha lounge to more than 200 demonstrators in the street, the P!nk Bloc left its mark on this historic student movement in its own way.

The objective of this collective of students created in December 2011 was to get involved in this massive mobilization while raising awareness of queer, feminist and inclusivity issues, all in a “carnivalesque” form.

“For us, it was important to have a queer space inside this strike, to not just get involved with our student associations, but also to create our own space. […] where you could do queer interventions within the movement,” explains Chacha.

One of the first actions of the P!nk Bloc was to attack the pro-rape slogans chanted during the demonstrations. They intervened by surrounding those who proclaimed this type of slogans while at the same time sensitizing them.

Generally, people, when they see us, we make them laugh, they are happy to see us, we put them in a good mood and we relax the atmosphere in the demonstrations […] We have a fairly positive presence, and people were asking us to be more present.

Chacha Enriquez, queer activist and college sociology professor

More than a group, a strategy

Much more than just a collective, the P!nk Bloc wanted to lighten the mood while gaining visibility as queers. In a sometimes tense context between police forces and demonstrators, the pink capes of the P!nk Bloc also sought to impose themselves through non-violent direct actions, without being in a “dogma of non-violence”.

“There is this whole question of the increase in repression as the movement progresses. […]. For us, it was important to relax the atmosphere and not be afraid of the police, explains Chacha. For us, the violence, at the base, it comes from the State and from the economic and political elite which prevents us from having access to education”.

“The P!nk Bloc has always been a ‘problack bloc’ collective while remaining non-violent,” he says.

Multiply actions

It is in a plurality of actions mixing genres that the P!nk Bloc wished to denounce the actions of the government of the time. Chacha Enriquez remembers in particular the Frenchoton (or Kiss in) organized by the collective to denounce the balance of power of the State.

“We wanted to compare how governments try to force us through measures and laws that the population does not want,” he said. The government is attacking us, so we wanted to link that to the question of consent, sexual assault and therefore to make a frenchoton where we could kiss each other in a consenting way ”.

With a smile on his face, Chacha remembers the “demonstrations”, where people demonstrated in underpants, or even this “drag demonstration” to denounce binaries during Maple Spring.

Chacha Enriquez at the drag protest; Courtesy: Chacha Enriquez

“There were a lot of binaries and opposition that they were trying to put in place between the thugs on one side and the good protesters on the other, the good students and the bad students against (the) young people. boomers,” explains Chacha.

[16:37] Quentin Dufranne

The P!nk Bloc is already considering new actions. Some activists would like to organize a festival.

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