Brett from Calgary Outlink invited me to a kiss-in this week in Tompkins Park (see facebook event: here). This is Calgary’s gesture towards the growing International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), annually held on May 17th.
Citizens around the world over take part in actions of various kinds, including kiss-ins, flash mobs, demonstrations and sometimes very poetic gestures in countries where homophobia is rampant and personal safety is at risk. For example, activists in St. Petersburg, Russia, commemorated IDAHO 2012 with a mass rally of 300 people. They faced off against 100-150 anti-LGBT protestors who chanted homophobic slogans and attacked two of the activists. Yet, in 15 Russian cities, other activists staged “Rainbow Flashmobs” by releasing balloons into the skies.
Kiss-ins are a form of social activism pioneered by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). In April 1988, ACT UP and their art agitprop arm, Gran Fury, released this iconic poster announcing their first KISS IN.
Modelled on the love-ins and be-ins of the late 60s, the kiss-in was to disrupt social norms and presumed heterosexual space with the assertion of queer identity. “We kiss”, ACT UP’s fact sheet explained, “so that all who see us will be forced to confront their own homophobia.”
Canada’s Fondation Émergence spearheads the national IDAHO marketing campaign. The 2013 IDAHO theme is:
We at calgarygayhistory.ca and calgaryqueerhistory.ca are sending you big kisses and anti-viral voices and stories for this May 17th and throughout the rest of 2013.