Kingston police are investigating an incident regarding a flag and posters they say contain homophobic and derogatory terms circulated during Homecoming weekend.
Kingston police media liaison Const. Mike Menor said a rainbow flag was discovered at the intersection of Barrie and Court streets with the words “Queer’s U” written on it.
“Similar derogatory fliers were also circulated throughout the campus with the words ‘Welcome to Queen’s University Homo Cum’ing,” he said.
Menor said an incident like this could be classified as a hate crime.
“Whether they’ll call it that or not, it may be irrelevant, as long as it’s properly investigated,” he said. “[It] could be suspicious activity, but the most important thing is that it’s investigated.”
A report was filed with the Kingston police by AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Paul Tye, who said he first came across the flag on the morning of Sept. 27.
“I was walking to campus on Saturday morning, and on my way, between 8:30 and 9:30, I saw a huge flag in City Park that said ‘Queer’s U,’” he said. “At first I thought it was for an event, but it seemed that something just wasn’t right.”
After removing the flag, Tye said he was made aware of posters containing homophobic and derogatory terms, including the changing of Queen’s Golden Gaels to “Queen’s Golden Gays,” and was signed using the St. Lawrence College logo.
“I ripped it down, carrying it to campus, and someone said they were all over campus and handed me the flyer that was circulating,” he said.
After trying to find and remove as many as he could, Tye said he informed the appropriate authorities about the issue.
“I wanted to get them all down, but couldn’t find any other ones,” he said. “I phoned campus security right away and casually spoke to the police, then filed a report with the police on Monday under the encouragement from others that it was definitely a hate crime.” AMS Social Issues Commissioner Kavita Bissoondial said the AMS plans to meet with administrators from Queen’s as well as St. Lawrence College.
“Right now we’re in the process of setting up a meeting with Paul [Tye] and [Associate Vice-Principal and Dean of Student Affairs] Jason Laker and St. Lawrence College to discuss their involvement, if any. We can’t assume anything,” she said. “Aside from that, Paul and I were discussing having a reclamation event for the flag, but we’re not sure what we’re doing yet. It will be some kind of forum or discussion surrounding homophobia.”
Bissoondial said the language used in the posters problematically stereotypes homosexuality as being explicitly sexual.
“I think those connections aren’t necessarily what the person intended … even though it’s funny to that person, the association that it makes on the queer community who is often highly sexualized and made predatory.”
Bissoondial said the flag and posters highlight the prominence of homophobia that exists at Queen’s.
“A lot of people think Queen’s to be a safe space, but you can’t guarantee it for every student. We can’t in general be considered a safe space for all students of marginalized backgrounds,” she said. “I think the message that it delivers to students and alumni is that we need to send a message that we don’t tolerate that behaviour at Queen’s.”
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