Guelph-based drag performer Crystal Quartz spoke at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Tuesday in support of a new proposed bill intended to protect 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
Proposed by the NDP, the Protecting 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Act would enable the attorney general to designate safety zones in Ontario for queer community members at specific locations for a certain time period.
When the safety zone is in effect, anti-2SLGBTQI+ harassment, intimidation and hate speech happening within 100 metres of the designated address could result in a provincial fine of up to $25,000, according to a press release.
For Quartz, that means she can go anywhere in Ontario and have “a safe space” for up to 100 metres, “so that these acts of intimidation and threats can't be put against us at these places,” she said in an interview with GuelphToday.
Since protests began erupting across the country, Quartz has to hire her own security to stay safe at events, and the cost comes from her own pocket.
It isn’t only about the safety of the performers though, Quartz said, but of the patrons attending events. If protests are happening outside, she said slanderous and homophobic slurs are often used, which can be traumatizing for the children and their families.
“Businesses and 2SLGBTQI+ community members are being told that they can’t be out and proud from Thunder Bay to Hamilton, to Guelph, to Stratford, to Welland, Ottawa, and even Toronto. New Democrats are giving Ford’s Conservatives a chance to stop hate—today—by passing my private member’s bill,” said Toronto Centre MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam in the release.
The bill would allow for an advisory committee made up of a diverse group of queer and trans community members, along with MPPs to recommend ways to prevent anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crimes.
“What I do is not much different than what you would see at a theatre or going to see your favourite pop artist in concert. The only difference is that I was assigned male at birth,” said Quartz in the release. “These are happy and loving environments that you should be able to attend without fear.”
Quartz said she feels heard, because of both the proposed bill and the chance to speak at Queen’s Park. She was joined by several other drag performers, including Canada’s Drag Race alum and television personality Scarlet BoBo.
“I think we were the first drag queens ever at Queen's Park, which was pretty cool. And they made it very inclusive to us there,” said Quartz. “And we were treated with so much respect there from people that it was a lovely experience.”