Wild Ideas: an online exploration of the wild

The Calyx: Wild Sexuality The Commons: Wild Politics Return to Wild Ideas home page

In The Calyx:

Book Reviews
Web Reviews

Stay informed — join WildNews, our announcement list:

E-mail Address:


You are here: Wild Ideas > Calyx > Library >

Where the Wild Things Are

A nasty new government inspires tree-huggers to action

Copyright 1995 by Lynna Landstreet. This column originally appeared in Xtra magazine. Published by Pink Triangle Press, 491 Church Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 2C6.

while back, just before the last provincial election, I wrote about my hopes that electing a government that was blatantly, rather than covertly, evil would inspire activists in a variety of movements to become more militant. Well, it looks like that wish may be coming true.

During the NDP's lackluster reign, I watched time and time again as otherwise intelligent people backed off from confronting them on their numerous hypocrisies out of some perverse sense of loyalty, like a kicked dog slinking back to lick its master's feet. From loyal lefties who still believed, contrary to all evidence, that the NDP were sincere about the spousal rights bill to supposedly radical environmentalists who wimped out of a Queen's Park protest aimed at saving Ontario's old growth forests because they didn't want to embarrass poor little Temagami Bob, having a nominally progressive government in power did more to stifle social change movements across the board than any amount of state repression could have.

Happily, all that is over. The government we have now can't be bothered to even pretend they're our friends. They know who their enemies are: queers, single mothers, the unemployed, Natives, eco-freaks, and anyone else not commonly seen wearing a three-piece suit. And this, correspondingly, makes it refreshingly easy for us to know who our enemy is: them.

That difference was glaringly apparent at the recent founding meeting of the Temagami Action Group. Whereas last spring environmentalists planning the ill-fated Queen's Park-action-that-wasn't were hard-pressed to draw twenty people out to a meeting, this one filled the 519's auditorium with a circle three deep. The comments people left on the signup sheet which asked if they were willing to risk arrest were also informative: "Anytime!" "The sooner the better!" "Chain me to a tree!" If Harris does send in the feller-bunchers this spring as he's threatened, he's going to have a serious fight on his hands.

Another inspiring thing about the meeting was that there was a noticeable sprinkling of queers throughout the crowd. Now, the location may have had something to do with that -- could be some of them had taken a wrong turn looking for the gay alcoholic adult children of UFO abduction survivors' support group and were wondering what all this talk about white pines and land claims meant, anyway. But I prefer to look on the bright side, and believe this really may mean that an increasing number of my fellow sexual deviants are starting to realize that Northern Ontario doesn't begin at Bloor Street; that the smelly, dirty, noisy, overcrowded city centre is not our natural habitat; and that hets don't own the wilderness.

After all, in a sense you could say that we should have more empathy with endangered wildlife and wild places than anyone. Isn't it the same fear of the Other, the uncontrollable, the wild and chaotic, that moves both the gaybasher and the developer who wants to cover the world with concrete? Both hate and fear what they can't understand; both seek to erase difference and impose a sterile, ordered conformity on messy, disorderly, animalistic nature. Those who cling to an unnaturally clean, controlled, predictable vision of the world are as terrified of the unfettered expression of sexuality as they are of being dropped in the middle of the wilderness with only a knife and a canteen -- both threaten to strip away their veneer of civilization and expose the beast within.

When I stand in defence of a threatened wilderness, I do it not out of altruism or ideological conviction, but from a basic, gut-level identification with the forest. Something inside says "This is like me," a wild thing that does not conform to polite society's boundaries and definitions, but insists on being what it is, however unprofitable or inconvenient to the status quo.

For those who feel likewise, the TAG team has a civil disobedience workshop coming up for those who'd like to be bound to something other than the bedposts for a change, as well as continuing planning meetings at the 519. Actions will probably be taking place in both Toronto and Temagami, call the phone numbers listed in the box for details.

Hopefully, the same renewal of purpose and fighting spirit that I saw at the TAG meeting will soon infect our own organizations as well. But in the mean time, I 'll see you where the wild things are...

This column was written in September 1995. For a later report on the same subject, see Nihil Obstat 313. Or for up-to-the-minute information on this and other wilderness issues, see the Earthroots  or Wildlands League  web pages. And, of course, the Forest  section of this site.


All content copyright 1999-2006 by the individual authors, where cited, or by Lynna Landstreet where not specifically credited.

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, this site is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Green Web Hosting by Dreamhost Site design: Spider Silk Design - Toronto web designers
This page last modified: January 29, 2006


Wild Ideas has just undergone a major redesign and restructuring, and may still be a little rough around the edges. Please bear with us as we get things sorted out.