Free Speech, Privilege, recent

Watching My Own Excommunication—on a Facebook Video

I was officially excommunicated by the woke left on November 19, 2018. There is a Facebook video of the event, which anyone can watch.

The social-justice left often is described as a manifestation of ideological, political or cultural forces. I no longer believe that to be an accurate description. The behavior on display in that video didn’t originate in a place of reason, but rather the realm of spiritual passions.

I’ve already related to Quillette readers some parts of my story. In 1979, I founded Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which for many years was Canada’s preeminent professional gay and lesbian theatrical company. However, the queer Buddies that exists today was truly born in 1985, when my friend Dr. Johnny Golding (a female philosopher and queer activist) became its president. Dr. Golding spearheaded Buddies’ 1994 move to its now permanent home on Alexander Street in Toronto, a 300-seat theatre (with a licensed cabaret) near the city’s large queer village. I resigned from Buddies in 1997 and handed over the creative reins to Sarah Stanley, a lesbian director. The theatre saw two more artistic directors—David Oiye and Brendan Healey—before lesbian writer/director Evalyn Parry, who still occupies the post, was appointed in 2015.

Given that I have not had an official position at Buddies for the last 22 years—a period during which I’ve made my living as an author, academic and performer—why was it necessary for the theatre I founded to take a leading role in my excommunication? I got my first clue back at a queer-theatre symposium in Vancouver three years ago (one that Parry also attended), where I’d been scheduled to speak and perform. There was pushback against my presence—specifically, because of my identity as a proud drag queen. Various transgender attendees declared that the very idea of drag is anti-trans and misogynistic, and that drag-queen humor is inherently cruel.

Evalyn Parry arranged for a “healing circle”—a ritual whereby a canceled event is replaced with a group meeting. Each participant would be given a moment or two to express themselves, focusing on the wounds that I’d allegedly caused by being a drag queen and speaking openly about my identity. I didn’t say much, as I’d been instructed to listen. People shared their feelings in a random fashion, giving full expression to their thoughts and feelings. (One straight woman, for instance, decided to tell the healing circle that she wanted to have sex with me.) And yet, somehow, the hoped-for “healing” proved elusive. I was simply removed from the speaking program without further ado.

Fast-forward to 2018-19. Buddies’ current theatre season coincides with the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding in 1979. In celebration, Parry scheduled a reading of my 1980s hit play Drag Queens in Outer Space. I was flattered and excited, but also worried about some reprise of the 2016 debacle described above. In the mid-1980s, my play celebrating drag queens seemed risqué and transgressive. In the current climate, it’s seen, by some, as reactionary.

The week before the Drag Queens in Outer Space reading, I happened to buy the book I’m Afraid of Men by Canadian writer Vivek Shraya, who had announced in 2016 that she was a trans woman. The book is presented as an extended attack on what is now called toxic masculinity.

I blogged my objections shortly before the scheduled event. “I’m sure that you have had the best of intentions, and like so many of us, you have had a lot of pain in your life,” I wrote in a blog entry, titled An Open Letter to Vivek Shraya. “But that doesn’t justify its title…What if someone titled their book I’m afraid of Jews?” I also described how, as a young drag queen, I, too, had been afraid of straight men. But I got over that fear, wearing my high heels and mascara proudly when reading poems and plays at lecture halls, theatres and bars filled with homophobic straights. I urged Vivek not to be afraid of men. Then I wrote a second blog post, entitled I’m Afraid of Woke People. And that’s when things really got crazy.

Before she identified herself as a trans woman in 2016, Vivek spent many years as a gay man. In her book, she recounts her many depressing and humiliating experiences, painting a picture of gay men and drag queens as shallow, superficial, selfish, petty and mean. The view of gay men that pervades I’m Afraid of Men reflects the homophobic stereotypes that have dominated western culture since the days when Oscar Wilde mused that “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.” Don’t get me wrong: I’ve met lots of shallow, superficial, selfish, petty, mean gay men. But gay men haven’t cornered the market on these traits. And it angered me that Shraya—who identifies as queer—was so viciously attacking our still-vulnerable community.

I think that second blog entry might have been less controversial if it had been a simple, straightforward critique of Shraya’s book. Instead, my post contained a satirical poem written in the spirit of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I not only rose to the defence of drag queens, but also invoked camp irony to impersonate Shraya’s wounded-victim voice. I also applied the same caustic tone to the poisonous reductionism of intersectionality more generally, and ended by apologizing for the fact of my very existence.

After some back and forth between me and Parry, I was informed that she was canceling the reading of Drag Queens in Outer Space due to the “problematic” nature of my poem. In place of the reading, she’d scheduled a “long table” in the tradition established by feminist playwright Lois Weaver (founder, along with Peggy Shaw, of New York’s fabulous Split Britches theatre company). The long table was to be “a community discussion focused on intergenerational issues and allyship,” a longer and more formal version of the “healing circle” I’d witnessed in 2016. She mentioned—parenthetically, I thought—that I was free to attend…as a spectator.

I was warned by friends not to attend the long table. They said it would be akin to a public lynching. And they were right. I didn’t go. But I watched a livestream. And I was indeed “woken” by what I saw, though not in the intended manner.

I can see how the spectacle would bore anyone who is not personally affected by the underlying issues, or who doesn’t share my (newfound) fascination with woke religious ritual.

From start to finish, the long table took almost three and a half hours. Surprisingly, my name was seldom spoken out loud, even by those who were clearly there to denounce me. There also were a few who defended me, describing me as a kind of King Lear-ish “foolish, fond, old man”—doddering, perhaps even demented, and deserving of more pity than scorn. When Parry tried to justify her decision to cancel my play by quoting from my blog posts, you can hear a voice ask faintly, “What exactly is so bad about Sky’s woke poem?” This question wasn’t answered, since it was incidental to the real subject of the Buddies long table: the spiritual and emotional lives of the congregants

The structure of the meeting was explained upfront by a moderator: “One chair should always remain empty. If at any point someone comes up to join the table, and there is only one empty chair, someone else at the table must self-select themselves and leave the table.” This structure allowed people to come and go. Some spoke at length about whether or not they had a right to speak.  Early on, for instance, a person spoke about their mixed white and non-white roots: “And with this level of privilege”—they touched their face gently and made what really did seem like a prayer motion—“The fragility that comes…these feelings…of…of…of fear and pain…are also real.”

There were tears and there was anger. There were hands literally raised, as if to god (or gods). Several people rambled about unrelated personal and career problems, using the long table as a sort of therapy session. Some read poems. There was little actual dialogue, but rather a succession of inward-focused monologues. Everyone seemed lost and lonely. The most common theme was that people felt unsafe, and it was vaguely asserted (or, in most cases, simply assumed) that my criticism of a book was connected to this feeling of despair and vulnerability. At what, in retrospect, seemed like the climax of the event, one especially dramatic person wailed, through tears: “Right now…sitting in this room, I do not feel safe. I…do…not…feel…safe. Home was not safe. Ceremony was not safe…I’m screwed. Where is a safe space?”

I do not mean to diminish the agony of these participants; as I believe everyone in that room did passionately believe in their own victimhood. In fact, most or all probably would benefit from actual therapy.

I am not a member of a religious faith, and my familiarity with religious ritual originates mostly from watching Sunday-morning television. However, I was born into a Protestant Congregationalist church family. And having being raised in New England, in an area settled by Puritans, I’ve learned of the Shakers—a religious group known for abjuring sex and participating in frenzied dances of worship (hence their name). In Quaker worship, people sit in silence until “the spirit finds them”—not unlike the attendees at the Buddies long table, who sat through the proceedings until moved to speak.

The very term “woke” is itself full of religious connotations, going back to the first Great Awakening that swept English-speaking countries in the 18th century. In its modern political sense, “woke” has African American origins, its first recorded usage being in 1938, when folk/blues singer Lead Belly sang, in Scottsboro Boys, that everybody should “be a little careful when they go along through there, stay woke, keep their eyes open.” (The title of the song referred to a group of black Alabama teenagers who’d been falsely accused of raping a pair of white women in 1931.) In recent years, the term “woke” has been widely used to describe those who’ve attained doctrinal purity in regard to the social-justice movement. While that movement is secular, it seems to fulfill many of the psycho-spiritual appetites once served by religion.

I am older than almost all of the people who attended that long-table ceremony. And so I have some perspective on shared aspects of their background and ideology that they might take for granted. One thing that pretty much everyone in that room had in common is that they were raised by social media. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr supply the only real community they know.

Yet while group denunciations can superficially supply a tribal spirit of bonding, social media is fundamentally a lonely place. We all crave actual, living, human contact. We all crave laughter, tears, and the human touch.

That same impulse is what inspires “kinksters” to dress up in leather and gather for a party at a hotel (even if they don’t have sex), or comic geeks to meet up at a convention centre, or RuPaul fans to leave their computers and flat screens for a moment, run to a gay bar and watch the show with friends. In the past, people would go to church on Sunday, shop in public markets, and watch the same TV shows at the same time and talk about them over the office water cooler the next day. This was community—in the days before we worked at home, shopped on Amazon, and thereby curtailed our daily gatherings in the public sphere.

* * *

In their classic historical analysis of the Salem witch trials, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, authors Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum explained that the infamous trials weren’t a product of a sudden, random bout of social panic, but rather occurred in the context of longstanding economic and political tensions between Salem Village (populated mainly by struggling, poor Massachusetts farmers) and Salem Town (populated in large part by newly prosperous merchants). Salem Village’s pastor—a man by the name of Samuel Parris—would take a leading role in the prosecution of local “witches.” So would a Salem Village family, the Putnams. While the accusations of witchcraft were, of course, ludicrous, the class-based grievances that stirred up the area and created a sense of tribal enmity were very real. Impoverished villagers fighting for their own church began by turning their accusations again a black servant, and then quickly moved up the social ladder. “The witchcraft accusations against the powerless, the outcast or the already victimized were not sufficiently powerful for them,” the authors wrote. “They were driven to lash out at persons of real respectability—persons, in short who reminded them of the individuals responsible, so they believed, for their own reduced fortunes and prospects.” As in many episodes of mass hysteria, a widespread sense of paralyzing fear and powerlessness had created a gateway to unhinged conspiracism.

Think about those young woke long-table attendees and their prospects. For many of them, the future must seem uncertain, even nightmarish—climate change, jobs replaced by machines, income inequality, racist populism. In their hopelessness, they lash out at those who are more rich and powerful, which, to them, seems like everyone. As they have no political power and see no hope of getting it, they seize the moral high ground wherever they can, and make accusations that they hope will hurt someone who has more than they do. “Unable to relive their frustrations politically, the members of the pro-Parris faction unconsciously fell back on a different and more archaic strategy,” Boyer and Nussenbaum noted. “They traced those who threatened them not as political opposition but as an aggregate of morally defective individuals.”

The term “morally defective individual” more or less describes how I am now seen in Canadian avant-garde LGBT theatre circles. I won’t elaborate on the difficulties this has created for my life. However, I am genuinely saddened by the fact that I now have no contact with the theatre company I founded 40 years ago.

Vivek Shraya is an internationally fêted transgender author, performer and media star, praised in Vanity Fair and fawned over by the CBC. She is in her late 30s, while I am an old gay man whose heyday was rooted in a past age when I was fighting for gay and lesbian liberation. (We are both now university professors.) When I wrote about Shraya’s homophobic book on my blog, I saw myself as speaking truth to power. But such is the creed of intersectionalism—whose tenets inform the woke faith’s liturgy—that I am the one seen as having power.

It is but a short jump from this ordering or privilege to the idea that I—an effeminate gay man, drag queen and veteran of the AIDS crisis—have personally oppressed the whole community. It is a frighteningly doctrinaire way of seeing the world. And I have every reason to fear woke people. So do many of us.

When I think of Salem, I identify with Susannah Martin, who didn’t even live in Salem, but in nearby Amesbury. Martin, a mother of eight, was 48 years old when she was accused of witchcraft—an old lady by the standards of the era. Other, mostly younger people claimed that she had performed supernatural horrors, including bewitching a man’s oxen so that they ran into a river and drowned. Before eventually being hanged, she was forced to submit to bizarre tests, such as a physical exam to determine whether she had a “witch’s tit” that served to provide sustenance to the devil’s minions.

Many of Martin’s accusers hadn’t even met Martin—or any of Massachusetts’ so-called witches. Likewise, I knew few of the people I saw on that long-table video. I’m not sure if I can ever forgive them for lending their voices to this ugly attack on me. But at least I feel I have come to understand the sad religion to which they have pledged their loyalty.


Sky Gilbert is a Canadian writer, actor, professor and drag performer. He teaches creative writing and theatre studies at the University of Guelph. His book of “anti-essays,” Small Things, recently was published by Guernica Editions.

Featured image: Screen grab from November 19, 2018 Buddies in Bad Times long-table discussion.  

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  1. Harrison Bergeron says

    Sky. As a straight white man I happily welcome you into our coven of witches. I will contact you shortly to let let you know when our next meeting is. We are still trying to coordinate with the Asian chapter.

    • Peter from Oz says

      The funny thing is that the LGBTQWERTYs complain constantly that they are marginalised, but given half the chance and they will marginalise anyone they can.
      Those who can’t absorb criticism or immediately answer back with arguments of their own, but instead seek to ban a person, a thought or an action, need to be shunned themselves, not for their indentities but for their lack of reason, for theirs is the way of totalitarianism.

      • John Milton says

        As I watch society crumble while the gender dysphoric claim that butchering their bodies will change their sex, I wonder if this is not the destruction of our culture by allowing the mentally ill to force us to pretend they’re well.

        In short time we’ve gone from agreeing to legal rights for gays, to absolute freaks demanding they be allowed to read to our children at libraries and for men dressed as women to use the restroom with little girls.

        At what point can we say we refuse to accept the obligation to pretend they are well?

        If you think you’re Napoleon, I would likewise refuse to pretend your delusion was real, I’d be more than happy to assist you in getting help, but I wouldn’t call you Napoleon.

        Postmodernists are hell bent on the destruction of the west and this is just one of the many ways they’re trying to do it.

        I used to be sympathetic, now I want the insanity stopped.

        • Peter from Oz says

          I was having a discussion with someone on a left wing website today and he stated that homosexuals are an oppressed group in Western countries. When challenged, he could give no evidence to back up this statement and was mightily offended when I suggested that in fact homosexuals are now in fact privileged beings. If you say anything now that anyone can possibly label as “homophobic” you can have your life ruined. What’s more there are gay activists, whom I call “homosexualists”, who are actively on the hunt for remarks made by others that do not show the proper obeisance to the gay ideals. They look for offence. Without the mirage that there is a mass of discrimination against gays, these homosexualists would actually have to do real value adding work. Of course they would fail at such labour, because they are inordinately stupid and emotionally unstable.

          • Ken Anderson says

            You are 100% correct. Although I am unabashedly heterosexual (those Quilette chicks are hot by the way) I have lately been claiming to be a homo because of all the fame and riches and social adulation I can accrue.

        • Ken Anderson says

          The threat of post-modernism cannot be overstated. Often times I hear post-modernists (some of whom are also Antifa) creeping around in the woods at night looking to cause trouble for my trash buckets. Sometimes they will even disguise themselves as raccoons.

          • Peter from Oz says

            I bet those post modernists are out there creeping through the woods with all the homophobes, misogyinist,transphobes, white supremacists and islamophobes that we know are just on the cusp of taking away all the right of marginalised groups.

        • Harrison Bergeron says

          “If you think you’re Napoleon, I would likewise refuse to pretend your delusion was real, I’d be more than happy to assist you in getting help, but I wouldn’t call you Napoleon.”

          I think that most people would want to be charitable and agree to call that delusional person Napoleon if it is not hurting that anybody. BUT we have moved from trusting individuals to be able to handle such issues on a case by case basis in a polite and civil way to society demanding that that you must call that person Napoleon. If you do not then you are a hateful bigotted Nazi who must lose your job, be publicly denounced and physically assaulted. Children are being programmed to see that person as Napoleon in our schools and employees (because they are broken and have to be fixed) must now take unconscious bias training courses to reprogram their thinking so that they will literally see that person as Napoleon. In the UK they will arrest you.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Harrison Bergeron

            It is one thing to agree to call that individual Napoleon in personal communication out of a desire not to hurt his feelings. This would seem to do little harm, assuming you wouldn’t be able to help him overcome his delusion by calling him by his real name. But it is another thing to actually believe that he is Napoleon yourself, and it could be significantly harmful to society if everyone started to believe this. A society in which policies are based on fiction is not a healthy society. Before long he might be made emperor of France.

          • Sean Ohsee says

            When I was growing up “thinking you were Napoleon” was a cliché for insanity. I’m not sure that still holds – but evidently, thinking you are Josephine is something to be taken seriously.

        • Hammurabi says

          ” I wonder if this is not the destruction of our culture by allowing the mentally ill to force us to pretend they’re well.”

          “At what point can we say we refuse to accept the obligation to pretend they are well?”

          This is exactly what I’ve been saying.

          These are just crazy people. I have no idea why we bother listening to them.

          • John says

            “These are just crazy people. I have no idea why we bother listening to them.”

            Unfortunately, in our society, they have immense power. That’s why.

        • Brian says

          I have already decided to (with compassion) refer to these people as mentally ill.

          After all, we aren’t expected to “affirm” the beliefs of anorexic people that they are actually fat, or affirm the assertion that the voices in a schizophrenic’s (sic) head are actually real, are we?

          People in the West are free to play their own games, but not free to force others to play.

        • Jon Zig says

          Yes yes, you are singing my song. This is the best statement I’ve read on the subject. All of it is crazy beyond any question. It’s sad to watch so many younger people fall into these groups. This is what happens when we yield to evil even a little bit. We are definitely on the slippery slope and moving down hill fast.

      • Ken Anderson says

        Visiting this site is like when you’r a kid inside a tunnel and you yell “Echo!” and then you hear Echo-Echo-Echo-Echo. So cool.

        • northernobserver says

          No Ken, you just have voices in your head. Try thinking for a change. And have you read the Advocate lately? Projection much?

      • Tom More says

        The LGBwhatever marginalize themselves. Are healthy males not to find the sight of two men french kissing not utterly naturally repugnant?.

    • Tom More says

      As another straight white and even religious man I call the author out for his inverted slur against me and others who at least value sexual sanity and human reason. As human beings we are none of us designed for homosexual behaviors and as identical twins studies show conclusively we are none of us born that way. So keep your bullying ideology of “phobias” to yourself. Eyes really are for seeing and our other organs are equally unmysterious. The modern war on natural human sexuality, especially the murdered children is misanthropic enough.

    • bumble bee says

      I think we need to stop using the term “woke” for those who think they understand something the rest of us already know and would not even think of using that word. It also implies that those who do not think as they do, are still asleep when that is not the case.

      As far as the author, welcome to the millions of post liberals who will no longer associate, nor support groups and ideologies that lack the basic respect and tolerance the bullies think they are entitled to receive. They will just spiral down into the hate group they really are when people are fed up with their hypocritical behavior. They are more in a state of sleep walking than being so called “woke”.

      • Frank Knarf says

        These people are not liberals given any reasonable definition of liberal.

        • TarsTarkas says

          These people are not sane by any reasonable definition of sanity. Or rational by any measure. Or compassionate. Or caring or loving. Narcissistic, selfish, and envious, however, are words that fit.

          Anguish? Pain? I doubt many of them have ever experienced any significant anguish or pain or fear in their lives, other than self-inflicted. I doubt they’ve ever had their life threatened by someone who you knew meant it. Or screamed their lungs out in agony. Most have been sheltered and coddled for so long they’ve lost all touch with real pain and suffering. They stub a toe or shed a tear or hear a cross word (that may not even be meant for them) and think it’s the end of the universe.

        • Heike says

          Yeah, they’re not liberal, they’re LEFT. Liberals believe in free speech. They might disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.

          Leftists, as we see in this article, have extremely fragile arguments that must be protected with strident censorship.

          Sign this petition to reclaim the noble title of liberal from the vile leftists who have ruined it:

          More, “Left or Liberal?”

          • Peter from Oz says

            I agree with you.
            But the history of political liberalism has been shoot through with tension between leaving people alone and creating a more equal society through compulsion.
            In Australia and the UK political liberalism fractured and split, some going to the socialists and others to conservatives. In Australia the right wing party even called itself the “Liberal Party” in rememberance of the fact that defectors from the old liberals played a major role in keeping the right going through the years between the wars.
            In the UK, the Liberal Party collapsed into a fringe party after 1929. It only became of any interest again when both major parties were on the nose in 1974. It faded again until it got a shot in the arm from Labour defectors in 1981 and a boost from the unpopularity of the Tories in 1997. But once it had a shot at government it went back to the fringe again, mostly because the Tories stole many of the Liberals’ clothes.
            In the US and Canada political liberalism survived because socialist parties were either non-existent or weak. But as we have seen, the same tensions that pulled apart political liberalism in the UK and Australia are now occurring in the US, to the Democratic Party. In Canada the Liberals were lucky that the NDP didn’t perform well as the major opposition party and that Trudeau has charisma.

        • Tom More says

          Nether is accepting homosexual acts as other than disordered. That is living true homophobia. Stop pretending. Fear of the mob.

      • JS says

        Well, “woke” is a term I only began hearing about a year or two ago that they use themselves, and outside of their own circles everyone uses it against them sarcastically. Who can take it seriously?
        I have been where the author is years ago, being kicked out of the Left for not being Leftist enough, and trust me, it’s the best thing that can happen to you on a personal level – to leave the craziness and rejoin real society.

        • Tom in SC says

          Maybe they should be called anti-realists or just simply crazy?

      • Robert P Chansky says


        You’re welcome.

    • Alan Gore says

      Whatever happened to the left that once cared about workers and consumers?

      • Heike says

        The workers failed to rise as predicted by Saint Marx. Thus the Left grew angry at them and discarded them . There’s a lot of resentment towards the working class, and the Left doesn’t feel bad at all about punching down on them. Speak truth to the powerless!

        The left’s visceral hatred of the working class overflowed like a broken sewer when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008. It would be impossible, and disturbing, to attempt to identify the single most offensive comment that leftists lobbed at Palin. One can report that attacks on Palin were so egregious that leftists themselves publicly begged that they cease; after all, they gave the left a bad name. The Reclusive Leftist blogged in 2009 at that it was a “major shock” to discover “the extent to which so many self-described liberals actually despise working people.”

        • Peter from Oz says

          That’s a very good point. WHat I think motivates the left is that most of them are jumped up yobbos who are themselves chavs at heart, but desparately want to hide the fact from others. hence, they lose no opportunity to explain how superior they are. They have in the process distorted the mores of the real upper and upper middle class. Nobelesse oblige has thus been turned into virtue signalling ”wokeness” and sensible respect for tradition has been turned into conservatism by proxy, where you hail the traditional customs of primitive or less advanced cultures whilst denying that your own culture even exists as a separate thing.
          This causes the deep oikophobia and envy that drives the new class. Hence, they have the new religion of leftism in which the zero sum fallacy is the heart of the creed, and the disadvantaged only includes those who can be exploited to get power.

        • Photondancer says

          We have the same thing in Australia with the ceaseless attacks on Pauline Hanson. Though the left pretend it’s her politics they dislike, it’s obvious it’s actually her class. I really wish I could have a dollar for every time I have heard or read some leftist remind us, with a mix of bewilderment and loathing, that she’s a fish and chip shop owner. OMGWTF how is it possible that someone who actually does something is daring to be in Parliament?

    • lydia says

      Read history. Especially concerning the cultural revolution and the great leap forward. You will recognize a lot of what is going on today. It never ends well.

      • Renee says

        That was exactly my thought! The description reminds me so much of the forced struggle sessions of the cultural revolution. I find it absolutely frightening.

      • George G says

        @ Lydia

        isn’t / wasn’t there a similar process in Mao’s student uprising from students against teachers? shame circles or something like that? using social coercion to shame potential threats into submission

        • Donnerhauser says

          Yeah that happened – struggle sessions and the like.

          Both the author’s experiences and the Cultural Revolution involve quasi-religious attitudes, whereby a spiritual and physical purge of heretics and sinners occurs.

          The comparison of woke social justice intersectional ideology (still thinking about a good name for it) to religion is fairly apt. It relies a lot on faith (you just accept certain tenets and those who question them are shamed into submission), it has its own “living saints” (people high on the oppression olympics) and the idea of sin (various prejudices so deeply baked into society that you are racist/sexist/homophobic/whatever by default) as well.

          I don’t know about you but in my experience, a lot of people really into social justice are often the children of religious fundamentalists. I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all.

    • johnhenry says

      Yeah, I’m a lifelong southpaw, and I can’t stand wakey, wakey people, except for my lesbian sister.

    • nicholas henderson says

      Well maybe you should stop being a leftist…?

    • Ken Anderson says

      Thank you for your stance against misandry. Too many women these days are anti-man and don’t appreciate how manly masculine men can use their wisdom and strength to protect women from the many things that threaten them, and that all they need to do is reciprocate by agreeing to to perform the tasks that manly men require of their women.

    • Tom More says

      Socrates: ,There are two types of people. Dogmatic people who know they are dogmatic and dogmatic people who do not even suspect that they are dogmatists.

  2. PaulNu says

    Being “woke” is just a status game. Whenever the woke mob excommunicates someone, everyone who remains moves up a spot. They expect everyone cares about their perceived status, but you don’t have to care. Walking away from a community built entirely on status is no big loss.

    • Andre St-Laurent says

      Should say, “can get a seat at the table” instead of “moving up a spot”. 🙂
      I used to think think it was a lot about status but as the article expertly points out, a lot of people are genuinely feeling despair. Thats just the kind of victim a cult attracts. Its such a strange new age cult at that, endtimes and all. Unfortunately for them, that world view is also the source of their pain. What kind of alternative could they be receptive to?

      But they are certainly of bunch of rotten, fetid apples in the bunch.

    • JA M says

      “Whenever the woke mob excommunicates someone, everyone who remains moves up a spot.”


      It seems that their way to “achieve equality” is to destroy anyone who is above them and install themselves as the all powerful arbiter of “equality” to impose on the lowly, inferior masses. And it is becoming ever more cutthroat as the supposedly “woke” folks jostle to be the ones on top when their fantasy revolution wipes away the old powers that be.

  3. ATate says

    “that I am the one seen as having power” I can hear the incredulousness leap from the page!

    Yes, of course you have power. You’re an oppressor, obviously, because your favoured in group-the one you’ve encouraged for years-cast you out.

    That’s it, it’s all over.

    A “veteran of the AIDS crisis”, and all the other identities you’ve held so dear, mean absolutely nothing to your betters.

    Go away, “clap back” somewhere else, there’s nobody here but us deplorable’s. You know the people you’d no sooner hit over the head with a bike lock or piss on if they were on fire.

    Hopefully your previous smugness will you keep you warm at night.

    • Heike says

      This isn’t the first time a deplatformed far leftist has come crying to Quillette thinking she’ll find a sympathetic audience, and it won’t be the last.

    • Burt Reagan says

      Unfortunately, uncultured dullards like you have to show up and prove Quillette detractors right. At least partially. I’m morally certain Claire doesn’t share your barbaric opinion of all things not white, fat, and under-educated. I know I don’t. Smart people aren’t angry towards all gays, and don’t assume they always have an agenda simply because they are gay. If you had any experience in the world, you’d know old queens from the AIDS era are some of the least fragile, roundly transgressive, hilarious people out there. They had real causes to fight for, had good reason to create their own places, and were not related to the modern woke movement. At all. Obviously, as this whole story (and many like it) perfectly illustrate.

      You’re not just ignorant and wrong, but you’re proud of it. You’re an actual bigot, which confuses leftists and others into thinking I’m a bigot. I just like people telling the truth and reading Quillette’s academic nerd writers. You probably watch Sean Hannity and voted for Trump, ya fat f*ck. You’re honestly just as bad as Vivek Shraya.

      Stop ruining this stuff for decent people. Beat it.

      • Tom More says

        One needn’t hate anyone to insist upon natural human sexuality. Human science denial is never a virtue. Nether is that cowardice that hides in terror from the unpopular and obvious truth. Sometimes the naked emperors are in the parade right in front of you and the still innocent child.

      • Bab says

        Totally agree with Burt. If you are a diehard tryhard Sean Hannity viewer who doesn’t want to read or hear anything that deviates even five degrees from his worldview, then there are literally thousands of suppurated, shit-stinking ratholes of the internet where said losers congregate and openly muse on why their wives left them and their children dont talk to them no more. Fuck knows why they even bother to keep turning up here.

      • Sparkles And Rainbows says

        @Burt Reagan

        Yup. I’ll gladly consider an “I got bitten in the ass by the Woke Brigade” account for what it’s worth and conversely ignore a “serves you right you lefty scum” response from retrograde shitbags.

  4. Lydia says

    “As they have no political power and see no hope of getting it, they seize the moral high ground wherever they can, and make accusations that they hope will hurt someone who has more than they do. ”

    They have tons of political power because they have a prime minister who feels so passionately for their problems and says so every chance he gets while he corrects everyone else. His regime was even attempting to compel speech for this crowd. I call that political power.

    As far as I am concerned, these are the people that society is catering to. We are stopping everything and rearranged everything so that they have their own bathrooms and feel perfectly comfortable wherever they go. It’s never enough.

    As to the Shakers, about an hour from me is one of their historical settlements that we often used as a conferencing Center for strategic planning. We could pet goats in the pasture during breaks and had no phones in our very spare bedrooms. You hang everything on pegs because they did not believe in coat hangers. It was three or four days of pure focused hell in the middle of nowhere. Lol.

    it’s an interesting historical settlement because, of course, they died out. As The story goes, the last one to die, an elderly woman who needed medical Care, was literally carried out by neighbors in an effort to get her care. she had lived there alone for almost 5 years. no one had to turn out the lights.

    I hope you will be able to see your excommunication as a positive force in your life.

    • Emma says

      I would argue that they don’t have political power so much as political influence (the distinction is subtle). Sure, some “woke” members do indeed wield this kind of power (e.g., the new fresh faces of Congress), but many don’t and probably never will, as Sky pointed out. One of their sources of grievances is this imagined absence of control. When people feel as if they have no control over anything, especially themselves, it drives them insane. Because these so-called victims have been told they are indeed victims, they regain a sense of control through these pseudo-spiritual longtable whining sessions. It’s a vicious cycle.

      • Emma says

        At least in these events, they feel heard and seen and in control of their own narrative.

        Again, it all boils down to control, and the great lengths people go when they think it’s been stripped away from them.

      • neoteny says

        I would argue that they don’t have political power so much as political influence (the distinction is subtle).

        While this is technically true (and that’s the best kind of true), their political influence manifests itself in giving political power to those actually wielding it.

        I think Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer ought to be required reading in high school.

      • Lydia says

        Somebody mentioned a grant. That usually means government money which is actually taxpayer money. Without grants and government subsidized universities where would they work?

  5. At least the Shakers made wonderfully simple and lightweight furniture and fittings, leaving a decluttered aesthetic after them. I wonder what the latter-day cults described in this article will leave, if anything?

  6. clf says

    I wonder how your contemporary, Charles Busch, author of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (1984), is fairing these days. His characters were in drag and vampires and were kinda mean, being vampires.

  7. Just watched the video. What a collection of creeps and losers. Why does anyone care what they think about anything? I’m genuinely mystified.

    • Lightning Rose says

      Because the collection are trying to decide which freak gets thrown out of the sideshow tent. This represents the death throes of intersectionality, as it hits hard bottom of reductio ad absurdum. Not worth any functional person’s time.

      • Trevor Pickersgill says

        In this case, you’re absolutely right. But when these people are allowed to take over an institution that really matters or when they so intimidate the spineless leaders of an institution that matters they can wreak havoc. The Canadian prime minister enforces a “woke” agenda that will be granting financial subsidies to left-of-centre media, denigrates history, and demands that anyone who disagrees with him be called a Nazi. The WHO just removed gender dysphoria as a mental illness diagnosis. The logical next step will be that people with species dysphoria who think they’re cats and dogs and dragons will have legal rights to be treated as cats and dogs and dragons unfortunately placed in the wrong bodies.

    • Heike says

      One is struck again and again, when watching these “woke” far leftists, just how ugly they always are. On the outside, but also on the inside as well. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes straight to the bone.

  8. Charlie says

    Do not feel safe? 75 years ago men stormed the beaches of Normandy. The Commandos were told to expect 80 % casualties. Those in the SOE risked capture, torture and being sent to the concentration camps , Violette Szabo GC to name but one. At Merville battery 600 men dropped but only 150 arrived and went into the attack. There were 75 casualties.

    I am glad that western civilisation did not have to rely on those who today they say ““Right now…sitting in this room, I do not feel safe. I…do…not…feel…safe. Home was not safe. Ceremony was not safe…I’m screwed. Where is a safe space?” during WW2.

    As the Greeks said ” Those the Gods wish to destroy they first send mad “

  9. Tom says

    The parallel to Salem is interesting. I’ve referred to them the past couple years as modern-day Jacobins.

    I’m not sure there’s a practical difference: people – cults, really – who cast out those they see are powerful and ideologically impure for the sake of a greater social good.

    Neither makes me very confident for the future.

  10. Charlie says

    “Right now…sitting in this room, I do not feel safe. I…do…not…feel…safe. Home was not safe. Ceremony was not safe…I’m screwed. Where is a safe space?”

    —“The fragility that comes…these feelings…of…of…of fear and pain…are also real.”
    75 years ago the beaches of Normandy were stormed. the Commandos were told to expect 80 % casualties and not to stop for the wounded. At Merville Battery of the original paratroopers, only 75 were not casualties when the battery was taken. The SOE risked capture, torture and being sent to death camps, Violette Szabo GC being one of them.

    There is nothing more egotistical and childish to talk about oneself in public. For people to say they feel unsafe is absurd; in reality they are spoilt brats..

  11. Max says

    After reading this i can only say: thank god I have never been in these circles. Healing circle, long table, 3 and a half hour of this…..this sounds just so amazingly insane, boring, and ridiculous. whether they excommunicated you or not, is irrelevant. Having to endure any of this, even just as a spectator, sounds like torture and a giant waste of time. Just to learn the vocabulary to understand any of this must take ages. Dude, you only live once, why did you do this to yourself for 40 years??

  12. Dear Author,

    Thank you so much for your article. I was put through the same drier cycle without having been washed first as a feminist who believes women’s rights and racism are inherently different subjects. The cruelty of the “Sleeping People” (the term I coined for them, since “woke” is such an oxymoron, and sounds very much like Gnosticism and their love for their special knowledge) is truly staggering, but not that different from the cruelty of the Evangelical world, where I spent over a decade. I have come to the conclusion that these people attack the most openminded of people (the artists, the authors, gay commmunity etc), because they know they will be put in their proper place by the rest of the world. Most people have no tolerance for their eternal search for “safety” (and really, what are they so afraid of? Other human beings? Being exposed as frauds?). But the curious thing is that once you serve some well-cooked logic and stay firm like a good parent, instead of caving in and offering candy instead when they begin their rants, they tend to just vanish. And I do believe you are right. All of these people need therapy. It’s unfortunate that they were given a megaphone instead.

    • Denny Sinnoh says

      The Buddha taught that most people go through their lives as if they are asleep…

    • Nemesys says

      “these people attack the most openminded of people” …

      No, they attack the most disagreeable of people. Different OCEAN trait. It’s entirely strategic.

  13. MMS says

    A note on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 – The factors identified in Salem Possed have been partly discredited and were as much a factor of the authors desire to further socialism in the present (70’s) than the truth.

    Certainly social and economic tensions were a factor as was the desire by the mob to project anger at powerful people onto less powerful stand ins but there were many other factors such as honest fear for their lives (plagues, potential starvation, poor/ war like retaliations with their native neighbors who’s lives and customs were hard for Puratins to reconcile, political uncertainty, anguish at the loss of young children, etc.) And it must be remembered that most Puratins belived in the Devil as a real tangible being that directly and concretely lived and acted upon their world… A very complex stew from which the hysteria manifested…

    The bottom line is some 20 people were brutally executed and many who survived were brutalized during their imprisonment or died in jail (4 year old Dorothy Good was kept in chains and filth in a stinking hole, talk about PTSD)

    But no matter what the reasons the accusers were the accusers and the damned judges, judges they were responsible for their muderous actions then as now and their victims truly were.

    If you are you are so inclined you might look for the book Switching Sides which delves deeply into the truth of modern day attempts to rationalize the Witch Trials for their own modern day political ends…

  14. Closed Range says

    Excellent article, and I sympathise deeply with the author. Overall, this fits exactly the old joke: what is the difference between a leftist and a cannibal? The cannibal doesnt eat his friends.

  15. Bill Miller says

    Sounds a bit like he/she/it/whatever came home to roost. In the end the revolution eats its own children, always.

  16. Jan de Jong says

    Whole thing reads to me as weird science fiction. Sorry.

  17. Ray Andrews says

    I just noticed, your trial was null and void because there were insufficient POC in the jury. It was white privilege to think that a woke court could be held with mostly settlers in attendance. And I did not catch the mandatory acknowledgement of the First Nation on who’s land the trial was held. Nor did a First Nations elder bless the proceedings. By the rules of Canadian wokeness, your trial was itself an act of colonialism and all participants were and are implicit in genocide and should be arrested.

  18. Lorne Leclair says

    Thank you for the article Professor Gilbert. Another unfortunate example of the evil that arises when human nature becomes enamored with ideologies. Ideas and constructs are tools that can be used for good, or evil. We should not fall in love with our favorite tools and insist on using a hammer when a screwdriver might be called for. If an idea does not promote consistent individual and general societal well being we should discard it and consider using others.

  19. BMott says

    I really think you’ve hit on something with the lack of physical community. I also think the lack of contributing to their own and others basic survival plays a part. A human is wired to spend energy sourcing and procuring food and shelter. That requires little energy now in comparison to the past. So we tend to focus that energy inward. My mother called it “wallowing.” When we spend too much time thinking inwardly…me,me,me. We lose our ability to see the struggles of those around us in any meaningful way. And with that, we lose the ability to empathize. We also have little concrete positive feedback that we’re doing things right. I.e my aim was true, hence I’ve provided supper for my clan. Instead, we look around to see who is causing us this misery created by lack of self worth. We see that the world doesn’t celebrate us. If they’d just celebrate us, everything would be fine. If you aren’t celebrating me, you must not be woke. Meanwhile, some of us stare at that long table in pity, and wish nothing more than to hand each of them a hoe.

  20. Karl Kolmogorow says

    I can’t help but wonder if the author would still be part of the mob if he would not have been cast out.

    • Heike says

      Thread winner right here. Remember the SJW mob leader who wrote the column on Quillette about being cast out and how sad that made him?

  21. ADM64 says

    My sympathy for the author is tempered by the overwhelming evidence that the LBGT community and movement – and now the so-called transgendered and the rest of the WTF identity groups – were never acting in good faith. They do not want their rights as individuals upheld: they want validation of their so-called identities and they want power over those who disagree with them. Although I know perfectly decent gay people, I am ever increasingly convinced that, while not a mental illness – as was originally thought – it certainly overlaps or coexists with many other personality and behavioral flaws e.g. extreme narcissism. At some level, like being born deaf or blind, it is an abnormality. All of this is even more true of the so-called transgender, a phenomenon that is so at odds with reality as to be, in the vast majority of its claimants, a mental illness. Sorry, these movement brought this on themselves and as they become more extreme, are going to suffer for it.

    • Geordie87 says

      I agree. These groups are all desperate for validation. By that I mean affirmation that their lifestyle is not weird in some way. I have gay friends that are just trying to get on with life, the same as the rest of us. They can’t stand the wild outpourings of the extreme members of the lgbt and trans sex community.

    • northernobserver says

      Some individual leaders in the LGBT community were acting in good faith. Unfortunately they were round up and marganized once the ideology demanded it. In a sense homosexuality itself has been paracitized by leftist ideology; like so much else in our society. Leftism doesn’t care about gay people, gay individuals, it cares about using them to achieve revolutionary ends.

    • Harland says

      I was at a gay pride parade (as a spectator) watching the herd go by when one placard in particular caught my eye. It really stood out among all the spangles and glitter. It boldly proclaimed “I stick carrots up my ass and I’m PROUD!” I had a lightbulb moment. In all the frenzied posturing, this one guy had broadcast to the world not only his desire but also his inability to relate to another human being. He was being uncomfortably honest. He was declaring himself to be a complete emotional cripple in public. I stopped laughing. Then I realized that that was what all the other marchers were doing in various degrees – declaring their inability to relate to the opposite sex. They were ALL emotional cripples. I became very depressed. They had to resort to delusion and pretense to soothe their pain. My contempt turned to pity. Who am I to throw stones? Their condition is permanent, never to be cured. Is it any wonder they display such hatred and envy of those of us who enjoy the fuller life? How would you like to travel through life saying, “I want to but I can’t”, longing to be whole, knowing you never will be?

    • Jim Gorman says

      These folks want you to believe that their brain “wiring” is different than normal so therefore they do not have a mental illness, it is just the way they are made. What they fail to acknowledge is that their abnormal wiring can have other affects on personality. Increased narcissism, paranoia and feeling unsafe, etc.

  22. R Gray says

    Of course this is impossibly bizarre and shows reprehensible behavior, but why are you tagging this as “left”? In the US there is an ideological battle raging, regarding the goal and purposes of government. The Democrats, to their credit, have been more sympathetic to and supportive of a diversity of gender roles, and, I think, the majority of the country is generally supportive of the party on this.

    The Republicans, however, have recognized that by focusing on the most outlandish behaviors of “Social Justice Warriors” they can create a wedge between the mainstream and the “left”, acting as though their support for equal protection for all people regardless of gender preference implies that they also condone all the most outrageous behaviors. What happened to you is weird and seems to show evidence of a sub-culture that has gone off the rails, but it is not about traditional left/right politics at all. My concern is that by highlighting this kind of story you are playing into the hands of those who will use it to pursue their reactionary agendas.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      You sing the song the author did till his friends turned on him viciously and it may get worse if they campaign to get him out of his university post.

      How many examples till you realise how thoroughly so many institutions have been hijacked by this ideology. You want to keep this quiet to not give ammunition to “the enemy” but that also feeds and spreads your misperception that this is a rare abberation.

      • R Gray says

        Since social media tends to amplify these types of things, I really have no idea how common this is… we are a country of several hundred million people, after all.

        And I am not opposed to this sort of behavior seeing the light of day. Rather I am objecting to couching this in political terms e.g. “left” versus “right”.

        • Stephanie says

          R, of course this is a phenomenon on the left. Not a single person in that room, I guarantee, will vote Conservative. I’d be surprised if there were even any Liberals. These are NDP or Green Party people, gravitating towards the hardest left available. To ignore the political dimension to this is to refuse to even begin to address the problem.

          We get you, you can’t stomach anything that weakens your political tribe, to the point denying reality is a more palatable course of action. Just like mainstream media, the story is not “left does something atrocious,” it is “right pounces.”

          Well, if you want the right to stop pouncing, get rid of the people they pounce on. As long as your party is lead by these people, your pleas for the rest of us to ignore that will go entirely unheard, until like this author you yourself end up unpersoned.

          • R Gray says

            I see… my leftist politics are defined by the worst of the left’s supporters. Let’s put the very worst of the left’s supporters up against the very worst of the right’s supporters and see who has the moral high ground, right? That is what politics has become, in part due to social media, and to articles like this. Lord, help us.

        • Several hundred million people who, if you listened to mainstream leftist media and pundits, is overwhelming becoming white supremacist misogynists, or worse yet, alt-right incel Nazis.

          Do stop pretending it is only the right trying to capitalize on the horrific infighting that has consumed social media. No True Scottsman would blame only republicans.

    • Peter Whitaker says

      “The Democrats, however, have recognized that by encouraging the most outlandish behaviors of ‘Social Justice Warriors’ they can drown out the voices of genuine dissidents within the party.”

    • Defenstrator says

      Because all the people there are voters of the NDP or Greens, or something even more extreme. The right has its own problems but woke ain’t one.

    • Lydia says

      R Gray, I can only wish that Democrats supported equal justice across the board. They don’t. They support equal outcome but only with special rights for certain groups depending on where the wind is blowing. that’s why they have so much in fighting right now.

  23. Fran says

    I knew the Parry’s when my parents used to invite them to their summer place. They were into creepy games and music for children. Couldn’t stand their lovey-dovey goodness then, and would recommend steering clear of anything they are involved in. I wonder where the sweet-little-in-touch -with-themselves children they had are now.

    My final break with this sort of touchy-feelyness was when the Quaker meeting I attended attempted to get me to go back to my abusive husband. They tried to set up just such a circle to wake me, but I declined and never looked back.

  24. Ben says

    Man the world would be a better place without the legalization of homosexuality.

    • MMS says


      Yours is as idotic a statement as have ever been spwed out of the mouths of the authoritarian Left… Worse…

      Who are you to tell another adult who to couple with.

      Go back to Alt Right world…

      This site is about freedom of the individual you imbecile.

      • Ray Andrews says


        What are your thoughts on telling people that they can’t couple with relatives, children, animals and corpses?

        • MMS says

          @Ray – I would say that none of the cases (with the possible exception of Adult Relatives) involve consent on both sides of the equation (Children cannot consent by definition, animals cannot truly demonstrate their consent in a way that humans can affirm, and the dead cannot consent on account of being Dead)…

          I would also say that if any of you think that Quillette was ever intended as a place for the Alt Right you are not reading carefully enough. Quillette is about freedom of the individual against all authoritarians, Left and Right alike…

          Given the nature of the site, you can comment as you wish (which is how it should be). You also have the right to show yourself an imbecile in doing so…

          Simple, if you wish to restrict the rights of two adults to choose how they wish to conduct themselves intimately, you need to find another web site, you don’t belong here…

          • Harland says

            Ah, but parents can consent for the children. After all, they do in all other parts of life. Children are not consulted on where the family will move, or which school they will attend, or if they will do homework tonight. Parents consent to life-threatening surgery for their children. They can consent to sex as well, just as soon as we get rid of our ridiculous outdated laws. Isn’t making progress is what progressivism is all about?

            At a recent TEDx Talk in Germany, a visually unobjectionable and sexually normal-looking woman named Mirjam Heine gave a speech titled “Pedophilia is a natural sexual orientation.” Standout nuggets from her soliloquy include:

            According to current research pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation just like, for example, heterosexuality. No one chooses to be a pedophile, no one can cease being one….The difference between pedophilia and other sexual orientations is that living out this sexual orientation will end in a disaster….Abusing children is wrong without any doubt, but a pedophile who doesn’t abuse children has done nothing wrong….We shouldn’t increase the sufferings of pedophiles by excluding them, by blaming and mocking them. By doing that, WE increase their isolation and WE increase the chance of child sexual abuse.

            Heck, the Left has a long history of being in favor of the sexual liberation of children. In 1979, Eileen Fairweather was working at Spare Rib, a radical-feminist magazine. She was young and new to journalism, but assigned to read Paedophilia: The Radical Case, in which Tom O’Carroll, later imprisoned for child-abuse, argued for lowering the age of consent to four. She recalls “anguished, earnest” discussions with feminist friends about what they should write about it. “I did draft something, arguing that the existing age of consent was not ‘patriarchal’, but protected children,” she says. “But I never even dared show it to anyone.” No-one back then realized the extent and brutality of child-abuse. And the pedophile movement had so thoroughly hijacked the gay movement that, if you said you were against “child sexual liberation”—as, outrageously, they put it—you were branded “anti-gay.” She says she sees “the same intimidation and paralysis of intelligence” with the transgender debate, with people terrified to express legitimate concerns about infiltration and safeguarding.


          • Harland says

            The post-1968 sexual-liberation movement on continental Europe sought to overturn sexual taboos, and some thought that meant starting young. In German kindergartens run along radical-left lines, teachers encouraged children to fondle them, look at pornography and simulate intercourse. Contemporaneous accounts show how parents repressed their moral qualms by focusing on their beliefs about how an unrepressed child should behave.

            Such child-abuse was motivated by political conviction, not sexual desire. But it did not take long for pedophiles to spy an opportunity. The radical left was led by men focused on legalizing homosexuality and smashing the nuclear family. Though they did not intend to endanger children, they gave them little thought. Many leftwing groupings tolerated organizations such as Britain’s Paedophile Information Exchange—not least because they had the same sworn enemies: traditionalist Catholics and evangelicals; hardline conservatives and fascists. The paedophiles made most headway in Germany’s Green Party, which for several years operated as their de facto parliamentary front.

            Click here for whole article

            And here’s today’s leftists who are super into sexualizing children. Pedo to the max.

            It’s the alt-Right who want to feed pedophiles into chipper-shredders feet first, remember?

  25. Graham says

    it took these clowns three-and-a-half HOURS to denounce you? Christ, they must love the sound of their own voices and deranged, twisted ideologies! Call somebody a cunt and move on, kids, before you put the back row to sleep! For pity’s sake! Those woke wanks must be the most verbose religious fundamentalists in human history! New word or acronym every fifteen seconds!

  26. Ian says

    People who can’t control their own fears, anxieties, and jealousies feel compelled to victimize and control other people. Through this they can attain at least a temporary calm, having externalized and then “defeated” their internal demons. The best modern philosopher of this scapegoat mechanism is probably Rene Girard.

  27. Sydney says

    I defy anyone to watch that video without a jaw gaping. Imagine the Chinese Cultural Revolution in multicultural Canada and without the violence (although I have no doubt that these people would kill if given the chance). Gilbert needs to have it transcribed and posted.

    Here’s a gem. Somewhere around 1:30 mark a woman says she was buying furniture for an art installation [please God save us from SJW art installations, but I digress]. Expresses great indignity that furniture seller referred to a nation being ‘third world,’ when to her mind it must be described as a ‘developing nation.’ Says she decided to not ‘spend my money’ at his business.

    Then she actually checks herself and says, “Well, er, I mean my grant money.” The tribe all laugh heartily.

    Video must be seen to be believed. Bizarre, absurd, chilling, while at the same time coma-inducing. Actually made me want to vomit.

    • Octer Doctopus says

      Worse was her complaining that she hadn’t had a solo show until her mid 40s, despite the fact that she was on the board of a number of galleries. That she would have this expectation speaks to a level of of corruption that is off the f’n charts. As a board member you are expressly forbidden to benefit from your involvement with an organization, but this fool thinks the opposite!

  28. Blackgriffin says

    Wow. That’s a lot of words to basically say you hurt their feelings and they don’t want to play with you anymore. So very much drama. I don’t know how you stand it.

    • Heike says

      Yup. It’s a struggle session all right. Except the recipient of the abuse wasn’t there. I guess they have to innovate.

  29. Nick E says

    The rise of the super-weaklings has come upon us. No one is safe.

  30. Don Collins says

    Individual thought is not only discouraged in the woke community, they will kick you out of it for not thinking EXACTLY as they do. So what is identity then? If black,gay, trans, female are not your identity and only the way you think is, then you are not identitarian, you are authoritarian and no different than Hitler or Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot

    Its evil

  31. Defenstrator says

    I have to say your biggest mistake was not going to the meeting. If I was going to get denounces by religious idiots I would make sure to come and call them out. I would make fun of them, and their religion. I would call them immoral when they tried to impose their view of sin upon me. You don’t give these people an inch. You don’t hide. You fight them with humour, mockery, and reason. And above all let them know they are in for a fight. Bullies thrive on the silent acquiescence of their victims.

  32. silentobserver says

    Whilst this is an unsettling episode to read about, I have to ask why on earth you thought it wise to make public pronouncements about a book by a transgender writer in the week prior to the reading of your play? It seems like self-destructive behaviour at best.

    The fact that you had already been through one such inquisition should have been enough to make you realise the sense of holding off on commenting on that book, or better yet, keeping your thoughts to yourself entirely.

    I am also “gay” man, probably not much younger than you, and am well aware that for “privileged” types like us, the only sensible comment is no comment at all. You poked the beehive, and got stung. Again!

    • jrdelirio says

      However, preemptively backing down acquiescing to stay quiet, submitting to the chilling effect, was precisely what the members of any marginalized community were expected to do for generations. It is not progress to now expect that of those decreed “privileged”.

    • Heike says

      So self-censorship is the answer? Ugh, disgusting.

      • silentobserver says

        I totally agree that is is disgusting to have to self-censor. But nevertheless it seems that these days it’s the best option if you value a carefree existence and wish to spare yourself public evisceration. Doubly so for those who move in LGBTQ+ circles.

        Surely it’s about picking your battles? Was it really that valuable to the author to rant on-line about this transgenders rediculous book?

  33. Geoge Tyrebyter says

    I am getting to the point where I am going to take off after these dumbchuck SJW loser bullies. We who are anti-woke must not sit still while the bullies cavort.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      You’re going to do what? Beat up the bullies? Become transgendered to show them what’s up? Become the best damned drag queen the world has ever seen?

      At least have the courage to say what you mean.

  34. I am sorry that you were shunned by you community. I have also been shunned and it is very hurtful. It’s easy for the commenters to mock and disparage, but I imagine many of these people are or were your friends. That makes it so much harder.

    But I ahve respect to you for speaking your truth. If you are going to be ostracized from your community, the truth is a good reason.

    • TheDude says

      Those people were not his friends. Friends don’t do that to friends. If that’s what passes friendship in that community I pity them.

      • Barney Doran says

        Kind of like Gillibrand being Franken’s friend. This cancer is deep on the Left. And I am two time Obama voter. Who do you have to screw to get out of this movie?

  35. James Hamilton says

    There are echoes in this of an analysis Charles Taylor makes in “A Secular Age” to people’s relationship with evil. Without attempting to proselytize, because some Christians have been guilty of this as anyone, he suggests that those who are trying to improve the world on behalf of others often run up against serious problems – people are hard to change, and they often don’t agree with the benevolence of those wishing to make the change. The higher the goal, the more urgent the perceived need for change, and the harder the task. As the benevolent mission becomes increasingly frustrated a kind of narrative emerges whereby those on the side of the campaigners become the repository of goodness and those on the other side become the repository of badness. The latter are morally questionable.

    In cases of high ideals and the huge changes required to realise them, such as in the instigation of communism, the perceived gap in morality between those advocating the change and their opponents becomes so great that the opponents become evil. “How can they not agree with us??”. From here you find the reasoning for all kinds of appalling acts which are justified by the ultimate goal. For instance, Robespierre wanted to rule out the death penalty once the revolution had been completed. But he was happy to wade through blood to get to that point.

    My reference to Christianity above is that Christianity at the very least does not permit the adherent to think of themselves as being in any way pure: we are all subject to original sin. And it also provides an upper limit on the extent that others can be punished in that God provides limits on how one should approach justice. You shall not unlawfully kill (Exodus 20:13) and, usefully but unfortunately often misunderstood, eye for an eye (Exodus 21:23-25) which is in fact a limit on how justice is performed: the punishment must match, not exceed, the level of wrong caused to an individual. These are designed to promote peaceful co-existence, moderation in punishment, and redress to the law. Christ takes this all a step further in the Sermon on the Mount. Exodus 21:23-25, however, has often been used to justify appalling acts in the name of Christ which shows the extent to which we are subject to and must still guard against our own tendencies to project evil onto others and presume our relative virtuousness.

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  37. phy says

    Brief criticism:

    You, who do not go to church, say (paraphrasing) that the reason church goers attend is due to a desire to bond with other humans.

    In no way is that true. Bonding with the community is one of five spokes of the wheel of worship, but it is in no way the most important or emblematic.

    If ever you are in Miami, come to my church, and I will show you the reason for worship.

  38. Debbie says

    It’s as if the most picked-on high school outsiders got together to pick on their weakest member. Sad irony.

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  40. Francisco d'Anconio says

    Nothing has changed. It was more than 50 years ago that Stephen Stills wrote the prophetic lyric “Singing songs, and carrying signs, mostly saying hooray for our side.”.

  41. Robert Upshaw says

    Fascinating read. Thanks for this and best of luck to you, going forward,

  42. SPD says

    Religious ritual indeed. “Wokeness” is Calvinism for Athiests.

    • R Henry says

      As is Environmentalism, Clean Eating, Cross-Fit, and any number of other contemporary obsessions.

      • Heike says

        Didn’t Cross-Fit just get unpersoned for wrongthink? We’re so lucky to have our betters decide what we should see and what we shouldn’t.

  43. EB says

    Wow, Very glad that most of the world doesn’t operate by this set of operating procedures.

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  45. Sander Malschaert says

    I’m really saddened to read what happened to you. I hope you’ll find new purpose in life and that this debacle ends with you finding new friends and allies in unlooked for places.

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  47. Portage & Main says

    “like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children,”
    – Jacques Mallet du Pan

  48. Will Raper says

    When you spend your life around weak minded seriously deranged fools you have to expect that sooner or later it will bite you in the rear.

  49. Andrew says

    I don’t feel bad for the trotskyites killed by stalinists, I feel bad for the millions of people who suffered under their ideology. If you gleefully stoke the fire burning the foundational beams of our culture, don’t come crying to me when your skirt gets some ash on it.

    • Andrew says

      Why do people always refer to religious persecution when atheist persecution is VASTLY more deadly and consistently evil? The Spanish inquisition and Salem trials combined represent maybe 1000 deaths over scores of years. 1000 deaths would be a slow day under atheist regimes like Mao and Stalin, and their “justice” system makes the spanish and salemite zealots seem like paragons of justice

  50. Christopher Chantrill says

    Hmm. What do they say about a revolution eating its own?

  51. Azathoth says

    You burn upon the pyre you created–and cry out, in your agony, to the piles of ash that are all that is left of those you gleefully burned.

  52. Davis Love says

    “There was little actual dialogue, but rather a succession of inward-focused monologues.”

    No sentence has so succinctly captured the entire LGBT/woke movement. Incredible.

  53. wcb0484 says

    “If you think strong men are dangerous just wait until you see what weak men are capable of” Jordan Peterson

  54. stefano says

    Has gender dysphoria gone viral? Has it gone cultural? It seems that an intellectual incapacity to deal with matters of sexuality, gender and culture in an healthy or at least significant way is taking over.
    It’s probably the price we are paying for a couple of generation of academic studies that deny the existence of anything close to significant and true knowledge (let alone truth).
    Derrida’s and Marcuse’s paradise (if they ever have been one and the same, which is doubtful) reveals itself quite the infernal trip.

  55. Miriam Ben-Shalom says

    Dear Sky: I hear you. I send you caring and strength. Woke is the religion of the Far Left Exclusionists. Don’t agree with them? FEH! Out you go. PS I am a Lesbian and an independent. And gender critical.

  56. I Refuse To Yield The Talking Stick! says

    Where drama is the coin of he realm, drama queens will proliferate. Most of the drama-averse will quietly drop out, but occasionally some heretic might stand up and vocally buck the consensus. Those unhappy individuals will be pilloried for the group’s entertainment, and as a team-building exercise.

  57. This reminds me of Darkness at Noon.

    But it would also make a wonderful play, with a few actors playing multiple roles, centered around the author. What a wonderful revenge that would be for him.

  58. Nakatomi Plaza says

    God, who gives a shit? This is a group of relative outliers hashing out their personal issues and trying to run each other down based on a bunch of nonsense. This is a fringe element who represent the left about as accurately as Nazis represent the right. Stop using the term “woke” as though it represents the entirely of the left and anything and everything Quillette disdains.

    Your strawman has long since eclipsed reality. “Woke” has universally become a term of derision, and nobody takes it nearly as seriously as you guys do.

  59. chrome dynamo says

    Nothing new. You have met the modern “Red Guard”. Wear your dunce hat proudly./s

  60. Peter from Oz says

    Dear All.
    I note that people who look at the activities of the regressive lefties today often refer back to the Salem Witch trials. But let’s face those trials were a minor matter in contrast to a whole society being caught up in a bubble of madness. In order to understand this phenomenon you need to study a far more important narrative, and that is the Poish Plot of the 1670s in Britain. Here was a case where the people were made hysterical by a completely fabricated plot to kill the King and replace him with his Catholic brother. Just like today’s ”woke” types the left of the day (the Whigs who were the predecessors of today’s liberals”) whiiped up a crusade of PC and religious bigotry, based upon the evidence of one very dodgy character called Titus Oates. By the time the plot was finally accepted as a fantasy, many innocent people had been executed or imprisoned.
    There is a marvellous short book by J.P. Kenyon on the Popish Plot. I suggest that anyone who wants to understand the motivation of today’s regressives should read it.

  61. David Greene says

    Gay guy here. No sympathy for Mr. Gilbert. None. You built that insane asylum yourself, sir. Brick by brick. No one should believe for a moment that the subculture in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s was any less “woke” and any less cult-like than the cult that just devoured you. This gay urban subculture has been toxic for gay and lesbian youth as well as adults. It is obsessed above all else with gender deviance (as your own lifelong dedication to crossdressing attests) and promiscuity. Of all the gay urban subcultures, none was (and is) as warped and adverse to good health and happiness as that of Toronto. This subculture, also emphasizes victimhood and separation from the larger society. A review of gay newspapers, magazines and radio broadcasts from that era will show that the “queers” back then were just as cult-like and “woke” as the ones Mr. Gilbert purports to expose above. Then and now, “queer” subculture represents the opposite of everything a young gay man or gay woman needs in order to thrive in life.

    In decades past, these gay urban ghettos and the subculture they contained were the only places one could go to be oneself and to be among other gay people. Outside the ghettos was pervasive hostility, contempt and violence. So gay men and women had no choice but to take the bad in order to get the good. Thank god this is no longer true. Gay young people can find support anywhere and the most important place they are getting this support is in their families, first from their parents and siblings, and later in the families they form through marriage. And they can find peer support, from gay and straight people, at school and work. In sum, they don’t need Sky Gilbert, his “queer” theater, or his crossdressing celebrations, nor do they need the morose, “queer” cultists who now run his organization. Steadily and surely, this blight is going away. Only the dregs will remain. So let the dead-enders in these shrinking, dying enclaves feast upon one another. The only thing that normal LGB people require is a steady supply of popcorn.

    • chowderhead says

      Seriously, @David Greene, that is the best comment I’ve read on this rag of a site. These end-times posters’ knee-jerk reactions to something that is clearly unsustainable is laughable given their self-professed erudition and superior wisdom. This thing will have a short life, then circle around again, just like those fugly mom jeans I see teenagers wearing again – barf!

      Stop the fucking pity party. Sit back with your preferred beverage and/or smoke and enjoy the self consuming orgy. I promise the sun will rise tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…

    • Sydney says

      @David Greene

      True. Your comment reminded me: Sky Gilbert would do ‘Quillette’ readers a service by explaining what pedophilia-friendly ‘Men Loving Boys Loving Men’ was all about in the Toronto of the late 70s/early 80s. Sick behaviour has been brewing a long time in this community.

      • David Greene says

        @Sydney – I could have written a very long bill of particulars on the toxicity and depravity of that gay urban subculture, including the one in Toronto. But the comment was already long enough. For those who may not get Sydney’s reference, it is to an essay in “Body Politic” a vile, debased radical magazine which was published in the 1970s and 1980s — the good old days according to Sky Gilbert. Now, to be fair, the pedophilia essay was highly atypical and was widely condemned at the time. But even leaving that aside, the magazine reflected the subculture in that it relentlessly bowed and prayed to the same twin gods that today’s “queers” do – gender deviance and promiscuity. One of the more memorable (and more typical) pieces from Body Politic was an essay in 1982 denouncing medical doctors who were advocating safe sex and fewer partners to prevent AIDS. The author raged that these doctors “seek to rip apart the very promiscuous fabric that knits the gay male community together.” That deluded clown died of AIDS a few years after writing those words.

        LGB people deserved so much better than these moral failures. There was a period from roughly 1968 to 1975 when all options were open, and gay people could have crafted a subculture which promoted thriving and happiness and stability. We needed gay Jeffersons, Hamiltons, Paines and Franklins to think carefully about what kind of culture we want to build for ourselves and how we can relate to a larger world which was hostile to us. Instead of that, we got pseudo-men like Mr. Gilbert, who is most proud of “wearing my high heels and mascara.”

        Well, normal LGBs are now, at long last, getting to the right place — where we might have been 30 years earlier with proper leadership. So let’s all enjoy watching these woke “radical queers” eat each other alive.

  62. Daniel says

    I sympathize. I really do. Nobody wins when the Woke Left gets involved. But your article seems to be pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of the Woke Left.
    Unfortunately, there is a tragic way in which they are consistent with that which you yourself spearheaded.
    This is not a bizarre, nonsensical development. It is utterly inevitable, due to the fact that the bizarre and nonsensical happened decades ago.

  63. Dirtnapninja says

    Congratulations. Your generation of revolutionary is now obsolete. You have been replaced with the newer model of revolutionary. Into the dustbin you go.

  64. Emmanuel Thoreau says

    Ah, the true nature of Quillette shines through. Such space given to the war diary of a former leader of the vanguard, now eclipsed and un-personed by his own troops. Is he supposed to be some sort of Solzhenitsyn, writing from his experiences in the work and re-education camps of the left, for whom we are now to turn for advice and insight upon the human condition?

    No. All of this was known long ago. Choosing to identify one’s very selfhood with a trifling social practice such as entertaining as a drag queen is a recipe for unhappiness. There’s nothing he can teach the person of moderation, modesty, and quiet virtue. Instead of voyeuristically watching his metaphorical disembowelment via video for hours on end, perhaps he ought to spend his time listening to more edifying content — or reading a book, or finding better examples of people with whom to spend time. All of these suggestions, however, involve detaching his mind from his ego, which, given his age, is unlikely to happen.

    This is a man who was perfectly willing to go along with all of the tactical advances of this cultural movement until it deprived him of the theater he founded. Had it not been for that, this article would never have been written. He only noticed the insanity of his former comrades recently, probably because he’d previously purchased the rest of the homosexual project on the installment plan, including the practice of referring to formerly “gay” men such as his academic colleague in the article as “women.”

    What is the purpose of this content? The wise man already knows that such types invariably end up being tossed into the street after the revolution. We have nothing to learn from his lifestyle, his politics, or his choice of friends in life. And now he lives in fear from these fanatics. Well. What a story.

    I assume that the editors see him as a sort of Prodigal Son, come home to validate their petit bourgeois liberal cosmopolitanism: all sorts of perversions and terrible ideas are welcome in their house, so long as everyone is polite about them and adheres to republican principles. As if this has not been offered to the Left for 60 years now, and leads each time to worried laments over lunacies such as “Long Tables” as described in this piece.

    It’s a good business model, though. There will always be defectors. Partisan Review was quite successful for decades using this approach.

  65. kamakirinoko says

    Well, the comments are certainly reassuring. I thought perhaps it was just me sitting here wondering if after 61 years of existence the dementia had already begun and I had been unwittingly transported into an upside-down world where black was white and plus was minus and male was female . . .

  66. bucephalus says

    Great article but one small quibble. You state here: “The term “morally defective individual” more or less describes how I am now seen in Canadian avant-garde LGBT theatre circles.” and that “Vivek Shraya is an internationally fêted transgender author, performer and media star, praised in Vanity Fair and fawned over by the CBC.”

    In order to be “Avant-garde” you need to pay a very real price, in my opinion. Deal with some push back, deal with real resistance. These woke people are not avant-garde whatsoever. As your quote about Shraya, they are celebrated. What is in fact avant garde, is YOU speaking out against this religious fervor.

  67. Kenneth Newman says

    Just walk away from the world of hate. That’s all it takes. Just walk away. (used to live at Yonge & Gerard through 85-90, loved Buddies in Bad Times. Sorry this happened to you. You deserve better)

  68. Pman says

    Mr. Gilbert’s unpersoning by …ahem…Canada’s radical theatre community is an example of the adage that revolutions eat their own children. I sympathize with Mr. Gilbert. It must be extraordinarily jarring to be the victim of a hate mob. And there’s the unmentioned income thing. Canada being what it is, I assume that as a professor and radical playwright, Mr. Gilbert made a fine living from government grants over the years, and will be unlikely to do so in the future. However, I wonder if he acknowledges any responsibility for creating the social movement that ultimately denounced him. One thinks of all the Old Bolsheviks purged by Stalin in the late 1930’s. All those revolutionaries, revealed as enemies of the monster state they helped create. Of course, there’s a difference between being shot (as 700 thousand to 1.2 million were in that particular purge) and being denounced by a group of idiots. Mr. Gilbert might take some comfort in that.

  69. Dave McL says

    An erudite article, Sky. Thank you. You gave me insights into the Woke world I hadn’t thought of before, including the concept of a generation whose community is mainly online. Just as an aside, I went to your Wikipedia entry, as I often do to see how the Woke trash the people they don’t approve of. You haven’t been trashed yet! Well done.

  70. Stephen William Pierson says

    This reminds me, with a shiver, that I cannot say certain things at the two-year college where I teach, not because they are not true (they are backed up by compelling research in biology and cognitive science), but precisely because they are true and the truth would give offense to a very small number of people. I’m not talking about speaking truth to my students (they can handle it). I’m talking about speaking truth to my colleagues.

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