Meet The Pink Foxes, Ireland's new queer activist group

"The Pink Foxes is one small local cause committed to promoting tolerance, protecting pride, and deterring hate and violence against queers."

The Pink Foxes had their first meeting in Outhouse
Image: Instagram via @pinkpanthersirl

The Pink Foxes have had a somewhat controversial beginning. Coming under fire for originally launching as The Pink Panthers, the group has since rebranded and is gearing up to begin the fight against queer violence in Ireland. The group had its first-ever meeting in Outhouse on Capel Street on June 21 and is well underway to becoming active in Dublin City.

Why did the Pink Panthers rebrand as the Pink Foxes?

Our group started off calling itself The Pink Panthers, inspired by the original Pink Panther group of LGBTQ+ activists in Manhattan in the 1980’s who came together to patrol the streets where “gay-bashing” was becoming an increasing issue.

Seeing the rise in queerphobia and violence against queer people across Ireland, the purpose of our group has undeniable overlap with the motives of the original Pink Panthers. The name was intended as a respectful homage to this fascinating part of queer history and queer activism.

We were very much aware of the common symbolism between The Pink Panther name and image and the renowned Black Panther Party founded by Huey P Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland in the 1960’s.

After launching the social media page a few weeks ago, some people took issue with how close the symbolism came between separate causes. Some people made accusations that the name was a desecration of the reputation of the Black Panther Party and that it amounted to cultural appropriation.

Huey P Newton himself wrote an open letter in 1970, a year after the Stonewall riots, calling for unity between the black civil rights movement, the Women’s Liberation and the Gay Liberation Movement. The open letter calls for solidarity between these different struggles, uniting in a common aim for revolution. He states in this letter “the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends”.

While we believe one group can take inspiration from one another and that this can be done so with respect, for some people, the name The Pink Panthers did not land this way. Unfortunately, the changing of the name from The Pink Panthers to the Pink Foxes and the decision to rebrand have become nearly the entire focus.

I am excited for our volunteers to hit the streets in their High Viz Vests and show the queer community that we care for each other and will take action to keep one another safe.

What is the aim of the group?

Our group is a new and unique citizen assistance project. In light of the concerning trend of rising queerphobia and violence, our purpose is to be a visible presence in areas where queer people socialise (e.g. George’s Street, Capel Street, Dame Street) and be ready to assist in the event of an incident.

Our volunteers will all be trained in basic first aid, psychological first aid, and conflict management/de-escalation. Should anyone suffer intimidation, verbal, or physical abuse in the vicinity of our Pink Foxes Patrols, our volunteers will tend to the victim, assist in rescue from the scene, provide immediate first aid both medical and psychological and also document details of the incident so they may act as an advocate for a victim of queerphobia. The presence of our volunteers in these places will hopefully act as a deterrent to intolerance and queerphobia.

Why is it important to have a group like this?

It is a sad thing to admit, but the recent spate of attacks against queer people and the horrifying murders in Sligo have taken something precious from us all; our sense of safety in public space. The feeling of acceptance and tolerance in public discourse has been rattled for all queer people in Ireland, especially our Trans community and there has been nothing done by our Government or our policing body to reassure queer people.

No doubling of efforts, no concrete commitments. Some hand wringing, a Rainbow Pride Police car and Dublin being declared an LGBT Freedom Zone (whatever the hell that means). What else can we do but rally together and stand against violence and intolerance? We must protect our Pride.

What does the work involve?

Once trained up, our volunteers will form patrols that cover LGBTQ areas of the city centre. Our volunteers will monitor these areas for incidents of conflict, and verbal or physical assault, and will be ready and able to assist in rescuing the victim and arranging help. One of the most important roles of our group is to be a visible symbol of reassurance to our community.

When you see our pink high viz vests you will know that we are here to help should you ever need us. It might mean giving you directions, helping reunite you with your friends, chatting with you while you wait for a taxi, or comforting you after someone screamed a slur in your face, you will know that we are there for you. Our patrols will take place on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 pm to 3 am.

How do people get involved and what are the criteria for volunteering?

We are in great need of enthusiastic volunteers! If you can commit 4-8 hours of your time once a month, we want to hear from you. Please email [email protected] to ask for a volunteer information booklet and an application form. All applications are welcome.

Desirable skills include first aid knowledge and experience, training in psychological first aid, and experience or training in conflict de-escalation/resolution. All training will be provided to volunteers so there are no entry requirements on this front. Our volunteers must be committed to an ethos of non-violence and non-aggression when working in the Pink High Viz and you must be suited to the role of carer/support.

So much needs to be done to turn back the rising tide of intolerance that we see breaking across the world. The Pink Foxes is one small local cause committed to promoting tolerance, protecting pride, and deterring hate and violence against queers.

Keep to date with their newest activity and watch the first volunteer meeting in full by following their Instagram account.

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