Toronto Pride has developed a reputation for being overwhelmingly white and cis. The criticism could likely be levied against any Pride, with its shift towards cis gay men and corporations downplaying the original intent of Pride: a protest. It was never meant to be a movement towards white cisheterosexist assimilation.
Members of the Black Lives Matter Toronto group briefly halted the Pride parade today, holding up the marching for about 30 minutes.
The parade didn’t re-start until after Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to the group’s demands.
“It’s always the appropriate time to make sure folks know about the marginalization of black people, of black queer youth, black trans youth, of black trans people,” [Williams] said. “We are not taking any space away from any folks. When we talk about homophobia, transphobia, we go through that too … It should be a cohesive unit, not one against the other. Anti-blackness needs to be addressed and they can be addressed at the same time, in the same spaces,” she said.
In a news release, the group said Pride Toronto “has shown little honour to black queer/trans communities, and other marginalized communities. Over the years, Pride has threatened the existence of black spaces at Pride that have existed for years.”
The group released a list of demands, including a commitment to increase representation among Pride Toronto staff, and to prioritize the hiring of black transgender women and indigenous people.
One of the other demands also called for the exclusion of police floats, although not necessarily police members, from participating:
But Khan told CBC News her group is not looking to exclude officers who identify as LGBT from participating in Pride events, but it opposes floats accompanied by uniformed, armed officers — calling them a stark reminder of the history of brutality faced by the LGBT community and visible minorities.
“To be clear, we said, ‘No floats. No police floats,'” Khan said. “But we have no desire to police the police in terms of whether they should actually be there or not when they’re LGBTQ-identified.”
Khan said her group’s actions are in keeping with “histories of resistance” that have long been a part of the tradition of Pride.
“If we think about the dyke march that happened 20 years ago, gay men were saying, ‘Why should you have your own Pride?’ … Twenty years later it’s an integral part of what Pride is all over the world. We’re saying, should we wait 20 years before black lives are also considered an integral part?”
Canada has a “less bad” record of police brutality than America, sure. But it’s certainly worth reminding the overwhelmingly white Pride Parade that black folks, and black queer folks, still deal with a lot of antagonism and prejudice even if it’s not outright brutality, and that police brutality still happens even if less often.
Khan’s criticism targeted police more than Pride organizers, however, taking aim at the force for only recently acknowledging its role in gay bathhouse raids that took place more than 30 years ago, and failing to apologize for a second raid on lesbians at Pussy Palace in the 1990s.
“This type of pink-washing that’s happening, where it’s like, ‘We’re in alignment with gender and sexually diverse people, but not in alignment with racialized people,’ we can’t stand for that,” she said.
Meanwhile, the police do not so much miss the point as needlessly demonstrate it:
Meanwhile, Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said the group’s demands has LGBT officers feeling sidelined.
“I’m not surprised at Black Lives Matter and their shenanigans, but when people who are the organizers of this sign a document basically saying police shouldn’t be involved … I think our officers are feeling betrayed.”
“We’re supposed to be celebrating … and now what are we talking about? We’re talking about Black Lives Matter and them hijacking the parade to facilitate a political agenda.”
…The BLM protesters were Queer, McCormack. It’s their Pride too. Or it’s supposed to be, but it has white people who neglect black queer social programs, corporations who won’t hire them, and police who’ve been killing and antagonizing them.
Despite this, Khan has not called for the exclusion of officers, merely for the exclusion of a float and their weapons. She states repeatedly that LGBTQ officers are welcome to march in uniform otherwise. That’s an almost unreasonable compromise, yet the white tears flow regardless. (This is your daily reminder that Queers can be part of the kyriarchy too!)
Cis gay men are supposed to be one stripe of the rainbow, not the entire fucking parade. I look forward to a Pride that returns to its roots: Trans and genderqueer POCs leading the charge.
Fuck Toronto Pride, and all of the apologists who call BLM “disruptive.” They’re a protest not a fucking tea party. BLM’s complaints are legitimate and I fully support the integration of Toronto Pride with BLM, barring tender white fee fees that can’t process the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we’ve benefited from racism, our apathy upholds racism, and it’s on us to do something about that.
Don’t call it a space for Queer people if there’s no room for black Queers.