Signal boosting: BLM & Toronto Pride

Over on The Orbit, Ania covers why police force participation at Pride festivals is a betrayal of Pride’s roots:

The demands were in response to a series of moves by the PRIDE organization in Toronto that has been gradually eliminating Queer focused PoC spaces in Toronto. It was in response to the fact that there has been a lot of white washing happening in queer communities and many vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, trans woman and specifically trans women of colour, and native people, have felt themselves being pushed out in various was from queer communities.

It is a struggle many people who belong to multiple vulnerable groups find themselves facing in spaces meant to cater to one or more of those identities. Black women faced with feminist spaces that prioritize white women’s concerns, trans women who are actively discriminated against or are forced to deal with TERFs in nominally “safe” spaces, disabled people who face meetings related to feminism, race issues, trans issues, etc. being held in inaccessible spaces or without the benefit of accessibility measures like interpreters.

The response to the protest has been mixed. While some, myself included, have been praising it not just for bringing awareness to the plight of PoC and black people in particular in both Canada and the US, but at the same time taking a moment to carve out a space as well for other vulnerable communities, many other people have condemned the protest.

One of the biggest complaints that I’ve seen so far has to do with the request that Police no longer be allowed to have a float or booth at the festival or parade and future events. Many people seem to feel that this is unfair to officers who are themselves QUILTBAG.

In order to understand the request however, there needs to be a bit more of a consideration of history on multiple levels.

The thing I love about the BLM movement is that it has always been rock solid on intersectionality. This is why I support and celebrate PoCs leading the charge–with BLM at the helm, they’ll have space in their protest for black trans women, and that’s enough for me to feel represented. On the topic of race relations, my role as a white woman is to signal boost and expand the platform of PoCs; on the topic of gender variance and the violence we face, it is important that sharing my own experiences does not occur over the voices of less privileged trans women. I know my perspective will be accessed; experience tells me this is less likely to happen when it’s white cis gays leading the group.

Ania explains how the violence doesn’t have to be brutal from police (although it sometimes still is, even in Canada), the police still antagonize and make difficult the lives of Queer PoCs. Having them officially represented at Pride means forgetting where Pride came from. White cis gays like to talk about how much progress has been made without acknowledging how much more work still needs to be done. They complain about political agendas being brought to a protest that was originally about political agendas.

If there were ever a time to point out how the L and the G have been antagonistic to the T and the B and the Q, now would be it.