Pride 2016 has come and gone and it was a challenging one on a number of fronts.
Obviously Orlando weighed heavily on everyone’s minds and there were numerous signs showing support. The float in the picture above was empty… and later 49 marchers solemnly passed, each carrying a sign with the name of one of the victims.My favorite sign simply read, “Keep dancing Orlando”. At 3 pm the Parade came to a planned stop and a moment of silence was observed.
On a more personal level pride is very important to Zuimei. It could be that they don’t have a Pride parade in Tokyo, or that it’s because we met at pride, but ever since he started Touhenboku he has made a point of participating, celebrating and supporting pride every year.
Due to a snafu however his truck was sent along way before his group of people were. As a result his group didn’t have water, t-shirt or bags to hand out. This was very disappointing to Zuimei since he really goes all in for this. While other groups (like the banks) are handing out stickers, candy or beads, he hands out shirts and cloth bags. He spent a considerable about of money on it and it was disappointing that someone f’d it up for him.
On the plus side, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau joined pride as the first sitting PM to ever do so and Toronto Mayor John Tory returned to the tradition of joining pride since Rob Ford’s refusal to attend.
The PM was also joined by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory. The security around them was tight to say the least. The number of “marchers” with ear pieces and vests on was considerable.
Pride ran into a bit of a situation when the Black Lives Matter group, who were granted an honoured group position halted the parade for over a half hour while demanding the Pride organizers sign an agreement. Here is the list of their demands.
Personally I am of two minds with this. My initial reaction is “Fuck you! Go high-jack someone else’s parade!” They were given an honoured position and included and they threw it back in our face! On the other hand…Gay pride which started with the Stonewall Riots was started by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera two trans-gendered women of colour. Along the way in out fight for equality we have left some of our brothers and sisters behind. Perhaps is it a sign that we’ve made it when Pride has become part of the establishment.
I was talking with a friend today and mentioned how Pride had changed, even in the 14 years I had been attending. I remember my first pride seeing a float go by with someone in S&M gear whipping a guy with a hood on. Now, It was much more corporate; every bank has a float, even beer companies, and Pfizer are present. There wasn’t much of sex in it anymore. Maybe somewhere along the way we had lost our roots.
Some of the BLM demands I like and some I have issue with. I love the idea of BQY funding, especially if it is a space in jeopard but I would throw this back and ask BLM_TO to also contribute, if not funds then time and support. I feel like there was a lot of shouting about Black lives matter and the gay and trans support was an afterthought. Number 6 is a must. We must increase the representation of other communities. Which makes me curious as to why American Sign Language is mentioned twice both in demand #4 and #7. Is there someone in particular they are thinking of?
I completely disagree with number 8. It’s been a long slow road from the raids of the bath houses to the chief of police, Mark Saunders, marching in the parade. I would like to see more inclusion, not less.