The Pride Toronto Organization has voted to accept the entire list of demands from the Black Lives Matter. This includes banning the Toronto Police from participating. Effectively the BLM have taken over the gay pride agenda, and enforced their own regardless of the damage to the gay community.
This is a very disappointing decision. The gay community in Toronto has not always had a great relationship with police. They raided several bath houses and The Body Politic in 1981 almost 36 years ago, to the day. Since that time the gay community and the police community have worked very hard to bridge those gaps. Police Chief Mark Saunders apologized for raids in 2016. Now BLM threatens to set that relationship back.
I wrote about Pride last year, and my own conflicting emotions with it. I am not proud to be gay, any more than I am proud to be white. Or proud to be male, or proud to be right handed. Being proud of something you are is stupid, unless it is something that you have achieved. Like you could be proud to be a doctor, or proud to be a world class figure skater but the pride is in the achievement, not in the being.
BLM was given a position in the parade and they high-jacked it for their own agenda. Now they are running the show. I am not opposed to BLM; not at all. I can imagine some of the discrimination they have gone through, but I’m not convinced they have the right approach. They come off as confrontational. They make demands and ultimatums without providing any information about what they will do to contribute. This is what I wrote last June,
“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?”
Toronto Constable Chuck Krangle write an amazing open letter to the Toronto Pride committee last year. This is exactly the kind of thing we should be encouraging. By encouraging inclusion we encourage acceptance and understanding. This is why I will never live in the village or any “gay-bourhood”. I want people to see my husband and I together and to normalize being gay, because it is normal. I shouldn’t have to live in a specific geographic area to feel safe.
There is a petition to the Toronto Pride committee asking to have the police re-included in the parade. I signed it. Police should be included, they are as much a part of our community as anyone else is.
Hashim Yussuf, the BLM organizer, was quoted,”We believe the police as an organization, as an institution, have been very homophobic and racist to the community members within Pride Toronto.”
News flash, lots of people have been homophobic, including gays themselves! I fail to see how excluding them solves that issue. If we can get more people like Cnst. Krangle into the force then it becomes less homophobic. If we include police in our communities, and invite them to our events as participants, then it lessens the stigmas for everyone. It is about inclusion, and breaking down the barriers that prevent others from being present and participating. BML have identified some barriers which need addressing. But, excluding others does not help anyone.
Just as the gay community looked at what the civil right movement was doing, to start their fight. BLM should look to the gay community at how we’ve improved relationships with the authorities.
“We are less when we don’t include everyone”
~Stuart Milk, LGBT Activist & co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation