Pride Toronto should be ashamed
Black Lives Matter protesters shut down last year's Pride parade. POSTMEDIA
SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS
I'm booked for a gig that sees me out of Toronto this coming Pride and I CENTS confess part of me sighed in relief about being absent this year, after learning about the latest disappointing storyline on As Toronto Pride Twirls.
Tuesday, at Pride Toronto's annual general meeting, rather than running a business like a business, the annual festival 'bent over' to pressure and bullying.
At the insistence of self-described "white butch dykes," Black Lives Matter (though not on the agenda to have addressed the demands made when they disrupted the 2016 parade with a 30-minute sit-in) were given top spot, anyway. Cut to: Pride acquiescing to their wants, including a ban on Toronto Police participation in future Pride celebrations and ... scene! Is this the level we've sunk to? Listen, I have my own issues with Toronto Police. And I applauded BLM's ballsy move at Pride because I empathize with their desires.
Because I love Toronto and I love the queer community I'm a part of, I'm offering what needs fixing in this bad script because our LGBT community is better than this. Our Pride is better than this.
A Wet Lead
This was a time to present audited financial statements and elect a new board, to run the annual $300 million economic engine like the business it is. It wasn't the time to have meaningful dialogue or create effective change. On Tuesday night, Pride Toronto forgot its leading role.
Two Steps Back
Just last year, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issued an apology for the 2000 raid on the women's bathhouse night, "Pussy Palace." It was a small step forward, however late. Yet with the next move in the court of the LGBT community, a few hundred people - who do not represent its entirety - pulled tens of thousands of unheard members of it away from further growth in understanding and communication with Toronto Police. This kind of renegade behaviour by a few does nothing but widen the chasm for thousands. Most importantly, what about the gay cops? They're not allowed to participate in their own parade?! While not all police officers are tolerant, at the height of homophobia in Toronto, many a cop helped save the day and protect my friends and I during difficult times.
BLM needs to be more professional
I spoke with several black LGBT friends, colleagues and acquaintances before deadline and here's my report: All of them, at the very least, took issue with the manner in which the BLM saga is unfolding, citing the need to keep doors open (an ethos the LGBT community claims to value). They asked me why BLM wields this kind of influence suddenly. With one person - requesting anonymity - stating: "BLM makes me want to apologize to my white friends. This is not who I am and therefore it feels, as a black person, BLM discriminates against me."
You can't have your cake and eat it too
Toronto taxpayers footed a half-million dollar bill for police security in 2016 and Pride is partially publicly funded. If I were a City of Toronto councillor, I'd vote 'no' to using tax dollars in 2017. If the LGBT community doesn't want police at the festival, then they should have to pay for its own security. Have fun with that bill when Justin Trudeau marches with our community again.
Shaun Proulx hosts The Shaun Proulx Show on SiriusXM Canada Talks channel 167. He is the publisher of TheGay GuideNetwork.com and leads a #ThoughtRevolution on ShaunProulx.com.