On July 3, the annual Pride march in Toronto was the biggest yet. And there was something a bit different this year: Black Lives Matter injected politics in a real way to the march. While there are many who have tried to change in some ways the corporate and state influence over Pride, those who run it have tried to keep it a purely celebratory and de-politicized event. But Pride is Political. It was born out of struggle and must continue to push for social change.
This year, Black Lives Matter Toronto was the honorary guest of Pride, and they used this platform to hold a protest during the march. For about half an hour, the march was stopped while they presented Pride Toronto with a series of demands. These demands included increased funding for events run by and for black youth and disallowing Toronto Police Services from having a float in future marches and pride events.
This demand is an important one – the police force regularly enforces violence on queer communities, especially those who are also racialized. Why should we allow them, for one day a year, to dishonestly represent themselves as friends of the queer community? Pride Toronto is hyper corporatized, with banks and large corporations having floats every year. Corporations and Toronto Police Services alike use the opportunity to flaunt their “support” for LGBT folks. They send their queer employees or hire dancers for entertainment. They make it seem like they are champions for rights of queer people.
The head of Pride Toronto signed the list of demands, and then very next day claimed he had not in fact agreed to the removal of police from future events.
Black Lives Matter, and any other people organizing around queer issues need to continue to push for the removal of police services from their events. And here in Hamilton, we must take note, and also look to disclude police from our events, rallies, community spaces and make sure they know they are not welcome!
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