It has been only 6 months since Black Lives Matter and Canadian Pride Parades were a heated duo in the news. This week, Pride Toronto members voted to remove police floats and marchers from the annual Toronto Pride Parade following a heated discussion at its general meeting Tuesday night. The meeting was initially called to focus on electing five new board members and finances, but police participation at the Pride parade sidetracked the meeting.
If you recall, last year's Toronto Pride Parade was delayed by a half an hour due to a BLM protest. The parade was able to restart after parade organizers met with BLM during the parade to agree on several demands, one of them being no more police participation in future prides (Black Lives Matter Claims Victory After Halting Toronto Pride Parade (July 4, 2016)) Parade planners were quick to state that the demands would not be met, but they told BLM they would be, just to get the parade going again (Pride Toronto Will Not Meet Demands From Black Lives Matter (July 4, 2016)) Weeks later the Vancouver contingency of BLM decided to ask police to not participate (Black Lives Matter Vancouver Ask Police To Withdraw From Pride Parade (July 16, 2016)). The police were allowed to have a presence in the Vancouver celebration but with less vehicles and individuals than planned.
There's a lot of feelings, thoughts, and judgments about how BLM and LGBT Pride should or should not go hand-in-hand.
The membership voted on Tuesday to endorse all of the demands that also referenced more funding for Black Queer Youth, community stages and prioritizing of the hiring of Black transwomen, Indigenous people and others from vulnerable communities at Pride.
But not everyone agreed the move was the right one. Some on Twitter argued police exclusion goes against what the Pride parade stands for.
A gay Toronto Police officer who wrote an open letter last year fearing he would be excluded from the Pride parade also expressed his disappointment over the decision.
“It certainly is disappointing to see what has transpired,” Chuck Krangle said in an e-mail to Global News. “I feel my statement of ‘Exclusion does not promote Inclusion‘ speaks volumes to the situation.”
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack called it a “major setback” for police and LGBTQ relations.
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement on Wednesday citing the importance of inclusion in the parade and the need to foster respect.
“The Toronto Police have had a presence in the Pride parade for more than a decade and continue to make meaningful efforts to build bridges with the LGBTQ2S community,” he said.
“With respect to police participation in the Pride parade, I am hopeful that people of goodwill can find a way to resolve this issue and to ensure that we can continue to build those vitally important bridges.” – globalnews.ca
And from VICE.com we read:
"Once (the vote) was completed, it was just like joy," BLMTO co-founder Alexandria Williams told VICE. "I can't even explain how I feel that we asked Pride to do something and the community responded and we got our results."
Williams said people in the black LGBTQ community have suffered at the hands of cops.
"The glorification of police at Pride is just completely irresponsible and disrespectful to a community that has been heavily policed, heavily controlled, experienced an extreme amount of violence by this force."
The group has no issues with individual officers participating in Pride, but does not want a uniformed presence. – VICE.com
I'm going to recycle my thoughts I shared last year about the BLM demands since my mind hasn't changed that much.
If we disliked every group IN GENERAL that have caused issues for us in the past, what I feel the BLM group is doing with the police, we should not allow ANY church groups to participate in Prie events, no matter if they allow us to get married or not. A little extreme? Maybe, but … we are still being looked down upon by Catholic and Muslim institutions even though smaller church groups have opened their doors to LGBT believers. But using the same mentality as banning the police (police should not be allowed because of past issues and present treatment), all church groups should not be allowed to march. Religion in general has done more harm to our community than good.
What about parent groups like PFLAG? Since so many homeless LGBT youths are there because parents discarded them out of their homes and into the streets.
We should not let any sports groups march. We need to not allow any government group or politician to march in any pride parade since so many laws have been established to hurt us, not help us.
Members of several groups have hated us for being who we are, pushed us out, ridiculed us, disowned us, and wrote laws against us before and some still do today.
But then again, I am white so my opinion and thoughts may not matter, correct? Or is this beyond a race issue? Is banning the police from the Pride parade an LGBT desire as well?
Maybe there will be a group in Toronto that signs up for the Pride Parade and dresses like police officers to show everyone that not all LGBTers fear the police, hate the police, dislike the police. Some of us actually are very thankful for them. When Wilton Manors, Florida was facing threats of violence, the local police forces stepped up to show their presence. When Pulse happened, it didn't matter the color of the skin of the hostages and victims, help was there.
Agree to disagree. Tell us what you think.
Does your local and possibly state law enforcement march in your community's Pride Parade?
Do they participate in the festivities or do they just provide protection and "policing" of the event?
What should their role be?
These are my opinions above and not an official statement from or belief of Instinct Magazine.