Monday, July 4, 2016

Toronto Pride 2016 Equality for all...wait....

*Phone rings*

"Oh hey, establishment, I'm glad I caught you, how are you?

Oh wow, that's great! Glad to hear everyone is doing well, listen, I'm afraid my group of people aren't too happy with the way you are treating us, we've discussed it, and we've decided we need to protest.

So I wanted to try to book in a time where it would be convenient for you. How about next You've a Scrabble tournament? Wednesday...oh, that would indeed interrupt you. 

Next Saturday? That sounds good, thank you so much for allowing us to protest!"


So in my lovely hometown of Toronto, we have had our Pride celebrations. To commemorate those who have protested for rights, those who still do, those who have died and to provide an opportunity to celebrate your identity within the LGBTQ community. It's wonderful right? I'm lucky enough to live in a place where not only the Mayor of Toronto, the Premier of Ontario and the Prime Minister of Canada come out to support Pride. It sends a messages to millions that this is a place where we continually working on and pushing forward on rights and safeties for people of this community. It's far from perfect and there is still a long way to go, but compared to other parts of the world, it's pretty groovy.

So festivities in full tilt, the parade is halted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Shortly after people lost their shit. Some of the comments when along the lines of "how dare you! I had to wait in the sun for the parade!!" "You should have protested this earlier!" (Behind closed doors). “You are only allowed here as invited guests!” “ALL LIVES MATTER!!!!” “What a disgrace to your people!” “Go fight black on black crime!” “You’re racists” “We all know that black people hate homosexuals” “You guys are thugs” “I used to support Black Lives Matter, but not anymore!” “How can we take you seriously when you are using slang” All of these are paraphrased things I’ve seen on my newsfeed this morning.

So here’s the thing, LGBTQ community, as far as equality for non-white people in this community, you need to step it up. Like big time, and what sucks about that big time is that it has to be said. Shortly after the Orlando massacre, I cannot tell you how many white LGBT people took to the Internet to condemn Muslims and “their way of life” Meanwhile, as usual, Muslim groups went into hyper drive to prove they’re not evil and showed solidarity in so many gracious acts despite the vile things being thrown their way.

People of colour are regularly erased from LGBTQ spaces. It’s happened with this protest! all people see is black people protesting, but has it occurred to them that they may be LGBTQ black people? And they may have some grievances inside the community? Is that allowed? I mean, it would be hilarious illustration of POC erasure in the community if it weren't so sad.

See, if you are part of a community and pride yourself as being inclusive, that means you’re going to have to include people of colour more regularly. You have to examine boards of directors and supervisors and ask yourself, why they are largely white in a city where people of colour are the majority. You’re going to have to answer tough questions about why you think the established way is the best way. You’re going to be asked to examine your alliances with groups long criticized for being racist. And much to Pride Toronto’s credit, they were asked and they answered.

There is this thing called intersectionality, it’s a wild concept, it outlines the possibility that even if you are from a marginalized community, you still may have power, and you may be marginalizing other communities. Many people are shocked to hear this, many people push back against the idea, but it happens, regularly! You have a white gay male and a black straight male punch a police officer, guess which one is more likely to be seriously hurt? You have a male straight south Asian dude and a white lesbian women competing for a job, guess who is more likely to get paid roughly 25% less, but then that dude may have a harder time getting his foot in the door because the name on his resume may be "too ethnic". You can be a minority and still benefit from a system in place that marginalizes people based on race, gender, class, religion, ethnicity, immigration status and so many more AND sexual orientation.

Repeat after me, because you are a marginalized group, you do not get a free pass in marginalizing others and still be considered inclusive.  

I’m sorry your parade was marred by people wanting equal rights within the community, what a terrible thing to do! Sorry that this interruption for equality disturbs you so much, (in a parade for equality). I get it, we can only march for certain people’s equality and not look within our own borders.  

Protests are never convenient, they’re not supposed to be. They’re there to draw attention to a problem, they’re there to be controversial, to say that there is something wrong with the status quo and if you’re going to let the fact that you were inconvenienced by what? A half hour, you need to think back ten, twenty, thirty or forty years ago when people were criticizing Pride for the exact same reasons you are criticizing Black Lives Matter.

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