Trans Pride and Shame in Toronto

Pride Parade in Toronto

There’s so much to say, and there’s so much to think. There’s so much to learn… and most importantly, there’s SO MUCH TO DO. So much more work still to do in every community, in every safe and unsafe space, and in every individual mind and heart.

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I really have no claim to possessing the answers. I only know what I feel, and what I see, and what I am learning.

There are so many sides to the issue, and everyone probably has some kind of opinion or thought on the Black Lives Matter protest at the  Toronto Pride Parade.

I was marching with Oasis Aqualounge at the back of the parade, which was organized alphabetically, so I didn’t get to see the BLM marchers or truck, and sadly I also didn’t get to spray Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with my water gun, which would have been a fun addendum to the events of the politically charged day.

But I was told at some point during waiting for the march to start, that Black Lives Matter had shut down the Parade and were making demands.

Now, let me be entirely honest: this was the very first time that I had a moment of complete disagreement with BLM. Someone had told me while we were waiting that “they were extorting Pride for $15,000” and I thought that’s fucked up. There’s a perfect example of the type of propaganda and misinformation that floats around the populace in times of revolt and resistance.

Eventually, the parade continued, and people got back to the frolicking and frivolity found at most of the events of Pride. I love the whole damn thing, from Church St. to Blockorama, which was celebrating it’s 18th anniversary at Pride (in which I’ve personally seen it transition to many different locations and different restrictions in contrast with its ever-burgeoning popularity and ever-necessary existence).

I loved when I got to see d’bi Young and friends at Blockorama this year, considering d’bi’s unbelievable fight with the illegal and unjust Canadian government officials to not get deported earlier this year. Her presence reminded me of how Pride is ALWAYS about a growing power base of particular people’s politics, dancing nakedly alongside private people’s right to be proud and naked and sexy and free.

When I got the newspaper the next day and saw the list of demands that Black Lives Matter stopped the parade for, I rescinded all my resistance to their protest and supported them to the fullest. Their list of demands seemed perfectly reasonable and rational, considering the imbalance of support and funding that all things Black-related have gotten from the Pride committee over the years. The only thing that is actually even partially debatable to me, is the request to keep police floats from in the Pride Parade.

Now, this is the most contentious issue between people, I believe, and for good reason. But, since I am judged by this society as having the identity of a Black man, then I will be obviously subjectively speaking in support of ANY group that does NOT condone the presence of an organization that institutionally has been violent, abusive, oppressive and lethal to Black folks, Black gay and lesbian folks, and Black trans men and women.

When the police force of Toronto have JUST apologized THIS YEAR for the bathhouse raids they did in 1981 on the gay white male community of Toronto (and yet, still didn’t apologize for the Pussy Palace raids in the 2000s), then how in any logical sense could one expect to support police presence on Pride, when the police don’t respect Black trans folks for damn near 11+ months out of the year?

It doesn’t make any sense for the police to pretend they like and respect Black trans people’s rights overall, it just doesn’t. There’s enough evidence of a serious need for the police to improve their actions towards trans people for them to earn a genuine place in the Pride Parade.

This is how I feel. If you feel the exact opposite: that’s good. AT LEAST YOU FEEL SOMETHING.

The worst response to this entire situation is to not feel anything at all. There is so much at stake, so much power shifting, and so much emotional madness.

If someone just doesn’t care, okay sure. It’s their prerogative. And if that’s another strategy chosen to deal with the impact of this all, I understand.

But if you care about trans issues, you have to care about BLM issues. The intersectionality cannot be erased.

Shout out to the Pride TO lady that stepped down from her position because she saw the chaos there… and I hope that Pride Parade honors everything they signed and promised they would do to improve their relationship with the Black trans community!

In truth,
Addi Stewart

Check out this video from the Trans March in Toronto:

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