Black Lives Matter Toronto, you owe the world an apology.

(Added 5 July in response to questions directed to this author: If it isn’t clear by now, I support the BLM movement. Emphatically. But Pride doesn’t cause police brutality, just like Black History Month doesn’t cause gay bashing. Somewhere along the line, the idea of coming together to make a better future has been completely lost. I’ve expounded on this in the comments.)

Update, 5 July 2016: Toronto police officer Chuck Krangle wrote an open letter explaining his point of view, and why BLMTO’s actions and demands were downright exclusionary.

This weekend, Black Lives Matter Toronto pulled a stunt where they stalled the Pride parade to have an impromptu demonstration. I don’t know what else to say, besides What. The. Fuck!?

The whole point of a Pride parade is visibility. You wanted to march in the parade, the organizers gave you special honored position and billing, so you got that visibility. Great, right?

But this wasn’t enough for you, oh no. You had to take another minority’s time to show strength and decided to bully your way into the spotlight. Yes, I said “bully”. We LGBT+ people are very well versed in recognizing bullies for what they are, and you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

IMG_6139_full(Image credit: Project Q Atlanta)

In 2009, I was running a small gay-rights organization, GLBTATL. That name is most closely associated with the rally after the police raid on Atlanta Eagle. Earlier that same year, in direct support and assistance to the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, we helped to organize a demonstration at Ebenezer Baptist Church, adjacent to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, in protest of Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation for President Barack Obama.

We chanted. We interacted with passersby and attendees to the service. We made new allies in the process. We were one of the first in a long line of community groups who helped, through visible demonstration, to show President Obama that LGBT+ Americans are worthy of equality in all parts of life.

We continued paving the way to social acceptance, building on the work of those before us, and providing another stepping stone for you to effect further social change. We gave you the opportunities for visibility that you have today. And what did you do with it? You wrote a list of demands for Toronto Pride, and coerced event management to sign it. How does that make you different from any other oppressive thug?

Listen, I get the problem. I really do — living here in Atlanta, it’s perhaps more visible than in most parts of the Western world. People of color are unfairly targeted by police in almost every community. So (one of) your answers involve kicking police out of Pride. Besides being totally stupid and contrary to your goals (the point would be to work with police to improve relations, not to be exclusionary), there are plenty of LGBT+ allies who are police officers, and your demands would exclude them from being part of Pride.

So, Fuck You.

You want to call attention to the fact that people of color are victims of shooting or other violent death at the hands of police. At the same time, you conveniently ignore the fact that LGBT+ people (most notably gay men and transgendered people) are beaten, injured, and killed all the time with, frequently, no press coverage at all.

And who instigates this violence against LGBT+ people? It’s not police; it’s members of the general public. We don’t get a convenient uniform to tell us whom to fear. We get to fear EVERYONE. For some, the fear is so strong that it drives victims to suicide in unsurpassed numbers.

So, Fuck You.

Pride is about equality and acceptance. Pride will NEVER be about excluding anyone, for any reason, certainly not by coercion. By hijacking the LGBT+ community’s show of visibility and strength, you made the clear, unambiguous point that you don’t want equality. You want priority. That’s childish bullying in my book, plain and simple.

So, Fuck You.

To you, I say the same thing I do to any childish bully: Go away for now, and come back when you grow up.

Black Lives Matter Toronto, you’re the group in the wrong this time. You owe the Toronto Pride management, the City of Toronto, and the world an apology. And — channeling my parental instinct here — you’d better make us believe it.

2 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter Toronto, you owe the world an apology.”

  1. Since I’ve received plenty of backlash about this post, I’ll comment on it myself to clarify some points that I don’t think many folks seem to understand. I put these comments into a discussion on a friend’s Facebook post, but they deserve repeating here.

    So the event was disrupted by the guests of honor to what… protest against those same people — who, remember, are holding them as guests of honor — rather than taking to picketing outside TPS itself? Talk about sending a mixed message.

    The logic, or lack thereof, stuns me. You don’t protest your allies and expect to get a universally warm response. To be honest, Dr. and Mrs. King would be aghast at a display of inward-directed protest like this. Anti-solidarity.

    The grievance is violence at the hands of police. I get it, more than most white people, because I see it up close and personal in my neighborhood of Atlanta. (No, I’m not in some posh bullshit loft. There are bullet holes in my house and smash-and-grab burglaries weekly throughout the neighborhood.)

    Whereas LGBT+ people get to fear violence and death at the hands of anyone — we don’t get to have a convenient uniform to tell us whom to fear. And bashing violence and death is still a huge problem, much of which is not quantified or publicized in the press the same way. We tend to get swept under the rug almost all the time.

    Privilege in this case cuts both ways. We can either work together or fight it out. And I don’t see the point in fighting each other when both of us (both communities) have the same general goals of equal treatment, personal security, and acceptance. I’ve personally done work to further both goals simultaneously through working for black-led LGBT+ organizations… have you?

    BTW, the above bears NO opinion on #BlackLivesMatter as a movement. The movement is entirely justified and holds a legitimate grievance. There was yet another questionable shooting just today in Louisiana, and I’m having a tough time coming up with an adjective to describe how I feel about that… “angry” just won’t cut it.

    The Toronto incident is all about poor choice of venue, poorer choice of mode of demonstration, and totally incorrect choice of target.

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