(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.
(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.