HANDY DANDY GUIDE TO PRIDE CONVERSATIONS

Don’t fight about Pride, arm yourself with facts. Mainstream media, and to a large extent the larger non-LGBT community, have helped to perpetuate a few myths about BLM and Pride and the reasoning behind it all. Below are some common statements you might hear concerning Pride and a suggested answer.


Divisive or Connective?
How a person chooses to view the world impacts how they interact with it. If you see Pride as creating a divide than you are right, that’s what it is for you. Conflict exists as a function of communication which can make things better, or for some it’ll create fear. Either are okay but it’s when we are not in touch with our emotions, we essentially put ourselves into a bubble.

If I told my aunt I had a cold or a bad encounter with a bully at school she would discount my entire experience, trading my feelings for how she wanted to see me. “Oh you just need some rest.”, “Ignore them, they don’t matter.”, “But you can do everything they can, you’re just letting them get to you.”. While I admire her ability to maintain an aura of peace around our family I started to notice that what she was doing was protecting herself from having to get involved and possibly experience the pain the comes from identifying with my powerlessness. She loved me dearly so her comments were meant from a place of love, yet their effect was profoundly dismissive. She was right, Maybe I should try harder, be less loud or try ignoring the situation. But is this helping to solve my problem? It does make my aunt feel better and affirm to her that she’s on the outside looking in. In reality she’s now complicit in the problem, confirming that my bullies are right.

Tolerance is being with others whose life experiences are different from yours and not trying to change that. Don’t think there’s a problem? That’s okay, but anything you contribute to the larger conversation, is still a contribution. The world has never gotten along and while it’s a nobble goal, it’s perhaps a naive one. Peace and goodwill are concepts, not ways of life. Peace cannot exist in a vacuum, it comes with non-peace. We can pretend it’s otherwise, but the wars still rage. If you find yourself asking ‘What’s the problem?’, that’s a good start. If you don’t want to get involved that’s your right.

While concentration camps are being built in Chechnya, Torontonians could ask themselves what has been their contribution to the Pride/Police debate? What you experience is directly related to how you experience the world. Some see conflict as destructive while others use it to be constructive. ‘I have better things to do’, ‘this is all nonsense’ is a contribution. Albeit, not a very constructive one.


Statement: The police union claims this is discriminatory because everyone should be allowed to march.
A:
 With friends like these, who needs enemies? Instead of curiosity about what’s wrong, they try and out-victim the victims. By police logic the Boy Scouts, women’s only hours and seniors homes who prohibit one group in favour of another are therefore discriminatory because they are restricted to those it was created for. The gym I go to is owned by a university who close it daily for a women’s only hour. Imagine if the school threatened the gym’s funding, because they were prohibiting men. It’s fantastic if men support the space but insisting they are allies and therefore be able to work out with them misses the point entirely.

Making space’s safe by prohibiting others from taking too much space is how an unhealthy balance can be restored, even if only temporarily. By police logic our allies are picked for us, like it or not. It’s nice to have allies but since when did we imbue them with this much power over our parade? A local politician who comes to your annual house party is not an ally in the same way as the straight friend who calls you up periodically to see how your doing. The police are that once a year politician.



Statement: There are better ways to achieve change within the LGBT community.
A: What happened this past Pride might only news to some, it’s been ongoing for decades.


Statement: How is banning cops going to help bring people together?
A: The cops have not been banned. Their guns, tasers and uniforms are. The cops that are there in an official capacity are not at question. Just the ones who want to march with us.


Statement: BLM tactics are too aggressive.
A: To put things in perspective, our current parade is the result of over 1,000 LGBT people marching down Yonge Street in 1981, no permits, yelling “Fuck-you 52!”. When a handful of black people organize a peaceful sit-in for 20 minutes they are branded aggressive. Hmmm.


Statement: Pride is for everyone, we all should be included.
A: This would mean all of our allies should feel safe before we do. Pride has never been for all human rights, you’re thinking of the Santa Claus Parade. All parades stand for something but that doesn’t mean they against everything else.


Statement: All Lives Matter.
A: No, actually they don’t. Not equally. That’s what this is all about. If all lives mattered, there wouldn’t be a parade in the first place.


Statement: Why is everything in the LGBT community about sex and gender?
A: Because that’s the definition of LGBT, who and how we choose to love. Let’s not confuse it with fashion sense or any other ‘lifestyle’ choice.


Statement: They’ve taken over Pride.
A: Who then should get more space? Viagra, The Pickle Barrel, TD, Trojan, Fido, Bud Light, Stoli, Air Canada, Truvada or Toyota? While making room for the general public and importing high-priced talent from the US (and elsewhere) they were simultaneously striping the communities longest running stage, Blockorama, of half its operating funds, then axed the black queer youth and south asian stage. Meanwhile the cost to participate in Pride has become inaccessible to much of the community. Does your community event want a listing in the Pride Guide? Pay up.


Statement: But what about the funding?
A: In recent history TD demanded all plackets and banners be pre-approved by them (at first ask, Pride obliged), Trojan demanded that NO other condoms be used or sold at Pride (Pride obliged, banning ALL competitors condoms and forcing AIDS organizations to strike a deal with Trojan) and then some of our ‘allies’ at city hall threatened to cut funding based on who we decided was allowed in our parade. Do you really want our funding to be used to control us? Here, let me give you $100 to support you being you. Just keep yourself small and don’t cause a fuss if you want to see another $100 next year. It’s the golden rule of fundraising, don’t set up a conflict where you allow your sponsors to dictate what you do. That’s not an ally.


Statement: What’s the big deal, the cops are our friends.
A: Not to everyone. Shree Paradkar of the Toronto Star puts it like this “the power dynamics between an armed, uniformed, institutionalized force and a grassroots grouping of pariahs would have made accusations of reverse discrimination laughable. One was formed out of protest to the other. The inherent tension did not warrant an inclusion of the perpetrator and executor of inequality.”

Imagine having grown up in the residential school system where many of your teachers regularly beat you and many of your peers. There’s no one around to help and so the abuse continues year after year. One day there’s a march for of Freedom From Residential Schools, a celebration of aboriginal freedom. But there’s a catch. Residential teachers from every single school in the province are going to show up and march alongside with you as your allies.


Statement: BLM lost an opportunity to get outsiders onside.
A: Read the Salon article Black People Are Not Here To Teach You


Statement: Cops are great people, some are even identify as LGBT.
A: Yes, the same goes for any industry. The people are not in question as much as the institution. As far as organizations one doesn’t have to look far to get a sense for the corruption. It’s one thing to have a bad or rouge cop but the bigger problem is that bad cops are often protected while the people they are paid to keep safe, are not.

Statement: They are dividing Pride.
It doesn’t have to feel like that. What if we all take a step back and ask ourselves, is this what we really want? Surely there’s always room for improvement and dialogue. The same goes for the police. Wouldn’t it be something if Pride uses it’s position for the betterment of our city? The conversations with the police is about making relations better. We will all benefit from that, even the cops.


Statement: Why can’t they just ask, instead of forcing the issue.
They have been, for years. BLM is not a group unto itself. They represent many groups throughout the city and use their actions to tackle shared problems. Not too long ago AIDS forced an entire generation to demand change in the same way. Peaceful disruptions like die-ins were tactics that worked when asking failed. The LGBT movement grew from anger and frustration, asking and waiting had failed. Historically most change happens this way, through peaceful demonstration and acts of interruption.


Statement: This is reverse racism.
A: Read the article VICE article Dear White People, Please Stop Pretending Reverse Racism Is Real


Statement: But what have we really achieved?
Remember that list of demands the Executive Director signed? They have been met.
This is not a BLM issue, they represent many community groups. Now that they have achieved their goals, it’s up to us to start acting like a community by listening to one another.


I’m straight and I don’t like what’s going on.
There’s lots you can do, but forcing your opinion is not one of them. If you are not a POC or LGBT and you have strong opinions on a matter not directly affecting you, perhaps you could check your privilege. It’s not just poor sensitive you, nobody likes conflict. But your rights are not at stake here. It’s not my place to decide if an abused woman was really abused. My job is to listen and provide support as she needs it. This goes for the reverse, victims are not always completely innocent. We are all connected and interdependent so if you think there is a universal victimhood that is automatically truthful, than you too are part of the problem. Being a victim is not a virtue, neither is being a bully. Extreme positions, create extreme situations. Listen for what’s real and speak for yourself, avoid telling others what life is or should be like.


If you have a Statement & Answer you’d like to add, or a suggestion, please leave us a comment below. 

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