Black Pride Matters

During Toronto’s historic PRIDE Parade that featured, for the first time ever, a Prime Minister marching among the rambunctious rabble the Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) group staged a sit-in.

The protest held up the parade for about 20 minutes to half an hour depending which news source you read and was handled quickly and amicably by PRIDE executive director Mathieu Chantelois and board co-chair Alica Hall. Chantelois was even said “Their requests were extremely reasonable,” Chantelois said. “Everything was making a lot of sense.” The list has been posted online:

BLMTO issued a list of demands that had to be, and were, met in order for the parade to continue.

The group staged the shutdown to call attention to marginalized groups’ experiences at Pride, organizers said.

“Folks are forgetting that we haven’t all made it to the point of queer liberation. That not all communities who participate in Pride are actually able to be free in that celebration,” said Williams ahead of the parade.

Among their demands, the group asked Pride to increase funding and support for Black Queer Youth events and Blockorama, the Pride showcase for black performers; reinstate the South Asian stage; hire more black deaf and ASL interpreters; hire more black trans women, indigenous people, and others from vulnerable communities; and remove police floats from future parades.

The parade resumed after Pride executive director Mathieu Chantelois and board co-chair Alica Hall reviewed and signed the list of demands on the spot.

The Toronto Star

The protest was a reminder of PRIDE’s original, political and racially diverse roots that have been somewhat buried under the glitz and pageantry that draws in tourists from across the country and around the world every year.

The group held the PRIDE organizers accountable for the lack of diversity among its staff and participants, citing an increased level of police supervision as a likely deterrent for many black, queer would-be members who might be more vulnerable than their white counterparts to mistreatment by law enforcement.

For those who don’t know, the history of the Pride Parade is not the fun, happy, celebration that it is today. Pride week in Toronto originally evolved from the protests against the infamous but rarely talked about ‘bath house raids‘ performed by Toronto police that targeted gay bathhouses and resulted in over 300 men being arrested.

The opinion of the BLMTO group seems to be that the recent versions of Canada’s PRIDE celebrations has de-politicized the movement of LGBTQ rights, especially for the black community. And I can’t say they’re wrong.

Even photos of Pride celebrations in Canada (this year excluded because of the uproar the BLMO kicked up) in google images predominantly displays white faces. Kudos BLMTO, nothing ventured nothing gained. Good luck with those town hall meetings in six months.

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