This past Tuesday, at the Pride Toronto AGM, members voted to uphold the demands of Black Lives Matter made last summer at the Pride parade.
One of those demands was the removal of police floats from the Parade.
Police spokesperson Mark Pugash expressed disappointment, and is quoted in the CBC article as stating: “I think it’s a great shame that some people are choosing division over inclusion.”
Consider the negative history of the police and the LGBTQ community.
Consider the negative history (and current reality) of the police and the Black community.
And as we know, relationships between the police and both communities continue to have their challenges.
There have been inroads, or there would have been no police float in recent years. And celebrating that progress is important – but not at the expense of some people’s safety, participation, and acknowledgment.
So to say that Pride Toronto has chosen division instead of inclusion is not accurate.
They have chosen to hear the voices of a part of the LGBTQ communities that have been (and continue to be) silenced and marginalized. They have chosen to stand with those communities.
And so they should.
It’s hard to hear “no” when you have privilege. We’re not used to not having our way. It hurts. Lack of access is an experience that people from marginalized communities experience every day – a reality that groups like Black Lives Matter are shining a light on, and working hard to change.
It’s not a choice for division over inclusion; it’s a choice for equity over marginalization.
Plus it creates the opportunity to open a real and needed conversation about what inclusion at Pride really looks and feels like – so that it can become a festival and celebration that all members of LGBTQ communities can participate in, and feel safe and welcome at.
That’s what happens when Black lives matter.