I’ve been sitting here stewing over how to phrase my thoughts on the BLM-TO movement and their actions during Pride this past weekend. As a straight white female, my opinion can easily be pushed to the wayside by both these groups since I don’t have first hand knowledge of the type of discrimination they face every day. But I have been fortunate to be born and raised in this beautiful country and as a result I’ve grown up with an understanding that no one person should be treated differently than another regardless of race, religion, sex, or otherwise. I’ve grown up with people who initially struggled with their sexual orientation out of fear of community backlash only to later watch them declare their love for their same sex partners, and do so graciously surrounded by supportive friends and family members. That is the country I know. That is the city I know and am proud to call home.
Some of those people marched in the Pride parade this past weekend – and some of those people are cops.
The BLM were given honorary status to march in the pride parade, giving them a platform at one of Toronto’s largest events of the year. Instead of accepting this honour with dignity and grace, they chose to disrupt the event and and bully Pride organizers and the city of Toronto into giving in to their demands. I’m going to stop right here and say – I feel for your movement BLM, I really do. I read the news every day and I see how many injustices you face, often times at the hand of law enforcement, and I know it is completely unacceptable and you should not have to live in such a world. But you do not get to cry foul at discrimination while you are effectively ostracizing the same people that are trying to work with you to improve these very serious issues. You do not get to sabotage an event that promotes inclusion and counter by demanding that those same people that struggle with being a minority within the police force are barred from their community.
For the first time ever a sitting Prime Minister marched in the parade. Our police chief, Mark Saunders, publicly apologized for the 1981 bathhouse raids. What remarkable feats! We should be celebrating! Ironically, that is what the Pride parade is for – celebrating each other, opening discussions, and supporting one another. Instead we’re all here arguing about whose cause is more important, who gets the brunt of it all, when we should really be focusing on the fact that both causes are vitally important to the community as a whole.
One of BLM’s co-founders, Alexandria Williams declared when they began their sit-in, “Pride Toronto, we are calling you out! For your anti-blackness, your anti-indigeneity”. I’m going to reiterate – they said this as they were marching as an honorary group. Call me crazy, but I think giving BLM that status was a great step in working together, showing that support for one another we so desperately need and promoting equality. To belittle that is disrespectful and callous, and frankly upsetting to see.
Effectively hijacking the parade is nothing more than an act of aggression and only builds a larger wall between the LGBT, police force, and black community. Throwing smoke grenades into a crowd full of people of all ethnicities, sexes, and ages (yes, many people bring their children out to the parade, BLM, and I don’t think they appreciated being smoked out) furthers the divide – despite how cute you may think it was to make it a colourful affair.
I commend executive director Mathieu Chantelois for signing the document handed to him by the BLM as I believe he did so in an effort to showcase an openness to change and discussion. I in no way agree with the way it was done as it was simply an act of extortion. I can not deny that BLM’s tactics weren’t effective – after all, we’re all sitting around talking about it, but I believe you could have used your platform more appropriately and approached this in a much more positive way.
Let’s start working together instead of against each other.