June, the month where your gayness reaches levels you never thought before possible. Pride is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their resiliency, scream for visibility, remember how far we have come and look forward to how far we still have to go.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Pride in recent years. The events have largely been co-opted by white cis gays, corporations who tout their acceptance for the month without making real changes in their policies and operations to be more LGBTQ friendly, and straight people who see the event as a large party that they can show up to without invitation.
Groups like No Justice No Pride and Black Lives Matter have been calling attention to the hypocritical and discriminatory practices of Pride events. A central issue is the participation of armed, uniformed police officers in Pride parades and events. During last year’s Toronto Pride, BLM Toronto staged a sit in to call attention to the erasure of spaces for QTPOC and the acceptance of an institution that has long discriminated against them. After this occurred I saw a tweet from someone I know, a cis straight white woman who I have always respected, that shamed BLM’s actions saying that though black lives matter so do gay lives and they should be able to celebrate without BLM trying to stop it. It shocked me, who exactly did she picture these “gay lives” as? Are all gay people white to her? Black lives ARE gay lives too. Pride started because of two trans women of colour, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
(White) People have called BLM’s demands to be unreasonable, they cry out discrimination against police. The fact is, that white people can’t understand the relationship that POC have with the police. White people at pride have more to fear from the Babadook than police. The only white people that need to be suspicious of the police are the girls on Pretty Little Liars.
Canadian society, past and present, is not that different from America, with numerous examples of police discrimination towards minority groups. It is WAY more important for QTPOC to feel a sense of safety and belonging than for police officers to carry a gun and wear a uniform. No one is banning those who are police officers from attending at all, they are just asking them to come as citizens, not as police officers and without their weapons and uniform. To the police crying out against the requests of BLM: is it really that important to have a gun at a parade? Is it really that important to wear your police uniform? It is pride, one of the few days a year it is socially acceptable to wear a freaking tutu if you want but no you wanna dress in your boring ass uniform?? If you want to share your pride for being a police officer, have their own police pride event if you want, but Pride is not yours as a police officer.
This Pride season we celebrate who we are, how we live our truth despite others wishing to harm us for doing so, we remember those who fought for the rights we have today, and we recognize and fight against the injustices still faced by QTPOC today.