The Second Pride War

"I've got these queers right where I want 'em..."

Just over a year ago, I wrote a piece called “Why Pride” in which I argued 2 points related to the 2010 Pride celebrations in Toronto. In brief, they were:

  1. Pride should distance itself from aggressive political messages that are not its own, specifically the messages related to Israeli/Palestinian relations promoted by QuAIA.
  2. Pride should make better use of their its platform by de-emphasizing the naked, gyrating party and trying to put more media spotlight on their core messages of acceptance and openness.

On one of those two points, the one dealing with Queers against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), I feel somewhat validated by the events of the past few months. Pride did distance themselves slightly from QuAIA which was enough (at the time) to get the wolves at City Hall to back off their bull-headed pledge to pull Pride’s funding. But more than that, it put the focus of this year’s parade back squarely where it belongs, on the continuing day-to-day struggles of LGBTQ peoples in Toronto. Even the flap over the absence of Mayor Rob Ford from the parade was at least centred on the idea that a leader of the people of Toronto should represent all the people of Toronto, especially those who have been marginalized.

On the second point, concerning the emphasis on crazy fun over strong political messaging, I was quite wrong. I failed to grasp the power of an event where people can be themselves, even if only for an afternoon. I can see now that Pride allows those who perhaps spend much of the year couching their real feelings and personality to break free. In that way, the parade is both precious and beautiful and the way in which it creates spaces where people can feel completely comfortable IS the broader political message. I’d overlooked that in the past and I’m relieved to have seen the error in my thinking.

With that mea culpa humbly managed, we must return to the business of the day, which again is centred on QuAIA and the continued funding of Pride by the City of Toronto.

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