Canada: Black Lives Matter, police and Pride: Toronto activists spark a movement

It only took 30 minutes. Thirty minutes to plunge Toronto’s queer community into a Queer Civil War.

Last July, Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLM-TO) held up the Toronto Pride Parade for 30 minutes. BLM-TO made a number of demands of Pride Toronto in order for the parade to get moving again. Among them was a ban on police forces marching in uniform or full regalia and carrying guns at the parade. All of BLM-TO demands were agreed to and later endorsed by Pride’s membership and board. But since then, Toronto’s queer community has been in a raging civil war.

The war rages between those who believe all gay rights are now secure and those who understand that rights are parsed out according to privileged identities.

On the one side, many are white male queers, and on the other side many are Black, Indigenous and bisexual people of colour (BIPOC), including poor queers, sex workers and people with disabilities. Those in the second group are still collectively fighting for fully accorded rights to be their full queer selves; to them, the police still represent a clear and present danger.

BLM-TO has emerged as the leading activist voice on anti-Black policing in North America. As a result of their work, Pride marches across Canada and the United States are being forced to have difficult conversations about how police participation represents a fundamental political contradiction. Just this week, the New York City chapter of BLM stated their full solidarity with the Toronto chapter and called for the removal of uniformed police from the NYC Pride Parade.

The vicious debate

The debate has been vicious: racist, transphobic and anti-sex worker. The mainstream queer community has been brutal in its insistence that police marching in the parade represents progress and change that should be welcomed by all queers.

BLM-TO and other activist groups from Boston to Washington to Winnipeg to Vancouver offer a different perspective. These activists have long worked against policing abuses and other state interventions into their lives; they refuse to concede to business as usual. Read more via the Conversation