by John Wilson
On the morning of May 26 about 150 people demonstrated at Toronto Pride’s offices against the decision to ban any reference to Israeli apartheid at this year’s annual Pride Parade, dyke march and trans march. The parade, one of North America’s largest in recent years, attracts over a million people, and is a major tourist event at the end of Pride Week, June 25 – July 4. Normally the parade is held on the last Sunday in June; it was forced to move to July this year because of the G8-G20 summit.
The context of the demonstration was an outdoor press conference called by Pride corporate honchos to announce their wretched decision. The protest was an angry and spirited event called at very short notice by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA).
Chants included “Whose Pride? Our Pride! Queers Against Apartheid!”, “Shame!”, ” Resign! Resign!”, “Liar! Liar! ” (directed particularly, but not exclusively at Genevieve D’Iorio, Pride co-chair, and Tracey Sandilands, the executive director), “Cowards! Cowards!” among others.
Chants and shouting (including “Sell outs!”) took place throughout the presentations. Cops were present, presumably called in by the bureaucrats to prevent community activists from stepping on the sacred grounds of Toronto Pride.
Many participants initially covered their mouths with tape or cloth and held up small signs saying Free Speech. Yours truly had the impression that the Pride officials were unsettled by our presence and numbers. Pride bureaucrats had previously floated a proposed regulation that would allow them to vet all signs in the parade. But after massive and voluble opposition in queer communities, hastily retreated.
While there is a motion pending at Toronto City Hall by notoriously homophobic councillor Giorgio Mammoliti that calls for municipal funding for Pride to be cut, this motion has yet to be discussed, let alone voted on. Put another way, the city to date has taken NO decision. So the pro-Zionist bias of the Prideocrats is pretty obvious.
This will certainly not be the end of the matter. QuAIA spokesperson Elle Flanders declared that their contingent will march in the parade regardless, although declining at this time to give specifics. The turnout of this number of people at such short notice on a working day may be indicative of some revival of queer activism with a liberationist perspective in Toronto.