On August 31, Pride Toronto hosted a town hall assembly at the Daniels Spectrum. The facility features a large all-gender washroom, which I don’t quite get, but ladies, hey, if you’re ever in the mood to smell men’s piss, knock yourself out.
A guy who looked a lot like Mathieu Chantalois welcomed everyone then introduced Alica Hall, but he said her name so fast I thought he called her “Alcohol.” She proceeded to apologize for us colonialists squatting on sacred native land, which has sort of become the new national anthem.
Around 200 people showed up for the round table discussions. My table featured three dykes, an Asian guy and a bearded hunk in a muscle shirt. All were much, much younger than myself. And everyone had a complaint about Toronto Pride. One of the dykes went on about how gay men get all the big dollar events, but I felt compelled to point out that those gay men spend up to $200 for the ticket. What dyke would ever do that? There was also this weird discussion about straight security guards oogling the girls at some lez dance and how they need to be more respectful. One of them objected to Pride’s zoo motif, as we are not animals, we’re people, and how there absolutely has to be more sign language interpreters of colour. When asked what my concerns were, I suggested more chairs. I spoke eloquently of the Muskoka chairs outside the 519 and how I sat and watched the crowd while drifting off as though I was at the cottage. They duly added this to the list of demands. I realized that the great divide is not between male and female, or black and white, or queer or straight - it’s between young and old. I have no idea what young people are talking about, and every time I asked for specifics, they just droned on about inclusion and safe space and being respectful.
Then it came time for each table to elect a representative to speak the group's demands. One suggested Pride open its books so that we may all see how the money is spent. Another suggested that money was siphoned off the trans budget in order to bring RuPaul to town. He had no proof, but felt fine about saying it at a public meeting. Another demanded that Pride Toronto stop depleting the resources of smaller pride marches in places like Oshawa and Scarborough. One denounced Trojan, a major sponsor, for not making dental dams. Another denounced Pride’s Board of Directors as being of an outdated patriarchal model, while others denounced the fact that not everyone is physically or financially capable of sitting on a board of directors, and one person even denounced the questionnaire we were handed as ‘self-serving.’ Pride serves corporations, they howled. Then a guy in a headdress gave a passionate speech about being homeless, but I wasn’t sure what the point was. I never really understood any point anyone was trying to make, except they didn’t like things the way they are and they want more of all the stuff they like. What’s left of Pride Toronto will now have to sift through all these impossible demands and try not to weep in despair.
Good Lord, who on earth would ever want to be on the board or the executive of Pride Toronto? It’s a losing proposition. Just ask the last few executive directors. There is only one thing left to do - let Pride die. It seems to make no one happy anymore. And what’s the point of a town hall where any dissent is hissed at, shouted down, and accused of ‘racism?' The ugly truth that I learned from this event is whether you think so or not, an activist is always right.
There was one thing I just loved, though. Apparently, clapping is now considered abusive, so instead people are encouraged to raise their arms and wave their hands. Sort of like jazz hands. They seem to have no idea how batshit crazy this looks. For a satirist, it’s comedy gold.