My Gay Toronto - Ray's Anatomy

The not so secret Pride police reinstatement proposal

by Rolyn chambers

The following information is classified and intended for Armchair Critics only. Upon reading delete email, deactivate email account, destroy Acer computer provided to receive email, wash hands, walk away.

Events this far:
Toronto Pride 2017 has come and gone. This year, uniformed police did not participate in any unofficial capacity in the parade. This was at the request of Pride Toronto so that those who might feel triggered by a police presence would feel safe. Police presence in the Trans March, the Dyke March, the main parade as well as within the entire festival grounds, was of course felt in an official capacity. They were paid to serve and protect. In full uniform.

Although some claim that Pride actually went backwards, this was a year to stop and pause. Did attendance by people of colour and trans individuals increase? Was attendance in general enhanced and was the mood of festival improved? Though we do not have these figures, Toronto Pride, though divided, did not fall apart. Without police parading, the sky did not fall. Chicken Little was wrong. But Chicken Little, aka Bryn Hendricks, did succeed in harnessing the impact of this divide by creating what will surely be a one-time event: the First Responders Unity Festival (FRUF). Not only did Police Chief Mark Saunders call it a "distraction," it was largely unattended. Many of the more than 1,000 people who rashly clicked "like" on Facebook and indicated they would attend this wasted affair are classic Armchair Critics.

Last year, when BLMTO protested the very parade they were invited to lead, they succeeded because they got off their asses and organized. Their demands of Pride Toronto were passed because BLMTO mobilized, bought Pride Toronto memberships, attended a few meetings, and then elected pro-BLMTO board members. BLMTO won because they did real work. They also knew that the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people who opposed their tactics (as well as some of their demands), were too lazy to do the same. Apathy was their victory.

Events to come:

Let's address the issue of the police ban. That motion can be reversed or amended, as no time frame was attached to it. You can, as a membership, vote to reinstate the police next year in whatever capacity you so desire. But before you do this, think about what Pride is and how, if at all, removing the ban will add to it. Do police cruisers need to be in the parade? Not really, they are seen as portable prisons. Do officers strutting with guns garner support? Not really, firearms are tools to intimidate and kill. Is there a need for police booths recruiting future cadets within the festival grounds? Absolutely, what better way add to an already strong contingent of queer officers than by actively engaging the community at the largest queer festival of the year? And finally, do police in uniforms need to march in the parade? Not really, but if the queer community wants to move forward and repair the damage of the past it cannot keep treating those deemed oppressors as oppressors. They police should be brought into the fold while setting timelines on achieving measured improvements in training and policy. An open-ended ban accomplishes nothing.

But in order to reverse the Pride police ban, Armchair Critics must:

1) Educate yourselves on both sides of the issues.

2) Mobilize with others and explain your points of view properly.

3) Buy a $10 Pride Toronto voting membership in order to put forth motions (like the reinstatement of police). This can be done online at www.pridetoronto.wildapricot,org and must be done NOW. Memberships can even be bought for friends outside of Toronto and those friends can proxy their vote when voting day arrives.  

4) Get up off your asses and attend a meeting. Ask questions, get answers, listen, learn, make a point, make a motion, vote and create change.

Unless Armchair Critics are willing to do these four simple things, you do not have the right to open your mouths and complain. You shouldn't be online criticizing a post promoting BLMTO, nor should you be creating status updates protesting Pride 2018 or tweeting pro-police tirades. Unless you are willing to actively engage and create change, you needn't bother getting out of that armchair. In fact, have several seats.

Rolyn Chambers

Rolyn Chambers               
Grande Wizard of Petty Operations, Lieutenant Minister of DisInformation*
North East District

Delete. Deactivate. Destroy. Now.