More on Toronto Pride

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This year the board of Pride Toronto has decided to ban "Israeli Apartheid" as words appearing in group names or banners at all LGTB events, including the July parade.

I don’t know if you know what pride parades are like, but here in Toronto -apart from pride in and celebration of ourselves- everything and all gets protested: patriarchy; ableism; monogamy; racism; consumerism; eating meat; banning smoking; having to wear clothes (tried to ban that naked group of people some years back but police refused to enforce it) etc. There is room for groups standing up for the homeless, for disadvantaged youth, for the elderly. There even is room for promotion of the commercial activities of companies (banks, car dealers) who are proud to include us. Pride is diverse and is aimed at making all of us feel that we belong.

To me Pride is about showing ourselves and others who we are, what we are, how we want to be seen, how we want to relax and party and what we stand for. For a lot of people the fun is in watching gay men prance about (and good for them), but I think there should always be room for other facets of our lives, because I’m not just queer/bi and I want to show that too.

I feel that if we start banning words and groups just because some people are uncomfortable with the way they express themselves, we destroy bit by bit what makes us a community. If we push some groups out, our community grows smaller, our own right to be seen and heard becomes questionable. I think we should choose to have a dialogue with each other, we should choose to disagree and allow our community and the people in it to think for themselves. I really think a community only thrives when we keep people in, even those who we may not agree with. We need to find a place for everyone in the parade who is part of or supportive of the LGTB community. That we should be law-abiding goes without saying. Criticism however of others, or of practices, does not amount to hate speech.

That said, I get that some Jewish and Christian Canadians who participated in for example the civil rights movement are hurt by seeing the word "apartheid" joined with the state of Israel, whose people they feel connected to. But dialogue, disagreement and protest are part of democratic society. We all want to be seen and heard and we should take the opportunity to celebrate that together at Pride.

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