Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Sad Irony of Black Lives Matter

It is ironic that Black Lives Matter should have been asked to participate in this year’s Pride Toronto — and even more ironic after what happened at this year’s parade.
Pride Toronto has become a meaningless exercise in corporate  display. The floats are no longer sexual because it might scare the kids. Grass roots political organizations are priced out of the parade, so mostly what’s left are splashy floats featuring boys in speedos, funded by big corporations. 
Middle class LGBT+ people (not unlike middle class people everywhere) are attracted by anything that involves money and shopping. So Pride Toronto is well attended. What you will see there are the knobby knees of older folks marching in support of their right to have children, go to church, vote Conservative or join the armed forces. Any ‘political agenda’ is confined to campaigning for full legal rights for LGBT+ people; most of which we have already achieved.
There is very little these days in Toronto Pride that speaks to lefty politics, queer culture, or homophobia.
So why did Toronto Pride invite Black Lives Matter — an organization with a fiercely political left-wing agenda — to be featured at this year’s Pride?
What did Toronto Pride expect?
The actions of Black Lives Matter are a slap in the face to Toronto’s LGBT+ community.
Congratulations to Black Lives Matter!
Unfortunately the slap will have little or no effect.
The irony of Black Lives Matter staging the anti-police protest in the middle of this year’s Toronto Pride is that each and every one of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ people have many reasons to protest Toronto police. Not only did Toronto Police famously raid the bathhouses in 1981 (which they have quite ineffectually apologized for) but they also raided The Pussy Palace in 2000. Also in 2000, police raided The Bijou sex cinema — where I was working as a cashier. (There have been no attempts by Toronto police to apologize for that incident.) Toronto Police haven’t just made one mistake — they keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
But do you think anything will ever mobilize the hidebound, old-fashioned, ‘family-centred’ LGBT+ community to protest the actions of the Toronto police?
Recent Toronto LGBT+ community ‘concern’ over the 1981 bath raids is lip service. No one cares. If bath raids were to happen today, no one would support the men or women victimized by police action. We tried to organize a march against the police raid of The Bijou in 2000, and guess what?
Nobody turned up.
Today’s LGBT+ community is fervently apolitical. I predict that — tragically — after singing along with a Lady Gaga song at a Toronto Pride church service, or observing sad floral displays on the street to remember ‘Orlando’, Toronto Pride will continue on its merry, apolitical corporate funded way.
The document Matthew Charlebois  signed isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. In Toronto’s LGBT+ community, intersectionality does not mean fighting for our own rights along with other radical groups, it means offering token space to Black Lives Matter as an excuse to ignore our own oppression.
It’s all very sad.