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Moment in Time: July 03, 3:15 pm at Toronto Pride

by Fatin Chowdhury

july 03, 3:15 pm | it's interesting (read: tiring, exhausting) to witness the extent to which people will revolt against inconvenience. the racism and vitriol is not surprising but reveals the inconsistencies in a pride community that tells you to sit with them.

"you can sit with us" as long as you follow by our rules and maintain the status quo. you must be polite, not divisive.

this year, black lives matter toronto leads toronto pride and halts the march at yonge and college street to observe a moment of silence for the latinx queer and trans folks who died in the pulse shooting last month in orlando.

black lives matter activists take space on the intersection and co-founder Alexandria Williams announces that they are going to commence a sit-in and call out Pride Toronto for their anti-blackness.

acknowledging that we are on indigenous land, she shouts and the rest follow,

"we will not be moved!"

"let me tell you why we are here, it can be confusing, we get that ... we are here to also have a good time, to celebrate the fact that we love who we love. that we could be who we want to be. today, we support those folks whose existence is their resistance. pride toronto has not only made the black queer youth stage unsafe for black youth, they have pushed them to the fringes. they have cut funding for blockarama which is easily the biggest stage for pride toronto. the funding has been cut. cut."

rainbow smoke grenades colour the air and the shouts of the protestors pierce through the haze. baque de bamba performers shake and drum along with two-spirit indigenous folks (who join the sit-in) until pride toronto executive director, mathieu chantelois signs their list of demands, including :

1. commit to BQY (black queer youth) continued space, funding, and logistical support.
2. self-determination for all community spaces, allowing community full control over hiring, content, and structure of their stages.
3. full and adequate funding for community stages, including logistical, technical and personnel support.
4. increased funding for Blockarama (to $10,000 + ASL interpretation & headliner funding)
5. removal of police floats in the Pride marches/parades.
6. reinstate and make a commitment to increase community stages/spaces (including the reinstatement of the South Asian stage)
7. a commitment to increase representation amongst pride toronto staffing/hiring, prioritizing black trans women, indigenous folk, and others from vulnerable communities. 
8. a public townhall, organized in conjunction with groups from marginalized communities, including but not limited to, BLM-TO, Blackness Yes, and BQY to be held 6 months from today. pride toronto will present an update and action place on the aforementioned demands.

the march resumes late and unsurprisingly, few people from the sidelines shout,

"this is not the place for this."

as if the inconvenience faced by having to wait and listen should be prioritized over demanding space and funding for people who have been systemically marginalized and erased. as if the roots of the pride movement weren't political or violent, led by black trans women. as if we should accept this corporate manifestation of pride and be satisfied with selfies alongside corporations who have no concern for those who are most vulnerable in the queer community.

today should be remembered as a recalling of the political nature of pride. that pride is and always has been political. the shootings in orlando are a clear case of that. and when understanding this narrative, it should also be undisputed that queer and trans folks who are black, indigenous, people of colour must be centered.

the black lives matter float includes portraits of sumaya dalmar, david kato, sherona hall, simon knoli, marsha p johnson, and sakiya gunn (designed by Marcus / Kike). learn about them. say their name.

today we saw the power of black pride.

continued gratitude to black lives matter toronto for their work. in solidarity.



This photo and text was originally posted to social media on July 3rd. It is shared here with permission.

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