Over twenty Pride Toronto honorees from the last decade have returned their awards in response to PT's banning of the term "Israeli Apartheid" (and thus the group QuAIA) from the upcoming pride march and festivities. Pride Toronto claims the decision to ban the term comes from pressure from the city, one of Pride's main funders. The city somehow understands (likely due to some serious lobbying efforts on behalf of Israeli state supporters) any criticism of Israel as synonymous with hate speech and thus both discriminatory and illegal in Canada.
This massively public award returning ceremony was also complemented by the giving of an additional Shame Award similar to the ones the group Gay Shame used to give annually at Pride in San Francisco in the early 2000's. The Shame Award from QuAIA to Pride Toronto was explicitly for caving to political pressure and effectively de-politicizing historically political pride events.
This event was captured on video and is posted after the jump along with more details and reflections about QuAIA's battle with Pride Toronto's censorship.
"As founding members of the Toronto Lesbian and Gay Pride Day Committee, and people involved in organizing the first Pride event in Toronto at the end of June in 1981, we stand totally opposed to the decision of the current Toronto Pride Committee to ban the use of "Israeli Apartheid" at Toronto Pride events. This banning of political speech is clearly an attempt to ban the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) and queer Palestine Solidarity supporters from the parade and from participation in a major event in our communities. This sets a very dangerous precedent for the exclusion of certain political perspectives within our movements and communities from Pride events. We call on the Pride committee to immediately rescind this banning and to instead encourage QuAIA's participation in the pride parade."
I guess the question remains, do we continue to try and resuscitate pride events by injecting them with a good dose of sex and politics, or do we let the corporate machines of late capitalism devour the hollow bodies of most pride events while the rest of us work to start new events and new traditions to celebrate our sex and politics? When Pride has more corporate floats, like Home Depot and Budweiser who have little to do with queerness let alone a sense of pride, while political groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid are essentially banned from participation, one has to ask what's really at stake? Perhaps it's time to kill pride, or maybe encourage its implosion and irrelevance, so we can start something new, useful, relevant, political and sexy.
The emergence of groups like Pervers/cité (Montreal's answer to the boring corporate pride model, Divers/cite) and other similar alternative projects looming in Toronto seem to point to new roadmaps and better organizing models that would be worth more exploration.