Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Does Toronto Really Need a Gay Pride Parade?

I dashed down to Toronto City Hall today to watch them raise the gay flag...to mark Gay Pride week. But by the time I got there.... sweating like a pig in the 34 degree heat...the rainbow flag was already flying on the "courtesy pole "....and people were already leaving.

In the square below a couple of hundred mostly older gays and lesbians mingled with city poobahs and and other VIPs. Others lined up to get free roast beef sandwiches. The Mayor was in a corner answering questions from a horde of reporters....about property taxes. It all seemed a little ho hum.

Then I read this slap in the face post about how they almost cancelled the Gay Parade in Montreal. Because the pride/beer ratio wasn't right. And I was shocked. I leave my city for a few years and this is what happens. Yikes....I mean tabarnac. As if we don't consume enough beer. As if we don't have enough drunks.

But then I couldn't help but wonder whether Toronto really needs a Gay Pride Parade anymore. Because they may not be selling enough beer in Montreal....but the one here is a corporate carnival. It sells EVERYTHING.

OK......OK..... I KNOW I had a good time last year.

But what if we scrapped the parade.....saved all that money spent for floats and security.... and put it into projects to help gay kids or seniors or people living with HIV...or to promote anti-bullying programs in our schools?

And just kept THE BIG GAY PARTY.

After all.... only thirty-eight years after the Stonewall Riots created it. ....that's all Gay Pride has become. Once it was a march that followed a riot. Now it's just a parade. Although the group that organizes New York's Pride Celebrations still insists on calling it a march.

Heritage of Pride, Inc., like its predecessor the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee, has always called this event a March. HOP feels that until the day all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people can live their lives without violence, harassment, and discrimination, they must continue to march openly and proudly.

But everybody LOVES a parade. Don't we have the right to celebrate our victories in our long and hard struggle for equality?

Oh boy do we ever...

But only as long as we remember that the struggle is not over, and the biggest battles are ahead of us. The Christian Right is growing more desperate and extremist in its views. If you haven't read this excellent but scary post. You should.

The Christofascists are on the move. First they'll come for us. Then they'll come for the others. Now may be the time to celebrate. But it's also the time to fight back. Show them that we are not afraid. Time to put a little riot back in the gay parade.

Which just happens to remind me.......ahem......my FAVOURITE Canadian band Billy Talent won the best video at the MuchMusic Video awards the other night for a song called Fallen Leaves. It's awesome and you KNOW I'll find an excuse to run it.... But not tonight.

Tonight I thought I'd just run my second favourite BT video...after Nothing to Lose.... the one about bullying.

Just to give you an idea of what my Gay Parade might look like....

Just add a few rainbow flags of freedom to the red ones of revolution ...and that's what I call a March/Riot/Parade!!!

In the meantime a million people can't be wrong. There is something during Gay Pride Week for everyone. And EVERYONE gay or straight is invited.

So I guess I'll just drag my sorry gay ass down to THE BIG GAY PARTY AND PARADE.(sigh) All those concerts...all that food and drink...all those half naked men. That is going to be REALLY hard.

Having a wild and crazy time....without S├ębastien.

While waiting for the war to begin...


  1. When the christofascists stop wasting money on their perceived right to sentence me to death instead of fixing all the ills they cause, I might say we don’t need a parade anymore.

    It’s too early yet for us to become the Borg as if we could, all you have to do is read the headlines everyday to know that. The parade stays, the party continues, if we don’t, we will be worse off than we were thirty years ago.

  2. Oh no, the parade is needed. Maybe now more than ever, given that there's something of a backlash among so-cons. Sure, it's a small backlash, but nonetheless. Bruce made a good point -- to acquiesce to a small backlash after so much progress would set things back to the 50's, not the 70's.

    Let the parade go on!

  3. the parade is needed. gives ppl like me and other a lot of hope. WE need those crazy flashy queers to fight the battles that we cant. at least, i hope to be able to one day.

  4. Hi Bruce!! Yeah I do too. What I was really trying to say was that we should put more of a MARCH back into the parade. So it's more of a statement rather than just a show.
    Especially such a regimented show like the one in Toronto. In Montreal at least they used to allow ordinary people to join in the parade behind the floats with the best tunes.
    It would be nice if we could do that here....

    Hi JJ!!! As I told Bruce I still think we need to march. And that we have to remain political and not turn it into a carnival parade. It should have more of an edge because the times are dangerous...and if the bigots sense weakness we'll pay for it sooner or later...

    Hi Rashid!! Don't worry little brother we will continue until we win. If the only thing it does is give young gays like you hope...then that's enough. But don't say you hope to do something...you've got your gay blog ...so you're doing your part...You can be proud of that :)

  5. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Wait... let me get this straight. You think it is a slap in the face that Montreal almost lost its parade, and you are proposing that Toronto stop it's? Are you under the illusion that the Montreal parade and celebrations have ever been even the slightest bit less commercial than Toronto's? Toronto's pride has its roots in social activism; Montreal's Pride came along much later as basically a group of parties organized around a parade. I think perhaps your Civic Pride for Montreal is colouring your viewpoint.

  6. Anonymous11:39 PM

    Simon, the Parade in Toronto is about four hours long. You want to have it include everyone who wants to walk along in it like they did in 1985? It would become about ten hours long, seeing as how massive the crowds are. I think the question really is, does Montreal need a Pride Parade? Seeing as it has never been even a remotely politically activated parade I think an argument could be made that they may as well cancel it and thus increase the beer profits. It has always been about the beer and the circuit parties in Montreal around Pride anyway, even during years with massive police raids on local bars like the old KOX, or Au Deux R.. would be more honest at least. It has always frustrated me in Montreal the lack of political activity in the gay community. Everything revolves around circuit parties which quite frankly have been pretty much identical for the past 18 years and are getting a bit boring. Yes, some commercialization is necessary in a parade that attracts one million people. Someone has to pay for it all. The government will not pay for the Toronto parade, and how many toonies did all of you put in the pails this weekend? Where is the money supposed to come from?

  7. To the last two anonymous brothers or sisters....look I was just being provocative...I admit it :(
    I do enjoy pulling my own community's leg....gently...every now and then. But I'm glad I did, because it brought out some great comments...like yours. You both make some excellent points. And I agree with you a hundred percent. Besides altho I do LOVE Montreal...the truth is....just don't tell anyone in my hometown...that I love Toronto too. And have great respect and admiration for the proud history of struggle of the gay community in this town.So sorry. I actually have half a brain...but somehow I almsot always lead with my heart...:)

  8. Anonymous12:46 AM

    Thanks for giving consideration to what I was saying, Simon... gay men in this country do tend to put Montreal up on a pedestal for some reason, and often don't really carefully think out what they are saying. And I understand how fun it is to go for a long weekend, pop pills, drink, dance, etc... but the thing I found the hardest living in Montreal for so many years was the stubborn local refusal to organize politically, as in "It is none of my business". After the largest arrest in peace time Canada of hundreds of men in KOX, not a peep.. not a demonstration, and a column in Fugues magazine about an inch long, stuck in the middle. No one wants to be bothered organizing gay theatre... gay artists concentrate on stereotypical idealized fantasy god paintings, or doing drag inspired by Priscilla Queen of the Desert 18 years ago. Where is the creativity? Where is the fight for rights? Where is the desire to improve our gay culture? No, it is all about having that nap, waking up at 11:30 to go out to the bars by midnight (because it is socially uncool to go earlier) and dancing your tits off for three hours til the bar closes. I have just as much fun dancing as the next guy, but there is more to life than doing this seven days a week.
    by the way, you are not alone. I got fed up and moved from Montreal too- it was the smartest and most liberating thing I ever did. I don't make any effort to sugar coat it or tell my friends back home how
    horrible it is living away from Montreal.. a little dose of truth is what most Montrealers need more than anything in the world.

  9. Anonymous11:21 PM

    It is all about commercialism and a gay canadian minister trying to be ligitimate. Otherwise it does not have any logic or fun or sense