Friday, June 12, 2009

The Gay Pride Parade and the Jewish Controversy

In two weeks it will be time for Toronto's Gay Pride Parade

And thousands of volunteers are working their asses off to try to make it a big success. So I think it's fair to say the last thing we need is this ridiculous controversy.

Jewish groups are outraged that the Toronto Pride Parade could be hijacked by anti-Semitic protesters.

Organizers have angered some Jewish groups by letting Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) be among the 164 registered groups in the Sunday, June 28 parade.

Jewish groups say the parade included growing anti-Israeli sentiment in recent years and accuse Toronto lawyer El Farouk Khaki, the 2009 parade marshal, of being anti-Semitic.

I wish I could ignore this story. But since the opinion and feelings of Jewish Canadians matter to me, as do the ones of Arab Canadians, I think I better set everybody straight...if you'll pardon the expression.

(1) Nobody tells gay people how to run their parade. And certainly not the Jewish right-wing group that first complained... Frank Dimant's B'nai Brith. Because he's friends with some of the worst homophobes of the Christian Right.(PDF)

So he can just fuck off.

(2) The Gay Pride Parade is NOT a venue for anti-semitism. I didn't even notice the queer Arab group last year. Our parade is overwhelmingly pro-gay and anti-bigot. Period. And if any ugly anti-semite ever turned up, and our security didn't confront them, I would. Trust me.

(3) El Farouk Khaki is not an anti-semite. He is a distinguished human rights lawyer who ran for the NDP in the last election. And is being honoured for his work with gay refugees....including Alvaro Orozco.

(4) Nobody should hijack our some nudist group sometimes insisting on the right to parade naked down the street in front of children. And grossing me out because what does that have to do with gay liberation?

So I wish the QuAIA group would concentrate on the desperate plight of gays in Arab countries... on OUR and THEIR day.

And stop claiming that Israel isn't a much much better place for gay people to live in. Because if you tried this in most Arab countries...

They'd KILL you.

On the other hand the brutal Israeli occupation is a central part of Arab life so how can they ignore it? Resistance is a human right. The gay family is the most diverse one on earth and whatever they decide to do is OK with me.

(5) The Gay Pride Parade was, is, and always will be POLITICAL. And this year more than ever, because it marks not only the 40th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.

But the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

And my problem with the parade is that it's too commercial and not political enough. Because sure we have a lot to celebrate. But so many gay people are still suffering all over the world.

For every victory there are a hundred defeats. And we still have so far to go. Like my poor brothers and sisters in California.

Where hope turned to disappointment...

But still they keep on marching. And that's why I'll be marching on Pride Day.

For them and all the others. Israelis and Palestinians and ALL my beautiful brothers and sisters.

With my party hat ....and my fightingdancing boots.

Now if only they could do something about the parade music...coz it usually SUCKS.

OK OK I can't have EVERYTHING.

See you at the parade...


  1. The Christian right is hijacking the parade. There is no reason that parties holding disparate points of view could participate in the same event.

    Frank Diamant is doing this because he's been got at by the Christian Right and now is a "teacher" at Canada Christian College and, of course, the Christians want the state of Israel to be configured in such a way as to hasten the Messiah's return. Dimanat is their cat's paw.

    One would have to read prophetic literature to full grasp this and it's beyond the scope of this comment.

    The Christian right excoriate the gay lifestyle and they'd not want anything to do with it. But with other Arab or Muslim groups in the event, that would nearly force them to do something.
    So I wish the QuAIA group would concentrate on the desperate plight of gays in Arab countries... on OUR and THEIR day.

    Those are you words and now you're circumscribing their participation.
    Is that wise? Aren't you falling into the same trap that the Christian uses. Granted it would be good if they limited their participation to the gays in Arab/Muslim nations situation but they also want to advance another civil rights issue.

    You state that the parade isn't political enough. That would take the fun out of it, bad music or no, and you have something as exciting as a NDP rally.

    Just get out there and have fun and let the chips fall where they may.


    Parades and opposing views are compatible. I remember the original "real" Santa Claus parade sponsored by Eaton's. Simpson's also had a float in the parade.
    But that was in previous decades when water was clean and sex was dirty and not the other way round.

  2. Hi no I'm not circumscribing anyone. As you can tell I'm just thinking aloud as I go along. I can wish for something but still recognize the right of any group to parade as they see fit...and advance their civil rights issues.
    The more politics the better.
    But the plight of gays in Arab countries is a real problem and if they don't raise it who will?
    But "just get out there and let the chips fall where they may" is very good advise...

    P.S. I could also say I think the parade should be less tightassed and wilder...but I recognize I'm living in Toronto the Good... so on that one I give up...

  3. ------------
    " . . ..but I recognize I'm living in Toronto the Good... so on that one I give up...
    Slightly off-topic:

    Yes Toronto is a special place. Those of us cursed with being born here are born middle-aged.

    There is one consolation:

    We built the CN Tower for the benefit of visiting Montrealers.
    Because of it, they can still look down their noses on us.

  4. Every year I swear I'm going to go down to the parade, and every year there's something. So this year I'm telling you so I'll actually do it.

    If I actually do make it this time, who knows? I might even make it to TIFF!

  5. Naked men in a parade don't bother me. I don't think they would bother Bernie Farber because they aren't political unless they are naked men against Israeli Apartheid.

  6. Hi Torontonian...heh heh heh...but c'mon eh? You know that I am growing alarmingly fond of Toronto and a lot of its residents. I just won't admit it to my friends in Montreal... ;)

  7. Hi Jennifer...the parade is definitely worth checking long as you can handle the huge crowds. One bit of advise though if you are watching it on Yonge street grab a place on the West side because it's shady. The parade usually lasts about three hours and if you are in the boiling sun, it can be a real endurance contest.
    As for the TIFF scene that's a little bit easier. All you've got to watch out for is the ATTITUDE... :)

  8. Hi Skinny Dipper

    "Naked men in a parade don't bother me."

    Hmmm...why am I not surprised ? :)

    I love swimming and sun bathing naked with Sebastien. I'm a bit shy but he's French so he doesn't think twice about it.

    But I also want to make the gay Pride parade a place where straight people and children can have fun. So I don't like to see people exposing their genitals in the middle of a crowded street.
    I'm OK with the bums, but couldn't they at least wear a fig leaf?

    As for Bernie Farber I'm extremely disappointed to see him breathe new life into this absurd controversy.

    We have worked together to fight the hatemongers. So he should know better than to accuse us of being anti-semites.

    But your comment does give me an idea...maybe I can bribe a couple of these annoying nudists to carry anti-apartheid Bernie can go after them.
    Now imagine the picture...Bernie on one side and those shrivelled old men with the teeny wieners on the other. Shouting at each other.
    After that I very much doubt that Bernie would go anywhere near the Gay Pride parade.
    Now if only I could get a Jewish drag queen to shout at Frank Dimant....

  9. As a few have said here - Gay Pride and Arab countries don't mix. Instead of rallying solely against Israel - who has a kick ass Pride Parade in Tel Aviv - why not bring to light the atrocities perpetrated by the rulers and populations of countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc. All our Muslim brothers need our support - not just the Palestinians.

  10. hi Moin...yeah look I can't disagree with you. I do believe that the plight of our Muslim brothers in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia does deserve to be highlighted on Gay Pride Day.
    I understand the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important but there are 364 other days of the year to concentrate on that...