As I came in to set up the LGBTory tent at the Pride Toronto street fair on Sunday morning, I was so happy and so proud to participate in the Pride festivities the previous day. Everything excited me about this day, from meeting new people and promoting our organization, to meeting both the federal and provincial leaders of the Official Opposition, and to making history ... getting the federal interim leader and declared leadership candidates to march in the front row, behind the LGBTory banner and the Conservative Party of Canada together with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
While we were queued up for the Pride March, the atmosphere was filling up...with excitement, with cheers, and ultimately with pride! Unlike the wind, rain and colder temperature of 2015, 2016 promised to be better with a shining sun, relatively clear sky, and history in the making on the federal political level. We were cheering in the anticipation that we would be moving shortly. Minutes of waiting turned into dozens of minutes, which turned into hours. One elected official was even suffering from heat exhaustion, to which we promptly shielded her with our 'WE STAND WITH YOU' signs and kept her hydrated, thanks to a medical professional (and leadership candidate) on our team.
After waiting a couple of hours, a Liberal supporter came over and broke the news: Black Lives Matter Toronto had staged a protest in the middle of the parade which was holding up LGBTory and the dozens of other groups with thousands of people who had patiently waited in the sweltering heat. The overwhelming response by people all around was a resounding groan after they had heard the news. I kept my response inside. I couldn't believe it. After going through all the proper channels, and getting this far in the Pride festivities, I was disgusted by the idea that BLMTO would disrupt Pride for their own purposes.
Heckling the Mayor, the Premier and our Police Chief is one thing. Engaging a politician at their house is something else. But disrupting a celebration of human rights and freedoms for the purposes of making selfish demands (like not wanting the police to have a float) is ridiculous, and as a person with a black background, I had seen enough. As someone who took the time and initiative to follow the rules of Pride, (like everyone else) why does Black Lives Matter get a free pass? Why are they allowed to get what they want through disruption rather than going through the proper channels? Pride Toronto is afraid to oppose Black Lives Matter for fear of being called racist. And as a black person, I say this to Pride Toronto: you have a backbone. Don't allow a selfish, professional race-baiting and disruptive organization to tell you what to do. Treat them like you would anyone else...they must wait and go through the proper channels.
My immigrant father brought me up teaching that if you work hard, apply yourself, and earn the respect of those who have authority, you will get whatever you want. And I have achieved that so far. But I'm interested to know what set of values teaches those that in order to get what they want, they must disrupt the lives of others. And how is disrupting the celebration of LGBT rights for personal purposes not homophobic? It is, and Black Lives Matter Toronto should be called out as such.