Talk about a mood killer. Toronto’s Pride Week, a profoundly social success story on every level imaginable, takes one in the nads from….Queers! ‘Tis not a pretty tale.
For those of us old enough to recall the 1981 Toronto police ‘Bathhouse raids’, or a smugly dismissive urban Ontario mainstream where the love that dared not speak its name was not ready for prime time, the annual Pride celebrations are testament to human capacity to learn, grow, and even revel in diversity. Being ‘gay’ went from the grey margins to the best of all social attitudes – “Who cares? Everyone is entitled to be themselves, to love and live as they choose” – an answer that in various forms is captured in every contemporary Canadian public opinion poll on sexuality. Only the dummified hard right media gave anything approaching a rat’s ass when Canada’s first ‘openly gay’ provincial premier, our own Kathleen Wynn, took the helm earlier this year. The Church / WellesleyVillage that provided the regional gay community with its earliest social symbols and emotional epicenter remains important, but hardly determinative of how sexual orientation is received in the stodgy, stifling Toronto the Good my mother knew. Take that, San Fran – we are the kings and queens of queer up here!
Not all well-groomed dudes and Boystown sunshine, it must be told. The odd Scopes Monkey Trial-styled dork that has never read the Bible moving their lips past Deuteronomy still bays at the moon. There is an ever-declining but visible population of thuggish, sexually insecure haters that one steps around, like a steaming, easy to spot dog turd, as we move along life’s more welcoming avenues. The Pride Week festivities draw friendly hordes, building a commercial buzz that leaves marketers weak kneed, and a community having lots of fun, with no pretensions.
It is here the QuAIA make their loud, intolerant annual entrance, a disfiguring blot on Pride’s otherwise cheerful face. These are the self-styled advocates of Palestinian independence, where Israel is demonized for innumerable sins, with ‘moral inferiority’ number 1 with a bullet. Free speech is mother’s milk for this scribe, and if a bunch of ill-informed clowns want to paint swastikas on banners and proclaim their solidarity against Zionist oppression – fill yer boots. But why Pride Week, and insufferable anti-intellectual arrogance of the rightness of the cause, to deliberately spike a celebratory punchbowl with bilgewater… where fun, tolerance for other views, and a liberal, diverse society that respects all is the overarching theme everyone else adores?
The Pride people get public money to help with massive organizational costs – and good on them, with the millions in revenues the celebrations draw to southern Ontario. I am no fan of Israeli policy on many issues – including Palestine – the intransigence of its leadership, and the reflexive support Israel gets from Canada and the US is disturbing. The QuAIA have innumerable other outlets for their message – why queer Pride with hate, and partly on the public dime? Kick ‘em out, and make them fight somewhere else. The optics are cringe-worthy for a Pride that has come so far.