Beyond A Matter Of Pride

11 Jun

The atmosphere in Toronto is tense not only as a result of the massive price tag put on the G20 summit, but also in light of a controversial decision made by the organizers of the city’s annual pride parade.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid has been banned from participating in the parade unless they undergo a name change because, according to parade authorities and the provincial government, “Israeli Apartheid” is a term that is hateful and offensive.

Has the line been drawn too soon?

Including the group would mean a loss of financial support from the municipal government and the loss of support from groups within the parade who claim to be made uncomfortable by QAIA’s presence.

Uproar from those for and against the inclusion of the group in the parade has been significant putting the event in a weird place.

Though support would be lost with the group in the parade, a lot of important contributors to the parade have severed their ties, including the grand marshal.

Of course the situation in Israel is a sticky subject, but it’s hard to believe it is one that should be avoided at the most liberating, outspoken event in the city.

I’m not saying that QAIA has a message that I stand by. In terms of Israeli politics, and as a journalist, I like to sit firmly on the fence. I think, however, that as long as violence isn’t encouraged in any way, the group should be permitted to voice their opinions at the pride parade.

The pride parade is a stage for discussion, activism, and expression. Sometimes outlets for opinion will make people upset and uncomfortable, but it will also make them think, and thinking is good.

I don’t necessarily blame pride organizers for making their decision, but I would point a finger at  political pundits for influencing decisions by putting money on the line.

The gay pride parade, and pride week in general is one of the most important events Toronto holds for it represents the diverse and progressive municipal communities. This year, the cheerful, welcoming mood on Yonge Street may change its tune to something low-tempo.

So that’s just me. That’s my initial reaction. I could be eating my words, but I want to know what you think.

2 Responses to “Beyond A Matter Of Pride”

  1. S at 5:09 pm #

    The problem with the term Israeli Apartheid is that it doesn’t allow for a whole lot of discussion. That’s been the main backlash against it from it’s detractors. It’s a VERY sticky situation obviously, and it’s almost ludicrous to say pro- one side or the other, because it’s a group of people referred to as much as it is a state.

    That being said, a term like Israeli Apartheid doesn’t sort of suggest itself to open discussion of the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. It’s not a term that lends itself to open conversation; it says “it’s like this, prove me wrong.”

    Anyways, my personal stances aside, I see the problem with the term being used in a format of open conversation and dialogue, because it doesn’t exactly lend itself to that.

    I’ll leave the matter of gay rights (or lack thereof) in the Arab world to another commentator 🙂

  2. romeh at 8:59 pm #

    Thank you for your comment. I would agree that it’s hard to foster debate with a group with the name “Israeli Apartheid” in its title, but is this enough of a reason to ban them from the parade?

    Of course the gay-rights-in-arab-countries situation is a ‘sticky’ in itself. I guess it holds true in a lot of religious communities (i.e. Orthodox Judaism, Roman Catholic…), but there are still groups in the parade that represent more liberal members of these communities.

    This is what makes the pride parade so important and as a result, so politically charged.

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