We’ve heard all about the protest that took place at Toronto Pride, where a group of Black Lives Matter protestors held up the parade until various conditions were agreed to.
There has been a lot of criticism of their actions, as well as their demand to have all police floats removed, including an open letter from a gay Toronto police officer.
Now the leader of the protest, Janaya Khan, has responded to these criticisms.
“Our action was in the tradition of resistance that is Pride. We achieved a commitment to our demands despite intense push-back from a primarily gay white male community. The same community did not want Black Lives Matter involved in Pride at all, even going so far as to create a group on Facebook called No BLM in Pride. Gender and sexual diversity, it seems, does not preclude racism or white privilege.”
“The majority of the leadership within Black Lives Matter – Toronto and Black Lives Matter internationally identify as queer or trans. Pride has always been for the most marginalized, and has always been for us. Since the action, I have received hate mail and death threats, primarily from gay-identifying men. I have been screamed at on the street. I have been called a “nigger” more times than I care to count. People have told me I’m no longer part of the queer community because my Blackness has no place there.”
“People who are not under the LGBT2QSIAA umbrella have used our action as an excuse to attack us with racist vitriol. Their actions are revealing the racism that prompted our intervention at Pride in the first place. We are not all on a level playing field fighting for the same equality. Any such claim is absurd.”
She is also claiming that people in the media are “fostering a narrative wherein calling for an end to police floats in Pride is considered “discriminatory’, completely overlooking the reality of privilege and power granted to police”.
Khan continued: “Orlando continues to devastate me and remind me that I have a responsibility to disrupt a system that continues to brutalise the LGBTQ2SIAA communities that look like me. Part of that work is creating more inclusivity in spaces like Pride. An increased police presence at Pride in the wake of the Orlando tragedy does not make the most marginalized among us feel safe. It did not in 1969 and it does not today.”
“The LGBTQ2SIAA community knows that labels do not devalue us, they help define us. And yet something about the words “Black lives matter” is making many people deeply uncomfortable. All lives matter in principle, but not in practice. Until those two line up, Black Lives Matter will continue to exist.”