An open letter from #BlackLivesMatter NYC highlights issues with this years Pride events.
In case you missed it, Toronto Pride had a monumentous moment at their 2016 Pride, wherein Black Lives Matter Toronto halted the entire parade for 30 minutes, until their demands were met.
You can check out a full list of their demands here. But one of the most poignant demands was the banning of the RCMP floats in future pride parades.
This left a lot of people confused. Why would a parade that is supposed to be all about inclusivity all of a sudden exclude police officers? Make no mistake people who work as police officers or with the RCMP are still welcome to attend Pride, just not in a float and not in uniform (unless they are working).
In order to fully understand this, one must understand the history of the relationship between our LGBTQ community and the police.
The origins of Pride can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots, in 1969. The riots are "widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States." This spawned a ripple affect around the world. Living in a time when being anything but straight and cisgender was considered illegal, people met in underground clubs, where they could be open about their identities. Police were known for raiding these clubs, specifically targeting places that catered to a mostly LGBTQ audience. The particular raid of the Stonewall Inn in 1969 sparked a riot among bar patrons and police, as employees and patrons were aggressively hauled out and arrested. This lead to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar and in neighboring streets.
"The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world."
But that's not all. Tension between police and communities of queer people, queer BPOC, BPOC and trans people has always been violent.
African Americans have borne most of the brunt of police brutality. But abusive policing is not alien to the LGBT community generally. LGBT Americans of all races have long been harassed and brutalized by bigoted police. It was police raids like those at L.A.s Coopers Donuts in 1959 and the Stonewall Inn in 1969, in fact, that helped accelerate the movement for LGBT rights. At a time when it was against the law to serve alcoholic drinks to gay people, and for gay people to dance — never mind have sex — with each other, gay social establishments across the country were easy and frequent targets for police harassment. Not coincidentally, these catalytic events in the LGBT movement occurred in the midst of similarly influential events in the African-American civil rights movement.