Sophiya is a young bisexual woman who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan. Because she’s still in the closet about her identity, she asked to publish this piece here.
Pride Toronto recently made the decision to ban cop floats from Pride. A decision that has led to much controversy, and obviously lots of people being angry at Pride Toronto. Many are also angry at Black Lives Matter activists for having the “audacity to make a demand that excludes/discriminates against a group”. Chuck Krangle, a gay Toronto cop, also recently wrote an open letter to Pride Toronto venting that he was being discriminated against, and he didn’t want his right as a gay person to participate in Pride to be taken away.
For starters, I do not understand the issue Mr. Krangle has here. He actually is free to participate in the parade, so long as he is not wearing his cop uniform. Is his police uniform so sacred to him that he absolutely has to wear it while in the parade? But it should be clear that nobody is actually taking his right as an individual to participate in Pride. The ban is on cop floats, he can still participate in Pride as much as he would like to. No one is taking away his individual right to be a part of it. This is not discrimination, like Mr. Krangle asserts in his letter, and he clearly needs to have some sense of proportion here.
Please also note that the ban is also not on law enforcement, or cops being around to ensure security (like they do in most parades like this). The ban is simply on cop floats.
In the open letter linked above, Chuck Krangle creates a false equivalency between discrimination that marginalized groups go through, and “discrimination” that he finds himself to be a victim of because cop floats have been banned. But fucking hell, these two are not the same things, not even at all. And rude as this may sound, I rolled my eyes at that false equivalency. Being a police officer is a fucking job, it’s not some kind of racial identity. I can’t tear my brown skin off my face as easily as cops can take off their uniforms. So false equivalency like this needs to go die in several fires. Police are not a marginalized group; police are in fact often active participants in further marginalization of other groups.
Police, the institution as a whole, has a lot of blood on their hands and have historically (and in many contexts even currently) brutalized LGBT people. This Toronto cop’s homosexuality does not change that fact, it doesn’t change all the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, classism, sexism, transphobia (you name it) that institution of police is very symbolic of.
I am rather disappointed that more people are hell bent on shitting on Pride Toronto or BLM, and not seeing the injustices that have been forever committed by the police that led to this decision. And I just wish people would reflect a little. Cop floats should not be allowed in pride, in the same way that priest floats should not be allowed, even if an individual priest is gay. It’s the same reason why the Salvation Army shouldn’t be allowed. It is not discrimination to ban cop floats from Pride – it’s taking Pride back to its very roots. Pride came to existence when transwomen of colour threw bricks at the police. Pride is about standing against the institutions (absofuckinglutely including The Police) that have actively taken part in the brutalization of LGBT communities everywhere. Remember what Pride has always been about, people.
A Torontorian named Kurt Mungal put it pretty well:
When you’ve grown up as a closeted, person of colour without ANY representation in mainstream media, when you’ve been eyed by retail employees in stores that they deem are “beyond your means”, when you’ve found yourself attracted to a guy that has “no fats, no femmes, no blacks, no Asians” on his dating profile and you can check ANY of those boxes, when you’ve been fetishized for your ethnicity, when you’ve been attacked because of it, when you’ve been called a paki, when you’ve experiences ALL of this and more if you’re black, or trans, and all within the rainbow-coloured gates of your “community” then you can tell me all about how Pride is about inclusivity for ALL and not a political act of survival.
Mungal’s words really resonate with me as a queer woman of colour, and I am so very happy that this decision was made by Pride Toronto. What this means to me is that now I can attend Pride, without having to see cop floats, without seeing that an event made for people like myself is upholding and respecting an institution of oppression. Pride, since the beginning, has been anti-police, because police is the institution it stood up against. Pride is political. Pride is for me, for others like me, it is not for the institution that has been so complicit in the oppression of LGBT communities (and other marginalized communities), it’s not for the police. It never was.