69-year-old, longtime Toronto gay activist Brian Provini is boycotting the June 25th. Tornoto Pride parade this year as are many others because of the push by Black Lives Matter — Toronto (BLM) to ban police participation.
“I find it to be totally unacceptable,” said the retired community college professor and senior policy officer with the provincial ministry of training, colleges and universities said Provini Thursday, a few hours after he e-mailed a letter to Pride Toronto and the police advising them that he cannot “support a Pride that is not inclusive of the police.”
He said the LGBT community and the police force have done a lot “to build bridges” over the years and as far as he’s concerned, after this that Pride no longer represents Toronto’s LGBT community.
The Toronto Sun released an exclusive Forum poll earlier this week that showed nearly 50% of Toronto voters surveyed disapprove of the fact that the Toronto Police will not have a float (or booth) in this year’s annual celebration of LGBTQ rights. Only 21%, mostly those under 34 and living in the old city of Toronto, approved of the ban.
BLM disrupted last July’s Pride parade with a 30-minute sit-in, presenting a list of demands that included a call to ban police from the event in the future.
In mid-February, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced the police would bow out of the parade this year. He had no choice, given the lack of support from his political masters and the self-appointed leaders of the gay community.
Provini said the only reason BLM and its supporters were able to take over the AGM, was because Pride is a “weak” organization.
“They are weak and allowed themselves to be bullied,” he said, adding that people he knows were “furious” that BLM hijacked last July’s parade.
“Pride has lost its way … You’re either inclusive or not inclusive,” he said.
Christine Drummond who sits on the Ottawa Police Service’s GLBT Liaison Committee echoes these sentiments. She started a Change.org petition imploring Pride Toronto to allow police services to march and be present in uniform at this year’s festivities. At the time of publication, the online petition had over 7,400 signatures.
“Things needed to be discussed, things needed to be agreed upon. It shouldn’t have been a one-sided vote,” Drummond says. “I found it very, very hurtful considering I have a lot of friends that are LGBTQ officers and who are allied officers as well.”
She says the Black Lives Matter demands run counter to spirit of Pride.
“Pride is based on inclusion,” she says. “At the end of the day, officers can’t take off their uniform. They can’t. They’re a police officer 24-7, 365 days a year. It’s part of who they are.”