Pride Toronto and Toronto Police Service in talks about Parade participation for 2019
Pride Toronto and Toronto Police Service are once again open for discussions about Police in uniform being part of the annual Pride Parade again next year. A press conference was held at The 519 on October 16th at 11:30 a.m. to present further details. This will go a long way in mending this broken relationship that many feel was wrong to disallow in the first place, but also most likely upset those who are still in disagreement with Police participation. The following information was released in advance of the press conference by Amber Moyle, Director of Sponsorships and Special Events with Pride Toronto.
“Over the past two years, the question of Police participation in our Pride Parade has created a valuable space to talk about the LGBTQ2+ experiences that intersect with issues of policing and institutional power. We have worked with the Toronto Police Service to try and find a way through the difficult issues our community has raised. In partnership with LGBTQ2+ community organizations and the Toronto Police Service, we are moving forward with work that will develop these partnerships even further. When we receive an application from the Toronto Police Service, we will review the application and provided they meet our Rules of Parade Entry policy they will be granted a marching permit for the 2019 parade. This decision is made in acknowledgment that Pride Toronto can only thrive through the commitment to a diversity of efforts. The critical conversations that have been started will continue, fostered through the work of organizations in our community that we trust.”
As well, Pride Toronto released the following Open Letter:
Dear LGBT2Q+ communities and our broader community of Toronto,
2017’s Pride Parade was the first year since 2000 that the Toronto Police had not marched in uniform. It was a complex decision that sparked an even more complex conversation about inclusion, representation, race, social justice, and safety. We believe that this conversation, while often difficult, continues to make us more open and more supportive as a community.
In April of this year, in grief over the violent loss of people in our communities, we asked the Toronto Police to withdraw their application to march in the 2018 Pride Parade. We asked for time to mourn and to discover how to heal. The Police honored our request, and the Parade became an important moment in our collective expression of resilience and our individual expressions of heartache.
Even more importantly, we also asked the Toronto Police to embark on a process of increased co-operation and collaborative action with the city’s LGBT2Q+ organizations. We sought, and continue to seek, institutional change that takes time and openness to achieve.
We believe that we have started on that path. We are seeing signs of a new understanding and active commitment. To move this conversation forward, leaders from organizations whose primary mandate is to serve LGBT2Q+ communities have come together to begin to tackle some of the problems that were raised. This group will work collectively on issues that matter to our communities—the issue of policing being a pivotal one. This group has received Federal funding focused on ensuring this dialogue continues and that the right solutions are found. Pride Toronto is honored to be part of this work, but we are just one part, we recognize that it will take all of us working together to address your important concerns.
Over the past two years, the question of Police participation in the Parade has created a valuable space to talk about the queer experiences that intersect with issues of policing and institutional power. It has also, at times, required much of Pride’s capacity to address. It has even come to threaten our very existence as a publicly-funded, non-profit community organization. We have so much important work to do. We can best serve our communities through our dedication to supporting grassroots groups that champion the work that matters to us, and of course, by organizing an incredible Festival that celebrates both our achievements and our aspirations as a community.
When we receive an application from the Toronto Police Service, we will review the application and provided they meet our Rules of Parade Entry, they will be granted a marching permit for the 2019 parade. This decision is made in acknowledgment that Pride Toronto can only thrive through the commitment to a diversity of efforts. The critical conversations that have been started will continue, fostered through the work of organizations in our community that we trust.
For many members of our communities, this decision will feel premature; we may not all see the same signs of amending relationship. Indeed, some of the change is subtle and some just getting underway. We are heartened that the seeds are being planted, but we acknowledge and respect those who will find this decision a difficult one.
Many people felt that the Pride Parades of 2017 and 2018 invited a broader diversity of identity and experience, and we look to maintain this more nuanced space next year. June 2019 will be the next iteration in a long-term evolution for Pride that reflects the ongoing growth of our communities.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.