On June 5th, around 11:15 PM, David Gomez was severely beaten in a homophobic attack near Hanlan’s Point. It is disgusting that it happened during Pride Month in Toronto, and at a place that has historically been considered a haven for the LGBTQ2S+ community. The attack cuts deeper because it happened on Pride month but shouldn’t be happening at any time.
A few days prior, a Muslim family in London ON was also violently attacked, leaving four people dead and a child seriously injured and traumatized – making Gomez’s attack the second incident this month motivated by hate. This is a clear sign that white supremacy and homophobia are still very much alive in Canada. That the inclusive, diverse society which so many pictures in their minds as being so characteristic of this country are more fiction than non-fiction.
This is not the Canada that I came to know, the one that embraced me when I migrated here ten years ago. But sadly, this is the lived reality for LGBTQ2S+, Black & Indigenous communities, people of color, and other marginalized communities still experiencing discrimination and systemic racism.
We still have a lot of work to do. This cannot continue happening – not in 2021. We must call out systemic racism and discrimination when we see it. We need to expose it. We need to continue to listen to – and believe – the affected communities to become better allies by dismantling the system that perpetuates this kind of behaviour. We need to educate our peers, our own family, our neighbors. We need to spread love – not hate.
Isn’t that what Pride is about?
This month, the Toronto Pride Parade is going virtual. And although it is impressive that the event organizers managed to make it happen in the midst of a pandemic, Pride these days has become an increasingly branded holiday.
We used to proudly march in the streets to celebrate our individuality, our history and to fight for freedom, for acceptance, for love, and for our right to be seen as equal. But the commercialization of pride has become to many in the LGBTQ2S+ community what greenwashing is to the environmental community. Joining a pride parade or putting a rainbow on your company logo during pride month but not advancing any real systemic change that improves the lives LGBTQ2S+ community is just pure pink or rainbow washing.
Corporations put on a show for pride month, wanting us to believe that they are allies, and yet don’t bat an eyelash when it comes to donating money to politicians that pass anti-gay legislation.
This is not real allyship.
If we want to take pride in Canada as a diverse, inclusive country – if we want to make this story we tell ourselves an honest, lived reality for all – we need to do more than wave rainbow flags one month of the year, slap rainbows on packaging and update social media profile pictures.
We need to create an environment of inclusion, donate to organizations working to create meaningful change, and back policies that support equality. We need to call out rainbow washing when we see it and push to dismantle the systems of hatred and oppression that put up barriers for so many. And cause others to lose their lives.
We should continue to support legislative changes to remove systemic barriers, strengthen education, volunteer at an LGBTQ2S+ community centre or advocacy organization. Find your supporters, and if you can have uncomfortable conversations with people who might disagree with you—building community resilience and joy.
- The 519 is committed to the health, happiness, and full participation of the LGBTQ2S communities.
- Toronto Pflag promotes the health and well-being of LGBTQ2S+ people by helping to keep families together through Support and Education.
- Friends of Ruby support “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and two-spirit youth (aged 16-29) through counselling, housing, practical assistance, and multiple activities.
- LGBT2SQ communities face specific health challenges and barriers to accessing care. Rainbow Health Ontario offers training for healthcare and social service providers to increase their clinical and cultural competency in caring for their LGBT2SQ service users. Donate to support now.
- Donate to the only 2-spirit/queer/trans-led Indigenous arts gallery in Toronto!
- Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction- TIHR emerged during the first wave of the COVID19 pandemic in response to a massive shutdown of frontline services and a lack of basic needs for Indigenous houseless folks in the city of Toronto. Over the past year, they have provided basic needs, access to critical health support and covid-19 testing, harm reduction supplies, traditional medicines, sexual/ reproductive health and prenatal support, traditional food, expressive arts and ceremony to the most vulnerable people, many of whom are survivors of residential schools, the 60’s scoop and other devastating impacts of colonization.
- “Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People” by Joan Roughgarden. Buy at your local bookshop, e.g. Toronto’ GLADDAY Bookshop on Church St.
- Dr. Makokis is a Two-Spirit Cree doctor who has created a unique approach to transgender care, combining Indigenous and Western teachings.
- Beze Gray: Indigenous two-spirit describes living in Canada’s ‘chemical valley’ in Greenpeace report on recycling
- Syrus Marcus Ware is a Black transgender community activist, educator, visual artist, and PhD candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Check out some of his work: Activist Love Letters and Antarctica.
Greenpeace fully supports the LGBTQ2S+ community in celebrating Pride. The staff and volunteers came together to create this short video that tells the story of how Pride started 40 years ago, the same way Greenpeace was formed 10 years before that: by taking to the streets. Protest is an important part of our history because it is a tool that brings forth change. We want to remind everyone of the reason we continue to march on the streets – because Pride is not just a celebration, but a constant reminder that we still have so much work to do to stop homophobic attacks once and for all, so that we can be safe in our community so that we can have the same rights as everyone else – so that we are free to love who we love.
We wanted to remind everyone that PRIDE is, has always been, and will always be PROTEST.
For more information about the Pride celebration in Toronto, check out www.pridetoronto.com.
Blog by Rommel Bellosillo, Mobilization Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
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