TORONTO—At least 1000 people gathered in Queen’s Park June 26 to participate in the first Stonewall march to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City, which were a jump-off point for the gay liberation movement. This date had been opportunistically vacated by Pride Toronto, which moved Pride Day to the first weekend in July in search of greater numbers and (you guessed it) more money. The mood was festive and celebratory. There was lots of glitter, no corporate sponsorship, no permit, and no cops were requested although there were a few around. And, since everybody knew why we were there, there were no speeches.
At the beginning of the march to the 519 Church St. Community Centre, Van Bon Bon led with the chant, “An Army of Lovers Will Never be Defeated.” There were many hand-made signs echoing this.
Well-known singer Faith Nolan performed from a truck at the front of the march. She commented: “This is how Pride started. This is the real Pride. The parade is so corporate. We don’t own it. Now if the profits went to the community, that would be different, but it doesn’t.” Adriana Alarcon, another organizer, declared, “This is my Pride. This is all I need. What an amazing day.”
Leanne Iskander and other young members of Catholic Schools for GSAs (gay-straight alliances) were there in numbers and enthusiasm. Many carried homemade florescent signs, including “Catholic Schools Need GSAs.” Other signs included “Stop Ford Cuts” (referring to Toronto’s reactionary mayor), “Support the Poor, Eat a Conservative,” and Queer Ontario’s “Our Pride Includes QuAIA (Queers Against Israeli Apartheid) and TNT! Men.” There were other signs in support of QuAIA as well.
Singing, dancing, and chanting included a reference to the G20 police rampage a year ago, “Whose Streets?, Our Streets!”. The march ended at the 519 Community Centre. There, and in surrounding Cawthra Park, a grassroots event took place, “Back To Our Roots, Breaking New Ground,” sponsored by Blackness Yes!, Ontario Rainbow Alliance For The Deaf, Ill Nana, Colour Me Dragg, Fruitloopz, Black CAP, Pride Coalition for Free Speech and Proud of Toronto. Queer Ontario and Blackness Yes! hosted a free buffet lunch, which was more than covered by donations.
For years, in reaction to the bureaucratic and corporatized official Pride, there has been talk of organizing an alternative event that reflects Pride’s real political roots. This event lays a solid basis for future years and the re-emergence of an independent, militant queer liberationist current. (All quotes thanks to XTRA magazine.)
> The article above was written by John Wilson. It first appeared in the July 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.