I’ve had quite enough, thank-you-very-much.
Seemingly every summer, around the same time, Toronto’s Pride parade becomes the focal point for an unending tirade of self-righteous meandering all over the pages of Canada’s news media. And I am sick of it.
This is not an article in defence of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid -- also known by the impossible-to-pronounce acronym QuAIA -- although I personally believe their right to march ought to be something we should protect. Nor is this an article celebrating the unfurling of man-flags that takes place along the parade route.
No, this is an article simply asking you to stop. No, not you. You, over there, hunched over an aging desktop computer in the bullpen of the Toronto Sun. Step away from the keyboard.
Please, stop writing about Pride. While I think it’s sweet that you find our little festival interesting, I just can’t take it anymore.
There was a time that we, the gay community, took joy in every column inch penned about us. Even the pearl-clutching would-someone-please-think-of-the-children letters to the editor made us gleam. There’s no such thing as bad press, right?
Wrong. There is.
Don’t get me wrong -- there’s an obvious benefit to critical self-analysis. That’s why, disagree as I might, I was happy to see columns pop up decrying the marching of QuAIA. I was less excited when I saw that the columns were written by straight guys. But hey, I’m sure they know what they’re talking about.
But now the floodgates of acrimony have burst open, spewing forth a wave of condescending advice printed on the glossy pages of Maclean's, or printed alongside a 300dpi image of a man’s ass.
Take Emma Teitel, who took her magic marker to the pages of Maclean's last year about the bawdy politics around Pride. Waxing on why Mayor Ford might want to skip the Sodom-and-Gomorrah event, she wrote, “he’s definitely grossed out by assless chaps and nipple tassels.” That is an entirely legitimate theory, albeit introduced with all the subtlety of a suppository.
But this year, she doubled-down and phoned in her weekly assignment by rehashing last year's editorial.
In this column, she continues her lament for the death of clothes and asks rhetorically what sort of god would subject her to the sight of other people’s bodies.
“Shortly after I wrote [last year’s] column, I went to a party in an apartment building where I watched the Pride parade go by from a balcony on the 31st floor,” she writes. Not content with just staring at the blobby outline of the parade, she took the dangerous step of descending to ground level, where she saw -- shield your eyes -- a naked man. And, apparently too traumatized to get an accurate "head" count, another 15 to 20 penises. Oh, and a vagina.
The horror. The horror.
Listen, I’ve been to my fair share of Pride parades around the country. I have no doubt nudity exists. But, I have yet to see it. Why am I missing out on the publicly displayed penises? Where is Teitel looking that I’m not?
Teitel, not wanting us to think that she’s totally square, writes, “you can criticize the wearing of chadors without being Islamophobic, and you can criticize the wearing of assless chaps without being anti-gay.”
You sure navigated that minefield with a few digits still in place, Teitel.
Does Teitel think that these guys are duty-bound to stay in those chaps? What colour do you think she would turn if she knew that those men-without-chaps-for-their-asses are serving her coffee at Starbucks? (Or, more likely, doing her financial planning.)
Teitel, apparently being the only lesbian columnist at Maclean's, was also tasked with writing one half of the magazine's manifesto against the QuAIA neo-Nazis. Her partner is the ever-vexing voice of Adam Goldenberg. In their respective columns, the anti-Semitism-fighting superduo take QuAIA to task. In her best imitation of a Socratic-debate-turned-monologue, Teitel laments that while QuAIA will be marching in protest of the situation in Palestine, women and children are being murdered in Syria.
Bring her some smelling salts.
Teitel’s point is well taken -- it is impossible to care about two things at once. Just ask the smartass who penned the anti-Movember column. To borrow a phrase from him: "as far as international conflicts go, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not much of a conflict."
Teitel tags in Goldenberg who, without a hint of irony, writes, "Pride should not be a soapbox for activists."
Would you accept anti-abortion marchers? he asks. Gays for gun rights? Gays for [thing that gays don’t tend to like]? Would you like that? Huh? Huh?
And, ever the partisan, Goldenberg manages to slip in this piece of ideological contortionism, writing, “there is a critical difference between a political party’s parading — "Vote Liberal because we love gays!" — and QuAIA’s — "Israel is an illegitimate apartheid state! And, uh, we love gays!'"
The “uh” makes all the difference, apparently.
Seriously, Statler and Waldorf, please stop.
The anti-Semitism here is perception taken as fact. Goldenberg and Teitel would have you believe that QuAIA is, beyond question, anti-Semitic. If that were the case, I’d be all too happy to bang my gavel and scream incoherently right along with them. However, it’s not the case. It’s a matter of debate. We’ve debated it. There’s been no resolution. If they think that this requires more discussion, then I respectfully submit that we reopen the is-Pluto-a-planet debate. I really didn’t get closure on that one.
Pride has been around for a third of a century. It has been commercialized, corporatized, politicized, de-politicized, re-politicized, spurned, celebrated, cleaned-up, dressed-down and everything in between. Can we just accept that, today, it’s as near perfect as it’s ever going to get.
If our debate has honestly boiled down to a few asses and the participation of a dozen-odd people, let’s just consider it a victory.