Social psychology
2 min

Cole refuses Pride Toronto over censorship flap

Toronto mayoral candidate and gay community bon vivant Keith Cole is the latest in a growing number of artists and activists to withdraw from Pride Toronto’s Pride celebrations because of the organization’s choice to censor the term “Israeli apartheid” from this year’s Pride parade.

Yesterday the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), effectively censored by Pride Toronto, announced that 18 former grand marshals, honoured dykes, and awards recipients would be repudiating their honours Monday morning at 10am at the 519 Church St Community Centre.

Cole’s press release:  

FREEDOM OF SPEECH MUST PREVAIL NO CENSORSHIP

I must decline the offer to host PRIDE’s 2010 ALTERNA – QUEER stage on Saturday July 3rd, 2010, South Stage. It is with great sadness that I must say NO to host one of PRIDE’s best music venues due to Censorship and complete ignorance and respect for individuals right to Freedom of Speech by PRIDE.

I love Alterna – Queer. It is and has been one of the best stages at PRIDE for years. The music, the people, the vibe and the bands have been great in the past and 2010 has a great line up of talent indeed, but PRIDE’s decision to dictate censorship and prevent freedom of speech leaves me with no choice – I must decline PRIDE’s offer to host this event. As a human, an artist, a gay and a 2010 Toronto Mayoral Candidate I cannot nor will I ever support an organization that acts as censors and denies people freedom of speech.

PRIDE has made a dangerous and sickening decision. PRIDE now has censorship mechanisms in place and freedom of speech has been challenged today and for the future. Any individual, any group, any person is now at risk at being censored by PRIDE and denied freedom of speech – who or what will be next? A group? An individual? An artist? A band? An idea? A painting? A book? A body-part? A name? A memory? A thought? A drag queen? A dyke? A fag? It could be anyone or anything next. We, the queer community, are the major stakeholders in PRIDE – not governments, corporations, banks, condo developments or beer companies etc… We are what made PRIDE and we will continue to define our PRIDE.

PRIDE will happen with or without government / corporate sponsorship. We will march, gather, protest, party, celebrate and keep on fighting the good fight. Free speech is worth fighting for and censorship must be stopped no matter what the price.

The community will not forget this terrible decision made by PRIDE.

I love the event Alterna – Queer and I love the music but I love freedom of speech and I can never, ever support censorship.

Friday June 11th, 2010 is the next ‘The Keith Cole Experience’ at Tallulah’s Cabaret – there will be no censorship and freedom of speech will be allowed, encouraged and celebrated! Just like the good ol’ days…