UPDATE: 6 JUNE 2010, 6:32PM By Matt Mills
Pride grand marshal Todd Klinck reiterated his postion on accepting the honour on facebook this evening. Read his open letter here.
UPDATE: 4 JUNE 2010 9:10am by Matt Mills
“They were bound to find somebody as they kept going down the list,” QuAIA spokesperson Tim McCaskell tells Xtra of Pride’s replacement grand marshals announcement. “I see that he’s encouraged us to march anyway and get arrested. That’s interesting.
“We’re not going to denounce anyone for accepting this even though we’re disappointed that given that all these other people have stood in solidarity around these issues,” he continues. “We would expect some sort of gesture from [Klinck] to make clear his support for free speech in the parade.”
McCaskell suggests Klinck could, as grand marshal, wear a QuAIA T-shirt in the parade and get arrested along with QuAIA.
In the comments section below, Klinck clarified a comment he made to Xtra last night about the role of the City of Toronto in PrideToronto’s choice to censor QuAIA.
Xtra did ask Klinck about whether the city ought to be held accountable for Pride’s decision.
Below is a transcript of that portion of our conversation:
Mills: Wow, just when you think you know which way things are going to go, it gets somewhat complicated. This is a curve ball.
Klinck: I hope that this can be something positive. We have a lot of people who support us, and I hope they don’t turn against us. I think there’s still room for dissent, and I think there’s still room for us to have a kick-ass Pride festival and have these discussions and debate without folks just destroying the organization. And possibly still be able to make them change their mind or find out more about it.
[Ed’s note: Klinck did not say, “without these folks destroying,” as I reported last night. He said “without folks just destroying.”]
Mills: Would you say that the city is to blame for putting Pride Toronto in this positon?
Klinck: From what I hear and what I read, I feel that it does seem that the city is a major reason. You’re going to have to be investigative journalists and delve into that more. I don’t know all the details. This is somewhat new to me but it sounds like it, certainly.
Mills: We have delved into the details. It’s clearly pressure from various levels of government and judging by everything we have reported on, it’s pretty clear that Pride Toronto, frankly, bent like a reed in the wind. As soon as the city raised the spectre that there could be counsequences if they didn’t choose to censor these words, Pride just capitulated without question.
Klinck: The “without question” part is the part you might want to delve into.
Mills: We have delved into it, on our website. There’s a pretty strong paper trail, correspondence between Pride Toronto and the city to try to wriggle out of this position with QuAIA. There’s no indication that Pride at any point said to the city that censoring these folks is something that is problematic and that they’re not prepared to do.
Ed’s note: Read Pride Toronto plans to censor term “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.” And Pride Toronto’s board resolution to censor “Israeli Apartheid.”
Klinck: Yeah, they don’t appear to be super organized over there…..
Although there is a motion before council to defund Pride, it has not passed. The city has so far taken no direct or open action to defund Pride Toronto because of QuAIA’s participation.
“Certain individuals in the city have been doing stuff and Mammoliti has made his motion,” says McCaskell. “Both of those things could be construed as bullying of Pride along with Martin Gladstone, but Pride needs to take responsibility for its decisions.”
UPDATE: 3 JUNE 2010 6:35pm by Matt Mills
Just days after Dr Alan Li withdrew as grand marshal of the 2010 Toronto Pride celebration, Pride Toronto has announced replacement grand marshals.
Li declined the accolade after PT capitulated to pressure from city and corporate funders to censor the term “Israeli apartheid” from the Pride parade, effectively banning the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from marching. The move sparked outrage from QuAIA members and many in the queer community.
Todd Klinck and Mandy Goodhandy, proprietors of Goodhandy’s nightclub, were the runners-up to Li in the PT grand marshal vote earlier this year. They’ve accepted the roles of grand marshals this year.
“With this being the Pride’s 30th year, it was important that we accepted it and do the best we can to honour and celebrate this and make this festival the best it can be,” Klinck told Xtra.
Klinck says whether or not QuAIA should be allowed to march in the parade is a complicated question.
“Do I think they should be allowed to march as human beings who believe in free speech? Absolutely,” he says. “I think they should even if it’s an act of civil disobedience. Even if they get arrested they should march on their own terms. But I’m not going to address whether Pride Toronto should allow them to because it’s a complicated issue based on other things.
Does that mean Klinck encourages QuAIA to march?
“I’m a big fan of people just not taking shit and going for it,” he says. “Absolutely.”
Klinck says PT is in a difficult position and its decision to ban QuAIA may have been the wrong one.
“But a jury of people gave us this honour – not Pride Toronto; the community – and we have been asked to represent this community.”
More than 100 people turned out to protest PT’s decision to ban QuAIA at a May 25 PT press conference and at least three Pride honourees have repudiated their honours, but Klinck says he’s prepared to face any criticism.
“We’re used to controversy and we feel the causes we stand for are controversial,” he says. “Even opening the doors of our business is controversial. We are not scared of controversy or heat. We think we’re doing the right thing. That’s their choice, I respect their choice but they pulled out for their own reasons, we’re accepting for our own reasons.”
“I hope that this can be something positive. We have a lot of people who support us and I hope they don’t turn against us. I think there’s still room for dissent and I think there’s still room for us to have a kick-ass Pride festival and have these discussions and debate without these folks destroying the organization.”
3 JUN, 6pm
Open Letter from Todd Klinck and Mandy Goodhandy re: Nomination for Grand Marshal of Pride 2010:
We are writing this open letter to the community to announce that we have been chosen as Grand Marshals of the Pride 2010 Parade, and we are delighted and honoured to accept this role.
Mandy and I have been working tirelessly to promote diversity, educate people and defend the rights of the queer spectrum. Through the establishment of our club “Goodhandy’s”, we have provided a venue for community events and a place where trans people, gays, lesbians, fetishists, nudists, sex workers, bisexuals, and all their supporters and admirers meet under one roof for fundraisers, dance parties, sex parties, networking and more.
Choosing Mandy and I to represent the community, 2 former sex workers, 1 trans person and 1 queer male, sends a strong message to those who feel Pride is a white-washed corporate event. This highlights that unique and radical queers are an important and integral part of our community.
We will be extending invitations to all of the groups who have worked with Goodhandy’s in the hope that they will form a huge, colourful, loud, obnoxious, fun and crazy marching contingent in support of 30 years of Pride. Examples of some of the groups we hope will march with us: TNT!MEN (Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity), Northbound Leather, Queer Idol (a singing contest), Sodom: Toronto’s Decadent Dance Party, degenderit (a drag and burlesque festival), Sex Professionals of Canada, Dirty Sexy Party (the gay porn appreciation party), Team Goodhandy’s (our Multiple Sclerosis Bike fundraising team) and more. We look at our nomination as a victory, and as a return to the roots of Pride in the Stonewall tradition. How far we have come from the days of bathhouse raids, to today, when two hookers are being asked to lead the community!
We are fully aware of the controversy going on between the community and Pride Toronto, due to a very difficult decision Pride Toronto felt they had to make regarding allowing a group to use the phrase “Israeli Apartheid”. We are aware that we were the 2nd choice as Pride Marshals, and are only getting this opportunity because the 1st choice chose to not participate due to this controversy. We understand that this debate is ongoing, and we hope that in the end, all groups can march without censorship, but we are going to focus our energies towards the positive side of things. We are going to concentrate on celebrating diversity, and on bringing attention to the very important issues that the queer community has been fighting for 30 years.
We think that this Festival is incredibly important to our city, and our communities. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit, many of whom come from small towns, find solace in finally feeling what it’s like to have community and safety.
We weighed the options carefully, and made our decision to accept this honour as an affirmation of the queer work we have dedicated our lives to. We hope that the community will stand behind us as we enter the fourth decade of this festival.