Canadian Olympic gold medalist and gay activist Mark Tewksbury has added his voice to a growing list of queers condemning censorship at Pride Toronto.
Read Tewksbury’s open letter to the Pride Toronto board, in which he calls for a reversal of the ban on the phrase “Israeli apartheid":
***Dear Board Members:
I am completely in support of the growing dissent regarding Pride Toronto’s decision to ban a group from marching in the 2010 Toronto Pride Parade.
In 2008 I was invited to address LGBT issues at the United Nations in NYC on the day that the Government of France introduced a declaration to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. As hard as it might have been at times to listen to the opposing point of view, both sides were entitled to have their opinions and ideas known. For the LGBT community, this was the first time the United Nations had ever addressed these issues as a General Assembly. Imagine if we had been banned again from appearing.
For me, freedom of speech and participation are of immense importance. They were fundamental for the LGBT community, with all of its diversity, to have their voices heard. I had thought these principles were also at the heart of Pride Events. Looks like I was wrong. I think the current leadership has made a really bad decision. I encourage them to have the courage to change their minds.
On Monday, more than 20 former Pride Toronto honorees returned their awards in protest.
Also this week: organizers of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids and Pussy Palace panels withdrew their events from this year’s Pride celebrations. Read their letter to Pride Toronto’s co-chairs and executive director:
Dear Mses Ngai, D’Iorio & Sandilands –
We are the panelists and moderators of the Over-40s Toronto Bathhouse Raids and Pussy Palace panels planned in connection with this year’s Pride celebrations. We are writing to inform you that we have unanimously decided to withdraw from these events.
We still hope to see these panels go ahead, but perhaps in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids on February 5, 2011.
Pride Toronto has forbidden the use of the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid’ in Pride events and obviously intends to exclude Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from this year’s parade. We cannot in good conscience allow our names to appear in association with these acts of censorship and exclusion.
Toronto’s annual Pride celebrations were born out of the mass gay uprising provoked by the bathhouse raids. It would be grotesque to mark those events in association with a Pride celebration that would now likely exclude the very protests that gave Pride its life.
We urge Pride Toronto to reconsider its hasty and ill-advised decision.
Peter Bochove, Loralee Gillis, Gerald Hannon, Ed Jackson, Carlyle Jansen, JP Hornick, Tim McCaskell, Eric Mykhalovskiy, Ken Popert, Janet Rowe & Tom Warner.
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