Metropolitan Community Church pastor Brent Hawkes has hinted at the possibility that the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) will recommend to the Pride Toronto (PT) board the addition of a separate parade for human rights.
At many of the CAP public forums, it was suggested, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, that the Pride parade should split into two – one for drinking partygoers and another for activists promoting political and human rights messages.
Hawkes is quick to defend the idea as a viable option but stopped short of throwing any support behind it, at least before the CAP report is released.
The CAP panel recently sent an email to Xtra expressing concern that a previous Xtra report did not tell the full story.
“There have been recent media reports about some of the public forums hosted by the CAP and some of the positions taken by some people there,” Hawkes writes. “These reports could leave members of the LGBTTIQQ2SA community with the false impression that the community has spoken with one voice in recommending the rejection or approval of some options or of a particular approach to one or more of the issues.”
Hawkes later tells Xtra that the panel is considering all opinions on the issue that have been collected from five general meetings throughout December, 30 targeted consultations, 1,600 surveys and numerous Facebook messages.
“So far discussion on the issue of two parades by the panel has been minimal because we’re not there yet,” he says. “In terms of the broader community, the issue has been raised at a variety of forums. There’s been discussion around the two-parade issue and the controversies surrounding the parade.
“Most of the discussion, unfortunately, has been two extreme positions. The response has been very divided.”
Hawkes also points out, “There are already three parades,” meaning the Dyke March, the Trans March and the Pride parade. “It’s more complicated than just saying ban or no ban.”
So the recommendation may not take the shape of a parade, he says. It may be a “human rights rally or a human rights conference.
“Some say they don’t want the parade to be political. Others say they only want the parade’s politics to be about only gay and lesbian issues. We’re not going to please everyone, and we know that.”
CAP has told Xtra it plans to present its recommendations to PT around Feb 8, and a public meeting will follow about a week later.
Still, now that PT is operating with only four staff members and the organization in $109,409 in the red, PT chair Francisco Alvarez says that adding new events to Pride Week might be impossible.
Alvarez says the PT board will consider the idea in the context of how much money is available.
Even if two parades became a reality, Alvarez says, “We would still ensure the main parade has a human rights component; it just wouldn’t be the sole purpose of that event. But I do not know what CAP will recommend.”
Alvarez says each parade costs a different amount. The Trans March “doesn’t cost us anything, the Dyke March doesn’t cost very much at all, and the main parade costs lots.”
If the suggestion of two parades is recommended, Hawkes would not say which groups will participate in which parade or how the separation will be organized.