Those who are upset with the ban on “Israeli Apartheid” include Pride Toronto’s own volunteers, and they're swinging into action.
Martin Kuplens-Ewart, who organizes security at the Parade, spoke at the June 7 meeting. He said that people who are angry should volunteer for the organization. That’s because people who have volunteered for more than eight hours will have a vote at Pride Toronto’s Annual General Meeting.
He’s joined by Matthew Cutler, another volunteer, and one of the more than 20 queers who returned a Pride Toronto award out of protest.
At a Pride Coalition for Free Speech meeting June 12, a working group with Cutler and Kuplens-Ewart was struck to review the organization’s bylaws. They concluded that, to change the organization, people should go to makepridehappen.com and sign up.
“Folks just need to log onto that website and register to volunteer,” Cutler tells Xtra. “Certainly, there were folks in the room who were related to specific aspects, human rights, safety and security, but people can volunteer wherever they feel comfortable.”
But with most of the volunteer orientation sessions now completed, the types of ways people can help out is shrinking. However, there are still ways to volunteer during the big weekend, says Kuplens-Ewart.
“I would still encourage people to sign up online,” he says. “And then, on the Saturday and Sunday, they should go to an information tent to see what shifts are still available.”
While some of the tasks won’t be available to people who haven’t done specific training, there will still be lots of things to do, Kuplens-Ewart promises.
People can also become voting members by attending three general meetings of the members. The problem with that, says Kuplens-Ewart, is that there’s only been one so far this year.
Both Cutler and Kuplens-Ewart agree that volunteering for an organization when you disagree with it seems, on its face, counterintuitive. Nonetheless, both say it’s important.
“When you have issues with an organization, the most effective way to affect change is to get involved,” says Cutler.
“When I walked into the [Pride Coalition meeting], I saw people who loved Pride so much they were willing to fight for it, not people who hated it so much they want to tear it down,” says Kuplens-Ewart.
To volunteer for Pride Toronto, go to makepridehappen.com.