Toronto
3 min

The party don’t stop

Sod's

Miley Cyrus? Puh-lease! I was so naïve.

Before festivities began, I thought that Cyrus’s rabble-rousing sexy-and-single anthem “Can’t Be Tamed” would become the soundtrack to Pride 2010. Wrong!

I wasn’t at every party, but I don’t remember hearing Can’t Be Tamed at all. I’m sure some DJs snuck it in from time to time. But as the sun went down on Pride Week, I heard Kesha’s synthy, auto-tuned “Tik Tok” for the millionth time.

Don’t stop, make it pop,
DJ, blow my speakers up.

That’s so 2009, I thought. Now I’ve changed my mind. In retrospect, nothing could have been more appropriate. Party people are clever, and “Tik Tok” is — I’m going to go ahead and call it — the biggest, baddest Pride anthem of 2010, Gaga be damned.

And now that the confetti has settled, “don’t stop” is the best mantra I can conjure for the work ahead. Kesha has given us an accidental roadmap to activism. If we’re smart, we’ll all sing along.

After all, Pride Toronto (PT) is at a crossroads. Two attempts to censor the parade’s participants — the March sign vetting policy and the May ban on the term “Israeli Apartheid” — may have been rescinded. But the policies, the backlash, and the activist uprising that it caused made one thing abundantly clear: the status quo ain’t an option any more.

Tonight, Imma fight
till we see the sunlight.

Firstly, we’ve got to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with PT staff and board members as they face the lobbying efforts of those who think the third time’s the charm when it comes to censorship.

Just before Pride, the organized Jewish community — their term — held a press conference urging Zionists and their supporters to renew their efforts to get Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) ousted from the Parade in future years. That work has undoubtedly already begun.

Adopting one of the tactics of their adversaries, anti-QuAIA activists launched a Keep Pride About Pride Facebook group, which at press time had some 1,300 members. “Keep Pride About Pride,” is a great slogan, designed to tap into sentiments that extend past those who have a position on the Middle East — exactly the same way Don’t Sanitize Pride did.

(Having said that, the Pride about Pride campaign is misguided. QuAIA is concerned with how Israel uses gay rights in its PR campaigns. It is led by loud, well-known lesbian and gay voices. How could you oust them and then greenlight beer companies, bakeries and mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi? But no matter.)

Meanwhile, our communities must stand with PT against further interference from the City of Toronto — and we’ve got to move quickly to do so. On July 6, council passed a motion that all sides saw as a victory.

PT got its money for 2010, much to the relief of it management. But it goes much further than that. For one thing, the city council motion sets different rules for PT compared to all other cultural events the city funds. Council now requires the city to withhold funds for PT until after the parade, so that cash will only be handed over if the festivities don’t breach the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

It also requires that the city manager determine whether the city’s anti-discrimination policy is breached by QuAIA’s participation in the parade. That decision will have far-reaching consequences for the kinds of arts and culture the city nurtures. Its ramifications go beyond QuAIA and beyond Pride.

Meanwhile, PT’s board of directors has promised a full, public discussion of the direction of the organization. There are queers working to win a more transparent, more community-focused Pride, to lock in community values into the way that organization operates. If you haven’t already, check out the Pride Community Contract online.

Tick, tock, on the clock,
but the party don’t stop

And meanwhile — this is the lesson of Kesha — the fight need not look like a fight. It can look like a party: joyful, rebellious, flirty. The work of the Pride Coalition for Free Speech walked that line over the last four months. (Full disclosure: I helped organize the Coalition’s parade contingent.)

As the focus shifts from a one-issue fight to wholesale reform, the challenge will be to keep up the energy and enthusiasm of the community.

Don’t stop, make it pop,
DJ, blow my speakers up.
Tonight, Imma fight
till we see the sunlight.
Tick, tock, on the clock,
but the party don’t stop, no
whoa, whoa, oho…

Marcus McCann is the managing editor of Xtra.

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