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Bring your whole self to Pride


Bring your whole self to Pride

Notisha Massaquoi wants Pride to be more representative of Toronto's diversity. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Workshop aims to fight isolation
Notisha Massaquoi thinks that many queer people, especially immigrants and people of colour, still don’t feel welcome at the Pride parade. She hopes a new workshop, Bringing Your Whole Self to Pride, will get people talking about those who feel isolated at Pride — and what they and their allies can do about it.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Rainbow Health Network will present Massaquoi’s talk, which will be followed by an open discussion.
“[OPSEU] felt they had members that weren’t able to validate their whole selves, who had to make choices,” says Massaquoi, executive director of the Women’s Health in Women’s Hands community centre. “It’s either ‘I’m queer or I’m a person of colour.’ It’s either ‘I’m this or I’m that,’ like you can never be queer and all of yourself at the same time.” 
Philip Shearer is the vice-chair of Rainbow Alliance, OPSEU’s queer group. “Even in the labour movement and in the Canadian LGBTQ community, there’s still a lot of people who have to hide to come to Pride,” he says. 
Shearer, who works in children’s mental health, says there are a lot of people who are afraid to be out in his field. 
“There’s lots of people . . . who just pass,” he says. Shearer also points to people of colour working in prisons and says people who crossdress at work are told they’re confusing their clientele.
When people do come to Pride, Shearer says, “they can be there but their family may not know, their co-workers may not know . . . there’s still portions of themselves that they hide.”
Because the event may feature a lot of people who are already out, Shearer hopes to talk about how to make queer people who aren’t out feel safer. “It’s going to reinforce how to be allies,” he says.
Brian De Matos, who helped plan the event, is vice-chair of Toronto’s Rainbow Health Network. De Matos is also a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. He says he felt excluded from Pride when QuAIA’s participation became the catalyst for the city to threaten the festival’s funding. 
De Matos is sensitive to the lack of places to talk about issues facing trans people and people of colour in Pride, as well as Pride’s “fatphobia.” He thinks a space to talk about his experiences will alleviate that. 
“Whose Pride is it, anyway?” he says. “When you look at Pride, you see all these white pretty boys that dominate the space.”
Massaquoi says people who feel isolated at Pride have to speak up and get involved. “You wish people with more power would do it for you, but it’s not always going to happen,” she says. “We have to actually push Pride and keep challenging them to use an anti-oppression lens when they’re distributing their resources.”
Massaquoi felt a sense of validation when Pride honoured Uganda’s Victor Mukasa in 2009. “It meant a lot for many of us,” she says, noting that she marched with the international queer activist. “For once I could actually see . . . some understanding of what those of us from Africa were experiencing.”
But Massaquoi still wants more from Toronto’s gay festival. “You don’t want to wait until you have one of those big moments,” she says.
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MANY of us feel that way! Nobody cares anymore
Look around you - we are ALL so isolated at this point I am more worried about an epidemic of suicide and addiction than I will ever be about gay marriage amendments – if we can’t figure out how to shut this damn machine off and find out where other gay people go, so we can find out how to talk, date and start lives with each other, the whole purpose of marriage will be zero. If most of us are without the skills to know how to be in an adult relationship, marriage will only benefit a privileged few.

I know of no other minority group that treats it’s own as gay people do. It’s because this lifelong pattern of lying, which begins when we are doing it to save our lives growing up. After coming out, it continues: the lies about how much money we have. Our fancy college degrees. Our $500 sunglasses and what they represent. Illusion is everything because in the gay world, if you have money, if you look perfect, if you appear to have it all, then hey, among this community of soulless people without the ability to see what makes a relationship work, that’s what is rewarded. We are still, and will always be, an anonymous and backstabbing group of people. Fewer of us are even coming out – it’s so much easier to live out gay fantasies online while surfing through images of perfect, young, straight male bodies than the disappointment of the real gay community – mostly middle aged, overweight, socially awkward men that are a stark contrast to the images on our computer screens. As with drugs, I believe that this obsession with online porn and living this permanent fantasy alters our brains – once we are shown these images of unattainable heterosexual athletes over and over as a baseline, once we see everyday gay men, there’s absolutely no interest. The social development to realize there’s so much more to companionship has never been developed, and that’s not something you can really ‘learn’.

It’s not getting better. It’s getting meaner, more invisible, and indifferent.
to the voices of the angry and ignorant.
Wow, I am glad that the SHC service such identified communities, such a place does need to exists to bad there one of the very few and due to that fact problematic issues such as a two year waiting list – a catchment area that leaves many Trans people in Ontario out of place. I am sorry that you are so angry that your only way of articulating your self is threw personal attacks. It’s about recognising our (including mine) Privilege not feeling guilty about it but using it to create a fair space for all! You need to be hit by reality seriously!
what a snot nosed asshole you are
Brian de Matos, you sound like the most arrogant, self-pious, judgemental asshole ever. You live in a parallel universe of hatred and victimization. And you claim to be white. If you are, then you should be on a float in pride being whipped until you pass out to make reparations for being born as the privileged scum of whiteness. White bad! Man bad! You bad! Fuck off with this out of date racist marginalization shit. The entire Sherbourne Health Centre exists for the people you describe. They have programs coming out of their mollycoddled assholes. Grown up! Easy to hate when you live a lie.
Inclusion not Exclusion
It is sad, and I am sorry if that is the message you got from this article. We have love for the white boys and there should be a space for us as well – The key words you are missing is “dominance of space” this is meant to be inclusion not exclusion. To create a platform for a safer shared space not just a dominating group. MY pride is political and must include all! We are a community of multitude of identities that are not being represented during pride and its outreach material, from pride guide to their website. This is meant to bring those who feel as if they are voiceless. This is support for people who are in the margins in a marginalised communitie(s). as well as those that do not fit a homonormative identity that we see at pride. I don’t really think you truly know what racism is – We must address all the issues concerning pride that includes all ism and phobia – No there is space for white folk such as myself and recognising my privilege helps me be a better ally to those who are excluded from Pride from the Trans and intersex folk which we must recognize there erasure from Queer history and Prides history to the two-spirited folk of Canada’s first nations. A place for all (including those with mental/physical health concerns but not limited to. It is not just for who you think are the exclusive parties but for ALL those who feel as if they have no place or voice in pride.
bring your whole self (unless you're white)
I thought this was going to be about support for people who genuinely live in isolation due to depression, poverty, disability or something. Nope! Instead we find another QuAIA endorsement loaded with anti-white bias (that some might call racism). To the guy who said: “When you look at Pride, you see all these white pretty boys that dominate the space.” That is absolutely not true about Toronto Pride, it merely speaks to your own prejudice is all.
victim olympics 101
There is an answer to this. All pretty white gay boys must be banned from all Prides everywhere NOW! And all the people whose identities are so complex they are afraid to be themselves at Pride will be carried to the parade and fed grapes like potentates for a day. Reparations done, kay?
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