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Productive discussion and a bit of drama at first Pride Toronto Panel

Productive discussion and a bit of drama at first Pride Toronto Panel

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The next session to be held Dec 4 at the Gladstone
After a tumultuous year of infighting, mudslinging, hand-wringing and demonstrating, Pride Toronto's Community Advisory Panel met with the public for the first time Dec 2 to begin the process of gathering feedback on the future of the organization.

All the comments and questions collected from the panels will be used to make recommendations that will be presented to Pride Toronto (PT) in January or February. None of the recommendations will be binding on PT.

About 150 people were spread out over eight tables at the 519 Church Street Community Centre.

The questions started out quite general: "What does Pride mean to you?" and "Is Pride too corporate?" and “What values should guide Pride as it moves forward?”

But soon groups were asking questions of their own: Is Pride political or a celebration? Is it both? Should allies be included? What were the real facts surrounding Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)? Why isn’t there more transparency with Pride? Why didn’t Pride release its audited financial statements at the annual general meeting?

Panel member Nichola Ward tells Xtra the first consultation session was enormously productive.

“As you can see there’s no blood on the floor,” Ward says. “The level of discussion has been insightful and intelligent. Some people are pissed off, obviously, but for the most part it’s about improving and moving forward.”

The meeting wasn’t without a bit of drama, however.

At the back of the room, a handful of people who didn’t want to be on camera or interviewed huddled together. When it came time for each group to present their summaries, Martin Gladstone spoke on behalf of the “media-free table,” but refused to take the microphone at the front of the room.

“Israel is a gay-rights leader, and we have a problem with hate groups being included in Pride,” he said. “We also take issue with a PT board member [Roy Mitchell] being here. It’s inappropriate.”

Gladstone, a Toronto lawyer and filmmaker, declined an interview with Xtra after the session.



Although PT staffers were asked not to attend the sessions, board member Roy Mitchell says he has every right to attend as a member of the community.

“I am not representing the board. I am a community member,” Mitchell tells Xtra. “A media-free table? I mean, it’s almost like the 1950s. What was great about this experience for most people is our community is they're willing to go on record for what they think, and I’m willing to go on record, even though I was told I couldn’t be here.”

At another table, MPP Glen Murray found out that deaf issues have been left out of Pride discussions, and more thought should be put into making people with disabilities feel more welcome.

“There isn’t even a single question on the survey dealing with deaf issues,” Murray says.

Along with five consultation sessions, the community is encouraged to visit the Community Advisory Panel website and complete the online survey.

At another table, Dianne Moore said “allies” should be removed from the list of those included in Pride. Many clapped and agreed.

“Allies are important, but when they added the A, I didn’t think it was a good idea,” she says. “This is our Pride. The straight people have all sorts of places to celebrate. I really want our Pride parade to represent our community.”

At the same table, Tim McCaskell says Pride must respect the diversity in the community, and work to bring people together.

“Issues of survival, harassment and discrimination are much more acute today than when Pride started,” he says. “I think the issue that should guide Pride is for it to go out of its way to include the sectors of the community that are being squeezed out. And they are being squeezed out because they are not the people the corporations want to market to.”






The next panel session is Dec 4 at the Gladstone Hotel at 1214 Queen St W from 12:30pm to 2:30pm.
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Comments

A total lack of respect for gay allies
The article states that at one of the consultation tables, a participant said “allies” should be removed from the list of those included in Pride and that many participants at the meeting clapped and agreed. Does this mean that long-time straight allies of the gay community (like Jack Layton and Olivia Chow) should be excluded from future Pride parades? What a total lack of respect for the straight people who have supported us for years.
Hunt-in-packs, Attack-dog, Cannibalistic “Queers”
I'm not Queer --I'm Gay. I have not enjoyed the company of “Queers” whom I have met so far. Actually Queers scare me. Therefore I try to stay far away from Queers. I remain anonymous to avoid the constant, blaring, meaningless noise, megaphoning from the mouths of hunt-in-packs, attack-dog, carnivorous, cannibalistic --“Queers.”
Anonymous complainers are more so [boring]
No one is challenging Canadian privacy laws... we're just making fun of how pathetic the whole charade is of trying to influence a public forum while hiding your identity. The fact is that the "media free zone" table gave a report back that was significantly different from all the other tables. All of the other tables discussed multiple, complex issues around Pride: financial issues, diversity and community outreach, entertainment (i.e. supporting local talent), etc., and they spoke about this with nuanced details. But this one table had no interest in any of that: they spoke about one issue only and spoke about it without nuance. It felt like they came into the forum with an agenda, but made some pathetic attempt to cover up where that agenda was coming from. I suspect this was because (1) they were just the "usual suspects" on this issue (of course I'm one of the usual suspects as well, but I sign this comment with my own name) and (2) I suspect they weren't the queer-est table in the room... if you know what I mean.
Enough with the diversity babble machine
Let's not forget that the Pride board that did all those naughty things everyone in QuAIA is carping about was a DIVERSE board. The only white guy (okay, maybe 2, I cna't tell what everyone things they are? on the board voted for freedom of expression. So yes, let's ensure diversity and working together, but don't fool yourself that diversity in and of itself will get you the results you require. As the recent election showed, minority group members can and often are very conservative. It was the white elites who got their faces slapped by the Rob Ford machine. Toronto is changing, and those business types that have tended to dominate pride are as likely to be people of colour as not. So stop whipping the people of colour hobbyhorse. That's decided: people of colour are part of Pride. But we're not necessarily part of your leftist agenda of the people who get off attending meetings like this. Some of us are Tories. It's not that we're pro Israel, just that Pride should be about being gay and lesbian, not a non-stop bitch session about world issues. And that's my 2 pesos worht.
Canadian Privacy Laws Support Media Free Zones
Fu#k off already about the Media Free Zone. I sat at that table because I didn't have time to do my make-up. I was bloated from my period. I was in a quiet mood and didn't feel like close-ups. I don't know who Martin Gladstone is. There was a Martin at the table, and to me he was just some guy at the table. One woman at the table said she sat there because she was actually afraid of XTRA. Apparently she wrote on her Facebook page that she disagrees with QuAIA and someone phoned her boss and tried to get her fired. That is really low! Someone else didn't want her family members seeing her face in the paper or Internet. Everyone had different reasons for sitting at that table. The one further up who called us Losers, is obviously an uneducated cheap idiot who is making up stupid stories. In Canada, if a person's face is photographed under a roof, and is published without written permission, that person has a right to sue. In Quebec a reporter snapped a photo of a woman sitting outside, on her doorstep, not under a roof. The woman successfully sued the newspaper and won a financial settlement. You cannot publish a person's face without their consent. It is an infringement of privacy laws. End of story. No more bullshit about the Media Free Zone. Transparency refers to the Pride Panel not the people who take part in the discussions, nor those who anonymously fill out the survey. Now find a more interesting topic to complain about. I hate cheap moronic complainers!
...
I raised my initial question re: the designation of a media free zone at a public forum as I found it odd that at an event that is supposed to be inclusive to the community as well as transparent, there would be a table designated as media free. Granted, I do understand there are vulnerable groups out there that wouldn't want to be in the press for varying reasons but given that you are attending an open public forum, the expectation of privacy would have been something you surely would have set aside before entering the door.
martin gladstone is no julia roberts
I can understand Martin Gladstone not wanting to talk to Xtra; I don't agree with the dude at all, but it's his right to refuse an interview. But the fact that he is the maker of Reclaiming our Snide and there were a few stars from his mockumentary at the No Media Table speaks to the victimhood this group has been been jockeying for from the onset of this whole shitstorm. There might be legitimate reasons for sitting at a No Media table, as sad as that is in 2010, but there is no reason for people who label themselves activists to refuse to publicly voice their opinions. pass the tissues, dude's got issues!
Droll
As of 11:30 pm Sat night 20 people viewed the video on youtube. A 150 turn out sad, where are the 450 people that showed up at first PCFS event? It's an outrageous farce, having Pride Toronto Board member Roy Mitchell sitting amongst public giving input to advisory panel forum leaders, with a lame excuse. I thought Xtra was live-streaming forums? At least that's what one of your stories lead me to beleive or perhaps I read it in local paper. First Panel Dec 2nd rather droll. Be prepared to sit through 36 minutes of blather,repetition and poor sound quality. Surely Xtra or 519 can find an extension cord, for those in back of room wishing to speak off camera or at the very least a wireless mike? Which may be why Xtra hasn't posted Dec 4th forum yet?
Too Many Straight People at Pride
The bad thing about democracy, is that even the most severely retarded people have an equal vote. There were several Straight people at the Pride Panel discussion. For whatever reason, they came to influence what Pride should be. They have their own understanding of LGBT and Pride which is somehow a tepid version of any LGBT situation mixed with restrictive Hetero morality. They want their own tepid vanilla morality enforced on Pride. Here was their chance to cast their vote. The Pride Parade now has too many Straight gawkers. I don't know anymore who is Gay or Straight. At Halloween on Church half the people were Straight. The Asians were dressed as Mickey mouse and friends. It was boring and ridiculous. --PRIDE AND HALLOWEEN NOW FEEL LIKE WATERED DOWN BOOZE. STRAIGHT PEOPLE DILUTE OUR LGBT CULTURE.-- It is a free society, so if they come, we can't keep them out, but why go out of our way to invite them with major costly advertising?!! The more Straight people that come the bigger and more costly the event. OK, some of them are family and friends, but too many of them are no relation, and come because they're bored, they just want to gawk at the Gay zoo animals. --Keep Pride an LGBT event. The smaller venue will cost less too.
MeiaFreeZone is a little quiet and privacy
Julia Roberts has a quite significant public/media profile, yet sometimes she just wants some privacy in her daily life and not be hounded by paparazzi, for example, at the grocery store. Similarly, some plain folks don't want to be photographed and filmed while taking part in a discussion at a community centre. Especially not photographed by XTRA and cronies who will no doubt twist and make something ugly of those who do not agree with XTRA ideologies. XTRA is vindictive and cannot be trusted. So, a Media Free Zone is just a practical quiet corner for those who need a little privacy. No victim, no drama, just quiet time and privacy. Nothing wrong with that. Why make a nit-picky hullabaloo out of nothing?

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