h1

Twenty-three Pride Toronto honourees return awards over censorship

June 7, 2010

As 23 recipients of various awards and honours from Pride Toronto over the years, we have gathered today in protest against their decision to effectively ban the queer human rights group ‘Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’ from marching in the parade.

We are returning our various awards and honours in protest of this ban and of censorship. We will accept them back when Pride Toronto rescinds the ban and returns Pride to the free speech traditions upon which it was founded.

Signed by:

James Loney and Dan Hunt, “Fearless” Theme Award, 2006
Zahra Dhanani, Honoured Dyke, 2006
Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, International Grand Marshals, 2010
Sky Gilbert, Grand Marshal, 2000
Faith Nolan, Honoured Dyke, 2009
El-Farouk Khaki, Grand Marshal, 2009
Faisal Alam, Spirituality Award, 2009
Rachel Epstein, Honoured Dyke, 2007
Gareth Henry, International Grand Marshal, 2008
Anna Willats, Honoured Dyke, 2008
JP Hornick, Grand Marshal, 2002
John Greyson, Arts & Culture Award, 2009
Savoy Howe, Award for Excellence in Sports, 2008
Leonardo Zuniga, Human Rights Award, 2009
Victor Mukasa, International Grand Marshal, 2009
Matthew Cutler, Youth Award, 2009
Salah Bachir, Grand Marshal, 2005
Michelle Walker, Community Service Award, 2010
Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, International Grand Marshal, 2007
Dr. Alan Li, Grand Marshal, 2010
Jane Farrow, Honoured Dyke, 2010


JAMES LONEY
“Fearless” Theme Award with Dan Hunt, 2006

My partner Dan and I received the Pride theme award in 2006, Fearless, just three months after my return from Iraq where I had been taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents in the course of doing human rights work in Iraq and held for four months. One of my biggest fears was that my captors would discover my sexual orientation. If they had, it is very possible I would not be standing here in front of you today. To ensure that did not happen, Dan had to become invisible and silent. He describes it as an excruciating experience, being unable to speak for me, having to hide this vital part of his identity, living with the constant fear that our relationship might be discovered.

Dan and I have learned that homophobia is a continuum. It begins with school yard taunts, escalates to shunning, harassment, discrimination in housing and employment, and ends with death, whether at the hand of a midnight basher or a state executioner. Whatever the sanction, homophobia has one message. Be invisible and silent or die.

Us queers know it in our bones. Silence equals death. Through relentless determination and risk, queers have broken the yoke of silence that kept us in the living bondage of the closet. At least here in Canada, and in a handful of countries around the world. Much work remains to be done.

We must not be silent. We must speak out what we believe, live who we are, and fiercely protect the spaces we need to do that. We must not be silent as long as any sister or brother is suffering from oppression and violence. Queer rights are human rights. Queer pride is worthless if it does not stand in solidarity with the rights of all and every human being.

The award the pride committee of 2006 gave us was called Fearless. It saddens us greatly to have to return this award. It was deeply healing for us, to be recognized by our community, to be seen and heard after the excruciating experience of being silent and invisible. The Pride committee called us fearless, and so we call upon the Pride committee to be fearless in turn. Be fearless in admitting to the mistake you have made. Be fearless in rescinding your ban of the words “Israeli Apartheid.” Be fearless in standing up for the right of every human being to be seen and heard—especially those whose voices, like the people of Palestine today, are being silenced. Be fearless and you will be free. That is the promise and the process of the queer liberation struggle.


ZAHRA DHANANI
Honoured Dyke, 2006

Until there are human rights for all people, we have not succeeded in our work towards equality.

Queer advocates who straddle many identities of oppression, have never been able to focus their attention just on so-called “same-sex rights and benefits”, we have always known that our humanity is directly linked to that of all marginalized people. Therefore, our fight for equality as queer people has meant a fight for international human rights on all fronts.

I have been out in Toronto for 20 years and have been organizing communities of diverse people for longer; for that I received the title of “honoured dyke” in 2006. As a card-carrying member of the Pride community I am very disappointed with the current Pride Board and Executive Director for the decision to ban a human rights based group from marching.

I am a human rights and refugee rights lawyer and my job is to represent people who come here because they were persecuted for expressing their political opinion. My understanding is that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is an organization standing in solidarity with other lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people against divisive and oppressive policies of one government. I do not see how commenting on the policies of any government, including those of Canada, the United States, Uganda, Iran, Russia, Israel or Palestine makes it against its people or those with ties to those countries. In fact, in Canada, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees our right to express our political opinion freely.

Pride’s decision not only contravenes the values outlined in our Charter but flies in the face of all of the work that queers have done for decades to get those kinds of values enshrined.


GLORIA CAREAGA AND RENATO SABBADINI
International Grand Marshals, 2010

While we appreciate the honour of having been appointed International Grand Marshals 2010 for the Toronto Pride, it is with deepest regret that we renounce this honour following your decision to ban the expression “Israeli Apartheid” and consequently QuAIA’s participation to the pride.

We believe the ban to be a terrible mistake, in complete contradiction with the spirit of freedom and inclusiveness a pride should embody. Differences of opinion, particularly on non-LGBTI related matters, are to be expected and even welcomed among the participants to a pride march, if we want such march to be the genuine gathering of people from diverse walks of life and different sectors of society united in expressing demand for equality for LGBTI people all over the world.

As LGBTI activists we should be the first to know how unfair it is to be excluded from a public venue because the message we carry could be seen as “inappropriate” or “offensive” to someone. As a matter of fact pride parades have been considered “offensive” from their very inception from a – fortunately decreasing – portion of society. This is why freedom of expression should be one of the most sacred values at the core of our action.

We beg you to reconsider your decision and to restore the true spirit of pride.


SKY GILBERT
Grand Marshal, 2000

I am returning my award to protest against the de-politicization of Pride. Pride Executive Director Tracey Sandilands was quoted as saying, “We are not political, nor do we tolerate hatred of any sort, and we do not let any political group use Pride as a soapbox for their views.” What does Tracey Sandilands think the purpose of Pride is? “So the queer community has a chance to celebrate its vibrancy.”

I respectfully disagree with this view. Being gay, lesbian, transgendered or simply queer IS political. It always has been (and will be for some time, I expect) because it is grounded in sex and the body. Tracey Sandilands is not the first to try and de-politicize Pride – she is the final nail in the anti-sex coffin, sounding the death knell for those who celebrate our bodies in all their splendid difference and exuberance. (The anti-sex campaign at Pride started many years ago, when Pride officials started telling us that we couldn’t have ‘sexual acts’ on floats).

How we have sex — and whom we have sex with, have always been, and will continue to be, political. Countries across the planet still outlaw queer sex, religions demonize us, and North American governments still quibble over the details of our basic civil rights. To declare that Pride is ‘not political’ betrays a deep lack of understanding of our community and is a slap in the face of so many who have fought deeply political battles (and continue to do so) around the world – battles that have sex and sexual orientation as their origin.


FAITH NOLAN
Honoured Dyke, 2009

I cannot be part of the silencing our communities. Our diversity is our strength; our struggles to end war, make peace, justice and freedom ring in every land.

We as queers live, love and die in every land and I will not be silenced or stand in silent complicity while others are oppressed and silenced by those wanting corporate trinkets.


EL-FAROUK KHAKI
Grand Marshal, 2009
Award for Excellence in Spirituality, 2006

When I received my Pride 2006 Award for Excellence in Spirituality for my work around Queer Muslim sexual orientation and gender issues, it was a recognition from my community and my peers of my work for social justice and human dignity.

I was honoured when I was nominated and then elected by the community as the Pride 2009 Grand Marshall and was the recipient of the 2009 Theme Award.

I cannot remain proud and honoured by the recent declaration on censorship by the Pride Toronto Committee.

The drive for censorship at Pride began last year with non-Queer groups declaring, “Since when has Pride been political?” The recent decision of the Pride Committee to censor the use of the expression ‘Israeli Apartheid’ is unacceptable.   In silencing dissident voices for justice, it is our history as queers that they silence.

I quote Dr. Li: “Pride’s choice to take pre-emptive step to censor our own communities’ voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression.”

I too urge Pride Toronto to rescind its ban. Its failure to do so will only further estrange the bureaucracy and governance of the Committee from Toronto’s Queer communities.

Till it does so, I cannot retain my two Awards with integrity.


FAISAL ALAM
Spirituality Award, 2008

I’m sorry that I am not able to join you in person today as we come together to denounce the actions of Pride Toronto and return the awards and honors that were presented to us for our activism and leadership on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

As a queer-identified Muslim of Pakistani descent, I was extremely dismayed to learn of the recent decision by the board of Pride Toronto to ban the term “Israeli apartheid” in this year’s Pride celebrations.  For a moment, I thought I was reading about my family’s country of origin, Pakistan, where the government recently blocked access to several websites deemed too “immoral.”  The justification used by the Pakistani government and the leadership of Pride Toronto is strikingly similar.  Both argue that members of their community are “uncomfortable” and by sheltering our communities from certain terms or images, somehow the situation will be better. Unfortunately, in both instances this is nothing but blatant censorship and an assault on freedoms that democratic nations like Canada should cherish.

As an immigrant, a person of color, and a religious minority, I cannot separate my political or philosophical beliefs from my sexuality.  My life is inherently political; and just as the beginnings of Pride were inherently political, Pride Toronto’s actions are a slap in the face to my identity and a slap in the face to the courageous women and men who stood bravely and proudly for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Today, I am ashamed, but I am also proud.  I am ashamed at the actions of Pride Toronto, but I am also proud that so many courageous and brave women and men have stood together to denounce their actions – just as those courageous and brave women and men who stood together to denounce the actions of their government that denied them freedom and liberty.

In the coming days, Pride Toronto will receive the Spirituality award that I was given in 2008 for my contributions on behalf of the LGBT Muslim community.  Shame on Pride Toronto for taking this divisive action and shame on Pride Toronto for succumbing to the whims of greedy corporations and right-wing government leaders.


RACHEL EPSTEIN
Honoured Dyke, 2007

I am deeply saddened by Pride Toronto’s decision to ban the words “Israeli apartheid” from the 2010 Pride celebrations. This decision runs counter to principles of free speech and the democratic spirit upon which Pride has been built.  I was full of Pride in 2007 when I was named Honoured Dyke by Pride Toronto and by my community, for my work with LGBTQ families.  But if Pride is now about narrowly-defined issues, censorship and the denial of free speech, I must regretfully hand back the honour.

My 35 years of activism have included working with and on behalf of LGBTQ families, with domestic workers from the Caribbean and the Philippines and on a project in the Philippines exploring the impact of micro-technology on women’s work. I was a founding member of the Toronto Jewish Women’s Committee to End The Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.  These issues cannot be separated one from the other.  The dynamics of race, class, imperialism, homophobia and transphobia are inextricably linked. The beauty and the strength of social movements lies in our recognition of these connections and in our commitment to solidarity across struggles.  Pride was founded in this spirit and, for me, this spirit remains the underpinning of all struggles for social justice.

I cannot support a Pride that excludes and so it with sadness that I join my compadres in returning our honours.


GARETH HENRY
International Grand Marshal, 2008

Pride Toronto has lost sight of its purpose and vision for the LGBT community in Canada and around the world.  The institution is slowly becoming the “oppressor” of LGBT people, forcing people into a box and further marginalizing a community that has had to struggle for years to obtain some of the freedoms we now enjoy.

Censorship in all forms is wrong, and Pride should be creating the platform for cohesion rather than division.  Pride Toronto is likening to a mob, that attacks, oppresses and attempts to socially exclude the said community it says it represents.  I left this oppression in Jamaica, and never expected it from the institution that honoured me in 2008 as their International Grand Marshal for my work against oppression and social exclusion for the LGBT community.

In light of this current state of oppression, I cannot continue to associate or affiliate myself with Pride Toronto. Therefore, giving back the honour I received in 2008 is the most dignified act I can do in taking a stance against all forms of oppression and exclusion against the LGBT community in Canada, Jamaica and across the world.


ANNA WILLATS
Honoured Dyke, 2008

My Pride includes politics and free speech and always has. I was chosen as an honoured dyke precisely because I have always rocked the boat, taken on controversial issues that others don’t want to talk about, and challenged the powers that be, whether they are the police, the government, or abusive men.

The decision by Pride to buckle to funders and interest groups that care only about selling products to tourists and concealing Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is wrong and must be overturned.


JP HORNICK
Grand Marshal, 2002

Censorship has no place in Pride, and violates the foundation of all civil rights movements: free speech and self-determination.  The history of Pride as a political expression of solidarity with all oppressed groups and struggles for social justice; as a celebration of difference and the diversity of queers; as a space to challenge dominant notions of sex and class; is my history.  Pride began in revolution; it was not concerned with appeasing funders.

This staff and board of Pride has repeatedly shown that they are uninterested in working with our communities, and unwilling to stand up to corporate interests, even as those interests ask us to abandon our principles.

I am proud to join other honoured individuals and groups in this act of solidarity and support.

Clearly, the howling left is more than a lone voice in the wilderness.  The time has come to reclaim Pride.


JOHN GREYSON
Arts & Culture Award, 2009

My history with Pride goes back to 1985, when Kyle Rae asked me to MC on the main stage. If memory serves correct, I wore a homemade ball gown whose voluminous skirts spelled out the slogan ‘No More Shit’ when I curtsied to the crowd. Back then, this was our time-honoured battle-cry against the cops and censors who were persecuting our queer community. This year, it seems I need to take that gown out of mothballs, and throw a big curtsy at Tracey, Kyle, Giorgio Mammoliti, Martin Gladstone, Frank Dimant and all the others who are trying to bully us into silence. No more shit, folks!

As a Canadian, I feel I have every right to use the term ‘apartheid’ — after all, we Canadians invented it. Our exploitive system of Indian reservations inspired the South African government to institute their bantustans, just as the segregation policies of the American South were mimicked when instituting South Africa’s notorious pass laws — and just as Israel currently practices numerous punitive laws which discriminate against Palestinians. Apartheid is a shame that many of our nations share, past and present. Banning the term won’t end the practice, in Israel or anywhere else – only sustained activism will. We in QuAIA use the term apartheid carefully and accurately, recognizing a historical continuum that links Canada to Israel and implicates us all. Particularly this week, when the world is expressing its shock and outrage at the killing of nine peace activists on the Gaza flotilla, so Queers must speak out at Pride this year, condemning the oppression of queer Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel.

Last year, Pride gave me their Arts & Culture Award, an honour which made me very proud, but now fills me with shame. If their idea of Arts and Culture is the silencing of free speech, then I want no part of it. Both citizens and artists must be guaranteed their rights of expression.

Therefore, I’ve decided return my award, and wear that dress when I march in this year’s parade, curtsying to the crowd along the way. If bully boys Kyle, Tracey, and Giorgio wants to arrest me, fine – they can read my lips AND my skirts, which will read: “Proud to be a Queer Against Israeli Apartheid.”


SAVOY HOWE
Award for Excellence in Sports, 2007

My name is Savoy Howe and it is with regret and sadness that today I return my 2007 Pride Award of Excellence in Sports. I cannot overstate the significance that this honour has meant to me.

In 18 years of working with members of the queer and trans community, in and out of a boxing ring, I deeply value and continually strive to learn the importance of creating space where differences and diversity of ideas, bodies and voices are encouraged, promoted, liberated and respectfully engaged.

I am increasingly dismayed by ongoing alleged “improvements” Pride Toronto has been making to “our” celebration with little consultation and even less transparency to the very community it purports to represent. The most recent decision to ban the term “Israeli apartheid” from 2010 Pride runs contrary to principles of free speech and inclusive, democratic, political discourse. I view it as an ominous next step in the further de-politicization of Pride. I feel it also diminishes and dishonours those who have fought, and continue to fight, risky and important battles, locally and globally. It is a vital responsibility to continue to make the links along the spectrum of social justice and anti-oppression movements, ALONGSIDE struggles against homo and transphobia. This is a historical foundation of Pride and an integral necessity in building solidarity across human rights struggles.

Boxing as a queer woman IS an act of subversive, political resistance, which I have the privilege to participate in.

Participating in and supporting Pride IS an act of subversive, political resistance, which I have the privilege to participate in.

Censorship, thinly justified exclusionary bans, silencing voices in the name of corporate and political pressure are not acts of subversive, political resistance and do not result in a Pride that makes me proud!

I stand in solidarity with my fellow honorees and other community members in urging Pride Toronto to rescind this ban.


MATTHEW CUTLER
Youth Award, 2009

On June 24th, 2009 I stood proudly in front of many of you and accepted this award – an award which recognizes leadership, and an award which recognizes activism.

In my remarks that evening I told you how honoured I was to be in a room filled with such a diverse group of community leaders. I evoked the words of French philosopher Bernard de Chartres when I said that I was like a dwarf standing on the shoulder of giants; that your activism and your courage was the foundation of my success and that your leadership paved the way for the rights and acceptance I now enjoy.

Today however, I am proud to step down from your shoulders to stand side-by side with you in demanding a Pride Festival in Toronto which is rooted in our community’s history, a history in which freedom of expression is deeply entrenched.

Increasingly, young people are disconnected from our collective and historic struggle. Consider that as a 25-year old gay man:

  • I have never known a world without AIDS,
  • I have never faced police persecution like those who were present during the bathhouse raids,
  • I have never been pelted with eggs on my way into a bar like the Halloween revelers of the St. Charles Tavern, and
  • For most of my adult life I have had the legal right to marry the person I love.

Consider as well that much of what I know about being a Queer, progressive, aware member of our community I learned at Toronto’s Pride Festival.

  • It was naked men of all shapes and sizes walking down the street that at first offended me, but eventually helped me to understand body image and diversity, and helped me to be more comfortable in my own body,
  • It was acts of overt sexuality and fetishism that at first offended me, but helped me to understand the diversity and positivity of sexual expression and experience,
  • It was a naked trans woman, penis and breasts proudly swaying in the air as she walked down the parade route that at first offended me, but eventually helped me to understand the fluidity and diversity of gender identity and helped lead me to learn more about the challenges faced by trans people in our communities, and
  • It is the use of a term – Israeli Apartheid – that continues to offend me, but has led me to conversations about Israel, Palestine and the Middle East, conversations which have helped me to become a more informed and engaged Liberal Zionist.

It is not unprecedented for members of our community to be silenced and censored for our views, beliefs and lifestyles. It was reprehensible when others restricted us; however it is unconscionable, unprincipled and utterly disappointing that members of our own community would impose such restrictions.

I am returning my Award today in protest of Pride Toronto’s decision to ban the words “Israeli Apartheid” – a decision which departs from our communities’ values and history, and I am returning my Award with the hope that Pride Toronto will reverse its decision.

I do this with the hope that generations of young people will continue to be offended, that generations of young people will continue to grow, learn and discuss difficult ideas and issues, and that our community and our communities’ Pride festival will continue to play a fundamental role in offending, challenging, celebrating and welcoming everyone who attends.


MICHELLE WALKER
Community Service Award, 2010

First let me say that I feel more Pride sharing the stage with this many amazing people than I ever would in accepting an award from Pride Toronto 2010. My name is Michelle Walker, I am the co-founder of the Vancouver Dyke March, and I have run an online queer women’s and trans community, Superdyke.com, for the past ten years. I was offered the Community Service Award this year from Pride Toronto. Given recent events, it’s obvious that accepting a community service award from Pride Toronto would, unfortunately, be meaningless.

Pride Toronto has chosen censorship over free speech and continues to ignore the massive outcry from the queer community in general. Our work, those of us gathered here today, was valuable enough at one point for Pride Toronto to honour us. Our queer activism is invaluable. It would be shockingly hypocritical for Pride Toronto to honour us, and then deliberately ignore the wealth of experience and knowledge we offer to our community.

I am not interested in hearing from Pride Toronto or Martin Gladstone that censoring QuAIA is ‘a matter of money’. To say that Pride depends on money is an insult and grossly underestimates the queer community. It underestimates our abilities to gather, to build something out of nothing, and to celebrate our achievements. This is something that doesn’t have a price and is not contingent on dollars and cents.

Queers know all too well what it feels like to be ostracized. The fact that Pride Toronto is doing that to members of our own community is deplorable.

Pride didn’t need money to start and Pride doesn’t need money to continue. Pride will continue to be celebrated with or without Pride Toronto. I am proud to be rejecting my honour from Pride Toronto in solidarity with such excellent queer company.


ROSANNA FLAMER-CALDERA
International Grand Marshal, 2007

I am extremely saddened that Queer people’s voices have been silenced – by Queers. Pride is about the celebration of diversity and the freedom to be who we are. Pride is not about commercial sponsorships; it’s about Queer Pride, freedom and integrity. All our voices need to be heard even though they may speak about hard issues.


DR. ALAN LI
Grand Marshal, 2010

First, let me say I was very flattered to learn that a jury of former Grand Marshals and the Pride Board had chosen to honour me with the position of Grand Marshal for Pride 2010.

Unfortunately, after serious reflection I have decided that I must decline this honour.

I have been actively involved in many social justice movements locally and internationally for the last thirty years. I was a keynote speaker at the second Pride celebration in 1982. I thus remember very clearly our community’s battles against censorship that attempted to invalidate our concerns, minimize our struggles and silence our voices. I remember struggles to ensure that the many diverse voices in our community were heard.

Pride’s recent decision to ban the term “Israeli Apartheid” and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from participating in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices. Pride’s choice to take preemptive step to censor our own communities’ voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression. It also allowed Toronto City Council and other levels of government to evade their responsibility to engage in public debate to promote awareness and understanding on this critical human rights issue.

The strength of our movement has always been in our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness and the courage to stand up for our principles. Your decision to cave into homophobic bullying is unacceptable and betrays the essence of what Pride stands for.

I would urge Pride to rescind your decision banning the term “Israeli Apartheid” and take a courageous stand to advocate to City Council and other stakeholders for the principles of true inclusiveness, respecting diversity and anti-discrimination. I am certain that a principled approach will win Pride more allies and supporters in the long run. Until then, I do not feel that I can accept the title of Grand Marshal with a true sense of celebration and pride.


JANE FARROW
Honoured Dyke, 2010

Thank you so much for your offer of the privilege of being Pride Toronto’s 2010 Honoured Dyke. While I did accept this accolade last week while away on vacation, I have returned home and have now caught up on recent events. I see that your board has voted to disallow the words ‘Israeli apartheid’ from being used at this year’s Pride festivities. In light of these developments, I have reconsidered your well-intentioned offer and feel that I must decline Pride Toronto’s offer of the Honoured Dyke title. (I do understand that some of your print deadlines have passed and it is too late to reflect these changes in all your published materials.)

As a long time cultural producer, journalist and community organizer, the practice and ideals of free speech are very dear to me. I also value and celebrate the political essence of my queer identity.

Queers have rightfully insisted that the personal is political, so when more than a few of us get together in one place, political terrain is created. To me, queer gatherings of any sort – parades, demos, cultural events, sporting clubs and disco dance parties – are and always will be implicitly political events. It’s little wonder then that a wide variety of political groups and voices seek to be heard at pride festivities.

These public events provide important, even crucial, public spaces for the exploration not just of our sexual identities and interests, but also ideas and political discourse. I am proud of the vast array of voices, causes and organizations that come out to be seen and heard at our events.

This is not to say that I have never been offended by political policy in action, as well as speech and discourse that I have witnessed and been affected by at these events. But I’ve always known that if I wanted to I could (and did) engage with groups or individuals and air my disagreements and differences. I am grateful to live in a democracy where I have a constitutionally protected right to do so.

A discourse of ‘safety’ and ‘inclusion’ has been put forward to justify censorship at Pride 2010. I feel this is unfortunate and wrong-headed. I, like many people, do not feel ‘safer’ or ‘included’ by any decision to limit political speech. Quite the opposite. As history shows, suppressing people’s right to express and explore political difference leads to some very dark and dangerous places.

Pride emerged out of the impulse to simply take up public space and declare our right to exist in spite of our fear, even panic at doing so. Not everyone believed that being queer in the streets was something to be proud of, but we did it anyway. It was the right thing to do. I believe this is the beating heart, beauty and brilliance of EVERYTHING that calls itself queer. And so for me, the issue at hand is not one of left or right, corporate or anti-corporate, or even who’s politically right or wrong in the Middle East. It simply comes down to protecting the right to free speech – fiercely, as it were.

The offer of Honourary Dyke was very much a welcome honour and accolade originally but I am sorry to say that I cannot accept it now. I stand with a growing number of community members and observers who are advocating for a queer pride party that truly celebrates diversity, and invites us all to take part in open, democratic discourse about politics, sexuality and community.

I encourage you to rethink and rescind your decision to limit free speech at Pride 2010.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers