CityTV is currently running a poll on their site, asking if the city of Toronto should continue to fund the Pride festival. It has made me curious about what we value in our communities.
I value a commitment to diverse voices, as heard through the arts and cultural contributions from within our communities.
I value an understanding that our communities are multi-generational, and that our toddlers and our seniors are as appreciated and respected as our young.
I value an understanding that no one is “just” queer: the lived experiences that come from poverty, racialization, dis/ability, and gender re/oppression, among so many others, will influence how we move through the world as queer people, and how (or if) our queerness is recognized.
I value the freedom to speak out when I feel that something is wrong, and I value that freedom for others, even (and perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with their stance, as long as the dialogue is respectful.
I value those who do not identify as queer or as any of the associated initials that make up our communities, but who are there in solidarity. Those who have our backs: family, friends, co-workers, neighbours. Anytime someone from outside of our communities stands up and speaks out against those who would seek to silence/oppress those within, it makes a difference.
I value the grassroots activism that created our communities, and that still exists.
I value how much work the folks within our communities do every damned day, with little to no assistance from Viagra and liquor companies to foot the bill.
I value those who recognize that Pride is an acknowledgement of a lot of different things, including that we continue to survive (and sometimes thrive), that we have accomplished so much for some, and that we have a long road ahead for so many others.
Do I think the city of Toronto should provide funding for the festival as a whole? Sure, in the same way it provides funding for other cultural festivals. Do I think that the politics involved in Pride should preclude the City from providing funding? No. Because I don’t think you can take the politics out of queer life. We are politicized bodies; to claim otherwise is to deny our history.
Will we still march and fight and be fabulous without the City’s support? It won’t look the same, I’m sure, but yes. No matter what, we will loudly and proudly defend our values. We can only hope that the city in which we live shares those values enough.