The numbers were down this year at Toronto’s gay pride parade but thousands still watched the spectacle.
Canada’s most gay-friendly prime minister, Justin Trudeau, marched with his wife, Sophie Gregoire. Trudeau’s face was emblazoned with a washable tattoo of a rainbow-colored maple leaf . While waving at the crowd, Trudeau could be heard exclaiming, “Happy pride!”
Trudeau is so committed to the LGBT agenda that he has created the position of a special advisor to keep him abreast of the latest issues and concerns within the community.
Despite all the enthusiasm, there was no sign of the Toronto police in the parade — who had been cowed by demands from the local Black Lives Matter chapter that the force not participate. The BLM supporters had actually shut down the parade in 2016 and refused to end a sit-in until parade organizers had agreed to a list of demands — one being that police no longer participate in future parades. The parade committee eventually sided with BLM.
Some Toronto police members joined their counterparts in the New York City parade after receiving an invitation from the Gay Officers Action League of New York.
Trudeau didn’t wade into the controversy. “It’s all about how we celebrate the multiple layers of identities that make Canada extraordinary and strong,” Trudeau told reporters who stood in the rain waiting for the parade to start.
The homosexual minister of Toronto’s Metropolitian Community Church was on hand to bless the occasion and talk about how Christians have done “damage” to his “community.”
“Inclusion is the core value in our community and as long as a group or a company supports LGBT equality, then in my opinion, welcome aboard,” Brent Hawkes said.
“I probably wear a uniform that represents the group that has done the most damage to the LGBT community — the Christian Church. So I would say don’t ban what’s offensive to some, reform it to the benefit of everyone.”
Barry Trenthan has been a parade attendee for 30 years and works with the group Rainbow Railroad, which liaises with LGBT people who live in less gay-friendly countries. He remembers when the Toronto police refused to have anything to do with the parade and recalls feeling exultant when they began to participate. He told CTV News that police support doesn’t matter “if not all of us are supported.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory, another VIP parade participant, said he was confident a solution could be found to the police ban.
“Any time anybody is excluded it can’t be a good thing,” Tory told reporters. “We’ve got to get it resolved, we’ll resolve it in the Toronto way, which is by talking about it and I’m very optimistic that it will be resolved in time for next year.”