Tag Archives: Pride

Toronto Pride Parade 2016

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to present all my images from Toronto’s Pride Parade(s) in black and white to mark the black and white terms that seem to have corseted the Pride/BLMTO conversation. I’m not sure representatives of either group speak for much beyond the right to make themselves the targets of corporate marketing in heavily sponsored parades. I get tired of the polarized terms of public conversation and the acrimony they engender. So I go for the photo-ops and leave the acrimony to other people. I get in close. I guess it’s a species of street portraiture. Make what you want of my images. I decline to interpret them.

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#BLM & the Toronto Dyke March 2016

Once, Pride was Protest. Pride was Social Action. Pride was a Play for Justice. The whole Loud and Proud and Out in the Streets thing was a strategy to draw our eyes from the centre to the margins. Now it’s a party. It’s a celebration. It was one thing. Now it’s something else. Each thing lives inside its own neat box. One sits on a shelf with a label: Historical Pride. The other dances in the street.

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#BLM came to Pride and put its Protest, and its Social Action, and its Play for Justice into the party box. Oops. That would be bad. People shouldn’t get angry at parties. It’s against the rules. We need rules. Without rules, our boxes would get full of crap that doesn’t belong in them. I don’t know about you, but when my orderly boxes get filled up with crap that doesn’t belong in them, I start to feel uncomfortable.

When the people from #BLM brought their anger to the party, it made me feel uncomfortable. I just want have fun. Don’t ask me to think, especially on a weekend. Worse yet: don’t ask me to empathize with your situation. For me to empathize with you would take a lot of imagination and emotional maturity. I’m not up to it. Just leave me with my doobie (is my age showing?) and let me shout incoherent shit at nobody in particular. That’s all I ask of the world.

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The curious thing is that, after a smooth time at the Dyke March, the next day #BLM got its own boxes all mixed up. At the Pride Parade (I’ll post photos tomorrow), it held things up for half an hour and made demands of the Pride organizers not least of which was that Police should be prevented from marching in next year’s parade. People (mostly white?) went into conniptions, pointing out that the Police box has a lot of other crap in it, you know, police who are LGBTQ, police who are Black, police who are LGBTQ & Black, etc.

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My impression is that everybody would like their boxes to be neat and orderly. The Pride organizers would like their boxes to be neat and orderly. #BLM would like its boxes to be neat and orderly. I’d certainly love it if my boxes were neat and orderly. There’s a phrase that describes this propensity to keep boxes neat and orderly: black and white thinking.

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To mark all the black and white thinking that’s been swirling around the latest #BLM controversy, I decided to post only black and white photographs. I’m sure many of them would show better in colour, but one of the great features of black and white thinking is that denies people a richer view of their own experience.

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To be fair, a moratorium on police in the parade is a good idea. So you know somebody who’s black or gay who serves on your local police force. Don’t try to forward that fact as proof that things are getting better. What kind of “contract” has your black or gay friend entered in order to function within the culture of that police force? Don’t know? Of course you don’t know. That information doesn’t exist. And a complete absence of transparency means that it won’t exist for a long time to come.

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Personally, I don’t think #BLM went far enough. Let’s ban banks. Let’s ban the political hucksters right up to the PMO. Let’s ban that great bastion of regressive taxation, the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation. How about Home Depot? Air Canada? They celebrate your Black body, your Gay body, your Oppressed body, but only as a site for marketing and winning votes. Once you strip away all the sponsors and political interests, what are you left with? Maybe five people walking down the street holding hands?

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Toronto Pride 2015

Here’s a collection: 20 of my best shots from this year’s Toronto Pride week. Most are from the parade on Sunday afternoon. You can view more in a flickr album here.

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Continue reading »

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Queer Capitalism

I observe Toronto’s Pride Week the same way I observe Remembrance Day: with a great deal of skepticism. I want to remember. I want to remember how people struggled to carve out a space for themselves where they can live with a measure of dignity. I want to remember friends and family who succumbed to HIV/AIDS. And I want to celebrate the positive changes that have transformed the city and have made it a better place for everyone to live. Nevertheless, as with Remembrance Day, I feel queasy when I encounter historical revisionism tinkering with the narrative. When (mostly ideological) interests use their positions of power to recast themselves as protagonists in the narrative, I begin to suspect that Pride’s project is never really done.

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Manulife’s Proud sign

During Remembrance Day, we hear a quasi-religious account of blood sacrifice: our forebears spilled their blood to secure our freedom. But in late capitalism, freedom knows only one form of expression: shopping. Pride Week has taken on a similar narrative and financial institutions have cast themselves in the role of principal storyteller: we have always been there to finance LGBTQ struggles.

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TD Bank – Wellesley/Church branch

Of course it’s a good thing that banks and political parties support Pride and declare solidarity with people who aren’t like BMO’s bowler hat guy. But it does set up a conflict. Isn’t part of Pride’s story tied to its marginal position in relation to power? Maybe capital has engaged in a strategic queering of queer by embracing it. Contested spaces grow murky and people can no longer clearly define what they’re struggling for. Capital is the ultimate force in an egalitarian universe: it doesn’t matter who you are, if the numbers work, we’ll always approve your mortgage.

While Rob Ford was mayor, we enjoyed a brief reversion to the good old days when hatred’s mouthpiece was an unsubtle redneck and the contested ground was easy to mark. Now, our man in office may function more like the banks with what appears to be a gift for expediency. If the numbers work (at the polls or in the budget), he’ll always approve your proposals.

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BMO’s blue-suited bowler hat guy with rainbow flag

Do I need to point out that expediency (whether financial or political) is not the same thing as ethics?

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Queer Community not Gay Capitalism

I will continue to observe Pride Week, as I do Remembrance Day, in part to perform what I regard as an act of witnessing, but mostly out of curiosity. I have questions for our culture and I’m looking for answers. What is the mood of our times? Who holds power? Who’s left out? What happens when those left out suddenly find power sidling up to them? When queer acquires cachet, who holds queer to account? Who queers queer?

World Pride Parade, Toronto, 2014

Our struggles are not an opportunity for corporate advertising

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Pastels Are Grossly Underrated

Child at Toronto Pride Parade

Child at Toronto Pride Parade

Behind Ti-Tom Thai Restaurant, Toronto

Behind Ti-Tom Thai Restaurant, Toronto

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World Pride Toronto – 2014

This is my “Hello World” post to kick off the blog part of davidbarker.photography. And what a way to kick it off! With a massive party. I staked my ground on the northwest corner of Church and Bloor right where all the participants are marshaled and I let it all flow by me. I’ve posted a larger selection to my flickr account.

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