Janaya Khan interview (II)

Janaya Khan interview (video only), CP24, 2016.07.07.

Khan on camera

INTERVIEWER: A really tumultuous time for, it seems, everybody in the city right now –

KHAN: Mm-hmm.

— with all kinds of issues. And what I want to know, I guess, first off: If you could reiterate for us what is the problem that you have with the way Pride handles what you call blackness and that whole situation. And-and why is your group calling it “abysmal”?

— I think for one we need to talk about the history of Pride. Pride started here in Toronto in 1981 as a riot against police brutality. It was meant to support some of the most marginalized people in the community. Somewhere along the line, it lost that sort of political significance. Uh, more than that, over the last 18 years, where Blackness Yes has been one of the groups with Pride, uh, representing black and brown people. They have one of the largest stage that brings out a huge draw. And we’ve seen their budgets get slashed. They’ve been – their stage has been displaced. We’ve seen BQY get pushed out of space. So these are things that we’re dealing with when we talk about the disappearance of black infrastructure and anti-black racism in Pride.

— Right. And yet you were still invited to lead the parade.

— Mm-hmm.

— So was that not a good enough gesture that Pride is showing how inclusive they want to be of your group as well?

— I don’t know if that’s the question to ask. I think, really, when you’re put in a situation where you have a platform, you’re an honoured group, I think we need to be consistent with our political alignment and honour the communities that we serve. And that was what our investment was.

— Do you think that maybe Pride has become perceived to many as less political because there are advancements in the whole way society reflects and looks upon the LGBTQ community? Like, is that not a positive in that sense?

— I would say that the advancements would have been for a very select few. I would say that the advancements have still left behind some of our most marginalized community members whose political histories are deeply connected to Pride and what it’s represented for those marginalized communities.

— So it sounds as though you’re very discouraged by Pride, disappointed. I mean, uh, you saw that the document was signed –

— Mm-hmm.

— uh, you know, uh, during the parade to get things moving again, but you feel that you’ve been sort of double-crossed by Pride?

— We’re hopeful. We’re hopeful. We’re actually investing creating a more inclusive Pride, and, um, you know, while we saw Mathieu Chantelois sort of back off, uh, backtrack from the commitments that he made, we’re not actually, uh, looking at this as a hopeless situation. We’re still going to take lead from our communities, uh, from the communities that we serve. And we’re still going to push and ensure that those demands are seen through.

— So are you gonna meet with Pride soon?

— I believe that there will be a time when we do meet, yes.

— OK, and we’ll hear about those results.