CAP

Understanding the Community Advisory Panel (CAP)

More than five years ago, in February 2011, the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) released a massive report about Pride Toronto, about its relationship to its communities and subcommunities, and above all about Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) and the many attempts to get QuAIA “banned from Pride,” which meant keeping QuAIA out of every parade and march that Pride Toronto puts on. Unfortunately for us all, the professional mischief-makers and Islamic apologists of QuAIA never actually were banned; QuAIA was the one group that Pride Toronto was willing to go to the wall to keep in the parade. And that’s what happened.

But the result of the Community Advisory Panel’s work was a process that still is in place to bounce groups somebody else doesn’t like from Pride parades and marches. Is this the first you’ve heard about the Dispute Resolution Process? It shouldn’t be, but that wouldn’t surprise me.

When Black Lives Matter complains about Pride, it too is ignoring the history. It too is treading over well-trod ground. It too wants to reinvent the wheel.

Documentation

The Community Advisory Panel report was a massive, error-strewn PDF. It was barely readable, and in fact I know of only three people who claim to ever have read the whole thing. Even I haven’t finished it, which is a bit ironic given that I put months and months of effort into copy-editing it. Further, the PDF was broken technically and wouldn’t print even if you had 155 sheets sitting around waiting to be printed on.

Here are those documents:

  1. Community Advisory Panel reports (all PDF):

  2. Copy-edits page (incomplete; unofficial); about that project

Objectives

The Panel’s objectives were listed as:

  1. Undertake a consultation process to seek input from the LGBTQ communities and other relevant informants, funders and corporations to examine the relevance of Pride Toronto in relation to these stakeholders, and the mandate within which they would like to see the organization operate

  2. Based on the findings in the consultation process develop a broad strategic recommended policy framework that will assist the board of Pride Toronto ensure it defines its mission, vision and values and operates consistently with the mandate

  3. Provide recommendations to the Board of Directors to structure the Board’s strategic planning process and, as appropriate, organizational/governance elements to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organization and a positive relationship with the broader LGBTQ communities.

The process assumes the Pride festival will continue to exist, and will not examine internal human-resources matters or other day-to-day functioning of Pride or its festival.

Issues

The Panel’s issues to be addressed were listed as:

LGBTQ Pride [sic] is rooted in the historic struggle as a diverse community to bravely challenge oppression and systemic discrimination as it impacts our community. This does not however mean that as a “community” that we have a homogenous agreement on methods, public policy, social and political position, or even the value or purpose of Toronto’s Pride festival.

Through 2009 and 2010, Pride Toronto has received conflicting requests from members and stakeholders regarding the participation of a particular group [QuAIA] in the annual Pride parade. As a result of the significant threat to the survival of the festival from the pressure by various stakeholders, the Board undertook various strategies to try and resolve the complaint including the decision to restrict the use of certain language in the parade which some people deemed as discriminatory. This in turn led to complaints regarding the importance and value of freedom of expression in the parade and the subsequent mobilization of some community activists who challenged Pride Toronto’s decision.

A short-term solution requiring parade participants to directly sign an agreement to adhere to the City of Toronto antidiscrimination policy was implemented. This has allowed the 2010 festival to happen with relatively little disruption. However, the split opinion in the community about Pride Toronto has and continues to cause significant strain to the organization. Funding and corporate sponsorship have been affected as a result of the controversy. Staff and volunteers had to take on additional preparation work and extended work hours leading up to the festival. The Pride Toronto Board is deeply concerned about the viability of the festival and its relationship with the community as a whole.

In response, the Pride Toronto Board of Directors approved a motion in June 2010 to begin a process to find a lasting resolution to this matter including the following resolution:

Be it resolved that Pride Toronto appoint a panel of LGBTTIQQ2SA leaders and friends to recommend a policy to protect and advance the qualities of Pride and ensure it is true to its core values and principles.

The mandate of the group would be to consult with the community to develop recommendations to ensure a Pride that values and promotes freedom of speech and individual expression, inclusiveness and respect, pluralism and diversity, equity and fairness, celebration, humour and fun, and to make recommendations regarding Pride Toronto’s ongoing working relationship with the broader LGBTTIQQ2SA communities.

Results

The CAP process involved months of contentious “consultations” with “the community,” and especially with every tiny minority group with a grievance against Pride. I attended all the open meetings I could get to. Panel members themselves were always going to prioritize grievance-bearing minority groups over the actual core of Pride, namely gay men and lesbians, but in all fairness quite a few of those minority groups bore grievances for a reason.

Many of those groups represented blacks, South Asians, other Asians (this means Orientals), and aboriginals. Frankly, every racial category except whites was canvassed, as were other minority groups, like deaf persons. (I attended the deaf consultation.)

Hence you need to understand that “the community” already was “consulted” about reforming Pride. And, to reiterate what I just said in the preceding paragraph, black groups and other visible-minority groups were extensively consulted.

And they got results! For the topic of “racialized communities,” itself an insane academic term (who came down and “racialized” these “communities”?), the CAP report gave extensive coverage and many recommendations (see below).

Nonetheless, CAP has been ignored and forgotten

Pride Toronto has completely forgotten or ignored the CAP report and its umpteen recommendations. Of course only a fraction of them could ever have been implemented, but I can state categorically that there has been no attempt to implement them.

At no time in July 2016 was there any discussion from Pride Toronto or Black Lives Matter of the CAP report or its recommendations. None. This represents a massive dereliction of responsibility on both sides.

For everything within Pride Toronto’s purview, the only lasting outcome of the CAP report has been the Dispute Resolution Process. Disregarding for the moment the fact the DRP has proven itself to be a complete sham, it is the only way to get a group banned from Pride. And here again, neither Pride Toronto nor Black Lives Matter has acknowledged this fact. Indeed, Mathieu Chantelois of Pride Toronto was allowed to claim that the “membership” of Pride Toronto, or variously “the community,” decides who appears in Pride. False!


Excerpts from CAP report regarding “racialized communities”

Racialized Communities and Pride Toronto

Through the CAP consultation processes, racialized communities expressed tremendous dissatisfaction and feelings of alienation by Pride Toronto’s lack of engagement, inclusion and responsiveness to the interest of racialized LGBT communities. This experience of disconnects and marginalization was also seen as reflective of the experience of many racialized LGBT communities from other “mainstream” LGBT organizing in Toronto. The communities noted that Pride is owned by a range of communities and therefore Pride Toronto must include and be accountable, equitably, to all its constituencies.

Racialized communities affirmed the value of Pride for their communities. Among racialized people, as reported in the online survey, there is a wide diversity of reasons for participating in Pride Toronto’s activities. Some of the more common words include community, celebrate, visibility, human rights, political activity and fun. […]

Following are three of the more poignant reasons reported:

  • “I celebrate when my parents kicked me out at the age of 18 [on] June 22, 2006. It was political, and I celebrate my political queer, racialized identity every year by marching for my rights and those who cannot. This is important to me, important for me.”

  • “solidarity amongst queer people who continue to fight for better lives for all queer people”

  • “a chance to come together with the queer community and celebrate that we are organized, informed & diverse”

The frustrations and anger of racialized communities can be divided into two diverging opinions; on the one hand, some racialized members who continue to experience exclusion from decision-making, full participation and acknowledgement have given up on Pride Toronto and see the festival and parade as another mainstream vehicle that does not showcase the diverse voices of the our communities.

On the other hand, outraged racialized members surfaced in 2010 when Pride Toronto threatened yet another move of the Blockorama stage. In response, Blockorama’s organizing committee Blackness Yes convened a community meeting on April 13th , 2010 to bring the voices and concerns of its communities to Pride Toronto. This meeting, attended by over 200 community members from racialized LGBT communities and allies, became a community coalition building gathering of diverse voices, including representatives from the transgender communities, community agencies, youth organizing, disability networks, human rights organizing, women’s groups, past Pride Toronto volunteers and a range of long.time activists in the LGBT communities. The meeting spotlighted the convergence of concerns and grievances that many groups and communities, in addition to racialized communities, have with Pride Toronto.
A summary of the concerns named by racialized communities and echoed by allies in the CAP consultation and survey process include:

  • Duplicitousness on the part of Pride Toronto when it promoted itself on the world stage as “diverse” and “in solidarity” with marginalized communities within the LGBT community in the bid for World Pride 2014 and with funders, as well as when it used the presence of ethnic and racial diversity in Pride events to promote Pride Toronto internationally as a tourist destination while failing to address the issues, needs and concerns of those “diverse” community members in its own city.

  • Constant need to justify annually the need for Pride Toronto to support racialized events in the programming, i.e. Blockorama, and the pitting of events for minoritized groups against each other for Pride Toronto resources.

  • Pride Toronto’s lack of knowledge about the history, activism, accomplishments and presence of racialized LGBT communities in Toronto and in Pride Toronto organizing, and therefore seemingly lack of interest in engaging the community as a valuable partner.

  • Racialized communities feeling undervalued and disrespected by Pride Toronto, particularly in the response or lack thereof to the challenges brought forward in 2010. The constant relocation of Blockorama to inadequate and inappropriate spaces was echoed consistently as an example of this.

  • Lack of integration of racialized artists on the main stages and the ghettoization of racialized artists to racialized stages.

  • Inequitable sharing of resources to support racialized stages and events in Pride.

  • Racialized communities have organized their communities and have brought programmed events to Pride Toronto which demonstrated increased visibility and affirmation of Pride in their communities, and those events have been tremendously successful, i.e. Blockorama, Pelau, FunkAsia. Nevertheless, there appears to be an unwillingness on Pride Toronto’s part to be a supportive partner for those efforts seemingly because they are not the “owners” of the events.

  • Inconsistent inclusion of racialized community event planners in Pride Toronto organizing committees and a lack of transparency in Pride Toronto’s decision-making which fuels mistrust.

  • Lack of effective consultation with racialized communities and when consulted it is indirectly through third party.

  • Placement of non-profit groups and organizations on the margins of Church and Wellesley in the Community Fair which limits new communities and marginalized LGBT Pride goers’ access to information about supportive community resources, while corporate/for-profit entities are given prime placement in the core.

  • Lack of anti-oppression training for staff and volunteers to enable successful working relationships with diverse communities seeking to work with Pride Toronto.

  • A workforce at Pride Toronto that is not reflective of Toronto’s diverse LGBT communities.

  • Presence of poor leadership and governance that has exacerbated and escalated tensions.

  • Systemic structural problems with the organization, hence the problems experienced by racialized communities and others repeat overtime even when the individual leadership changes.

  • Strong perception that Pride Toronto is no longer owned by and accountable to the community but is instead driven by a corporatized agenda and model, resulting in increasing marginalization of grassroots communities with which many racialized communities are linked.

The communities were not without hope about the possibilities for a Pride Toronto that could deliver on its original values, vision and purpose, and a number of suggestions for improvements were presented to the CAP in the consultation process. They include:

  • Develop a community-engagement strategy that brings Pride Toronto face to face with racialized communities and all members of the LGBT community.

  • Develop a strategy and partnerships with targeted equity and inclusion initiatives.

  • Change the governance and operational committee structures to ensure representation and reflection of the City’s diverse and racialized LGBT demographics and diverse LGBT sexual politics.

  • Develop an internal review of the organization structure and operations.

  • Diversify the volunteer pool through targeted community outreach.

  • Conduct targeted outreach to ensure diversity in the pool of coordinators hired annually.

  • Implement a fulsome orientation process for all staff and volunteers, with content inclusive of the role and contributions of racialized communities and individuals in the LGBT movement.

  • Provide increased investment of resources in Blockorama and work with the community to identify a long-term location for the stage.

  • Integrate diverse local LGBT artists on all stages.

  • Expand Pride Toronto’s community programming to reach LGBT communities that have been neglected or rendered invisible, specifically two-spirited, trans, deaf, [and] youth and community members with disabilities.

  • Implement a vendor and sponsorship policy that ensures vendors and sponsors are aligned with the mission, vision and values of Pride Toronto.

  • Develop community-informed and transparent criteria for choosing the International Grand Marshal.

  • Create an advisory World Pride International Human Rights committee comprised of activists, groups and organizations across the country to develop the human rights program for 2014.

  • Provide tangible supports, including funds, to LGBT organizations in the country or area of focus of Pride Toronto’s annual human rights program.

  • Develop sponsorship and fund development strategies that are linked to supporting community involvement. This could enable partnerships with corporate sponsors and community organizations serving LGBT communities, thus eliminating the displacement of the community by corporate sponsors

  • Integrate inclusion and equity agenda and initiatives in all committee and programming activities.


[Recommendations:] Racialized Communities

  • 62. It is recommended that as Pride Toronto continues to engage in international human-rights advocacy, that it do so in partnership with individuals and organizations from other countries and here in the city, and that outreach be done inclusive of the languages of those countries or communities.

  • 63. Pride Toronto develop a community-engagement strategy that brings Pride Toronto face to face with racialized communities and all members of the LGBT community.

  • 64. Pride Toronto develop a strategy and partnerships with targeted equity and inclusion initiatives.

  • 65. Pride Toronto change the governance and operational committee structures to ensure representation and reflection of the City’s racialized LGBT demographics and diverse LGBT sexual politics.

  • 66. Pride Toronto develop an internal review of the organization structure and operations.

  • 67. Pride Toronto diversify the volunteer pool through targeted community outreach.

  • 68. Pride Toronto conduct targeted outreach to ensure diversity within the pool of coordinators recruited annually.

  • 69. Pride Toronto implement a fulsome orientation process for all staff and volunteers, with content inclusive of the role and contributions of racialized communities and individuals in the LGBT movement.

  • 70. Pride Toronto provide increased investment of resources in Blockorama and work with the community to identify a long-term location for the stage.

  • 71. Pride Toronto expand its community programming to reach LGBT communities that have been neglected or rendered invisible, specifically two-spirited, trans, deaf, [and] youth, and to community members with disabilities.

  • 72. Pride Toronto implement a vendor and sponsorship policy that ensures vendors and sponsors are aligned with the mission, vision, and values of Pride Toronto.

  • 73. Pride Toronto develop community-informed and transparent criteria for choosing the International Grand Marshal.

  • 74. Pride Toronto create an advisory World Pride International Human Rights committee comprised of activists, groups, and organizations across the country to develop the human rights program for 2014.

  • 75. Pride Toronto provide tangible support, including funds, to LGBT organizations in the country or area of focus of Pride Toronto’s annual human rights program.

  • 76. Pride Toronto develop sponsorship and fund development strategies that are linked to supporting community involvement. This could enable partnerships with corporate sponsors and community organizations serving LGBT communities, thus eliminating the displacement of the community by corporate sponsors.

  • 77. Pride Toronto integrate inclusion and equity agenda and initiatives in all committee and programming activities.

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