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#BlackLivesMatter Knows You Think They're Ruining Pride, and Here's What They Have to Say

#BlackLivesMatter Knows You Think They're Ruining Pride, and Here's What They Have to Say

If #BlackLivesMatter makes you uncomfortable, what does that mean for QPOC?

RachelCharleneL

Many LGBT and queer folks were pissed off when Black Lives Matter Toronto protested during the recent Pride parade in Toronto. A lot of people felt like they were totally distracting from the entire point of Pride, and that they were only creating a distraction from the real issues at hand.

But was that really the case?

Black Lives Matter was listening, and they came out with a statement explaining why they felt that speaking up during Toronto Pride was *so* important that it was worth the backlash they knew they’d receive. And, as you'll learn soon, that backlash was extremely harsh and brutal.

In a statement to NOW Toronto, Janaya Khan, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, spoke out.

"Our action was in the tradition of resistance that is Pride. We didn’t halt progress; we made progress.

We achieved a commitment to our demands despite intense push-back from a primarily gay white male community. The same community did not want Black Lives Matter involved in Pride at all, even going so far as to create a group on Facebook called No BLM in Pride. Gender and sexual diversity, it seems, does not preclude racism or white privilege."

The thing that I hope that people who are angry about Black Lives Matter playing a role at Pride and pushing for more a more inclusive future for Pride come to understand is that people can be both black *and* queer. Queer black people are demanding safe spaces and to feel included in Pride because they should be welcome at Pride, as members of the LGBT community.

This isn’t about straight black people coming into a space that isn’t for them and demanding something, as many people seem to think. Janaya is queer. Many leaders of Black Lives Matter are queer. Their voices, and the voices of queer black people and of queer people of color and all queer people with marginalized identities that go beyond just their queerness are rightfully owed a loving and welcoming Pride, just as all members of the LGBT community are.

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If you're angry, you should be angry about the fact that racist slurs were hurled at black people who dared speak out against racism and exclusion from the LGBT community. Our community. What does that say about us? Are we a community at all?

In the statement, Janaya says, “Will it be another 20 years before Toronto realizes Black lives matter at Pride?” But I have to ask each of us: will it be another 20 years before the LGBT community at large realizes that black lives matter at Pride?

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Rachel Charlene Lewis

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.