Happy 2SLGBTQI+ Pride Month!
Pride is a time to take a moment to reflect on the past, the successes, the challenges ahead and the many, diverse Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and other (2SLGBTQI+) folks and communities that make up our inclusive communities. It’s also an opportunity to reflect individually and collectively on our own values and beliefs and how we can continue challenging oppression and empowering 2SLGBTQI+ folks to live their fullest, authentic lives.
While there were previously pockets of resistance to the prevalent homophobia of its time, the most well-known pushback, which is believed by many to be the beginnings of modern day Pride, occurred at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 when in the face of continued police discrimination and oppression, folks rose up to fight back in what is known as the Stonewall Riots. As 2SLBGTQI+ communities continued to grow, diversify and thrive over time, so did the Pride movement. While there are Pride events held year-round, June has become known as Pride month globally.
Canada had its own reckoning similar to Stonewall when in 1981, Toronto Police raided multiple bathhouses in Toronto as a part of “Operation Soap”, harassing, beating and arresting 306 people https://xtramagazine.com/power/toronto-bathhouse-raids-40-years-194590. Until the G20 summit in 2010, the Toronto bathhouse raids remained the largest mass detention in Canadian history for decades. In response to this, 2SLGBTQI+ communities organized which helped fuel the modern Pride movement in Canada.
Tracing back from today to its grassroots beginnings, Pride has always been and will always be political.
One of its oldest allies, the Labour movement and 2SLGBTQI+ communities have a long history of mutual support around the world. Pride, a 2014 film, exemplifies the mutual solidarity when gays and lesbians showed up in support of striking mine workers who later returned the favour and showed up to support folks at Pride and beyond https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-30728604 . In Canada, the Labour movement has been a regular supporter of Prides across the country but has also been involved in key moments – like supporting the fight for same sex marriage, advocating for the explicit inclusion of Trans rights in law and society, and fighting against the blood ban against men who have sex with men, the latter which was just struck down at the end of April this year https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/health-canada-blood-ban-1.6434078.
At COPE Ontario, we hold equity and inclusion as fundamental pillars upon which to build an inclusive movement of workers that fights for each other. COPE Ontario continues to denounce homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, sexism, racism and all the other oppressive -ism’s that still plague our wider cultures and communities. We acknowledge that our union and culture is not outside of this and we work to continually improve our approach to integrating equity and fighting for 2SLGBTQI+ workers. COPE Ontario also firmly believes in supporting grassroots activism and give thanks to the many, many grassroots efforts that are led by 2SLGBTQI+ folks as they fight to improve the world not just for themselves but for us all.