Yes, it’s creepy

Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti filmed this year’s annual Dyke March to make sure that there were no political messages being displayed, and not to just film dykes or any, in his words “creepy reason.”

The councilor assures that “After reviewing the tape from the Dyke March, I stand by my position that publicly funded parades and marches should not include political messaging.”

At specific issue is a group who last year, carried signs indicating Anti-Israel Apartheid sentiments. They did not march in this year’s parade.

That said, the entire basis of a Pride Parade is political. From the original parades and marches of the 1970’s to the pride events this year, a pride parade is a political creature by it’s nature.

Yes, the modern parades includes a celebration of our community’s diversity, yes the modern parades includes non-gay allies and supporters, but the core of any pride parade continues to be a statement that we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it because we vote. We vote with our dollars to support or not businesses and we vote with our ballots for political parties and politicians and we vote with our feet when we take to the street and bring gay issues to the public discussion marketplace of ideas.

The first few pride parades often had onlookers outnumbering the marchers, but the parades in the major cities have grown into community affairs, beyond the scope of their original political purpose, but we have not lost that central value – there is still work to be done – even in Canada where gay marriage is the law of the land since 2003 and gays have been able to openly serve in the military since 1992.

The laws are one thing, the social acceptance and norming of them takes longer – and pride parades are a key part of that, since they have become almost like a family community event with the more overtly sexual marching units and floats having a mild carnival feel to an otherwise overwhelmingly corporate event.

But, going back to filming the Dyke March, this action is creepy – not sexually creepy – but creepy nonetheless, since the not supporting political messages is not a valid reason, given that the march is inherently political – we count and we vote so stop discriminating against us – a different and clearer agenda becomes more apparent by Mammoliti’s attempted clarification: “While I concede that it would be illegal to remove funding from Pride Toronto based on the city manager’s decision on Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy, I will work over the next few months to change city policy. Contrary to what some of my colleagues have been saying this past week, standing up for taxpayers is not ‘creepy’.”

But it is, Mammoliti, it is creepy to act as if dykes aren’t also taxpayers. It is creepy to say you are going to seek to change the anti-discrimination laws so that you can discriminate. It is entirely creepy to carry out your agenda and cloak yourself in a veneer of respectability as doing it for the taxpayers – who frankly, are out enjoying the parade and the business it brings into the city. It is creepy to appoint yourself the hero on a quest that no one has asked to be undertaken, especially when there must be better uses of taxpayer money than for you to stand around a film a march/parade that is sponsored and licensed by the city, that financially benefits the merchants in the city, that provides a safe environment to celebrate the diversity in the city – and that diversity includes being able to voice political views in a safe and appropriate manner, no matter what the political message may be.

People are entitled to political views and expression, and marches are a safe and peaceful mechanism for that discussion. Mammoliti you are being creepy on the sidelines with your camera being the thought police and threatening to use your position to change the policy to suit your agenda. Something for the taxpayers of Toronto to think about next election. Because any ethnic community parade and street festival, there will be political content about conflict in their country of origin. Just because people move to Canada doesn’t mean that they still don’t have connections back home of extended family or cultural investment.

So, unless Mammoliti  is going to attend every community event with his video camera looking for political messages, he is being creepy and targeting dykes with opinions. Okay, talk about department of redundancy department, restate: he’s being creepy and targeting dykes.

So, is it really the anti-Israel message or that it’s dykes or that it’s women with political opinions? Because creepy comes from not having a clear understanding combined with unsettling behaviour – and filming people is aggressive, threatening and unsettling behaviour, and it’s not clear what his actual issue and concern is, because the creepy is getting in the way of knowing.