Equality through exclusion; my thoughts on Calgary Pride

Calgary Pride has been making some waves with recent decisions including the exclusion of uniformed law enforcement and the most recent decision to exclude the nascent United Conservative Party from the Pride Parade on September 3rd in Calgary.

Even within the LGBTQ community, these decisions are not without their controversies. There are many LGBTQ conservatives who are absolutely allies and support the push for equality.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about a blanket exclusion of a political entity, and would have preferred a case by case assessment of each individual, but I recognize as a person involved in not for profit management and volunteer event planning that is a tax on resources and a decision needed to be made.

Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have been inconsistent to abysmal (respectively) in their records when it comes to supporting LGBTQ equality.

Pride Parades are meant to symbolize both the fight against oppression and the success of the progress being made. Most often, these fights have been with social conservatives.

In fact, Jason Kenney is on record as stating that gay marriage legalization was a slippery slope that would lead to legalization of pedophilia and polygamy. He also famously said “Marriage is open to everybody, as long as they’re a man and a woman.”  

These stances, coupled with his belief that students who request or join a GSA should be outed in some cases do not speak to considered best practices in terms of being an ally.

Just yesterday Kenney attempted to claim that he hadn’t attended pride previously because he wasn’t invited (that tweet has since been deleted). Blogger Michael Morrison challenged him, as he had specifically invited Kenney last year in an open letter and tweeted about an empty space beside him when Kenney didn’t show up.

As I understand, the UCP was told that if they were willing to undertake diversity training with Calgary Sexual Health (a three-hour course), they would be granted entry. They declined to do so prior to the parade, although it is reported that they are now in the process of scheduling that training.

The fact is that Pride Calgary doesn’t owe anyone anything. Pride is not just a PR activity with a free pass for politicians to repent for their inaction or obstruction the remainder of the year. With the ambiguous stances and sometimes conflicting positions of the majority of the high-profile leadership contenders for the Party, it is absolutely within their rights to ask for further clarity and support before granting entry as a political party.

Members of the UCP are not banned from partaking in the Pride Parade or the events surrounding it, only the Party as an official entity. Supporting this decision and coming out to show support through the ten days would be an effective first step at establishing credibility with the committee and the community at large. A definitive statement about acceptance would be even better.

As one of my friends said yesterday, “we don’t want tolerance, we want acceptance. It’s us who has to tolerate you.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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