Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

Pride Toronto Offers Free Advertising & Promotion for Grassroots Trans* Community at Pride 2015

The second public Town Hall meeting by Pride Toronto’s Trans* Pride Team, for Pride 2015, was held on Saturday, February 7th, and started off with the announcement of an exciting and unprecedented outreach initiative intended to leverage Pride Toronto’s resources to benefit the Trans* community at large.

A marcher from 2014's Trans* Pride March  carries a sign proclaiming "I Love My Trans Community"

A marcher from 2014’s Trans* Pride March carries a sign proclaiming “I Love My Trans* Community”

Pride Toronto began the meeting by acknowledging the amazing work put in over many years by grassroots elements of the Trans* community. Long before there were organizations and non-profits providing space and support for Trans* people, long before there was a Pride Toronto that truly cared about the Trans* community, individual members of that community joined together.

Paying in blood, sweat, and tears, they found it in themselves to provide support for each other through difficult years when there was no one else to rely on.

Even much of the greater queer community, what we now refer to politically by means of an ever-growing acronym, at one time turned their backs on us—as the siren song of mainstreaming lured them away from the youthful excitement of the fringe.

We know our history: Trans* people launched Stonewall, and fought on the front line in the 1981 Bathhouse raids which prompted the riot that gave birth to Pride Toronto. But for a long time since then, Trans* people have been essentially on our own when it comes to fighting for our rights.

Trans* people of all shape and colour cemented the backbone of the nascent Pride movement, but were promptly forgotten as primarily white gay cis men took centre stage, and fought for their own right to hold hands in public, to achieve safer employment, and eventually to marry. While cis Lesbians continue to suffer misogyny, and the world for many Trans* people (especially Trans* people of colour and women) remains unsafe, Pride eventually grew in the public perception into a raucous—but safe—celebration of beer, condoms, and hot men in flamboyant dress gyrating to contemporary dance music, as strangers douse each other in super-soaker water without having obtained prior consent.

Throughout all of this, year after year the Trans* community has quietly struggled to ensure its own vitality by working hard and never giving up, offering support groups, workshops, events, protests, vigils, marches and memorials. Even now, these efforts continue as the Trans* community launches new endeavours all the time—often with no support whatsoever.

It’s important to remember that the Trans* Pride Team is not only a part of Pride Toronto, but also a part of the Trans* community itself: We are Trans* people. Today we recognize, and we give thanks. We acknowledge the work of those who came before us, and of those who now come alongside us, whose efforts throughout time have placed our team in the privileged position we enjoy now, to have the opportunity to put on the Trans* Pride experience that our community knows today… And to improve on it year after year, with the help and input of the community we serve.

We also acknowledge the fact that Pride Toronto, as an organization with sponsors, has access to resources, money, and media far beyond that which is accessible to the grassroots Trans* community. Therefore, we are pleased to announce a new program initiative, designed to give back to the community that made us possible.

Starting in 2015, Pride Toronto will completely waive the advertising fee, for inclusion in the printed Pride Guide and the official online Pride Schedule, for any grassroots-organized community event associated with the Trans* community. If your event is by and for Trans* people, you will be promoted for free by Pride Toronto, alongside and with the same respect and provenance as any official Pride event, Pride Affiliated event, or paid placement.

Furthermore, to help Trans* community members find each other during the Pride festival, all Trans* events registered in Pride Guide and the online schedule will be highlighted with a special Trans* community icon.

Pride Toronto, and the Trans* community, are at a historic turning point. Pride needs to be made political again, and the Trans* Pride Team wants to do everything we can, in partnership with the greater Trans* community, to leverage the resources and potential which Pride has to offer. This opportunity for participation and promotion is just one of the ways we’re working to reach out to the community that made us possible.

There are a couple of minor exceptions to the free promotion offer. “For-profit” corporations are not eligible, because we feel that companies who aim to make money from the Trans* community can afford to support the team by paying the normal advertising fee. Also, claiming that an event is “Trans* inclusive” is not enough, because Pride Toronto feels that all events should be Trans* inclusive as a basic standard. The free promotion is intended specifically to benefit grassroots events that are run by and for Trans* people, and is offered in partnership by the Trans* Pride Team with the Pride Toronto Affiliate Events Team.

Groups and organizations wishing to access free promotion in Pride Guide and the official Pride festival event schedule, for their Trans* events scheduled between June 1st to 30th 2015, will be able to apply via the standard Event Registration form at the Pride Toronto Affiliate Events webpage. You will need to register in time for the standard print deadline, which is May 1st 2015.

If your group misses the print deadline, you may still apply for free promotion on Pride’s web-based event schedule, but as time moves closer to the festival, inclusion cannot be guaranteed.

The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 28th. Details are available through the Facebook Event page, and inside the Trans* Pride Team’s Facebook Group.

The Trans* Pride Team, made up of volunteer members of the Trans* community, looks forward to a brighter future for Pride in partnership with the self-made grassroots Trans* community at large. Happy Pride 2015.

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Christin Milloy