Remembering Operation Soap…

It’s not unknown that the police arrived at Stonewall Inn on June 28th 1969 to arrest and intimidate people from the LGBTQ community. The people fought back and coordinated into groups to support and encourage each other. On June 28th, 1970 they headed onto the streets to march in remembrance of the raid and subsequent riots. And thus began Pride Parades in the United States.

Toronto’s story occurred a decade later with Operation Soap on February 5, 1981 when two hundred plain clothed police officers descended on four bathhouses in Toronto, arresting 291 people and twenty bathhouse owners. They caused $38,000 in damages ($104,147.74 in 2016 dollars), photographed people in the nude and demanded to know where they worked and how to contact their employers. Ninety percent of the charges were eventually dropped.

There were huge protests and rallies after these raids which culminated in Toronto’s Pride Week, one of the world’s largest pride celebrations. However one thing remained lacking, an official apology from the police department. That didn’t arrive until June 23, 2016, less than one year ago, when Chief Mark Saunders apologized.

A week after this apology, on July 3rd, Black Lives Matters briefly stopped the Toronto Pride Parade with a list of demands, one of which was the removal of police floats from the Pride Parade. Pride Toronto agreed with their list and I personally agree as well.

I don’t feel the police department should ever have had a float in the Pride Parade. While the parade now is less of a protest and more of a rainbow extravaganza, it still has its roots in police brutality, discrimination, and oppression. If the police want to show their support then they should show that times have changed by protecting and defending the parade members and their supporters. And, while no one’s asked me, I think they’d be better off operating a free phone charging station and offering water bottles than having yet another float. They’d get one on one contact with the public and garner lots of good will.

Colin disagrees with me. At first he thought the parade was a protest for equal marriage and then he wanted to know if it was illegal to have “gay sex” at that time. I tried to explain that the law had a loop hole where anal sex, between two people, was allowed but public sex wasn’t but I’m not sure if I explained myself clearly.

He listened patiently then informed me that “times have changed since then. They have the rainbow police car now and want to be in the parade. They arrest people for attacking gay people now. It’s time to live and let live, if they want to support gay people now then let them support gay people.”

Jeremy and I

Colin and I at the Oshawa 2015 Pride Parade

We braved the Pride Parade…

I had two anxiety attacks this week, one at work and one right in the middle of our doctor’s office. I came really close to passing out there although, to be fair, if I’m going to pass out his office is probably the best place. Jeremy was so sweet, hugging me on the bus and in the waiting room then sharing zir game maps in an attempt to distract me. The doctor has doubled my EffexorXR and has prescribed Ativan for my anxiety attacks, which hopefully will help (so far so good).

Then there’s Jeremy. Zie had one anxiety attack last week at 3am and one night of complete insomnia, which meant zie missed two days of school. And then zie’s been fine. It helps that I’ve signed the papers withdrawing zir from school at the end of the month. Only two more weeks.

Between the two of us, we’re both fairly fragile emotionally and neither of us are fond of crowds at the best of times… but we went to our local Pride Parade anyways.

Last night I painted my nails the colours of the ace pride flag. Well almost, I didn’t have any white nail polish (or more accurately, Emma didn’t have any) but she had a pale silver which I figured would look good. I painted Jeremy’s nails too but zie picked plain beige so I didn’t bother to take a photo.

ace nails

The best photo I could take with my cellphone

We caught the bus this morning and discovered our local Sunday bus changed, or more accurately turned into another bus route part way through our trip, and we ended up doing the milk run. Almost literally considering at one point we were taking pictures of barns and fields. What should have been a not quite 10 minute trip ended up stretching to just over a half hour. We got off downtown and I went onto my phone to check my email. I knew I’d received an email earlier saying where the pre-parade barbecue was being held, I just needed to find the folder it went to.

“Mom, you don’t need to look. The barbecue’s over there.” Jeremy pointed toward a nearby mall right as I finally realized there was music blaring from nearby. I put away my phone and we followed our ears.

The first person I met was a woman from PFLAG who greeted me with a huge smile and a hug. Then we went to get food and I found out they had vegan burgers this year (which turned out to be very popular). We wandered around for a bit, looking at the floats and trying to see if we knew anyone else.

“Can we go to Dollarama or somewhere more quiet?” Jeremy asked. “I’m getting really anxious.”

“Why don’t we go to the bridge,” I suggested and zie nodded.

Shopping isn’t relaxing for me, meanwhile the bridge was a quiet footbridge over the nearby creek. It’s a great place to take photos, which relaxes both of us.

Jeremy not only took photos with zir camera but also dropped a webcam down to take closeups of the creek.

Jeremy not only took photos with zir camera but also dropped a webcam down to take closeups of the creek.

I also managed to take a great shot of the two of us, which Jeremy agreed could be shared here. Which is nice because zie looks so cute in the photo (I love how amazingly blue zir eyes are)…

Jeremy and I

And then we went to wait for the parade to start…

Talk about relaxed!

Talk about relaxed!

The parade was small, but bigger than the one we attended two years ago, and quite colourful…

balloon rainbow

rainbow whirligig2

parade1

parade2

bracelets

parade3

parade4

I'm pretty sure I've lost these socks to Jeremy.

I’m pretty sure I’ve lost these socks to Jeremy.

It was a good afternoon but Jeremy found it quite overwhelming and wanted to head home before the post-parade party even began. Which is good to know. I’d tentatively thought about going to Toronto’s parade this year but think we’ll pass and give Jeremy another year to work on zir anxiety before braving even bigger crowds. The plus side is, for the first time in ages Jeremy’s looking forward to school tomorrow. It’s the last day of zir work placement and zie’s excited about telling everyone it’s zir birthday on Friday.

Happy Pride everyone!!!