Peaceful Black Lives Matter Protesters Are Pushed At Pride Parade

Protesters Call for Higher Inclusion of Black and Trans Rights at Pride

BLM protesters and allies set off smoke at the Pride Parade this weekend. Photo by Oldin X

During the moment of silence to commemorate the people who have died of HIV/AIDS and homophobic and transphobic laws at Sunday’s Pride parade, about 30 members of Black Lives Matter Montreal and their allies held a peaceful protest and made demands for better representation and inclusivity to Pride Montreal.

Black Lives Matter Montreal want the police to stay off Pride grounds, want to see more Black and Indigenous people on their board of directors, to have Black queer and trans folk approve the sponsors of Pride, and to publically acknowledge that Pride is a political movement that was started by trans people of colour by the names of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

The protesters formed a circle holding hands while red smoke bombs went off. Allies came carrying Black Lives Matter posters. Then Lucas Charlie Rose, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Montreal, took a megaphone to talk about the Stonewall riots, stating that we can only have Pride as a result of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera’s efforts during the police riots. The protesters then chanted “Black lives matter!”

Employees of Pride Montreal then broke the circle of protesters and took away Rose’s megaphone. People in the crowd shouted at them to “shut up during the moment of silence” and others even pushed them.

“As a Black trans person, having a white cis person snatch the megaphone out of my hand while I’m saying that Pride was started by trans women of colour is the perfect example of what Pride has become,” said Rose.

While trying to safely exit the parade and avoid violence, the crowd didn’t make room for the protesters to leave.

“To make our voices heard we chose to do this during the moment of silence,” said Brian*, a protester and member of Black Lives Matter Montreal. “It wasn’t disrespectful because the moment was meant to commemorate the people who died [of AIDS or homophobic and transphobic laws], and most of them are trans women of colour so we reclaimed that moment.”

Pride Montreal had been made aware that Black Lives Matter would hold this interruption and had instructions to leave them alone and let them exit after their protest was over. Pride Montreal has confirmed this, though they claim to not have known what Black Lives Matter was planning to do.

“We want Pride to respond to [today’s events],” Rose said that night after the protest. “How come you let this happen? We were not violent. What are you going to do to change this?”

Montreal Pride vice president Jean-Sebastien Boudreault has since responded.

“We know that Pride started as a protest; it’s important to be able to give political messages at events of Pride. We want to be a better voice to the LGBT community, especially trans people, transmigrant, people of colour but we feel that the moment Black Lives Matter chose to intervene at the parade on Sunday was inappropriate,” said Boudreault.

The protesters also say that little effort towards inclusion and intersectionality were made by Pride Montreal, despite their promises to do better this year.

“We were walking through the parade thinking where are all the Black people?” said Brian. “Where are all the trans people of colour? This is going to be a process but we will keep going until we have space for Black queer people to celebrate. Right now we can’t celebrate because we are the victims of racism and transphobia.” Pride Montreal’s executive team consists mostly of white people.

Later that night

Black Lives Matter Montreal in collaboration with Trans Trenderz held a benefit show at La Vitrola at 9 p.m. that same evening and brought Black queer artists to the stage. During the show Rose addressed the events that took place at the parade, and demanded an official response from Pride Montreal.

There protesters also criticized Pride for being overly capitalistic, and criticized a number of their sponsors they claim refuse to support and employ queer people of colour.

“Now when you look at Pride all you see is TD, Pet Store, Starbucks, and Walmart and places that will never hire a Black trans person and to us that isn’t acceptable,” said Rose.

TD’s sponsorship of Pride has been under a lot of criticism. “TD, who is one of the biggest sponsors of Pride, is financing pipelines in Native territory,” said Brian. “What is going on here? Is no one going to say something about that?”

*full name omitted for safety concerns as a Black trans person.