Toronto District School Board trustee Sam Sotiropoulos appears to be calling for mass arrests of naked people at an international event commemorating the mass arrests of naked people.
Earlier this week, the trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt stunned many by drafting a motion instructing the school board to ask the city to enforce Canada’s public-nudity laws against participants in the Toronto Pride parade—although, perhaps unbeknownst to him, such laws do not even apply to Pride parades, because of a 2000 Ontario Court of Justice decision. He believes the TDSB should have a say in this because the board has a float in the Pride parade.
Here’s another thing Sotiropoulos doesn’t seem to grasp: the Pride movement is the legacy of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, which are now known as the moment LGBT people finally fought back against years of police oppression. Locally, our moment came in 1981 after the Toronto bathhouse raids, when police rounded up about 300 innocent towel-clad men at four gay saunas. Toronto queers were swift to react: they marched through the streets, right up to the doors of city hall and Queen’s Park. It was a watershed moment for the sexual liberation movement in Canada and the birthplace of Toronto Pride.
That night in 1981, police were attacking nudity, sexual freedom, gay identity and their own homophobic perception of icky gay men having sex. As LGBT people, we have seen these types of attacks for decades, and we know what they really mean.