Barbara Kay, who spoke at the Men’s Conference in Michigan, wrote a column yesterday about the arbitrary ejection of CAFÉ from Toronto’s Pride parade, held last weekend:
The annual Pride event in Canada’s biggest city is supposed to be a celebration of all things and causes relating to gay culture and, more broadly, to formerly marginalized sexual identities. It’s supposed to be a big tent. But as the treatment of CAFÉ shows us, only those groups with a politically correct agenda are seen as acceptable.
According to its own policy, Pride Toronto doesn’t permit cancellations after June 21 — thereby ensuring that groups have an opportunity to respond to complaints lodged against them. CAFÉ, which has charity status (giving them more legal standing than most of the other participating groups), took part last year without incident and had two months ago successfully registered to walk this year, their name appearing in official Pride literature.
CAFÉ was given no substantive reason for the rejection, just a note from the Pride organizers: “It has come to our attention that the work of your organization may contravene the spirit of the mission, vision, and values of Pride Toronto and WorldPride.” And that was it. Their right to march was withdrawn. At a stroke, CAFÉ was lumped in with pedophilia-promoting groups such as Men Loving Boys Loving Men, the only other type of group I could find to have been spurned by Pride as inconsistent with its mission.
Although CAFÉ’s broad mandate is freedom of speech, much of its activity has focused on raising awareness of men’s issues — including those that affect, say, the right of gay men (and all men) to have equal parenting rights under Canadian law. But feminists regard any such advocacy as a threat to their dogma. And so feminist activism, occasionally aggressive, has attended almost every men’s rights speaker sponsored by CAFÉ on Canadian university campuses. (I was one such speaker two years ago.) It therefore isn’t much of a stretch to infer that CAFÉ was booted from Pride because of the complaints of militant feminists.
Kay mentions the irony inherent in Pride’s rejection of CAFÉ, but perhaps as a Canadian she isn’t aware of the height of hypocrisy it represents. Gay organizations have been fighting for years to butt into American parades and organizations, such as Boston and New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parades, which are Catholic, family-oriented events. They weren’t fighting merely for the right to participate as marchers, which has never been an issue, but rather as out-and-proud homosexuals. In recent years they’ve enlisted mayors’ support, and a number of mayors have indeed condemned the Irish Americans for choosing not to celebrate homosexuality alongside their ethnic heritage and Catholic faith.
So one would expect the Pride parades themselves to be bastions of tolerance and fairness, right? Wrong! Step out of line just a tiny bit from the official dogma, which includes gender feminism, and you’re not welcome. Remember that “LGBT” starts with L, and most lesbians don’t take kindly to straight men who ask for equal treatment under the law.
Personally, I avoid these Pride parades if at all possible. The only time I saw one was as a kid when I lived near the neighborhood that used to host them in Seattle. That was over twenty years ago. But some MRA groups, including CAFÉ, think that the best way to advance men’s rights is through the same left-activist route that worked for women, gays and minorities.
I’m not so sure, but it can’t hurt to try, so I support the intrepid souls who are willing to give it a shot. Might as well work all angles, and see which one pays off.
There is actually precedent for radical shifts in the left coalition. Take the support for Zionism, for example, which was pretty much ironclad in the left from the 1970s through the 1990s. Somehow, that unraveled in the early 2000s, and now anti-Zionism is the new norm, with groups of gays actually marching against Israel, despite that country’s tolerance of homosexuality to a degree unseen in the rest of the Middle East.
Could the same happen to feminists? It’s possible. The radicals, mainly aging lesbian gender-feminists, are not really natural allies of the trans people or the gay men. More like a marriage of convenience. If CAFÉ affirmed trans rights, for example, the organization could start to make some headway. That’s something I’d never sign up for (I’m highly suspicious of any group that denies the reality and immutability of one’s sex at birth, because that carries a high potential for abuse of men), but as a tactic it might work.
So support for CAFÉ is in order, even if some of us might think their efforts are doomed to failure. Simply pressing the issue does make a difference and, after all, we might be wrong.