"IT'S IN OUR HANDS"
Learn from Yesterday, Work for Today, Strive for Tomorrow
To move forward together, it is important we recognize where we have been.
And where we have been is not the happiest of places.
Where there has been discrimination and ignorance,
these have been our darkest days.
But staying in the past is just as dark.
Now, we see glimmers of sun.
We see a community and a police service willing to work for today.
We are accepting and understanding.
We want to protect this community like every other community because it is
the right thing to do.
Toronto’s LGBTQ community deserves a police service that
serves and protects every single person.
We will do that today and every day in the future.
We will strive to be better.
Tomorrow is bright as we move forward, together.
TPS LGBTQ Mural
Located on the North wall of 425 Church Street in Toronto
The Toronto Police Service has transitioned from having mostly male, white, heterosexual members to be very diverse and reflective of the community it services, which is inclusive of the LGBTQ community and including Trans members.
It is important to note that the mural only depicts some symbols from the past and is in no way a representation of all that has occurred in our history with the community.
The Toronto Police Service has a turbulent past with the community that dates back well before the infamous Bath House Raids dubbed at the time “Operation Soap.” However, the bath house raids are known to have brought the Gay Community together and start a gay liberation movement, the genesis of Toronto Pride. A charm of a bar of soap represents “Operation Soap.”
Track II (Represented in the Train Signal)
The Toronto Police made reference to the gay commercial section of Toronto as Track II. Generally this area was a section between Bay Street and Yonge Street and St. Joseph Street to Grosvenor Street. The area and it’s gay taverns and clubs became popular with male prostitutes known as “hustlers.”
In February 1981, filmmakers Harry Sutherland, Gordon Keith and Jack Lemmon produced a documentary film called Track Two - Enough is Enough, about the development of the Gay community in Toronto. The film (https://youtu.be/iN4_8eurids) discusses the Bath House raids in 1981 called and a series of events that followed as a result.
During protests that followed the bath house raids a banner was used that read, “Enough is Enough, Stop Police Violence.” A portion of the banner is also depicted in the mural.
The Pussy Palace Raids “Panty Raids”
September 14, 2000, fueled another fire under the LGBTQ community. The raids by 52 Division male officers in a women’s bath house prompted gay women to protest. The sleeve on left side of the mural has a pattern of underwear. As a result, the Toronto Police Service provides training to officers regarding the LGBTQ community.
The background of the mural represents the colours of the Trans Flag.
- Light Blue stripe is the traditional color for baby boys.
- Pink stripe is traditional color for baby girls.
- White for those who are intersex, transitioning, neutral or undefined gender.
The color purple is loaded with meanings.
The color purple/lavender became popularized as a symbol for pride in the late 1960s. “Purple Power” was used as a catch word for the Gay Community.
Spirit Day is held on October 20th people wear the color purple to show support for LGBT youth who are victims of bullying. The name Spirit Day comes from the purple stripe of the rainbow flag.
The Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag is also referred to the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag.
The flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements.
Pink triangles pointing down were a symbol that was given to homosexual males in the Nazi concentration camps. (Wikipedia entry)
The pink triangle inverted has been reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride and the gay rights movement, and is second in popularity only to the rainbow flag.
Two-Spirit Community “2S”
“Two-Spirited” refers to a person who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit.
It is generally a term used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. It includes same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender differences.
The Eagle and the Eagle feathers are considered sacred and honoured by most North American Indigenous people. The Eagle feather is used in ceremonies and Eagles are believed to have a special connection to the Creator
“Meet Me Under the Clock”
The Clock tower is a Toronto landmark located at 484 Yonge Street between Grosvenor Street and Grenville Street. The historic clock tower was built in 1870. Initially staked above a fire hall a century later it sat on top of the St Charles Tavern, a popular gay hangout and Gay historic landmark.
It became well known to the general public as a gay bar thanks to its annual Halloween drag contests, which also attracted crowds of gay bashers who would throw rotten eggs and tomatoes at patrons. The St. Charles Tavern closed its doors in 1987.
In light of the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando a candle was added to the mural to honour victims of hate crime.
Toronto Police/Community Relations Timeline
The following is a brief timeline of events but is not inclusive to many of the initiatives and events that have taken place.
The first designated Community Response Unit was piloted in 52 Division in the Church/Wellesley neighbourhood in 1991. This neighbourhood was selected because of the increasing number of gay-bashings reported to The 519 and the desire within the community for a designated police presence, and the vision within the Service to develop a CRU-based policing model to go city-wide. Officers patrolled the community on foot and Woody’s Gay Bar on Church Street hosted a fundraiser to purchase the Officers bicycles, so that they could respond faster to calls. Essentially, this is when the relationship with the Police and the Community started to build bridges.
In June the first uniformed Toronto Police officer walked in the Pride parade with a female officer from the Ontario Provincial Police who was formerly a Toronto Police Officer. Chief Julian Fantino at the time held the first Chief’s Pride reception that took place in the community for many years and is now held at police headquarters.
The Chief’s LGBTQ Consultative Committee was created. The committee is formed by various organizations within the community to reflect both inclusiveness and credibility within that community. These committees serve as voices on wider policing issues such as training, recruiting, professional standards and community mobilization http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/community/ccc.php
The LGBTQ Liaison Officer position was created in May and Chief Julian Fantino participated in a walk-about with the liaison officer the very next day. The LGBTQ Liaison Officer is responsible for providing community policing support to stakeholders in the LGBTQ Community. The officer also facilitates training at the Toronto Police College.
Newly appointed Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair becomes the first chief of police in the city's history to personally take part in the parade.
The Toronto Police Service formed an LGBTQ Internal Support Network (ISN) for its members to foster a workplace where employees feel appreciated and included. The ISN is a voluntary self-support network that offers mentoring and support to its members.
The Toronto Police Service hosted the first LGBT Law Enforcement Conference in North America in conjunction with World Pride. The Toronto Police Service float was introduced in the Pride parade for the first time.
Chief Mark Saunders expresses regrets on behalf of the Toronto Police Service for the 1981 Bathhouse Raids.
The mural is an initiative spear headed by Constable Patty Retsinas from the Toronto Police Service Divisional Policing Support Unit. The project is in partnership with the StreeARToronto program and painted by street artist, TEAM SPUDBOMB.