Familiar scenery captured my attention as I watched Philip Pike’s documentary, Our Dance of Revolution. As a resident of the Greater Toronto Area, it’s hard to bypass the fact that there’s a protest taking place at Toronto’s busy Yonge and Carlton intersection in the opening sequence. Even more jarring, was the fact that the protest wasn’t foreign to me – it’s one I had mulled over with friends and co-workers. The realization quickly set in that, for what seemed like the 100thtime, I was watching Black Lives Matter-Toronto shutdown the 2016 Pride parade.
The brazen nature in which BLM-TO, the parade’s honoured guest, stalled the annual celebration earned the newly-formed organization national media attention. Equipped with a list of demands, the group held the surprise sit-in for 30 minutes intent on holding Pride Toronto accountable for its anti-black and exclusionary practices.
In Our Dance of Revolution, Pike introduces the Black queer activists at the helm of the protest and the many others who, through decades of ground-breaking work, paved the way for their activism. Noteworthy figures from The Six’s Black queer community – Makeda Silvera, Douglas Stewart, and DJ Blackcat – pepper the documentary with the history of the city’s LGBTQ movement and personal antidotes. Flashing back to the 80s and 90s, they discuss the fight for visibility and representation, the height of the AIDS epidemic, and revamping Church Street’s club scene to make space for the urban community.
Just like Canada’s unique Black history is often overshadowed by the well-known stories associated with America’s civil rights movement, our LGBTQ movement and Black queer activists receive the same treatment. In 120 minutes, I was introduced to a series of riveting stories that I have never heard before by faces that were unfamiliar. Pike should be commended for unmasking these hidden figures but, with all the work they have done and continue to do, their names should already be known to all Canadians.
Our Dance of Revolution tells an inspiring story of resilience and activism. Though the subject matter can be tough at times, Pike’s expert storytelling creates a transformative experience.
Monday, Apr 29, 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Wednesday, May 1, 2:45 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 3
Friday, May 3, 12:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre 8