Toronto panned as trashy for putting Pride flags on city garbage trucks
With a jaunty and completely unecessary Pride-themed revamp of its waste collection vehicles, the City of Toronto just gave cultural critics what might be this year's best example of bad corporate rainbow-washing to date.
Revealed through social media on Friday, the newly-modified garbage trucks look exactly like the old blue garbage trucks they are, but with big rainbow squares tacked onto the sides.
"Happy #PrideTO! #CityofTO is proud to celebrate diversity, love and inclusion," reads the caption of a post on the city's official Instagram page. "Keep an eye out for the City's Pride waste collection trucks out on the streets this month."
Messages of everything from bemusement and disbelief to horror and exasperation were quick to flood the comments section of that post.
Based on social reaction alone, it's safe to say that members of Toronto's LGBTQIA2+ community do not appreciate this apparent gesture of inclusion.
"Although garbage clearance is crucial and deserves respect, this looks very disrespectful," noted one commenter. "Any homophobes could easily have done this."
"Wow I love being called trash!" wrote another sarcastically.
Most of the comments on the post follow the same general line of questioning: Why would anyone think this is a good idea? How did it get approved? How much did this cost? What the hell?
As one person so succinctly put it: "LMAOOOOO WHYYYYY."
I’m genuinely curious.— Elize (@EarthToElize) June 17, 2021
What was the thought process here ?
Let’s associate queerness with … garbage collection ? tbh this feels pretty *trashy* of you.
The city has yet to publicly comment on criticism of the trucks, which are part of a larger annual Pride Month campaign, nay, societal trend, that involves brands temporarily changing their logos and putting rainbows on things.
"Every year, on the first breath of summer, Pride collections emerge like a horde of brightly-colored locusts. They blanket every storefront and Instagram feed in June, promising solidarity and celebration for LGBTQ communities," explains CNN of the rainbow capitalism phenomenon, which is not new but has grown exponentially louder in recent years.
"Make no mistake: Visibility and acceptance are rights for which generations of activists have fought. But a growing chorus of LGBTQ voices are ridiculing the way Pride Month is being marketed by large companies, especially as they grow bolder with their use of queer language and imagery."
Hollow and sometimes deceitful displays of allyship are more than annoying for people who've had to struggle for the right just to be who they are, but slapping a pride flag on the side of a literal trash heap? That's next-level insensitive, even if only the consequence of laziness.
“frequent stops” girl, me too— abracadamnit (@settledownwest) June 18, 2021
And yet, despite the mild outrage, many in the community are using the display as joke fodder, owning the "trashy" aesthetic and even considering tracking down some of the trucks to take photos.
That would certainly be one unique way to celebrate pride, especially while all organized in-person festivities remain on the fritz due to COVID-19.
For the second year in a row, the Trans March, the Dyke March and the Pride parade have all been cancelled in Toronto this summer, along with all other major city-run or approved events.
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