Okay, let’s be fair, Pride isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The insinuation that it’s nothing more than public fornication comes from a place of ignorance but, to be sure, I’ve seen a few things over the past couple of years’ events that caused my eyebrows to migrate north, though public nakedness was hardly the cause, and fucking in public never. Not simulated, not actual.
At the same time, people are free not to be a part of this event. You don’t have to like gay people or the folks that come out to support them; that’s your right and I’m 100% behind you in support of that right. I’m certain that there are folks in the LGBT community that have equally close-minded opinions of the straights, or blacks, or women, etc. Whatever…we’re all a little prejudiced, racist, and otherwise bigoted, and while I don’t support those views, I support people’s rights to hold them and even express them.
If you’re not hurting, or advocating hurting anyone, or impinging on their rights or freedoms, I take no issue with you. In fact, I kinda wish there was a Straight Pride parade, and an International Men’s day, or a Caucasian Celebration Weekend, etc. None of these come from a place of hatred or jealousy as I’ve often heard implied, I’d just like to be celebrated for who I am instead of being reminded of some nebulous history that I’m associated with simply by my gender, sexual orientation, or colour of skin.
But Pride has never felt anything but welcoming to me, and I’ve never gotten the impression that it would be anything else to anyone else. And that includes our controversial mayor, Rob Ford.
Yeah, Rob doesn’t come across as someone who’d strut down Yonge in assless chaps, but as I’ve just finished explaining, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some might even say that’s a good thing. Even his comments lumping gay people with intravenous drug users and AIDS are, though dumb, mostly innocuous and somewhat representative of the 905 (that’s Toronto’s suburbs for those of you who don’t live here) — the people who voted him into office.
So what, exactly, is wrong with Rob choosing to go to his Huntsville cottage instead of attending Pride? Isn’t it his right, as mayor, to opt out of such events if he so chooses? And what about his family’s 30-year tradition of heading up north for the Canada Day weekend … why should he be expected to give that up for an event he clearly doesn’t support? Why, in fact, should he be supporting a “special-interest” group lest he be labelled a homophobe?
Okay, let me start with that last statement and explain, categorically, why he not only should be attending, but also why it’s hypocritical of him not to. Hopefully I’ll correct a few other fallacies while I’m at it.
First off, that homophobic label isn’t being assigned by the so-called “special-interest” groups that, apparently, have taken such vitriolic offense to the mayor’s snub of Pride. At least, not anything I’ve read or heard.
In fact, the only place I’ve heard the term being used is by people like Barbara Kay of the National Post who support his decision by implying that that’s what Pride supporters are saying about Ford. In other words, she’s claiming that the LGBT community is calling Ford a homophobe because he’s choosing not to attend, yet she’s the only one I’ve read actually using or even implying that term. Ford’s supporters are coming out and calling the Pride people intolerant, citing such unsubstantiated statements as fact, and then basing their arguments on these baseless and, I suspect untrue, statements.
See, when I make such broad proclamations about what a whole group of people think, I try to link to such statements … you know, back up my claims. So far, and as far as I can tell, the only people who have called Rob a homophobe are those supporting his decision not to go to Pride, and those same people are then using such statements to springboard all manner of baseless commentary. And I’ve seen Kay link to other statements, even in the article to which I refer, so I know she’s capable of it if she wants to. It’s Fox News style “reporting” which serves only to expose the bias of the author and her audience, not of the people to whom she refers.
Still, Rob has every right to avoid Pride. He also has every right to miss Caribana (erm, I mean, the Scotiabank Caribbean Festival), or The Taste of the Danforth, or for that matter any of the other nine or so major events that happen around the city every year. Yup, that’s all within his purview … he can choose to ignore all of these festivals, and it doesn’t even have to ideologically based as, I’m sure, is the case with Pride. In fact, Rob can just sit in his office, do the absolute bare-bones minimum expected of him as a mayor, and I’m sure the 905 crowd who voted him into office would be a-okay with that.
Thing is, these events are big money makers. Pride draws around a million people, and growing, every year. In 2014 and under Ford’s watch, Toronto will be hosting World Pride which promises to be even bigger, and in my estimation, the current event is nothing to sneeze at. The bottom line is the bottom line, and for a mayor who’s major platform during the election was money, money, money, you’d think he’d embrace this cash influx as something positive. He doesn’t need to walk down the street emblazoned with glitter and soaking sweaty bodies with squirt guns, but a show of support – even a simple written statement saying “enjoy the parade” – would demonstrate that he’s standing behind his own campaign pledges. Yeah, apparently this thing isn’t even worth a simple note that could be read in absentia saying “welcome to Toronto, have a fun time”.
Instead, he’s mulling ineffectual ideas like corporate sponsorship (and renaming) of our subway stations or cutting the City Hall snack budget, all the while nullifying these financial drops in the bucket with concessions to the suburbs, still clinging to 1950s notions that the car is king, highways and big houses are the bee’s knees, and the suburbs are where it’s at. His solutions exacerbate the city’s myriad problems, and the few solutions that could offer some relief, at least financially, are being rejected because Ford’s cottage takes precedence over his duties as mayor.
Yeah, but what about that family tradition? Why shouldn’t he get to spend time with his family and relax a bit?
Yeah … why shouldn’t he? Pride is 10 days long, not just one weekend (that’s the parade). Rob could easily attend something or other and still spend the whole Canada Day weekend guzzling beer and fishing. The trip back from Huntsville, which I’ve made numerous times, takes a few hours but is definitely do-able. He could even just say that he’ll come back to town and then miss the event because of “traffic” … totally believable and shows at least a modicum of effort. Or, failing that, offer the written message I’d mentioned, delivered by a representative who’ll be sticking around for the celebrations.
Even Rob’s brother, Doug, concedes that this isn’t the brightest move and said that he’d try to “twist” Rob’s arm to get him to attend, that’s how deep their family’s 30-year tradition runs. Regardless, as mayor of a city the size of Toronto, sometimes you have to break with tradition. Not that he’d have to.
To say that Rob isn’t doing this for ideological reasons is bullshit. Of course it is! But clearly Rob’s distaste for the gay community outweighs his ideology of gravy cutting and revenue making for the city. Yes, Rob Ford can dislike gay people and that doesn’t make him a homophobe — that’s his right. What people seem to be missing is that he also has a duty, as mayor, to support the city, not just when he likes it or when it doesn’t conflict with his leisure time, but for his entire term in office.