Recently, I was lucky enough to get to attend the “Proud of Toronto”event, a local Toronto event which drew some really important LGBT community speakers like Kristyn Wong-Tam and which finally publicly exposed the hidden truth behind our newly elected mayor, Rob Ford’s proposal to cut all city funding for Toronto Pride this year.
As a gay parent, I was fortunate that I was able to attend this event, because now more than ever Toronto’s LGBT community must be seen to be publicly standing together in letting this city’s newly elected city council know that our community will not go away or be swept under their cleverly disguised bigoted conservative rug.
Pride Toronto adds to the city’s tourism trade approximately “one hundred million dollars” each year. That is a huge price to pay for one man’s homophobia. People come to Toronto during Toronto’s Pride week from all across Canada and the world to celebrate Toronto Pride. Our new mayor intends to impose impossible conditions of the funding the city provides to Toronto Pride.
Mr. Ford is demanding that Toronto Pride must promise “that no incidents will occur” during Pride Week. No other publicly funded city event, past or present, has ever been asked by the city to “promise” anything. Such a demand by the city means that any occurrence that may transpire during pride week deemed inappropriate by Mr. Ford would mean the city could withdraw it’s funding to Pride Toronto. Think about this for a moment. How many “incidents” happened during the G20 events in Toronto? Why were not such conditions imposed upon other events, such as the G20 events, by city council?
The answer can be summed up in a word – “homophobia”! It is Mr. Ford’s right winged religious conservative desires to rid Toronto of it’s LGBT community with a formality. This formality simply extended to the “Proud of Toronto”event, which was intended to allow Mr. Ford and his conservative city council to see and listen to the LGBT community’s concerns over how city funding for Pride Toronto is being handled.
I was proud of the diversity of speakers who came forward from our community. None of these speakers were in any way complacent with the politics of this new city council. Each were capable and strong in their voice, while even the smallest of voices were standing to be heard.
As a gay parent, I admired a contingent of our new generation of young activists teenagers representing our Toronto Catholic High Schools who are fighting for the rights of all gay youth to form Gay-Straight Alliances in our schools. I was extremely proud to witness our younger generation fighting for their LGBT community within their city.
I sincerely hope that the voices heard at the “Proud of Toronto”event, will influence our newly elected city council to vote against the blatant homophobia emanating directly from the Mayor’s Office. I also hope that all those reading this will make their own voices heard in this latest battle to drive our community back into the closet.