Toronto’s mayor—the man that represents this city, nominally at least—isn’t attending Pride Parade. It’s the talk of the city, I know, but allow me to just express a thought.
Like usual, let’s get the facts straight first. Rob Ford has a long tradition of going to his cottage during the Canada Day weekend. It’s important to him and his family. Pride Parade is a 10-day celebration of Toronto’s gay culture that has a solid 30-year history in this city. Pride is important to more than one million people that attend it, bringing in more than $40 million annually. And lastly, as mentioned, Rob Ford is Toronto’s head honcho.
Now, there was a key aspect in the above paragraph. Any guesses? Yeah, right on, Pride is a “10-day celebration.” It’s on right now, actually, as it runs from June 24 till July 3. My main frustration here—not to mention that Rob Ford has said in the past (2006 at City Hall to be exact), verbatim: “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s the bottom line,” before following up with, “These are the facts.” Interesting thought and “facts,” as, according to the United Nations, the majority of those infected with HIV/AIDS are heterosexual, non-drug users. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As I was getting to, my main frustration is not that I respect that family is important to Ford, as it should be, it is that there are 10 FULL days of Pride, meaning that he could squeeze in one photo op cutting a red ribbon on, say, Tuesday. It will take all of 30-minutes to show face and represent your city. Because this isn’t about your thoughts on homosexuality, Mr. Ford, no, this is about the city that elected you. It’s about the vibrant culture and (some would argue) huge monetary gain that Pride brings our city. The gay community in this fair city hasn’t always been dealt the best hand of cards, but it’s strong and welcoming. It’s an accepting culture. And, as we all know now, it is a tradition for the past 16 years that Toronto’s mayor has frequented Pride. That’s 16 years, sir. Like you going to your cottage is a tradition, the mayor showing face at Pride is likewise a tradition. What a coinkidink, I know.
This is where we meet halfway, sir. I’m not one for bending arms—more of a peaceful guy myself. But I am one for doing my job. And remember, that’s what this is, a job. You were elected by the people of Toronto to represent the people of Toronto, which means all that glad-handing, posing with giant cheques and cutting oversized, ostentatious red ribbons. Just part of the job. Now, when it comes to this part of the job, as this is a big part since millions of people attend Pride, not to forget that Pride also brings in millions (last year Pride brought in $43.2 million) in revenue to the city—this is huge, as I know you’re a business guy yourself—it’s a big deal. Seriously, it is. And I know everyone is saying that if you don’t want to attend Pride, you shouldn’t have to be forced. I agree with them. And I’m not forcing you either—I’m just, well, disappointed, sir.
Toronto is a welcoming city. It’s a cutting edge, beautifully diverse city. A city you’re supposed to be representing.
So please, sir, represent it.