Pride as Political Prop

Andrea Houston is great. We really like her. So we said ‘Andrea, why don’t you start writing for our blog?’ and she said ‘hell yes!’ Every month, Andrea will be here talking about important issues that our queer community is, or should be, talking about. Part of new series of community voices we’re bringing into our blog to bring the conversation beyond the theatre and out into the city.

Doug is not welcome at Pride. The jury is still out on Tory.

Despite Doug Ford still finding gay men kinda icky, he’s now promising – no, threatening – to march in Pride if elected on Oct 27.

Speaking to the Toronto Sun on Oct 6, Ford even had the audacity to proclaim, “I’ll be the mayor of all the people,” a statement immediately followed by sneering judgment. “Do I approve of the nudity, of older men with potbellies walking around the street buck naked? No, I don’t approve of that,” he said.

He seems to be under the impression that we need his approval or his pandering. This is a transparent, cheap political stunt to score political points.

Marching in Pride is a political act, a public and visible declaration of solidarity with LGBTQ people and sexual liberation, something no member of the Ford family has ever declared support for. Pride is more than just a photo op.

And frankly, it’s pretty sickening that he’s now distancing himself from the homophobia by pushing the blame onto his brother, as if he’s been an ally all along.

“Was I frustrated with Rob? We’d break into battles every year right around that time for a month,” he said.

Bullshit.

Attending Pride does not erase four years of being aggressively clueless on LGBT issues, poverty, and racism, and a disgraceful homophobic voting record.

Year after year, Pride has had to fight the city for their funding grant, forcing the community to endure an ugly and very public battle for free expression. Doug voted against the Global AIDS initiative and adding funding to local HIV outreach.

When queer people tried to attend Ford Nation, we got assaulted. Then, Doug blames us for “taunting people” and “looking for trouble.”

Doug is not welcome at Pride.

But members of the media and the other mayoral candidates keep inviting him. At debates, John Tory and Olivia Chow have needled Ford, shaming him, pressuring him commit to marching next year.

Stop doing this. Pride is not a political prop to be trotted out to expose Doug Ford’s bigotry. His record makes that abundantly clear.

Then there’s John Tory, who may not be a homophobe (a very low bar) but wears his participation at Pride like a badge of honour. And certainly, all politicians do to some extent.

Tory likes his gay people respectable. If elected, he is vowing to deny funding for Pride if human rights activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates. A threat that’s just censorship steeped in homophobia.

He says “virulent” politics don’t belong at Pride, which is laughable considering Pride started as a riot.

“I’ve marched many times in the Pride parade as well, and it’s a great celebration of human rights and a whole bunch of things. I just don’t think there’s really any place for that kind of virulent kind of political — they should go have their demonstration somewhere else that day if they want.”

Human rights “and a whole bunch of things.” (Except Palestinian queers living under brutal occupation.)

Besides the astonishing arrogance of a straight man, a self-described ally, having the audacity to tell the queer community who should and should not be welcome in *their* liberation march, this issue has already been decided on.

The fact remains it doesn’t matter what John Tory thinks about QuAIA because it doesn’t break any laws or city policies. As University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman noted on Twitter, “Offensive is not the test for legitimate speech.”

That was precisely the conclusion by the City and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as well as a panel of legal and constitutional experts from within the queer community itself.

It was a painstaking process that involved numerous public meetings and town halls at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. The decision did not come lightly.

But, hey, what do we know? Tory knows best.

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photo of Garfi, the world’s angriest cat, under a rainbow umbrella.
“what Doug Ford would look like if he decided to attend Pride” -AH

Andrea Houston

Andrea Houston is a writer, advocate,  journalist, and co-founder of #ENDhatelaws. Her column appears semi-regularly, as Andrea is often hard at work at Queens Park these days. Follow her on twitter @dreahouston

Read all posts by Andrea Houston

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