Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters during a debate that he will not be attending World Pride; interesting, as it’s the only public event at which no one would fault him for showing up completely wasted. (In fact, it would be weird if he didn’t get a little buzzed). Toronto Pride is, hands down, the best party in the world. And yet the mayor, no stranger to unbridled fun, abstains from its festivities year after year. Like Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments, Ford repeatedly hardens his heart towards a tanned, able-bodied minority. Only unlike the sun-scorched and exhausted Hebrews of the Bible, too spent to let their bread rise let alone to party, the gays are unfailingly, a lot of fun.
What Ford doesn’t know—because he’s allowed his deep-seated homophobia to get the better of him—is that gay Pride is not all about “buck naked men.” Shortly after the Toronto Dyke March lets out every year (the highly underrated Saturday parade that precedes the mega event on Sunday) lesbian revelers split off into two groups. The politically bent, Teva-clad crowd Ford is afraid of (I’m looking at you disaffected Jewish girls of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid) head to a nearby park where slogans are chanted vigorously and indignation is spread around like sunscreen. The bikini clad among us, however, make our way gingerly to the nearest beer garden where we engage in what can only be described as the stuff of Fordian fantasy. (Not to besmirch the hard work of my lesbian foremothers, but “Let’s get critical/Our Pride is Political!” has got nothing on “YOLO”.)
The gay community is a big tent, under which Ford would find ample space and acceptance. He could start his own queer subculture: the hairless bears, perhaps. Even the mayor’s rejection of pride could serve as its official slogan. His explanation for missing the parade, as told to reporters: “I can’t change who I am.” Harvey Milk couldn’t have said it better himself.
Yet maybe those of us—like Toronto Coun. Shelley Carroll—who advocate that Ford man up and embrace the city’s Pride should pause and ask why? Why do we want this particular animal at our party? It seems year after year, amid lawsuits, gross public blunders and crack scandals, we—in the gay community and in the liberal city at large—still yearn for Ford’s recognition in this regard. We demand respect from a man who has none himself. If Ford isn’t good enough for the Grey Cup, which asked him outright to stay away, or for our veterans, many of whom did not appreciate his presence at last year’s Remembrance Day service, what makes him good enough for Toronto’s gays?
After all, having alienated every one of his legitimate allies, Ford’s befriending the LGBT community this late in the game would be akin to a formerly popular high school jock desperately toadying up to the drama kids he once tormented. We’ve come too far to be Robby’s last resort.
Let’s be extra glad he’s sitting this one out.