This past weekend was the Pride parade in Toronto. It is one of the largest celebrations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and communities in the world and by all accounts is quite the spectacle. I didn't attend the parade and neither did Mayor Rob Ford.
There is, of course, a pretty big difference between me and Ford. I didn't attend even though I wholeheartedly support equal rights for people regardless of sexual identity or preference. I also support the tearing down of our society's desperate fear of genitals and as you can see above the Pride parade they surely push that agenda. However, I hate gigantic crowds of people standing at fences to watch a spectacle and have absolutely no interest in being there. The fact that 1 million people did show up means that my absence won't exactly be conspicuous but Ford doesn't have that luxury since he is the mayor. The fact that he refused to answer the question "Are you a homophobe?" from a reporter and refused to attend any Pride events has him being lambasted for homophobia across the nation and certainly has brought out the gay bashers and religious nuts to support him (read the comments). He might well not like the sights and sounds of the parade itself but he could trivially have attended the flag raising event right beside his office and given a 30 second speech on acceptance and diversity and been pretty much off the hook.
The other side of the coin is that if Ford had attended he would almost certainly have been booed and mocked. The LGBT community doesn't much like Ford because he *is* a homophobe and wouldn't have treated him well if he had appeared. Given that it isn't a shock at all that he didn't want to attend... he was in a lose/lose situation. He could have avoided that situation by, say, not being homophobic and racist in the first place, but given that he is there isn't a good way out of this situation for him. The trick here is that whether or not it is right and whether or not Ford likes it the position of mayor carries with it tremendous responsibility as a role model. People outside Toronto base much of their understanding of the city on the behaviour of its leaders and people inside Toronto take behavioural cues from the Mayor. Ford has tremendous power to influence the way the city behaves and as such he has a responsibility to use that power appropriately - by supporting everyone in the city regardless of his personal feelings.
So Rob Ford, you may not want to attend Pride and you may not want to see the spectacle of the parade. However, it is part of the Mayor's job to show up to major events and to show support for everyone in their constituency. If you didn't want that responsibility then you shouldn't have taken the damn job. It isn't fair that I can skip Pride without consequence and you get mocked for doing the same thing, but it also isn't fair that you get to be a hugely influential role model for society and I don't. Suck it up and do the right thing.
There is a really good and much longer post about this Here that you might want to read if you are still interested.