Monday, July 4, 2011

On going to the Pride parade

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.


  1. Corporate PlundererJuly 6, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    So here's an interesting (albeit only tangentially related) question:

    At what age are you planning to take Elli to pride?

    I assume you will someday, because it's a great way to introduce her to a pretty important (and fabulous) segment of humanity. But for better or worse, there's a lot of adult content.

    (Of course it's a bit of a moot point, since the best first pride is almost certainly one of the family pride events, or maybe the family-friendly street fair, but that's not nearly so interesting a question. You ~are~ taking her to family pride soon, right?)

  2. I will be taking her to the Pride parade soon. The restriction is entirely scheduling, not content. We were away for the weekend this time, but I would be fine taking her to see the Pride parade at any age. I simply have no issue with her seeing naked or nearly naked people walking down the street even with the overt sexual themes.

  3. Corporate PlundererJuly 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    When you do get around to it, I'd suggest the family events & street fairs anyhow. The parades are a bit dull if you're not caught up in the rapture. Or walk in the dyke march!

    It's also an awesome weekend (June 25th, 2012!) to have friends in NYC's West Village with spare bedrooms... just sayin...

  4. Those photos need attributions since you didn't take them. And I know you didn't cause I've got the camera... (says the slightly obsessive academic)