Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why it doesn't really matter if Rob Ford goes to Pride anymore

It's that time of year again: PRIDE. 

Last year we had our first taste of Mayor Ford's disinclination to celebrate gay, gay Pride. He didn't attend the parade, didn't go to the flag raising, didn't read the Pride Week proclamation, and he basically fled the city.

It mattered then, ideologically, that he was ignoring Pride Week. It mattered because we hadn't really figured out who Rob Ford was yet, who our Mayor was really going to be, and if he was really as extreme as we thought. This is what I wrote about the situation last year:

"Deciding against participation creates an Us vs Them kind of mentality with Ford on one side and the lgbtqa community on the other. Ford is the Mayor(unfortunately), we're stuck with him. But he's stuck with us too. This is our city AND his. To march in the Parade, or to be involved in any way, might not have meant a lot to some people but we need to stop and consider what it means to Ford. It means he doesn't want to extend an olive branch, he doesn't really want to work with this community, that he is so stuck in his own ideology that he can't even participate in something he doesn't 100% believe in. It means he doesn't acknowledge that there will be people participating in Pride who actually voted for him because all he sees are left-wing radical perverts. Sure, I might not want to see Ford at Pride shaking his money maker(actually.. I did) but it would definitely demonstrate that he's willing to step outside of his comfort zone and really lead this city, fags and all. To be a healthy city we need the Us and the Them to at least try to work together and that is why it matters that Rob Ford won't march."

One year later, Ford hasn't changed. One year later and there's only one reason why we should care if he attends Pride or not: because it's his JOB. Mayor Ford gets paid to attend events, he gets paid to represent the City of Toronto, and so it is part of his job to attend at least one Pride event(which includes the flag raising at City Hall). Ford wants Toronto to be a "world class city" but ignores the fact that other cities in that category have open-minded Mayors who support ALL cultural events. I care that Rob Ford picks and chooses what counts and does not count as his job. The rest of us don't have the luxury of deciding what we get paid to do. As a Civil Servant, Rob Ford shouldn't have that choice.

Here's why we shouldn't care anymore, on an ideological level, that Ford is going to eschew Pride: it reminds us, and proves to those who would throw this claim at us, that the "revolution" is not over(which Barbara Kay wrote last year in defense of Ford's decision). Now we have gay marriage, the revolution is over! We can adopt kids, the revolution is over! Gays and lesbians are more accepted than ever now, the revolution is over!

No. The revolution isn't over until GLBT people aren't harassed, beaten up, and killed simply for existing. It isn't really post-revolution era until kids in schools don't have to fight just to be allies with their queer friends. It hasn't ended while there are still laws in place all over the world that criminalize being queer. When gay politicians closet themselves, fight against gay rights, then get busted having park sex with dudes, then there is still work to be done. Too often we fool ourselves that we have things pretty good now and so we can relax, but that just isn't true. It's the same argument as saying women have equality because they're guaranteed pay equity by law. Unfortunately, law and practise are two different things.

The Mayor of our fair city refusing to attend a multi-million dollar tourist extravaganza has to be a reminder to us that if a man in his position can be so blatantly homophobic and uncomfortable with the event we still have work to do, and Pride events here and everywhere still have political impetus.

Rob Ford is an entitled and small-minded guy. His tenure as Mayor so far has proven that he was ill-equipped to take on such a large job and has often retreated instead of facing issues or people that he simply can't deal with. Rob Ford's bad decisions are a good thing, because they'll remind us at eletion time what we DON'T want in a Mayor. 

We live in a world where people will boycott a COOKIE if it's too gay. Homophobic and intolerant behaviour is hard to fight when it's hidden. It's only when we see and hear things we don't agree with that we can act, and we should be thanking Rob Ford for demonstrating this yet again.

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