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17 Comments

politics

Absurd Pride Snub Signals Rob Ford’s Grumpy Old Man Routine

Ford's refusal to attend the Pride Parade is the start of an annual running joke, and a symptom of a broader problem.

Pride is like a big ol' hug, Mayor Ford, and who doesn't like hugs? Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/98967716@N00/3720606812/"}mikehutch711{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

I sometimes wonder if our mayor, Rob Ford, is some version of Phil Connors, the Bill Murray character from the early-’90s comedy Groundhog Day. Except, rather than the day playing over again and again, Ford is the one refusing to change, while the world swiftly moves without him. He fought the transit battle this year as if it were still 2011 and lost. He tries to bully everyone, including his allies, as if he still had the 70 per cent approval rating of May last year, rather than the 41 per cent he has now. And, like last year, he will be skipping the Pride Parade for the cottage, since one of Canada’s largest events falls upon Canada Day.

I’m shocked. Really, absolutely shocked.

Queers give Ford the heebie-jeebies. As many others have noted, the man just isn’t comfortable around people who dig others of the same-sex, notwithstanding the fact that most Pride attendees are straight allies, apolitical folk interested in a good party, or Asian families with young children taking pictures. Being stuck on a float surrounded by gays must be a nightmare—I can relate, getting the same feeling when I’m invited to student film showcases or dry weddings. Yet, being an adult, especially when you have a grown-up job like being the mayor, means having to do some things that may inconvenience you (a few hours away from the cottage) but are for the greater good: in this case, representing, in spite of personal beliefs, the City of Toronto’s values of inclusiveness and acceptance.

Now, there’s an easy out for the mayor. Pride celebrations go on for 10 days. Ford can pick any one of those 10 days, drop in, say “hello,” have the media take a few pictures, and then douse himself in Axe shower spray to wash off the trauma. Unlike last year, where people were by turns angry, disappointed, and shocked that Ford would skip the festivities, especially in light of the heartfelt gestures by Brian Burke and Kristyn Wong-Tam to persuade him to attend, this year his refusal to join feels like the start of a running joke. He is Sideshow Bob, stepping on rake after rake until it becomes hilarious. All he has to do is to think carefully and step aside to be free of that smack in the face, but he creates his own pain again and again.

I wish Ford would loosen up and not take himself so seriously. During Pride, there are people dancing joyously in the street, colourful costumes that rival Caribana’s, and a sense that being together is better than being apart. Rob Ford should indulge in throwing a handful of glitter, taking a picture with a drag queen, and getting blitzed—just like the rest of us. Because, in the end, the population of the “rest of us” continues to grow every day and, in the disappointment of realizing just how outdated and humourless our mayor is, it seems worthwhile to remind him that there’s still room for him to join the party.

In a way, I wish he were at least as savvy as Pierce Hawthorne, the character Chevy Chase plays on Community, who is a misanthrope, but pivots his view on gays after seeing this video, realizing how much financial good they were for his company. After all, Ford’s showing up at the Parade provides him more benefits than it does Pride or the queer community—and be clear that those two things, while overlapping, are distinctly separate. The community is fighting its own battles, working to protect its youngest members from bullying, to fortify the right to marry, and to broaden the legal victories to include the trans population. The mayor’s role at Pride is largely ceremonial and his not joining the festivities is applauded only by his base, which continues to crumble.

Sadly for Ford, life isn’t a Harold Ramis movie and time is steadily marching forward. Young people are getting more progressive on their views regarding equality of same-sex issues, even when they consider themselves religious. The organizers at Pride Toronto have become savvier to avoid becoming a political scapegoat for the Ford administration. And when a million people congregate on Church Street to celebrate the queer community’s hard-earned progress, Ford will be at his cottage, stuck in the glories of the first few months of his mayoralty—and on his own in more ways than one.


See also:

Rob Ford Should Participate in Pride. Period.

Comments

  • Guest416

    The same freedom that allows GLBT’s to have their ever-growing right in society is the same freedom that should let him go to the cottage if he wants to. People need to get off his back.

    • Vampchick21

      Ummm…he’s the mayor. I suggest you read up on the concept of what a mayor is and what the job is and what the expectations are. And, you know, like, I don’t know, actually READ the article(s) about this and find out why he should attend some Pride event?

      • Anonymous

        He should do one thing, if he’s that uncomfortable with Pride Week, and get it over with. He’s clearly not willing to be seen as endorsing some aspect of Pride, but I don’t think that was a factor with Lastman.

    • http://twitter.com/mightygodking Christopher Bird

      Nobody is saying Rob Ford does not have the freedom to go the cottage; that is of course his legal right to do so. People are saying that he is the Mayor, and as such he has taken on responsibilities to his city that should eclipse his exercise of his freedoms in this instance if he has any interest in doing the job well and/or properly.

    • Canadianskeezix

      Guest416, you appear to have completed missed the point of this issue. No one would care if Rob Ford, private citizen, attended Pride or not — let him make his own decision. But as mayor, he represents all Torontonians. That’s the job. As mayor, he is quick to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at new car dealerships and similar events, so he should not be so quick to dismiss, year after year, some recognition of one of the largest tourist events in the City. If for no other reason, he should offer some support for an event that brings in millions of dollars for local businesses every year. If he can’t hack the parade, there are 10 days of other Pride events, some taking place right at city hall.

      All this Pride-brouhaha simply distracts from Ford’s agenda, and that is entirely a problem of his own making.

    • http://twitter.com/Br3ttLamb Brett Lamb

      The cottage is a personal obligation; Pride is a professional obligation (and the week’s worth of activities do not conflict with his cottage weekend). He’s not supposed to be at Pride representing “Rob Ford”, he’s there to represent the city and the office of the mayor.

    • Anonymous

      So go to the cottage. What about the other bazillion events all WEEK at pride?

    • http://twitter.com/torkevo Kevin

      It’s an aspect of public life, whether you’re voted in democratically or given the office as birthright, that you participate in public events. He’s not some Joe Schmo who is a regular civil servant that works a desk job, he’s a politician that was elected to represent 3.5M people.

  • http://www.bradfox.com Brad Fox

    Ford’s refusal to attend Pride has nothing to do with his freedoms as an individual. One of the (few) hard and fast *duty’s* of a mayor beyond that of any ordinary councilor is to represent a municipality at civic functions, and Toronto Pride – as one of the oldest and largest in the world ranks. The mayor repeatedly *not* attending a single photo-op of a 10 day event can’t be interpreted as anything else than taking a moral stand “against” something… which again, is problematic in his role as municipal figurehead, or an event that’s about inclusivity and tolerance.

    He absolutely has the freedom to resign as mayor if he feels that strongly about it. But it literally is his job. Increasingly I find I just feel bad for Ford, as he strikes me as someone who seems constantly surprised by what the day to day job description of a mayor *is* (and it’s a job he’s neither suited for, nor particularly enjoys).

    A friend of mine put it best that Ford seems like that guy who works in the mail-room who’s convinced he could “whip this company into shape if you gave me one week as boss” without any comprehension of the actual logistical issues involved.

    • Anonymous

      “A friend of mine put it best that Ford seems like that guy who works in the mail-room who’s convinced he could “whip this company into shape if you gave me one week as boss” without any comprehension of the actual logistical issues involved.”

      An amazingly accurate comparison!!!

    • Sue

      and there I’d venture to say, is the bulk of his voter base – that guy in the mail-room.

  • KingFunkNDunkNStein

    Jaime, how long have you been sitting on that Sideshow Bob & the rake metaphor?

  • glenn storey

    axe body spray is far more offensive than ANYTHING at pride.

  • Jacob

    Someone should find the lake that his cottage is on and have a big, gay, rainbow-coloured boat party out on the water. Complete with thumping music.

    That would be perfect.

  • Anonymous

    Rob Ford isn’t up to the job, and should resign. It’s as simple as that.

  • Anonymous

    +1 on the “It’s his job” comments. No, the mayor doesn’t have to do a personal appearance at every little gathering that comes along, but yes, the mayor does have to put in an official face at the big ones — and what’s bigger than Pride as a Toronto event? Tiff, I guess, but not much else. Dock him a day’s wages if he doesn’t, since he’s famous for that kind of nickel and diming stuff.

    He could take a few steps out of City Hall, raise the Pride flag, and decompress from the terror on his cottage deck. Instead, we gotta go through this BS until summer.

  • Paul

    Ford’s campaign team had no reservations about showing up during Pride in 2010 to hand out campaign stickers. Personally, I understand that he has to be invited, and it creates good stories for the press when he refuses. But I wish KWT would dial it back a bit — offering to host a special pride reception for Ford goes way too far, IMO.