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New Campaign Asks Rob Ford to Prove He Supports the LGBTQ Community

Posters, video, ask the mayor to participate in Pride or "admit you are against us."

Last week, Rob Ford confirmed that he would not be attending the Pride parade, and that he didn’t yet know if he’d be available to attend any other Pride events, including the flag-raising at City Hall. Needless to say this upset a lot of people (including us).

Now, one of those people has launched a new campaign, asking Rob Ford to prove wrong the concerns that he is homophobic, and show support for the LGBTQ community.

Raymond Helkio’s stock in trade is advertising and design, and he decided to put some of those skills to use in service of our public conversation about the mayor and his relationship with Pride. It’s a complicated one—not just for Ford, but for those in the LGBTQ community, who don’t agree about how to respond when Ford continually fails to attend or hedges on future plans.

Helkio told us that the response from the LGBTQ community to his campaign has been “very positive and at the same time very disappointing. There seems to be a large population of the LGBTQ community that feel that ignoring Rob is the best response. In fact, some have argued that we should send a ‘un-invite to to him.”

It’s a sentiment Helkio understands—it’s one he shared until recently, in fact, until a friend convinced him that ignoring Ford would only perpetuate the current pattern of non-attendance, and set a precedent for future mayors to skip Pride as well. Helkio’s therefore come to the conclusion that “ignoring our mayor (as he has done to us) will only push our fight backwards.”

Pride Toronto has no official response to the campaign, but we chatted briefly with executive director Kevin Beaulieu, who has seen the posters in the Village, though not the video. He thinks the best approach for Pride is to continue as it has been: “you extend an invitation in good faith,” and you let invitees decide how they’re going to react. He recognizes that it’s a vexed question for many people though, and that campaigns like this one are reflective of feelings in major segments of the community.

The campaign has a Facebook page and a second video is planned, as is a postcard campaign and more extensive postering. As for the mayor, Helkio tells us he has so far received no replies to the several letters that he’s sent. “Frankly,” he says, “each time I put a stamp on my letter I question what I am doing because in my heart I know he is not reading them or really considering my request.”


  • Lulukins50

    Oh please, leave the man alone! People have no idea how lucky they are to live in a free country that allows gays to parade, never mind if the Mayor has more important things to do in his life than attend… so do I and many others. Just have fun dancing and parading your half naked bodies (disgusting) and leave us decent folks alone.

    • Apriori

      “us decent folks”

      Wow, just wow. This is the most bigoted comment I’ve seen in a long time.

    • NC

      I dislike this comment. That is all.

    • NC

      Seriously, what year is this?

    • Anonymous

      “the Mayor has more important things to do in his life”

      What is it that Rob Ford does as Mayor, exactly?

      • Paul Lloyd Johnson


    • Anonymous

      The mayor doesn’t have a life, he has a job and he has obligations. Rob Ford, citizen, doesn’t have to observe Pride week, but Rob Ford, Mayor, really does.

    • Erik

      You are absolutely disgusting. “People have no idea how lucky they are to live in a free country that allows gays to parade…” How about a free country that allows PEOPLE to parade. You’re a bigot, know that. Justify to yourself however you need to that you’re not. Whether that be your religion or your equally bigoted parents. But just know that you are. And “decent folk”? Really? THAT’S hilarious.

    • laonongmingong

      Fully agree with you!!!

    • Vampchick21

      Yeah, more important things like going to the cottage and hiding in his office. Can’t run a city at all if you don’t do those things! If he were to do something, like, oh, I don’t know, his actual job (which btw, includes things like making an apperance at major events in the city – see Easter Parade) the city would fall apart at the seams!

    • Lee Zamparo

      “parading your half naked bodies (disgusting) ”

      You have some problems of your own to sort out if you find the human form disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone that hates on half naked bodies is not normal. Did something happen to you as a child that would make you ashamed of nature? You must be a real peach in the sack.

    • laonongmingong

      Everyone knows adults’ naked are different from children’s

      • Anonymous

        You might want to rephrase that, in this context.

      • Anonymous

        No, the only difference is your own perversion of the 2. I certainly don’t look away in disgust when I’m changing a diaper.

  • Ashleigh

    Many were offended when Minister Toews said “You’re either with us or you’re with the child pornographers”.

    Many were offended when GWBush said “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”.

    I find it offensive when the above named says “participate in Pride or “admit you are against us.”

    It is intelligent and mature to have dissenting opinions including ambivalence. Opinions in our society, even contentious ones, have multivariate positions.

    • Anonymous

      So homosexuals are akin to child pornographers and terrorists? What hole do people like you crawl out of?

      Also those comments were made to distinguish dissent on taking away an individual’s right to privacy – how you made ANY connection there is beyond logic and/or common sense.

      • Anonymous

        No, you got it backwards. If you don’t go to the parade, apparently you’re a bigot.

        • Anonymous

          Rob Ford’s homophobia isn’t a secret; bailing on the parade and making himself unavailable for all other Pride-related activities are hardly the first or only indications of his bigotry, which extends to Orientals and Iranians among others.

          • Anonymous

            Racist! Homophobe! Bigot! Forget logic, you just like throwing those words around any chance you get. This is exactly the type of loose cannon militancy that helped Ford get elected in the first place. Unlike you, I’d prefer not to see him remain mayor for the rest of his life.

          • Anonymous

            Ford didn’t win the election because people pointed out he’s a bigot, he won because he suckered suburbanites into thinking they would get the upper hand over downtowners.

    • Anonymous

      The difference is the “admit” part, which changes everything. It’s no secret Ford is against gays, but he finds excuses instead of admitting it.

    • Vampchick21

      GLBT does not equal Child Pornographers. GLBT does not equal Terrorists. Attending a Pride Event does not equal removing people’s right to privacy. Learn the difference. Please.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Mr. Toews and Mr. Bush were elected officials; Mr. Helkio is not. Context also matters.

  • Anonymous

    Who’s ignoring the mayor? He’s trolling our community for his politics. How does showing up and appearing to be concerned about this community ‘push our fight forwards?’ Are we now ‘accepted’ by the mayor showing up for 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Raising a flag?

    No doubt I support challenging the mayor to confront his closeted homophobia but this invitation to pinkwash his politics does nothing to push our fight forwards.

    He can show up or not, I don’t particularly care, as until he demonstrates his respect for ALL of our communities, showing up at Pride for 5 minutes(or however long is needed to placate the media) will not make our mayor even remotely more ‘tolerant’.

  • Vidar Hansen

    This is totally undemocratic.

    This group is saying: our way or we’ll attack you.

    Ford does not have to attend ANY event, if he does not attend a polish festival, is he racist against polish?

    He is not homophobic, it is just a group that wants their way and is trying to FORCE Ford to do their way. Don’t you all have familes? what comes first, famly or events?.

    Dalton McGuinty is not going either.

    By the way, what do you seriously think will happen? a lot of boos and hate. Is that what you want for the Parade?.

    I have been volunteering with Pride Toronto (Parade and other events) for 15 years.I wasn’t able to attend the actual Parade last year due to other events with my family.

    By the way, if I see those posters in any telephone box, newspaper box, light pole or bus shelter….they are going down.

    • Anonymous

      quit hiding behind slippery slope arguments.You know the issue.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Ancient Greek δῆμος, demos, “the people”, noun: The common populace of a state, the people.

      This is entirely democratic; so too would be your tearing down of the posters.

    • Anonymous

      Our poor mayor! Always being unfairly ‘attacked’ by these undemocratic hateful minorities who are always demanding that they be treated with respect!

    • Anonymous

      “He is not homophobic”

      Actually he is. He’s on record saying “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably,” voting against AIDS/HIV treatment funding that would cost the city $0, saying same-sex marriage dismantles civilization, balked at grants for transgendered and South Asian homosexuals, and is a no-show for Pride (not just the parade).

      “Dalton McGuinty is not going either.”

      Dalton McGuinty isn’t mayor of Toronto, doesn’t live in Toronto, and won’t even be at Queen’s Park (they won’t be in session).

      “By the way, if I see those posters in any telephone box, newspaper box, light pole or bus shelter….they are going down.”

      Didn’t you just take issue with what you perceive to be “our way or we attack you”? How is tearing down these posters because you disagree with them different?

      • Anonymous

        Just to clarify the really nasty bigoted thing about Ford saying “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably,” is not those particular words so much as the context he said them in which was about funding HIV/AIDS prevention. Ford was saying that saving the lives of gay men and those with addiction problems involving needles wasn’t worth spending any money on, that saving the lives of gay men and needle users was a waste of money.

        I’ve seen some people, I’m not referring to tyrannosaurus_rek here, focus on what he said and not the context he said it in and therefore think its not bigoted, its the truth, which it more or less is. Most people with HIV/AIDS got it through unsafe gay male sex or through unsafe needle usage though of course everyone is susceptible, recently the fastest growing group of people with HIV was hetero women who weren’t needle users. Everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or drug use must protect themselves when having sex. There are a lot of STDs out there besides HIV as well.

        I have no doubt Ford would’ve been for the health campaign to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS if it were heterosexual non-drug users who were primarily at risk since to him saving those lives would’ve been worth the money, however for Ford it wasn’t worth the money to save the lives of gay men or needle users. Context makes a big difference when looking at what he said in this regard.

  • Hud

    I am shocked by some of the comments here. Of course the Mayor should go to Pride. At a time when only two weeks ago, Raymond Taavel was beaten to death in Halifax, the Mayor of Toronto, our representative, should show that our City is an example for tolerance. There is nothing more important, including a trip to the cottage, than fulfilling your duties as an elected official.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed but Toronto’s reputation for tolerance isn’t always well deserved. We still have problems with neo-nazis, racists, bigots of all sorts. Gay bashings still happen all too often even on Church St, teenagers are still regularly being kicked out of their homes when their parents find out they’re LGBT. However in a big city such things are inevitable since bigots will always be amongst us, but the majority of people and increasingly our city’s culture are becoming much less bigoted. It isn’t socially acceptable to be a bigot of any sort in Toronto like it is in some locations in Canada or used to be here.

      But there’s also the reality too that the citizens of Toronto elected a known bigot, well known to anyone who has paid any attention to city politics. In my opinion Toronto cannot afford to rest on its laurels in working to make our city a just society. Toronto’s motto, “Diversity is our strength” isn’t enough if not backed up with policies and programs that promote diversity and equality, the sorts of things that people like Ford consider to be gravy and not worth anything.

      Toronto’s reputation as a very diverse and tolerant city has greatly benefited us by encouraging lots of newcomers to settle here and creative types to move here, including large international corporations. In that sense Ford is really harming our city’s future by proudly exposing its ugly underbelly as if it were some sort of a virtue. So our citizens have to work extra hard to counter act the negative image of Toronto promoted by the Fords of this city.

  • asdf

    I think people are losing the context here… Mayor Rob Ford does not have to attend Pride events. Mayor Ford does not have to attend the Parade, or the proclamation, or the flag raising, or any events at all. As a Mayor of all the people he just has to show support. Hell, he could probably get away with simply reading a public statement in support of Pride. That’s it, and I assume that’s all this campaign is asking, to Prove It. Quite clever, and quite simple.

  • Jpa4

    why is it that if a person does not share your passion for your lifestyle, that you deem them to be a bigot.

    • Anonymous

      Shhh, the adults are talking.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a gay man whose glad Ford won’t show up at the Pride march. To me he is not welcome until he at least can demonstrate that he is actually capable of being the mayor of all Toronto and that’s something I think he is incapable of. Maybe next year or the year after but then we’ll be done with him, though in his last year as mayor Toronto will be hosting World Pride and the anti-LGBT views of Toronto’s mayor will make international news which won’t help our city one bit.

    I do like Pride Toronto’s approach of issuing polite invitations to Ford to attend various Pride events as opposed to this campaign asking him to prove he supports LGBT equality, which we all know he doesn’t, or admit he’s anti-LGBT, which he’s admitted to enough times in the past already. Ford couldn’t have made his views any clearer than when he said he supported the campaign and thinks the same as that “reverend” who ran for council on an anti-LGBT platform in south Etobicoke against one of Ford’s now yes-men, Mark Grimes.

    What good will it do to have Ford reaffirm his anti-LGBT bigotry or to pretend he isn’t anti-LGBT? An honest change of heart on Ford’s part would be most welcomed and helpful but if it isn’t sincere what difference does it make?

    Showing up at any Pride event would in no way prove that Ford supports LGBT equality or is capable of being the mayor of all Toronto. If anything it might prove he’s gained some political savvy, which would also be something worthwhile as we’re stuck with him for a while longer yet. If Ford wants to continue to show how incompetent he is as mayor of Toronto and that he cannot bring himself to be the mayor of all Toronto that’s fine by me.

    I think its a very good thing that Pride Toronto is taking the high road by continuing to offer him polite invitations that he refuses, let Ford take the low road if he wants. That said his absence at World Pride 2014 could harm Toronto’s tourism sector and international reputation by showing the world that we elected a bigot for our mayor. However if Ford hasn’t done something to make amends with Toronto’s LGBT communities before then even if he attends World Pride his presence there will be a negative one, we won’t be welcomed if hasn’t accepted the olive branch from Pride Toronto or extended an olive branch of his own.

    A decent mayor of Toronto would attend all of Toronto’s major festivals and would act like a mayor of all of us. Does anyone still need more proof that Ford is far from being even just a decent mayor?

  • James

    Why on earth would any sane politician attend an event where they are hated and will be subject to a crazy spectacle of boos and disrespect?
    Personally, I fear that Rob Ford has homophobic issues which I think is terrible, but I also think it’s entirely disingenuous to huff and puff and pretend that the Pride invitation is really anything more than a childish political ploy.
    To keep a straight face and pretend he’d be treated with any sort of respect at Pride is just silly!
    If you want to truly start a dialogue and establish a more mutually beneficial relationship, invite him to a private meeting or a small roundtable with a few community leaders to work on making progress.
    If you want to score petty political points with the choir, and further alienate those who need education and enlightenment, then keep up the good work.