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.”