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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mayor Ford: I won't be at the Pride parade either

Since I'm one of a tiny group of gay conservative bloggers, my eight regular readers sometimes expect me to weigh in from the right side of the rainbow on gay issues in the news. This week's outrage is the revelation that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will not be attending the city's Gay Pride parade on the Canada Day long weekend. Good for you, Mayor Ford - I won't be there either.

The Pride Parade is not my cup of tea. I think its over-the-top displays of hedonism and sexuality perpetuate some of the worst stereotypes about gay people. It sends a message to straight people that we're shallow, image-obsessed, licentious and horny all the time. When I finally came out to my mother a few years ago, after a good cry she said to me "Well, as long as you're happy I'm OK with it, but I have to tell you that I have a problem with Gay Pride parades". I assured her that she would never turn on the six o'clock news and see me marching down Church Street in assless leather chaps.

However, the parade is important to a lot of gay people who have in many cases suffered real pain and alienation as a result of their sexual orientation. Attending a Pride parade is an important rite of passage for many newly-out gays and lesbians who find for the first time an opportunity to be open and honest in a supportive environment.

My problem with the Pride parade is the political baggage that now clings to it like barnacles on a whale. Should it be publicly funded? Should Queers Against Israeli Apartheid be allowed to march in it or not? What politicians are marching and which ones are conspicuous by their absence?

In the old Soviet Union there was a huge May Day parade every year in Moscow and members of the Politburo appeared on the top of Lenin's Tomb to watch it. Pundits pored over the pictures to see who was there and who was standing where to glean some kind of insight into the secretive inner workings of the Kremlin. The Pride parade now serves the same purpose; elected politicians now feel obliged to attend to publicly prove their tolerance and open-mindedness. It has become a Canadian political litmus test into which people read all kinds of ulterior motives whether they are intended or not.

The so-called Gay Community is not monolithic; the only thing we all have in common is our sexual orientation. Our Venn Diagrams overlap in only this one area of our lives. We are urban and rural, old and young, professional and blue-collar, single and married, parents or childless, and - believe it or not - left wing and right wing. Marching in a parade should not be a yardstick by which politicians are judged when they have such divergent policies on the real issues that affect gay lives; mundane things like taxes, snow removal, garbage collection and policing.

Chris Selley wrote in today's National Post:
Is Mr. Ford homophobic? A few moronic outbursts notwithstanding, I see no reason to think so. His reputation as a sort of minorleague all-purpose bigot is baffling when compared with his record as a municipal politician: He obsessively solves people's problems, no matter who they are. This is a man who wouldn't hang up on a dude trying to score OxyContin. So the idea that riding a float at Pride would change anyone's mind about Mr. Ford is laughable in the first place. Many of the people professing "disappointment" at his decision this week were clearly overjoyed to have an opportunity to hate him even more.
So Mayor Ford would rather spend the weekend at the cottage than attend the Gay Pride Parade. So what? I agree with Chris that there is no evidence that this makes him homophobic or that he cares less about this segment of his constituency than any other. Did he march in the St Patrick's Day Parade, and did the Irish community wail and gnash their teeth about it? Is his attendance at Caribana now mandatory to demonstrate his support for Caribbean immigrants? He should be judged by his actions at City Hall, not by superficial photo ops at festivals.

For the record, I too am relaxing on "Pride Weekend" with my partner over beer and barbecue, miles away from the parade. I'll raise a toast to Mayor Ford while I'm at it.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh come on.. this is just a Lefty issue here.

Yeah, they're "liberal", but let's face it..

ANY opportunity to bash the Right is fair play.

ck said...

Rob Ford, not homophobic???

Try this on for size:

Rob Ford on AIDS prevention...

"(AIDS) is very preventable, if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line." With respect to the increasing rates of women contracting the disease, Ford said; "How are women getting it? Maybe they are sleeping with bisexual men."

Still think he's friendly to gay people?

dougf said...

It's just my personal opinion and all but I have thought, for years, that the way the gay community allows itself to be presented does it absolutely no favours.

If it's not these problematic Parades, it's a never ending contest in media role presentation to see who can be more dick-like than Andy Dick. I have this suspicion that Queen For A Day is hardly the lifestyle of most gays who as you say are just like everyone else, except for that one little area of life.

If more people like you were the face of things I think things would be far better for all. People don't say things out loud anymore, but freak shows really don't impress the folks very much. I don't know why some think they are the way to go.
Good to hear that you and your partner will be having a 'nice' Canada Day. Just like almost everyone else.

Anonymous said...

@ck

Oh that statement is blindingly homophobic! It's right up there with what the Nazis did to homosexuals. Oh what an evil man! Save us from his wrath!

hunter said...

ck, as far as I know, AIDS is preventable and some of the ways to prevent it are exactly what Ford stated, it doesn't mean he is homophobic. How many gays died from AIDS? It was so sad, so many people died and are still dying from AIDS.

Check your premises ck, maybe you need to judge less and quit labeling people. Ford doesn't have to bow down to your agenda or anyone else with a "cause". Do your own thing, but do not force others to do it too, and if they don't you label them homophobic. You would not tolerate anyone labeling you, so please extend the same cutesy to others.

oxygentax said...

I can't help but think that if this were a Puerto Rican Pride Parade (note: the largest pride parade in NYC) there would be absolutely no mention that Mr. Ford is not attending it.

Then again, that's your point, isn't it Eric?

Add one to your regular readers.

onefineguy said...

2004: "As a possible Stephen Harper government loomed, spectators booed downtown Conservative candidates Megan Harris and David Watters, even though both candidates support same-sex marriage."

Why would the gays bemoan the absence of Rob Ford ? They should bemoan the fact that people such as I, their target audience, a gay Ontarian, would not go to that annual drunkfest because of the highly exclusionary aspect of urban gay life.

Eric said...

ck:
I don't agree that Ford's comments about AIDS means he's a homophobe, but let's go with your assumption for a moment. Does that mean all would be forgiven if he would just march in the parade, or would that just make him a hypocrite?

The "gay community" is openly hostile to ALL conservative politicians; why would any of them risk the abuse? It's a no-win situation for the mayor.

Guffman said...

Eric,
A great post and good to hear you stand up for the rest of the gay community that doesn't worship the Pride Parade, and think that any politician that doesn't attend is homophobic or a hater. And as you said, if Ford attended, he would absolutely (and rightly) be called a hypocrite.
I'm not gay, but certainly accepting of those who are, as much as I am with any straight person. But, like you, I despise these parades and think that these parades do absolutely no good, and possibly a great deal of harm, to gays trying to be accepted in society as a whole.
Thanks for reminding us that gays are not all "shallow, image-obsessed, licentious" people wearing "assless leather chaps" as these silly parades would have many convinced.

Anonymous said...

Well count me as a regular Eric, I always find your view of the days issues interesting and balanced.
I won't be at the Pride Parade either.
Cheers Bubba

Darren said...

Excellent post. Your views about the parade are sadly ignored by the MSM. Participation in a parade does little to define a politician, but it is always the pattern of the left to show symbolism over real action. When the $2 election rebate is finally repealed the left will need to show their support of an issue by writing a cheque.

CanadianSense said...

Thank you for your contributions, I look forward to reading your thoughtful blogposts.

The disconnect for the activists or malcontents from every camps is they are unwilling to accept in our open and fair elections leaders are free to act on their mandate.

Voters are free to punish Ford if he does not deliver. The claptrap from the unhappy left regarding Ford will never cease.

Anonymous said...

Really good, thoughtful post. My 13-year-old daughter wanted to go with her friends and I said no. She told me I was homophobic. I told her that ANY festivities that involve ANY kind of sex is inappropriate at her age. I'm finding that among teenagers, saying you're gay or bi is a cool thing to say, whether it's true or not. There's alot of confused kids out there.

I'm getting really tired of those who spout off about tolerance, but have none of it for others. I wonder how many gays would attend a heterosexual parade.

Barbara

Roy Eappen said...

You are certainly not the only blogger on BT that happens to be gay. You would enjoyed the Fabulous Blue Tent Party. I haven't been to a pride parade in 15 years. I have many gay friends who also don't attend . Does that make them homophobic homes? This is just another attempt by liberals to bash conservatives by playing the victimhood/ bigot card. Have a great weekend Mayir Ford.

Joanne (BLY) said...

Warren Kinsella should read your post. (See his column in today's Sun.)

His logic seems to be that if you don't go to the parade you're homophobic. But if Ford did go to the parade they'd call him a hypocrite as well as a homophobe. Why subject yourself to that?

And politicians do deserve some family time once in a while.