I hope all my friends in Toronto partied it up at Pride over the weekend, because it could be seriously jeopardized if a Toronto city councillor gets his way!
Giorgio Mammoliti—along with his bestest friend in the whole-wide-world, mayor Rob Ford—wants to take Toronto Pride off the books and into the gutter. I guess he’s got somewhat of a grudge against the annual, weeklong GLBT culture festival and equal rights protest. The festival, Canada’s largest of its kind, is a massive tourist draw, bringing in millions of tourism dollars every year. It has always faced some opposition from various people, largely homophobic, who don’t really understand what the festival is all about, but Mammoliti seems to have a very special vendetta.
Funding from the city for Pride was held hostage this year unless a minor participant in the parade portion of the weeklong festival is banned from marching. That participant is a small group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, whose controversial message has been a wee bit of a sticking point for some. The group, not wanting to jeopardize Toronto Pride, promised they would not participate in any official Toronto Pride events.
Now, I doubt that Mammoliti and Ford really care about QAIA’s controversy. Their concern about the group really seems like a diversion—an issue over which they can ostensibly express outrage, leveraging it to achieve a goal they’ve had long before QAIA was even in the mix: The de-funding of Toronto’s Pride festival.
Rob Ford, in addition to having a long record of opposing equal rights for gays, is the first mayor in years to have been a no-show at the festival. Mammoliti was spotted filming the Dyke March on Saturday, searching for a screw-up—a defiant QAIA member, perhaps—to use as evidence that the festival’s money should be withheld permanently. He says he caught exactly that on camera, and will present it as evidence to the mayor and city council to cut the festival’s money once and for all.
So what will happen to Toronto Pride? If it’s funding is withheld, it’ll have to file for bankruptcy, and Canada’s largest celebration of GLBT culture and progress will face some serious downsizing. Downsizing of a scale that Ford’s influence over the city should face come the next election!