OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Toronto
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!
The Burnaby School Board unanimously adopted its anti-homophobia policy last week, after months of debating and church-organized protests. A crowd of about 400 students and supporters cheered outside the Burnaby School Board offices when Kaitlin Burnett, a supporter of the policy, emerged to announce its passage.
The new policy means that public schools in the region will be made safer for any student who is—or is perceived to be—gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Toronto Catholic School Board introduced several new, gay-unfriendly amendments to its equity policy. Included among them is one that explicitly enshrines the board’s religious doctrine as taking “precedence over human rights protections,” and another that states the board will “approve only clubs which have goals that are not inconsistent with Catholic faith and the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings” (which, in Catholic-speak, is a direct strike at the growing support for Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools—important peer support groups statistically shown to reduce bullying and increase student safety).
Having spent my entire grade school education in the Catholic system, I can vouch that it’s survivable—in the same way that Vegemite is a breakfast condiment—but things could be improved, particularly since these schools are tax funded. Until that’s no longer the case, I foresee a difficult road ahead for these sorts of amendments. What might seem like a step backwards now, could be the final straw and signal the end of this kind of nonsense for good!
Despite threats from Toronto’s mayor to pull its funding, a city council committee has unanimously voted to continue supporting the city’s annual Pride festival.
Toronto Pride is Canada’s largest Pride celebration—a massive tourist draw, and one of the city’s largest festivals overall. Mayor Rob Ford had threatened to pull all city funding from the festival, however, due to a stupid controversy over a minor participant in the parade portion of the festival’s weeklong events. That participant, a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, had already indicated that they would not participate this year, but Rob Ford still refused to provide funding, saying that he may grant money after the festival was finished and there was proof that QAIA had not participated.
Now, this committee decision doesn’t really change Rob Ford’s douchey antics—the city will still only pay money after the festival, and only on condition that the group doesn’t march, but at least there is some formal assurance that the money is coming. Committee members have also provided assurance that having a single rogue member of the group wearing a T-Shirt during the parade, or some other unauthorized minor participation, would not result in funding being pulled; only full participation would make the council reconsider the funds.
I guess Toronto Pride needs to find some new drama now. Personally, I suggest the Montréal approach: Foster a silly internal rift until the event gets split into two competing weeklong events, making the summer twice as gay!
- Pride funding approved by city committee [CBC News]
Alvaro Orozco, a gay Nicaraguan who unsuccessfully attempted a refugee claim in 2007, was arrested late last week in Toronto while waiting for a bus on his way out to dinner with a friend. He’s now being held in detention without bail, and can be deported at any moment—unless he gets some serious community help.
I had posted several stories about Alvaro before he went into hiding, including a guest post (by proxy) from Alvaro himself. His story was typical for gay refugee claimants in Canada: He fled a country where homosexuality is illegal, but was denied refugee status because he wasn’t deemed gay enough by the adjudicator. Many refugee claimants are asked to provide impossible proof that they are gay, despite having to have hid all such evidence in their home country. In Alvaro’s case, the adjudicator questioned why he hadn’t actively sought out sexual partners while he was travelling up to Canada through the States. He was 14 at the time.
Since arriving in Canada, Alvaro has established himself in Toronto as a photographer, artist, and activist. Now 25, he has been hiding from immigration while awaiting the status on his last-resort Humanitarian and Compassionate application. This arrest puts his entire future in jeopardy, particularly since his story has already reached mainstream Nicaraguan newspapers and homosexuality, while now legal there, is widely not accepted..
Alvaro’s future can be influenced by community support, but we need to take action now. If you have a few seconds right now, please sign this online petition to Let Alvaro Stay in Canada. (Believe it or not, in refugee cases, community support like this can actually have a strong influence on the outcome.) Also, you can join the Let Alvaro Stay Facebook page where information about events and other avenues of support are posted. A lot of his personal friends are there too, so you can learn more about Alvaro’s story, his artwork, and community activities while you’re there.
Me, I’ll be pushing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to give Alvaro a seat in the Canadian Senate. As you already know, many Canadians who have run into trouble with the law or have been rejected by voters (and thus society in general), have been appointed to the senate where they can safely
sleep serve until they reach the age of 75—with a generous salary to boot. Normally I’d say this would be a long shot but, considering recent senate appointees… Alvaro’s head and shoulders above the lot of them.
Of course, whatever happens, we’re thinking of you, Alvaro!
Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, has decided to cut all city funding to Toronto Pride, Canada’s largest gay pride festival (and one of biggest and most popular festivals overall) unless a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is disallowed from marching in the parade portion of the weeklong festivities.
A bizarre (and stupid) controversy surrounding QAIA has been going on for a few years now, but this is the first time that the city council has taken to micromanaging Toronto Pride’s activities. In response, QAIA decided over the weekend that they will take the high road and voluntarily withdraw their group from the parade and seek an alternate (and more appropriate) venue—a good idea. Not good enough for Ford, though, who says that Toronto Pride’s funding is still off the table and will only be provided after the parade, once there is definitive proof that the group isn’t marching.
I wouldn’t take his word for it. Ford has wanted to cut Toronto Pride’s funding for years—well before he became mayor, and well before QAIA was ever in the public consciousness. In leveraging a stupid controversy over a minor participant in just one of Toronto Pride’s weeklong events, Ford has found a convenient way to achieve his goal without it seeming like the plain homophobia it is.
In the meantime, Pride organizers are now left with the difficult task of planning one of Canada’s largest festivals without knowing their own budget. And with no help from the feds (we all remember what happened after the last time they decided to help the festival), I think we’ll be seeing Pride Toronto—one of Toronto’s largest tourist draws—scaled back substantially in the years to come.
Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, has announced that he will deny $100,000 in funding for this year’s Pride Week celebrations—unless the parade portion of the festival excludes a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching.
For some time now, Toronto Pride has been entangled in a ridiculous controversy that I don’t particularly care to understand. On one side, there appears to be people like Rob Ford, who feel privileged enough to decide which segments of the GLBT community can and cannot participate in their own parade; on the other side there’s QAIA, who is using an event intended to be a celebration of GLBT culture, struggles, and achievements as a venue for an unrelated political message.
Such drama. Such dumb, dumb drama. Is there a side that doesn’t deserve a slap?
Either way, now that I’ve officially touched this landmine, I believe I will start a new group: Queers Against Unrelated Issues And Douchey Mayors.
- Toronto mayor lays down Pride parade law [Canadian Jewish News]
Xtra, a gay community newspaper published by Pink Triangle Press and distributed nationwide, has been targeted by vandals in the Toronto area. Several distribution boxes have been spray painted with homophobic slurs, glued shut, turned upside down, filled with garbage, and set on fire.
This isn’t the first time the publisher has been hit by homophobic vandals. “This has been going on since 1993 or 1994,” noted Ted Hawkins, a distributer for the newspaper. “It seems to be a crazy homophobic group that has a vendetta for our magazines,” he said.
Sounds like a costly problem. My suggestion: Make the boxes look like adorable, fluffy kittens with big, watery eyes. They’ll meow softly and paw at your legs each time someone takes an issue. Don’t get me wrong: Violent homophobes are probably just as likely to burn kittens, but it should look sufficiently horrifying that witnesses would be more likely to report it.
Just an idea.
It’s civic election day in Toronto today, and the polls indicate a dead heat. By the end of the day, the new mayor of Canada’s largest city will likely either be George Smitherman, who happens to be gay, or Rob Ford, who has been featured on this site twice for ridiculous, homophobic conduct.
Having no patience for intolerance, it should go without saying that I would prefer Smitherman to win over Ford. There are, of course, those that would prefer otherwise—and while they’re of course entitled to vote for whomever they choose, some of their messages have taken a turn for blatantly homophobic.
Catholic Insight, a politically-motivated religious publication, heartily endorsed Ford over Smitherman last week, calling Smitherman “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, that of homosexuality.” While the publication tried to remain as polite in phrasing as possible, there was nothing civil about it. “While those attracted to same sex orientation have the right to be treated with dignity like all other persons,” their endorsement stated, “they should not be appointed or elected to leadership positions.”
Gosh, how respectful of them. We gays are perfectly entitled to human dignity, so long as we not take any initiative on any public matters and remain as isolated and invisible as possible. Still, at least Catholic Insight had the decency to use their own name to deliver their hateful message that gays are inferior, incapable as role models, and shouldn’t be elected to any position of influence. Late last week, an anonymously produced, paid radio ad began airing on the Canadian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation. Translated, it begins thus:
- Man #1
- Elder brother, who are you going to vote for?
- Man #2
- (Snickers dismissively) What a question! We are Tamil. We have a religion, a culture. Take Rob Ford, he is married to a woman.
Meanwhile, near Victoria Park, crudely-designed posters began to appear overtop of existing election signs asking “Should a Muslim vote for him who married a man?”
Calling the ads “blatantly homophobic,” George Smitherman issued a statement to the press. “I will remain focused on offering a Toronto that finds strength in our diversity and builds for the future, not divides,” he said.
The Rob Ford campaign, meanwhile, posted a response on Twitter. “I do not condone the recent Tamil Radio ad,” the campaign stated, “I support diversity & have no issue with others’ lifestyle choices.”
Uh, OK. Except being gay isn’t a “lifestyle choice.” And, frankly, from Ford’s past actions as a city councilman, he very clearly doesn’t believe that gay people should have the same legal rights as straight people, let alone think the gay community should receive any city support or recognition for its renowned cultural events.
Toronto’s a great city that deserves a great mayor. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you guys today!
Residents of a neighbourhood on Toronto’s Leslieville Street found themselves defending the home of a local gay couple after members of a local Baptist church gathered outside it, shouting, praying, and waving bibles.
The incident, which was captured on camera and uploaded to YouTube, shows the parishioners from Toronto’s Highfield Road Gospel Hall quickly becoming defensive: “We have a right to be here,” said one woman. “We have the authority to preach the gospel.”
Anna MacKay, one of the neighbours, told the media that this was not an isolated incident. “They were talking about blood of the lamb flowing down the street, we’ll have to pay for our sins. Every time I’ve seen them, they’re standing outside that house right there.”
A spokesperson for the church, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the media that the whole incident was all a “major misunderstanding.” “Someone felt we were targeting a specific house, but we would never stoop—never stoop to target any group such as gay people.”
Personally, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on this point, since it appears they’ve been preaching on neighbourhood streets for quite some time. That said, preaching outside private homes is crossing a line whether they’re targeting specific houses or not, and the church doesn’t seem to understand that. “In the word of God,” one of the preachers declared, “next year, we’ll be here.”
The gay couple, who weren’t home at the time, haven’t commented on the incident, but will likely invest in an underground sprinkler system—just in case.
Giorgio Mammoliti, a Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate in the upcoming municipal election, has officially motioned to withdraw funding from Toronto Pride, one of North America’s largest gay pride festivals and a massive tourism boost for the city. Mammoliti’s proposal comes with a condition, however—a little ultimatum that would let him micromanage which groups are allowed to march in the Pride parade.
You see, Toronto Pride, like many gay groups, is currently involved in some community infighting. The sort of gay drama that would make a drag queen proud. Specifically, it’s over whether or not to vet parade banners to regulate exactly how tolerant versus free-speechy everything is—or something like that; I don’t know all the details.
What I do know is that Mammoliti, not satisfied with leaving the community to manage these things on its own like it always does, has decided to leverage the minor controversy and attempt the defunding of the festival from the city’s budget entirely.
The gist of the motion is this: If a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, whose controversial signs were a sore spot for some community members last year, is allowed to march in the Pride parade, then the City of Toronto’s 2010 “funding and support” of the festival will be revoked entirely.
Now, Mammoliti has a documented history of anti-gay attitudes. He once dismissed gay relationships in a discussion about human rights by declaring that our “body part’s aren’t complementary; they don’t fit together.” (Err… Should we explain it to him? I really hope that won’t require a diagram.)
He also went on to quote from a bizarre sado-masochism manual, as if all gay people—and no straight people—are into that sort of thing. “What does that say about the [gay] community?” he asked, rhetorically.
Not sure about that one, but it does makes me think. What do weaselly city council motions from Toronto mayoral candidates say about the suit-wearing community?
- It’s official: showdown at city hall over Pride funding [Xtra]
- Giorgio’s Same-Sex Media Flashback [Toronto Election News]
Good news! Toronto has been chosen to host the 2014 World Pride celebrations, an international gay rights and cultural event. Toronto will be the fourth city to host the event (joining Rome, Jerusalem and London) since it started in 2000. The event includes outdoor concerts, festivals, a large parade, and is expected to contribute an estimated $680 million to the city’s economy—five times more than the city’s usual Pride income.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and has recently been doing a lot to welcome and nurture its gay community, which makes it a great choice for the festivities. Not too many other cities have the guts to brand themselves “as gay as it gets,” for example!
The federal Tories will purportedly offer negative funding in exchange for enjoying the economic benefit.
The federal Conservatives have donated close to half-a-million dollars for Pride Toronto to promote the city’s 10-day gay Pride festival and make it more accessible for people with disabilities.
Toronto Pride brings in millions of tourism dollars each year, and the money will help keep the event competitive in a weak economy. The generous gesture has also secured an appearance by a major headliner, yet to be announced.
I guess it just goes to show you: The federal Conservatives will fight to stop you from having equal marriage rights; they’ll fight to prevent you from being protected by hate crime legislation; they’ll embrace dangerous and unscientific organ donation practises at your expense; they’ll fight to keep you from getting retroactive pension benefits; but if your cultural event’s incoming tourism dollars are in danger, you can bet instant help will be on the way!
The gravely divided Anglican church is super interesting for some reason. The issue of same-sex blessings, of all things, has become the epicentre of a massive fracture, and their attempts to stay united has led to some of the most bizarre declarations I’ve heard from any religion.
Why, just in June, 2007, Canadian Anglican leaders congregated to discuss what to do about same-sex blessings and their divided church. After intense debate, they officially declared that same-sex unions are perfectly compatible with the core doctrine of the church. Hours later, they voted to forbid the blessing of same-sex couples.
Since then, several of Canada’s Anglican diocese have broken ranks with the church to bless same-sex parishioners. Toronto Anglicans are now about to join the Ottawa and Montréal diocese in allowing the blessing of same-sex couples. (And, just to be clear, we’re just talking about blessings here; not even marriage.)
But the church is in pretty rough shape. Priests have been fired, churches have split—with some opting to become part of the Anglican community located in the province of Southern Cone, South America. They’ve even barred some of their own bishops from attending conferences, all due to same-sex blessings.
From their actions, though, it seems they can all agree on at least one thing: This is definitely the best use of their resources. You know, instead of things like, oh… Housing the poor, tending to the sick, etcetera, etcetera…
- Toronto bishops propose process to allow same-sex blessings [Anglican Journal]
Chris Reid, one of very, very few gay Conservatives, has resigned his candidacy in the riding of Toronto Centre over some pretty odd comments.
In a now defunct blog entitled Political Thoughts from a Gay Conservative, Reid said the gay community was intolerant and only capable of “promoting promiscuity, drug usage, and prostitution” and declared that Canadians had become “a castrated effeminate population” because they don’t carry concealed handguns:
[Concealed handguns are] the only proven way to reduce violent crime and murder. If women and gays really wanted to stop being victims of hate crimes, they’d be in support of this, but judging from discussions, they’d rather be helpless and rely on government.
Oh yeah, Toronto Centre would be so into this. The only proven way to reduce violent hate crimes: thousands upon thousands of handguns!
Tip o’ the hat goes to Montréal Simon for the story.
Last June, Reuters announced that only a single Canadian same-sex marriage was performed in Toronto so far this year, compared to 107 last year. The anti-gay crowd has, of course, framed the article, surrounded it with candles and gold, and trotted it about the country chanting something along the lines of “I told you so!”
Why, just this month Barabara Kay—an editorialist for the National Post—declared: “The conclusion they can fairly draw from [Toronto’s] stats is that gay marriage was never more than an ideological symbol.”
Now, ignoring for a moment that it doesn’t bloody-well matter how few Canadians apply for same-sex marriages—it’s about equality, not quantity—it turns out that Reuters got the statistics very wrong.
As of early August, 182 of the same-sex marriages issued in Toronto since January were registered to Canadian addresses, not just a lonely one; and, last year, 518 Canadian gay couples got hitched in the city, not 107.
Despite last month’s decision by the Anglican Church to ban same-sex blessings, several brave churches are going ahead with the practice anyway.
Toronto’s Holy Trinity Church and Victoria’s St. Saviour’s Church have both declared their intentions to continue to bless same-sex couples against the rules of the national church, the latter saying that they even plan to full-out marry gay couples should the opportunity arise.
Of course, the hierarchy isn’t too happy. A senior Anglican official, under the protection of anonymity, said priests will be disciplined if they are too liberal with their blessings. And I think they mean business: Antonio Osorio, an Anglican priest, was issued a warning this month after blessing four same-sex couples, even though the blessing was simply a general blessing of members of the community. In the past year, two Anglican priests have even been ejected over the practice.
- Churches to defy same-sex ban [CBC News]
- Anglican priests set to defy same-sex blessing ban [Canada.com]
The city of Toronto has launched an expensive new ad campaign in hopes of attracting gay travelers. The campaign, whose tagline is “as gay as it gets,” is primarily targeted toward gays in the U.S.
In a completely unrelated story, Toronto’s CN Tower now lights up in rainbow colours at night, thanks to a sophisticated new LED system.
- T.O. aims to attract more gay tourists [Canoe]
- Toronto targets lucrative group: gay U.S. travellers [Globe and Mail]
- CN Tower to light up Toronto skyline [Canada.com]
Rob Ford, a Toronto city councilor, has once again burst an eye vessel over gay issues at a city council meeting. Here’s what our delightful urban hayseed had to say before voting against the funding of Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade:
I don’t think we should be supporting sexuality and that’s where this money is going. That’s what we’re supporting here, madam chair. I don’t believe we should be spending taxpayers’ money supporting your sexuality! If you’re gay great. If you’re not gay, that’s great too. That’s your prerogative. Do we have a straight parade? Do we have a heterosexual parade? Do we fund that? No! So I don’t know why we’re funding other things like that.
A heterosexual parade, eh? Now that would be a spectacle. All those straight couples holding hands in public, flaunting their babies for all to see…
Here’s the thing: Rob doesn’t know what a gay pride parade is. The reason straight pride festivals don’t exist is because it’s not about “supporting sexuality.” Pride parades exist because pride is the opposite of shame—which is what many would still have us feel.
If Rob had ever been to a gay pride parade, he’d note its highly political nature, with groups representing equality advocacy organisations, help for struggling teens, parent support systems, MPs and MLAs, educators, councilors, researchers, corporate sponsors, sport teams, music and theatre groups, veterans, and many others. It promotes diversity, celebrates culture, and—as in the case of Toronto—can be one of a city’s most successful tourist attractions. Of course, I don’t expect Rob to get this any time soon.
Ford was featured on this site last year for voting against AIDS education programs, announcing: “[if] you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS”. He later apologised, blaming his outburst on “one too many beers.”
Incidentally, the funding for Toronto’s Pride Parade passed overwhelmingly, 36–2.
- Ford slams city for PRIDE grant [Mirror Guardian]
A noxious gas introduced into the ventilation systems of two gay bars in Toronto last weekend is going uninvestigated.
While evidence suggests an ammonia-based gas, which burned some patrons’ lungs for hours after they were evacuated, Toronto’s Sergeant Stan Belza said it was probably just pepper-spray: “We were called; people were finding it hard to breathe.” When asked about pending investigations, Belza said the case has been dropped.
Although this incident could have been a prank (or two consecutive accidents), I have to say the lack of response is a little worrying. I mean, ammonia odors are pretty common in straight bars, but this is the gay village.
- Gas attacks in the gay village? [Globe and Mail]
Out Traveler, a gay and lesbian travel magazine, has named Canada’s top 5 gayest cities. While I’m not going to list them here, let’s just say that Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal should be expecting a few extra gay tourists this year! Wait, that might be a little too obvious. How about: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal should be expecting a few fewer intolerant tourists this year. Yes, that’ll do.
As for my thoughts on the selections… Having grown up in Edmonton until my early 20s, I can authoritatively say: “Huh?” Mind you, things have probably changed in the city’s gay community, of which I knew pretty much nothing, having been closeted for the entire time. Plus, Edmonton still has the world’s largest shopping mall. That’s pretty gay, right?
So, congratulations to the cities that made the cut! And may all the ones that didn’t have an absolutely traditional Friday the 13th.