Canada’s most irritating mayor, Rob Ford, spoke to Toronto’s queer community for the first time ever when he read a proclamation against homophobia and transphobia last week.
Who knew that the straight-laced Ford was an ardent supporter of queer rights all along? But seriously, the mayor’s proclamation may have won praise from some, but his words rang hollow in the ears of this queer.
Why? For one, the man has ignored Canada’s largest gay population for years. Unlike his three immediate predecessors, Ford has attended Toronto’s Pride Parade—the largest in the country—a total of zero times as a public figure. That’s right. Zero. Instead, he takes refuge in his queer-proof cabin—a fortress of purity and virtue—for a Brady-Bunch-worthy weekend with the family, not to return until the assless chaps are out of sight and the glitter is cleared from the streets.
Now, it’s no crime to prefer camping over campy, but to feign tolerance is unacceptable. Toddling up to a microphone for 77 seconds to conduct a piss-poor reading of a proclamation does not constitute positive change. For the love of Lady Gaga, the man is the mayor of a veritable gay mecca!
His disdain for queer issues was made all the more evident when he scurried to the exit as quick as he could, answering no questions from the press about his supposed change of heart. This is because Ford’s last-minute participation is nothing more than a cold-hearted, politically-calculating move for the sole purpose of stymying controversy this summer when he yet again skips out on Pride week. If he’d stuck around, he may have realized how insulting his actions really were.
If Ford actually gave a damn about the queer community—if he’d “evolved” as Obama has—he would have taken the time to tell us. He’d have told us what it means for him to stand there and denounce hate. He’d have explained the importance of embracing those who are different. And he’d have talked about his personal struggle to accept queer people. But he didn’t. And he won’t. You know why? Because Rob Ford does not care about us.
No honest person should accept Rob Ford’s proclamation against hating queers until Rob Ford himself stops hating queers. Torontonians are not better off because of the mayor’s appearance. Gay Torontonians are no safer now than they were the day before. And not one bigot has changed his or her mind about gay or trans people because of him.
Those who praised Ford for his words—including gay city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and PFLAG president Irene Miller—should be ashamed that the man took only 77 seconds out of his day for them. Rob Ford should not be celebrated for his cowardly actions. No, he should be chastised every day until his views actually evolve or he is voted out of office—preferably the latter.
* Image: Toronto Star