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Kyle Rae retires after 19 years on Toronto city council

Kyle Rae retires after 19 years on Toronto city council

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A career of some success and much controversy
Outgoing Ward 27 Councillor Kyle Rae had little to say to Xtra and sharply refused a final interview before retiring from public office after 19 years.

Rae, who has represented Ward 27 since 1991, has enjoyed a career peppered with accomplishments, controversy, activism and progress.

Over the years, Rae has been an influential presence on Church St and a vocal advocate for the gay community.

But his reputation for aloofness and reluctance to speak to the press has increasingly kept him at a distance from the community he served.

He once submitted a receipt (split between six councillors) for $1,039 worth of Pride parade beads, citytv.com reports.

Then, just before retiring, Rae raised a few eyebrows when he threw a $12,000 retirement party at the Rosewater Supper Club. Taxpayers picked up the tab.

During the mayoral campaign, penny-pinching Rob Ford, now mayor-elect of Toronto, wasted no time attacking Rae in a press release, using Rae’s lavish bash as proof of the runaway “gravy train” at city council. But when asked for an exit interview to look back on the highs and lows of his time in office, Rae flatly said no.

“Why would I do that?” he told Xtra. “There is nothing reputable about your paper.”

Xtra: "Well, as a long-serving councillor for this ward, we were hoping to look back on your career at council and highlight your notable accomplishments."

“I don’t think so. It’s been nice talking to you,” he said curtly, before hanging up the phone.


Under his leadership, Ward 27 has seen the greatest influx of development anywhere in the city, and the area remains the top destination for new development projects.

On his City of Toronto profile, Rae touts some of his greatest accomplishments, including helping to launch Nuit Blanche, finding a permanent home for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and championing the Yonge and Dundas redevelopment.

He remains a voting ex-officio board member for the 519 Church Street Community Centre, has chaired the city’s AIDS prevention program since 1991 and found a permanent home for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives on Isabella St.

But Rae is no stranger to controversy.

In March, he pressured Pride Toronto to prevent Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from marching in the 2010 parade, raising the ire of many who argued the effort trampled on free speech.

Pride Toronto complied, issuing a press release urging participants to “reflect Pride's themes” in their messaging. That announcement sparked outrage in the queer community and was retracted two weeks later.

Incoming Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam takes over his seat in December when council resumes.


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Comments

Kyle's Rag
I guess it would probably be more of a travel magazine because dude spent more time away from Toronto in spirit and in body. Good luck Kyle and take your apologists with ya.
pathetic
Many of the comments on this page make me sick. You are an ignorant, immature, spiteful, bitchy, ungrateful lot indeed. There was a time when being gay transcended race, politics, ethnicity, etc. If this is what the gay community has come to, you have only yourselves to blame. At least Kyle did something; you have done nothing except whine. A vibrant, successful, unified gay community exists in other cities. It used to exist in Toronto in the past, but it's gone now. The left has destroyed the gay community in Toronto. Way to go. (And would someone please start a mainstream, neutral gay news outlet in this city so that we don't have to read Xtra anymore...Kyle?)
Good luck Kyle
You've been there from the beginning, doing what you can to build bridges. 99% of us deeply appreciate what you've done over the years. It's a shame that Xtra and gay politics has turned so nasty. Not your fault. Don't listen to the hateful morons: you have hundreds of thousands of friends in this city.
Rae and The Barn
I ran into Rae at a meeting at City Hall and complained that reopening The Barn had made the lives of those of us near it into a living hell... Our homes had become unlivable nightly four nights a week - the music from The Barn was clear as a bell from half a block away - throughout our houses.

Instead of working with us to find a way to get The Barn better soundproofing so we could all live together, Rae told me that he "was sick of all the fat old queens demanding a place to dance", so he "made sure he got the Barn reopened". He refused to take our phone calls and looked down his nose at the LGBT neighbors who had a valid complaint. Good riddance to the selfish sellout...
Ed's note
Hi Ken. Good question. I think at the time we didn't completely recognize the significance of Kyle's party on that night. Although I debated sending a photographer and reporter there, our attentions were focused on the meeting at the 519. In hindsight, Kyle's party clearly became a significant part of the story. One point of order from your comment: it may be a misnomer to refer to the event at the 519 as Xtra's rally for QuAIA. It was in fact a community meeting organized by The Pride Coalition for Free Speech. Xtra naturally supported the event. We worked with other coalition members to help promote it, and we covered it extensively. Best wishes.
What about the party attendees?
Why doesn't Xtra publish the names of all the gay community leaders who attended Kyle Rae's taxpayer-funded retirement party? The retirement party was held on the same night as Xtra's rally for QuAIA, so I assume that all the gay community leaders who were at the QuAIA rally have an alibi.
There's nothing reputable about Rae
I was on Church Street the other day and heard raised voices; one right beside me. I then heard the other man--a 50 something guy, walking a bicyle--yell "no, fuck you. You stole $12K of our money."

That's Rae's legacy. Reduced to accepting abuse from his contemporaries on his own street.
It's been a big letdown
That's been the central problem of Kyle Rae, taking personal credit for community successes. He's acted as if he alone was responsible for his successes, and written us out of the picture. I agree, those pictures remind me of those early campaigns and hundreds of gays and lesbians who really believed in him. It's like he had some kind of psychic snap and one night turned into a greedy, self-referential jerk. I think it was the development community "purchasing" him with their donations to his campaign, essentially absconding with him. But then again, he let them. The Kyle Rae of 2010 would never have excited any community energy. He's been running on fumes for a long time.
so sad
When I look at the photos you've posted here of Kyle Rae, I can't get over the ones of the younger Kyle, the one we all rallied around and made into the leader that gave a queer face to the city's political arena. He wasn't the first, but he certainly was someone who inspired a lot of people in those early days. I was one of them. It's so deflating to see what Kyle has become - a conservative queer who has benefitted from the support and work of so many queers and now is nowhere to be seen. And if you do catch him on Church, he's more than likely in a suit with other suited dudes coming out of a restaurant probably on our dime. Kyle, you've become something you used to rally against. I hope you sleep well at night knowing this, but somehow I doubt it even matters to you. You got yours. Good, yet bittersweet, riddance.
Sigh
While I would agree to the tone-deafness of the decision, the $12,000 spent on his retirement party was within his annual budget and totally above board. I find it weird but not surprising that people still focus on this issue rather than the many many other flaws that Rae possesses (e.g. selling out the community with his marked shift rightward over at least the last 2 terms).

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