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Pride flag raised over Toronto City Hall


Pride flag raised over Toronto City Hall

A record number of city councillors in attendance as Pride Week officially begins
The 32nd annual Pride Week has officially begun, and the rainbow flag is now flying high over Toronto City Hall.

A crowd of hundreds cheered as the flag was raised June 25 while Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam introduced 27 city councillors, a record in the history of Toronto Pride.

"What we saw today were 28 city councillors who, in spite of all the debates we may have at city hall, are willing to stand up in support of Pride in Toronto," Wong-Tam told Xtra. "That is a strong majority, and what it really tells us is that we are on the right track towards building the kind of inclusive city where, right or left, the political leadership understands the cultural and civic contribution of the queer community."

Local activist and Pride board member Roy Mitchell, who is one of six judges in the Pride parade, says it may be a record number, but 28 is still not enough.

“I want the number to be 100 percent,” he says. “Which councillors weren’t there? This has been planned for months. There should be a very good reason why anyone isn’t there from council.”

Those councillors who were not in attendance: Doug Ford, Norm Kelly, Pam McConnell, Ron Moeser, Vince Crisanti, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Mark Grimes, Anthony Perruzza, Maria Augimeri, Georgio Mammoliti, Ana Bailão, Denzil Minnan-Wong, John Parker, James Pasternak, David Shiner, Mike Del Grande and Adam Vaughan.

The official proclamation was read by Councillor Shelley Carroll on behalf of Mayor Rob Ford, who did not show up for the second year in a row.

This has been a year of important political victories, which were highlighted by Pride co-chairs Luka Amona and Francisco Alvarez, who told the crowd about the crucial passage of Bill 13 and Toby’s Act at Queen's Park.

“Pride’s theme this year is Celebrate and Demonstrate,” Amona said. “With the Accepting Schools Act in Ontario, Catholic schools can no longer deny GSAs, and Toby’s Act ensures trans people have protection in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Those are big victories. We have reason to celebrate.”

In honour of Bill 13 and Toby’s Act, two politicians who championed the laws were named co-grand marshals: NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Education Minister Laurel Broten. Broten was also not in attendance.

Prior to the flag-raising, members of Queers for Social Justice staged a die-in to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and other issues affecting the queer community. 

Wong-Tam noted the importance of Pride, especially in countries where being gay is still a criminal offence. She says Canada has a responsibility to keep fighting for equality and freedom everywhere.

"Pride is still a dream in many parts of the world," Wong-Tam said, before introducing Pride’s international grand marshal, Serbian activist Goran Miletic, a tireless champion of human rights. Queer people in Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslav states face heavy social stigma and officially sanctioned discrimination.

See Xtra's photo gallery here.

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Mark I can see you and your pal Paul come from the old boys club. One gay Toronto one gay Pride. The Dyke March, the Trans March and other events at Pride organized by various racial, ethnic and cultural groups in the LGBT community, are just simply one off community events. Unlike these groups Gay West Community Network is incorporated and run by BOD. Our Purpose is; to produce performing arts festivals for the purposes of educating and advancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of performing arts and to educate artists through participation in such festivals and related workshops. We have no intention of folding into Pride's arms.
A different sort of inclusion
Pride Toronto should just recognize Michel F. Paré's Queer West festival as an ancillary event outside of Pride Week and give it a little funding and promotion. It would be similar to how the Inside Out film festival holds events during the year that are separate from their main event each May. It would be a very British way of dealing with him: to stop his criticism of Pride Toronto, give him a small piece of the pie and then expect him to contribute to the organization's primary goals. It's no different than how Pride Toronto has dealt with the Dyke March, the Trans March and other events at Pride organized by various racial, ethnic and cultural groups in the LGBT community.
Queer Arts
Its an event manager's duty to promote his product anyway he can, since this week I am bombard daily with Pride and Pride that Pride on Facebook and Xtra. I love being a thorn in side Paul.
Queer Arts
Michael, I think the 'queer west' community does just fine without your ceaseless promotion. It's great that you support queer life in the west end, but you don't have to denigrate the village to do so. I for one will be enjoying events in the Village and in Parkdale for Pride this year, and I'm sure I won't be the only one.
Least we forget
In mid June this year New York City held its first international Queer Arts Festival the papers loved it, including NYTimes and several gay publications. In Toronto no gay publications cover the 12 years Toronto Queer Arts and Culture Festival has been held with a far more artistic bent than Pride. There are overlaps between the two camps (Pride Toronto and TQAF), of course, but there is still a discernible divide between the “Gay” and “Queer” festival scenes, and the gulf between them is widening. It will be interesting to see the results, and by the close of these festival, how far the gay / queer divide has been addressed and whether new ideas will emerge over what it is to be L, G, B, T, I, Q in Toronto. Its a pity Xtra hasn't got a clue what is happening in other queer communities beyond Church and Wellesley.
Councillor Grimes
Please be advised that Councillor Grimes was representing the city at a meeting regarding the Pan Am Games, which is his responsibility. His staff were in attendance at the event. In a city the size of Toronto there are always more than one event concurrently.
What about designated survivors?
The article states that Pride Toronto board member Roy Mitchell believes that 100% of the members of Toronto City Council should be at the annual flag-raising ceremony for Pride week. I assume that, for reasons of business continuity planning and anti-terrorist planning, an important government body like Toronto City Council would never want 100% of its members to be at a public event in an open, undefended area. I assume that Toronto City Council would want to have some designated survivors who would not attend the public event and who could therefore carry on municipal government following a catastrophe which kills or gravely injures the city councilors who attended the public event. It's interesting that a mix of left wing and right wing councilors did not attend the flag raising. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designated_survivor
Co-Grand Marshal skipped out
'In honour of Bill 13 and Toby’s Act, two politicians who championed the laws were named co-grand marshals: NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Education Minister Laurel Broten, who was also not in attendance.'

DiNovo was there, Broten was not, but this sentence doesn't make that clear.
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