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No rainbow flags at Ford Fest


No rainbow flags at Ford Fest

Lauren Ash, Jacqie Lucas and Leigh Williams pose with Rob Ford. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Activists outnumbered by adulators at annual garden party
The expansive Ford family backyard teemed with people, the ground wet and muddy. Ridiculously long lineups for food and beer were sometimes tense as people pushed toward the flaming meat. Classic rock music blared from speakers on the stage.
Ford Fest was not your typical queer event.
But this year Leigh Williams, Lauren Ash and Jacqie Lucas playfully set out to add a touch of pink.
The trio started a Facebook group inviting Toronto queer people to join them in bringing Pride to Mayor Rob Ford’s backyard barbecue, an annual event held at the Ford family home in Etobicoke.
The Facebook event was an instant hit, and word spread quickly once media caught on. In less than a week more than 500 people had responded to the invite saying they'd attend.
But once inside Ford’s backyard on Sept 7, there was not a rainbow flag in sight. Thousands of people mingled awkwardly around Grecian sculptures and garden art. The band, Gently Bent and the Kids, played Pink Floyd.
Activist Anna Penner was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd. “Wow, there are a lot of people here, and I don’t know where to find my people. I’ve seen a few [queer folks] walking around like lost lambs trying to find each other
. . . We’re definitely outnumbered.”
Williams says the event was never meant to be a protest – they just wanted to make their presence known.
“There was a point where we pulled out some beads to put around our necks, and we elicited all of these stares, like, ‘It’s those people,’” Williams says. “They pointed and said, ‘Gays!’”
Many got in line to meet Ford, who was at the front of the house greeting guests and posing for pictures.
Neville Park, a queer municipal politics blogger, says she didn't hear anything directly homophobic. “Apparently, some people got uncomfortable looks, but that's it. I felt perfectly safe. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed.”
“It was like in the movies when the rich kid's parents are away for the weekend and he throws a totally out-of-control party complete with people falling in the pool. Except with families and rightwing talk-show hosts,” she says.
Williams, Ash and Lucas say they stayed by the stage.
After the official speeches wrapped up, queer activist Roy Mitchell, also a Pride Toronto board member, pulled the women onstage. “It was all very impromptu,” Ash says.
Once onstage, Ash says, they spoke briefly to Ford's mother. “She didn't know who we were, I'm assuming, but she looked somewhat apprehensive. We all shook her hand and Jacqie went in for the hug.”
Ash says she’s pleased that there were no aggressive confrontations. The group would like a chance to continue the dialogue with the Fords.
The next day "there was some post-discussion on our Facebook page that we bowed to conservative pressure and weren't radical enough,” she says. “At the end of the day, I think we held our integrity, but turnout may have dropped when we decided to forgo a group meet and advocated a certain code of conduct.”
In the lead-up to Ford Fest, some rightwing media pundits attacked the plan to bring Pride to Rob Ford, calling the group “troublemakers.” Councillor Doug Ford told a radio station that the family had hired security, just in case there were any “shenanigans.”
Ash says Ford Fest felt political from start to finish, complete with a Ford Nation banner across the back shed.
“To be fair, as you are aware, the whole event was super political, especially during the speeches,” she says. “And we definitely felt singled out for having the nerve to share in that space."
Mayor Ford, who was in court last week fighting a lawsuit alleging that he violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, told the crowd that his election campaign for 2014 “starts today.”
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Michel's not that negative compared to others
Some posters above think Michel's comments on xtra.ca are negative. I don't find them to be that negative when compared to the comments of other Queer activists, including (1) the comments of supporters of QuAIA and Michael Wente's Pride Free Speech Coalition made on xtra.ca and various Facebook pages during past debates over QuAIA marching at Pride, (2) the public comments of Queer Ontario spokespersons on any issue, and (3) the comments of the married couples at Metropolitan Community Church Toronto made on various internet discussion boards at the time of the same-sex marriage debate in Canada. I find most Queer activists to be negative, angry and hateful.
mal enfant boubou
Creche Q will have recess in Room 101. No running in the halls. Please remember that no cheese products are allowed in the building.
We did approach Pride Toronto when our festival was in June. The thanks we got was Pride begin using our corporate Festival Name without permission for their events in 2009. No queer arts festival in Canada is as large as Pride, and its not our goal to be as large. People (doesn't matter if its 200 or 2000) are looking for something different than Pride. There are now 20 queer arts festivals world wide five of them are in Canada. In a recent Public Opinion Poll. Our visitors were asked; Should there be a queer arts festival in Toronto, when the city has the Pride Festival? 63.6% said Yes. And as far hateful Roy you don't even know me, we've never met, your supposition like Tina's is based on entirely on rumours. There are lots people that think I and the Queer West Board doing a great job and we will continue to expand one small step at a time.
maybe :)
Haha, I'll take whatever's good David, whatever is good! :)
Roy, I think he meant “Scream Puff.” LOL
Roy, I think he meant “Scream Puff.” LOL
honey not vinegar
It isn't so much that people hate what you do - I'm sure an queer arts fest can be an amazing thing and should be. As Tina pointed out there continue to be queers living and exhibiting in the west end that should be part of your board and audience. Your continued grumpiness and complaining makes you no fun to play with and no one wants to support someone who is hateful and believes that they are hated. I just work in the community and have a great time, meet so many great folk and see so many good things happen. You complains about what I do, puts me down and feel that people are ignoring your event continues to create so much bad karma that no one will even listen to you even if your complaint is valid - what did you think it would get you insulting me in your first message here? I have no time to deal with folks like you - life is too short - Tina basically said as much. If you are indeed a leader in this community you should act like one and be a consensus builder and community builder - you build walls around whatever you do so fast that the people who do work with you can only stay for a short time and move on. I am sorry that you're so unhappy Michel, but sometimes people bring it on themselves. The comment section of Xtra is no place to air all your gripes with everyone and everything. I don't care if you voted for Rob Ford, you are angry at Pride, whatever = knock yourself out, but calling me a "cream puff, really? Do you think people are really interested in that kind of discourse? There is so much good folks can do in this world. it's sad, somewhat pathetic to see a man of your age get more and more removed from a community he obviously cares so much about. Good luck Michel. I doubt very much I will continue this conversation here or anywhere with you. I refuse to be pulled into this - it'd be hilarious if I didn't find it so very sad. take care.
Thanks for publicity, I know there's a small minority hates anything I do, it doesn't bother me, I surround myself with friends that do care. Our Board is good Board they live and work in Toronto or attend school, no self serving types. Economics is driving the queer west end until something monumental changes to pull the west end queer community together as a cohesive group some social justice cause as per Church St., it will remain a playground and nascent community at best, for the foreseeable future.
Our Mayor Embarrasses Me Buttons!
Thanks again for promoting what I do Michel - Cream Puff! Sweet, thanks for the kind words. I can see you're taking advice and being nicer. I believe you'll find it a lot easier to attract folks to your event. The only way to go is up!

I have sold out of buttons for now - I may be making more, so anyone would like some, let me know. You can find me on the ROYNATION Facebook page; shoot me a message! They will also be for sale at a fundraiser for buddies coming up at Buddies in November. Who knows he might even be gone by then!

Again, thanks Michel. I understand that you might be going through some things that make you sound more cranky than you probably are and I'm happy to give you the benefit of the doubt and see the glass half full! So thanks again for promoting the things I do. It's hard to promote stuff when you don't have funding of course, but things are going well. The last show we did had over 4000 downloads! Amazing!
this is the board? Puhleez #2
The Board of Michel's little Thing. From the website. 4 members only.

Noha Abbes is a straight board member. Her sexual orientation is completely irrelevant. Toronto Queer Arts Centre welcomes anyone who wants to contribute to the LGBTQ Community, including our allies. She lives in Oakville.

Matthew Drobnich He lives in Burlington

C. Nash Brock ON. Member At Large (MAL). C. Nash has been a MAL since March 16, 2009. She requested no biography. And she lives in Brock, Ont! not brock Ave! hahaha

and of course founding member and eternal ray of sunshine Michel Pare!

check out the website
Puhleez, Michel
What are you talking about Michel? It's a pretty well known fact that your Queen Queer West Arts Whatever is poorly attended and poorly run. Folks join in to help but don't last long because it's so very hard to work with you. You're always lashing out at Pride, always assuming people hate you and what you do while in actual fact they care very little about what you do and your event. Just look at the posting you wrote after Xtra actually wrote about your event - you ended it by saying something like - "and now the haters can go ahead and write something." And no one wrote ANYTHING! Nothing in support and nothing to criticize - just you and your sad negative complaining self. You don't own the west end; there are amazing people doing amazing things here and building community while you, my grumpy friend, lash out at everyone and expect you'll be recognized for your contribution to this community. As someone who lives in Parkdale, I know. There are tons of queers in Parkdale who love to get together and enjoy each others' company. I went to four Parkdale openings by Queer artists on Thursday. It was amazing. Tons of folks having a good time, enjoying art - and then take a look at the photos from your launch this year. http://bit.ly/RCYhIT Sad. You're lucky you got some good djs because they brought some folks in, but I know they didn't promote it because they weren't proud of it. The truth is you get no support from any funders because your reputation is shot. A board http://bit.ly/P4kSA2 with only three people other than you, two of which don't even live in Parkdale or Toronto! and the third doesn't want to publish a bio! If you continue on your present path, you'll continue isolating yourself more and fewer folks will be involved with you. I hope for your sake you can turn this around. You're in your golden years now, so don't waste the time you have to prove something no one believes. honey, not vinegar!


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