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Xtra's Toronto Newsmaker of the Year: PT's Tracey Sandilands


Xtra's Toronto Newsmaker of the Year: PT's Tracey Sandilands

"It's not nice to be hated"
Tracey Sandilands says she is shocked and surprised to be named Xtra’s Toronto newsmaker of the year.

“I think the title should be Pride Toronto and not me specifically,” she says. “At PT, the board leads the organization. I do what I’m told, or I try to. I’m not trying to absolve myself of any responsibility because I provided the information, upon which they based many of their decisions.”

It was a turbulent year filled with colourful characters and fascinating figures, including new Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, former councillor Kyle Rae, mayoral hopeful George Smitherman, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) members Tim McCaskell and Elle Flanders, lawyer Martin Gladstone and PT board members Roy Mitchell and Mark Singh. But Sandilands stood out at the centre of the storm of controversy that surrounded PT. No other newsmaker garnered more ink in the pages of Xtra, more discussion among Xtra’s editorial staff or more intense talk within the Toronto community.

In the months leading up to the 2010 festival, Sandilands and the PT board of directors made deep miscalculations, most notably about how profoundly important freedom of expression is to Toronto’s gay, lesbian and trans people. PT’s constituents responded clearly after the organization announced a sign-vetting policy in March. PT changed course only to announce a ban on the term “Israeli apartheid” in May.

With its communities in open revolt, PT reversed the ban in the days leading up to the festival. It had little choice, but by then much of the damage was done. Fundamental changes in how PT is managed and calls for Sandilands’ resignation were recurring themes at the subsequent community advisory panel meetings. PT and Sandilands face a huge crisis of confidence, and by all accounts the organization is in a very vulnerable financial position.

“I do think the decisions were very difficult ones, and I can tell you they were not taken lightly,” Sandilands says. “We did our best to find the right solutions, but with many decisions we may not have made the right ones.”

Still, at the end of the day, in the face of all the controversy and in the shadow of the G20, the festival came together under Sandilands’ direction. Personally, she says, the controversy took its toll.

“It’s not nice to be hated, even if you’re not sure why you’re hated,” she says. “It’s not the way I envisioned my career with Pride Toronto playing out. It’s been a really difficult year.”
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Tracey we love you!!!
Tracey we love you even if the old gay graybeards of Church St (aka Ken Popert et al) do not. It is about time Pride got a breath of some fresh air and new people and became more oriented to Toronto's huge and still very closeted multi-ethnic and multi-lingual gay population.
Your job is really to include all those ethnic gay people and bring them out of their ethnic closets and into the mainstream. Never mind the stupid Anglo-Torontonian Calvinist xenophobia and apartheidism which is trying to keep you down just like it does to the rest of us. The only people who have any right to decide how Toronto Pride is run are the actual dues-paying members who take the time to show up for meetings and participate in running Toronto Pride plus all the volunteers and donors who contribute their time and money to get this big show off the ground each year.
All those self-entitled whiners who want to take out a lot more than they put in can just go get stuffed!!!
Just keep on truckin and tell the idiots "Thpprrr" !!!
QuAIA was Xtra's lead story in 2010
The dispute over QuAIA was Xtra's principal story in 2010 and was also the subject of several articles in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, NOW Magazine, Jewish publications, Muslim Canadian publications and Arab Canadian publications. Even the white supremacist website, stormfront.org, picked up the story. Ironically, just like Elle Flanders' opinion piece for rabble.ca, the white supremacists billed it as a Jews vs gays story. Many of the Stormfront posters seemed happy that two of their most despised groups were fighting each other. Of course, this is a faulty analysis: not all gays support QuAIA or even QuAIA's presence at Pride. As a matter of principle, I will not provide a source link to the white supremacists' website. But, you can find it on Google.
Big Pile of stinking shit
Charles and Ryan
The festival came together because of the volunteers and passion of the community. Under Tracy's direction Pride lost $180,000 in 2009 and $400,000 in 2010. After a history of posting profits every year. The gala became a joke and lost $25,000 this year after making about $7o,000 in 2005, Mark Singh should really take the blame for that but he is busy hiding behind Tracy, which she has allowed to happen. Under Tracy's direction we now have CAP, every segment of the community angry for some reason and she still manages to say she is misquoted in every interview she does. Good manager, think again.
Pride 2010 was still a success..
Charles is correct. Of course there are many people to credit for the way in which Pride 2010 ended on a high note, but Ms. Sandilands should be given her due. There were no major organizational disasters to speak of that week, following a week of pure madness I've never experienced before in Toronto. Through it all, Tracey kept her cool and never demonized all the people who wanted her head. In fact, the interview she did with Xtra in the summer shows this very clearly. She was honest about the state of Pride's finances and its fractured relationship with some in the larger community. She didn't point the finger or deflect blame, didn't ask for pity, and remained professional. I don't think she ever set out to be a "newsmaker". Tracey, know that not everybody hates you. Despite all the mess that happened last year, the majority of people I saw at Pride seemed pretty delighted to be there.
Festival came together under Sandilands’ direction
“Still, at the end of the day, in the face of all the controversy and in the shadow of the G20, the festival came together under Sandilands’ direction.” ~Andrea Huston. Thankyou Andrea for excellent unbiased reporting in all of your writings. Regarding Tracy Sandilands: I can imagine it was not easy for her to handle the conflicting demands and criticisms from the many egotistical, controlling people who she had to satisfy, further compounded by the barrage of insults by vociferous rabble rousers, who ripped her apart like hyenas. ___ In any organization, too many chefs can ruin the stew. ___ Yet she made it happen. I give her credit, in the least, for her stamina and commitment. I wonder if any of her critics could have done a better job under the circumstances --in reality-- not only in their fantasies... There is no such thing as perfection. Every step is a step towards the next step...
Xtra's decision on NewsMaker
The Xtra's decision naming Tracey Sandilands as NewMarker of the Year is seriously disappointing!

Why did Xtra's chose this stupid decision while the management at the Xtra's did not pick the Trans Rights and Bullying Issues facing Queer Youth that a suicide was happened in California few months ago.

The rationale decision from Xtra's management is to pick Tracey Sandilands as the first choice because they are under pressure from QuAIA and Pride Coalition for Free Speech that their causes are the most important to their stupid ego to focus on Tracey.

Xtra's decision is clearly evident that they are not interested in picking Susan Gapka and their Trans activists to fight for Trans Rights in Canada because they are fighting for a long time to make this happens and still fighting to reach this goal.

Queer youth who suffer the bullying issues is an ongoing serious issue that we look at the situation occurred in California. But Xtra's is not interested in fighting to reduce the bullying issues facing Queer youth because Xtra's is fighting against Tracey and Pride Toronto as their causes by the QuAIA.

Xtra's decision is marginalizing the Trans community and Queer youth who suffers bullying because Xtra's are in the bed with QuAIA to reach a decision together that Tracey should be the Newsmaker of the Year!

You lost my support for good because I care about Trans community and Queer youth that are often marginalized every day in their lives that Xtra's should pick both of them to make Newsmaker of the Year! NOT TRACEY!

Stupid Xtra's decision, Argh!

Ed's note
Hi Michel. We do have a variety of pics of Tracey taken by Xtra photographers. I agree that the one on this page is overused. But the one on the landing page for this story has never been published before now. We have talked about changing the old pic up and will do so moving forward. We keep coming back to this one because it's one of the first we took and the only one we have in which she's smiling candidly. It's a nice pic. In this case the story pic was really a choice between running no pic and running this one. We chose this one.
Michel! 2b
As to accolades Sharon. I need none, want none or give one when I am dead a buried if you wish.
Michel! 2
Any newspaper worth its salt has variety of pictures to use for stories. As to my philosophy on Pride you couldn't be further from the truth. http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/9950
is there anything you like? Now you're down on Xtra, you're down on Pride - how do you expect anyone to want to go that thing you do if you're so bitter? remember, honey not vinegar...and maybe in 20 years you'll be a newsmaker too!
Happy holidays!


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