Giorgio Mammoliti will not be back at this year's Dyke March with a video camera. In fact, he says, he may even march in Sunday's Pride parade.
In an interview with Xtra earlier this month, the city councillor for Ward 7 (York West) said that he's looking to make amends with the queer community. In 2010 and 2011, Mammoliti was a very vocal critic of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) and of Pride Toronto receiving city grants if that group were allowed to march. This year, however, he was noticeably quieter.
Mammoliti said his opinion on the issue itself hasn't changed, "but I have spoken. I've done it a hundred times. And I'm not gonna do it anymore. And a part of it comes out to the fact that I have very clearly discussed the approach with some in the community, the gay community, and I don't want to be seen as an enemy to the gay community. And that's what seems to have happened over the last number of years. And this is my way of holding firm to my commitment."
Last year in particular, Mammoliti was ridiculed for showing up at the Dyke March with a video camera, for the stated purpose of trying to document "Israeli apartheid" messaging. While QuAIA had announced it would not participate in the main Pride parade — so that city council would have no excuse to deny Pride Toronto their funding — nothing prevented participants in other Pride events from expressing similar points of view.
"I still feel the same way, only I've done my spiel down here [at council] a number of times, and this year you're not gonna hear that from me," Mammoliti said this month. "So no cameras; I may even decide to join the parade. Who knows?"
In the days following last year's Pride, Mammoliti kept up his crusade against funding the festival. The criticism was harsh. Bernie Farber, the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, called Mammoliti "confused" and said it was "time to move on."
This year, Mammoliti said, he was happy to let others take on the cause. "The Jewish community is very vocal, as you know. I still maintain my position, that if certain things are said and advertised in the parade that I'm not happy with that. I'll hold that firm. But I'm not gonna carry the torch for anybody right now."
So what's changed? "Sometimes when you take on positions that are — in my opinion it was the right position to take on — you get labelled, and you're seen as somebody that you're not," Mammoliti said. "And, you know, I just don't want that anymore. I just don't know why people do that to you. But they did. And it's my job to try and bring my personality back into the fold and have people understand that I still feel strongly about it. But I represent the whole city, not just my ward, and I want everyone to know that."
With files from Andrea Houston