News
3 min

A brief history of homophobia at city hall

A timeline of noteworthy events and characters

Hate mail came often to Kyle Rae while he was at city hall. Credit: Xtra Files

1980 

  • George Hislop runs for city council but is defeated. Homophobia plays a role in his defeat after some people raise the fear of “gay power politics.”

1985 

  • June 30: Mayor Art Eggleton denies a request to proclaim Lesbian and Gay Pride Week.

1991 

  • Nov 10: Kyle Rae becomes the first openly gay man elected to city council and is later named to the executive committee.

1992 

  • June 21: June Rowlands becomes the first mayor of Toronto to proclaim Pride Day.
  • June 25: John Campey, a Toronto Board of Education trustee, is the subject of personal attacks and homophobia at a board meeting over a new teachers’ resource guide on homosexuality.
  • Nov 26:- Councillor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski faces opposition at the Toronto Board of Health when he goes after an AIDS Committee of Toronto pamphlet on safe BDSM practices, even though it wasn’t produced with city money. He will eventually be removed from the board.

1993 

  • Feb 19: Kyle Rae gives Xtra some of the hate mail he’s received, including a letter containing swastikas and threats.
  • May 8: Councillor Tom Jakobek suggests that Buddies in Bad Times Theatre “nurtures homophobia.” Earlier in the year, a Toronto Sun article had quoted Jakobek as saying that council shouldn’t fund the theatre.

1995 

  • June 26: Mayor Barbara Hall presides over the flag-raising and proclamation of Pride Week. Soon after, she becomes the first mayor to walk in the Pride parade.

1997 

  • March 26: Metro Council votes to drop its appeal of an Ontario Human Rights Commission decision in support of same-sex spousal benefits.
  • Sept 25: Mel Lastman tells Xtra that he hasn’t marched in the Pride parade because he was never invited; he marches for the first time the following year.

1998 

  • Giorgio Mammoliti, who once vehemently opposed spousal rights, votes in favour of them and apologizes for his derogatory comments about gay men. However, he still doesn’t think LGBT couples should be allowed to adopt.

2000 

  • Nov 13: Kathleen Wynne is elected to the board of trustees of the Toronto District School Board. In anonymous pamphlets distributed in her ward prior to the election, she is called an “extremist lesbian.”

2001 

  • June 26: In Rob Ford’s first term as a councillor, he, along with Doug Holyday, opposes a $5,000 grant for a documentary made by a South Asian queer group.

2005 

  • July 6: Ford tries to cancel $100,000 in funding for Pride Toronto and $3,000 for the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line, saying he doesn’t understand what transgenderism is.

2006 

  • June 29: Ford says that if you’re not gay or an IV drug user, you will not get AIDS. Later that year, Kyle Rae tells Xtra that council is tired of Ford.

2010 

  • Aug 4: Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Wendell Brereton endorses Ford, who says he supports “traditional” marriage but is not worried what people do in their private lives.
  • Oct 18: Ford skips the LGBT issues mayoral debate at The 519, citing scheduling conflicts. Earlier in the month, he had told Xtra that he has no problem with gay people.
  • Oct 25: Rob Ford is elected mayor.
  • Dec 2: James Pasternak says he will pressure council to defund Pride Toronto because of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’s involvement in the parade.

2011 

  • June 7: An Xtra reporter calls Ford’s cellphone number and asks if he plans to read the proclamation for Pride Week and raise the flag. He skips the flag raising in June.
  • July 12: Giorgio Mammoliti fails to defund Pride over QuAIA’s participation after resolving to do so. He caused controversy earlier when he was spotted filming Dyke March participants carrying pro-Palestine signs. The QuAIA issue will continue to make waves at city hall.

2012 

  • May 17: Rob Ford is a surprise guest at a PFLAG flag raising for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

2013 

  • May 16: Gawker and the Toronto Star break the news that they have seen a video of Rob Ford smoking crack, in which he also calls federal Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau a fag.
  • June 24: Rob Ford attends a Pride event for the first time ever — the flag raising outside city hall.

2014 

  • Feb 7: Rob Ford demands that the city manager remove a Pride flag being flown to support LGBT athletes and Russians during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.