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Don’t ignore WorldPride in 2014: Wong-Tam

Event precedes 2015 Pan Am Games

Toronto City Hall is more focused on promoting the Pan Am Games in 2015 than supporting WorldPride in 2014, according to Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

“WorldPride is taking place a year before the Pan Am Games, so it could be seen as a pilot test for them on whether or not the city or Toronto can host such a big international event,” she says.

Wong-Tam says her office will likely do the lion’s share of work for WorldPride on city council. “Because it will be seen as ‘a gay issue,’ whereas the Pan Am Games has the entire endorsement [of the mayor’s office] and several departments working to support the Pan Am Games. As far as I can tell, I don’t see anyone at the City of Toronto who has a deep interest in ensuring WorldPride is successful.

“Toronto has an opportunity to send a message globally that we are this beacon of freedom, the city that represents equality, sexual liberation and democracy,” she says. “That will be our legacy.”

Pride Toronto (PT) co-chair Francisco Alvarez is travelling to Boston for the InterPride AGM conference Oct 4. He’ll be making a presentation to update its members on WorldPride.

“I think they will be quite impressed with where we are,” he says.

Alvarez says the board is still working on budget forecasting for WorldPride. He says he hopes to have a fundraising goal to release in a couple months.

The big question right now is whether or not WorldPride will get charitable status, he says. “If we do, that will make it easier to do community fundraising campaigns.”

Having charitable status could lead to larger donations. “For many people that’s an attractive benefit.”

PT is looking at creative fundraising ideas. “We’re considering everything. We want to have a significant bursary program so the less advantaged countries represented,” Alvarez says.

The InterPride conference will select the host city for the next WorldPride. The shortlist includes Madrid and Berlin. “[Each city] makes a presentation early in the conference, then lobby for a couple days, then the vote is on the last day.

“We’re the first North American WorldPride, so I think the idea is to alternate between Europe and North America,” he says.

For the most part, Alvarez says PT is on track for WorldPride planning. “I personally would prefer to be a little further ahead in terms of fundraising.”

Alvarez notes PT is still recruiting community members to join the WorldPride sub-committees.