As the weather in Toronto slowly turns from uncomfortably cold to unbearably hot, festivals will overrun every nook and cranny of the city.
From St Patrick’s Day, to Pride, to the Caribbean Carnival, Torontonians will hit the streets, eat too much food and get far drunker than anyone should be in public.
But then there’s Jesus in the City, a festival that Xtra readers are probably less familiar with. Instead of hedonistic revelry, Jesus in the City is largely a wholesome affair full of praise, worship and choral singing.
In 2014, Doug Ford helped save the parade at the last minute, earning accolades from social conservatives like Charles McVety, who cited the parade as one of the main reasons he endorsed Ford for the Progressive Conservative leadership race.
And now the parade is going international. Ayanna Solomon, the co-founder of Jesus in the City, said that a march will take place in Jamaica this October.
Part of the idea is to have a Christian event on the same ground which Carnival is held earlier in the year.
Solomon, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Xtra, told The Gleaner earlier this month that Carnival leads to all kinds of horrible things.
“The Devil was the worship leader in Heaven who eventually began leading people to worship him. When revellers dance on the streets, that is a form of worship, and people don’t realise it,” she said. “As they express passion for lust, something is released in the atmosphere that condones certain lifestyles, even homosexuality.”
So a Canadian pastor will help organize a festival in Jamaica to fight off the evils of homosexuality. That’s not the anti-gay narrative that most Canadians are familiar with. Instead, we usually fret about the homophobia that immigrants are allegedly bringing with them from their home countries.
But Canada continues to be a major exporter of homophobia.
Phil Lees, an Ontario anti-sex education activist, has expanded his organization to Hawaii in order to oppose sex education there, and has spoken in Barbados about the dangers of comprehensive sex education.
REAL Women of Canada is a partner organization of the World Congress of Families, a major international anti-LGBT network, and has participated in conferences around the world. Those conferences are often followed up with crackdowns on LGBT rights in the countries that they’re held.
And LifeSite News, which has became a force within the radical Catholic mediasphere, was founded in Toronto by the Campaign Life Coalition in 1997.
As the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting approaches next month, expect to hear more from advocates about how Canada should be aggressively pushing the many countries that still criminalize LGBT people.
And as long as Canada can avoid high-handed lecturing that prompts a backlash, like what happened with John Baird in Uganda, that’s largely the right move.
But Canadians need to remember that many of our fellow citizens are involved in making homophobia and transphobia worse around the world.
The fight for LGBT rights abroad begins at home.