With city council gearing up for another possible fight over funding for Pride Toronto, Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is making a stern plea to Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Mayor Rob Ford to just “leave the community alone.”
Mammoliti’s actions over Pride Week and the seemingly endless debate over Ford’s cottage snub have overshadowed the festival, she says. Toronto’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities will be pushed only so far before they push back.
“I wish that [Mammoliti and Ford] would just leave the community alone, and I wish all the people who keep attacking the community would just leave the community alone. At some point we are all going to stand up and fight back, and I think that we have been, in our own dignified way.”
The dialogue over the past month, in council and in the media, has released an onslaught of hate speech against the queer community, especially in the comments section of Toronto’s daily newspapers, she says. The debate seems to be going backward in time.
“They unleashed this virulent homophobia,” she says. “The editors of all the newspapers have been very busy deleting comments after articles denouncing Pride, but even the comments they don’t delete are very alarming.”
Long-time gay activist and QuAIA spokesperson Tim McCaskell says Mammoliti has fought against queer rights for decades. “Giorgio shouldn’t surprise any of us. It’s really a sad state when this guy gets elected to council.”
It’s interesting to note that, although Ford and Mammoliti may be party-poopers, 15 other councillors made up one of the largest city council contingents ever in the parade, Wong-Tam says, including a few people from Ford’s inner circle, like Cesar Palacio.
“There are other priorities that the city needs to put attention on,” Palacio tells Xtra. “My community is very diverse, and I am an immigrant, so I have a great respect for diversity.”
As a reminder of Mammoliti’s long-held feelings toward the gay community, Xtra has included the transcript of a 1994 speech at Queen’s Park. Mammoliti, then an MPP for Yorkview, spoke fervently against gay marriage and, indeed, any same-sex spousal benefits. Read it for yourself below.