Enza Anderson, grand marshal for Pride 2008, says her experience with the organization behind Toronto’s Pride Week has left her feeling less than honoured.
“I don’t really know how to feel about the whole situation right now,” Anderson says. “It’s an incredible honour to be selected but there have been a few surprises from Pride.”
Anderson was elected grand marshal at a public meeting at the 519 Community Centre in April. She says the first surprise came shortly after when she was told that, although the Pride committee provides the grand marshal with a $300 honorarium for participation in the festivities, it was up to her to find her own set of wheels for the parade. The grand marshal traditionally leads the Pride parade, to be held this year on Sun, Jun 29.
“It was a big shock that I had to find my own car,” Anderson says. “Back when I was on the Pride committee in 1999/2000 we took care of those details for the grand marshals.”
“It’s a special honour to be asked to be grand marshal,” says Michelle DuBarry, grand marshal for 2007. “I don’t recall having to pay for anything last year. I had escorts taking me here and there.” But DuBarry adds that a friend helped her organize her Pride appearances and may have made arrangements unbeknownst to her.
Pride cochair Lenore MacAdam says this isn’t a new policy.
“The grand marshal is given an honorarium to spend however they wish,” responds MacAdam in a written statement. “This has not changed since last year.”
Anderson says she’s negotiated an arrangement with Ford Canada that’ll see her riding a silver Mustang convertible on the big day.
“I’ve met a lot of Ford reps at parties over the years so I thought I’d give it a try,” she says. “I promised them they’d get lots of publicity out of it and that the car would be featured in a bunch of photos.”
In addition Anderson says she was disappointed to learn that, as grand marshal, she isn’t allowed to attend the annual Pride Gala and Awards as a guest. Tickets for the event — which takes place Tue, Jun 24 in the Distillery District — cost $300.
“They told me I could either use my honorarium for my float in the parade or to attend the gala,” she says, “but one way or another I’m going to have to pay to be grand marshal.”
“We have never in the past purchased a gala ticket for the grand marshal, as this event is a fundraiser,” states MacAdam. “Grand marshals who attended the gala in the past may have had tickets purchased for them by a patron.”
Anderson says she was also dismayed to learn she will not be provided with her own publicist to call attention to her participation in Pride. Though she’s certainly done her share of PR in the past in connection to her bids for political office Anderson says she doesn’t feel comfortable taking on that role anymore.
“A publicist has to be a real bulldog with the media, fighting for opportunities for their client,” she says. “I work in the media now and I have a public image to maintain. I have to protect that.”
“Although Enza is free to get her own publicist if she wishes, as far as Pride Toronto publicity is concerned Pride’s PR company Planet 3 Communications will deal with Enza’s publicity along with that of the honoured dyke and honoured groups in the parade and Dyke March,” states MacAdam.
Anderson says in future she wants to see Pride Toronto do more to support the grand marshals and other honorees in their participation in Pride festivities.
“I feel incredibly honoured to have been chosen by the queer community for this position as an acknowledgment of the 15-plus years of charity work, volunteering and fundraising I’ve done,” she says. “I want to be able to relax and enjoy this opportunity but I’m afraid of what other surprises might be coming.”