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Kyle Rae’s donation to leather fundraiser helped It Get Better for gay youth

MLT fires back at the Sun for "yellow journalism"

Outgoing councillor Kyle Rae’s donation of more than $400 to a leather fundraiser in a city park in the summer helped organizers donate $2,700 to a local service that saves hundreds of youth from committing suicide, says Mr Leatherman Toronto (MLT) board chairman.

MLT board chairman Howard Levine told Xtra he was “furious” when he read the Toronto Sun story Thursday morning that lists outrageous budget expense items by city councillors.

The release of expense information of Toronto’s city councillors — totaling close to $1 million — appears under the section header “Gravy Train.”

“This is yellow journalism,” he says angrily. “The reporter barely tried to contact me. I would have explained everything. He sent me an email two hours before their deadline. It was a fundraising event, not a fetish contest.

“Youth Line is a great organization that saves hundreds of lives, so to criticize us is unbelievable.”

Levine says Rae gave $421.18 toward the permit to host the Leatherball in the Park in Allen Gardens on Aug 14. About 500 people attended the fundraiser.

“This is money that went back to the city anyway,” he says. “It was for a permit. It’s perfectly legit. It’s money that was reinvested back to the city. It’s not like it was $400 to buy booze.”

Levine says Rae offered to cover the permit prior to the event at one of the planning meetings.

“I think it was Kyle who offered because the funds went to charity,” he says. “We were thrilled.”

Rae did not return calls from Xtra.

MLT, a not-for-profit organization that produces Canada’s largest leather fundraisers, including the annual Mr Leatherman Toronto Competition in November, hosted the event in the park to raise funds for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans Youth Line, a toll-free provincewide peer-support service.

Levine says the Leatherball in the Park raised $2,700.

“We didn’t make any money and we were all gone by 10pm,” he says. “We left the park cleaner than when we came.

“It was a win, win, win for everyone involved.”

The larger scandal, Levine says, is the city policy that all outdoor events must hire paid duty police officers. Without the officers, he says, the permits would have been denied by the city.

“It’s paid duty extortion,” he says. “We had to pay $1,500 for three cops who stood around and did nothing.”

That $1,500 came out of the donations for Youth Line, Levine says.

“We would have been able to give more money if it weren’t for the paid duty police,” he says. “That’s what’s most unfortunate.”