We finally have confirmation from the mayor of Toronto and his Tweedledee brother that the real reason Rob Ford doesn’t come to Pride is because his innocent eyes can’t handle all the “buck-naked men.” It’s another curious excuse from a man who has spent much of his professional life inside football locker rooms.
Sam Sotiropoulos, a Toronto District School Board trustee, joined Ford Feb 13 in the quest to rid the summertime street festival of any exposed flesh. Sotiropoulos suggested on Twitter that nudity at Pride is against the law in Ontario. When challenged, the trustee encouraged Torontonians to stand with him against the evils of something called “homosexism.”
“One of the most divisive influences in Canada today is homosexism it’s [sic] disseminators are maliciously rabid,” Sotiropoulos posted.
When pressed by a National Post reporter about the meaning of the word, Sotiropoulos pointed to an entry at urbandictionary.com that states homosexism is “discrimination or prejudice against straight men or women by Gay, Lesbian, Transgender or Bisexual people.”
The spat reminded me of the recent viral video featuring Irish drag queen Panti Bliss. In it, Bliss argues that homophobes have appropriated the word “homophobia,” redefining it so that they become its victims. “Three weeks ago I was on television, and I said that I believed that people who actively campaign for gay people to be treated less or differently are, in my gay opinion, homophobic,” Bliss said. “And for the last three weeks I have been lectured by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed to identify it. Straight people — ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists — have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by.”
Sound familiar? People like Rob Ford and Sam Sotiropoulos have rebranded themselves as victims, casualties of our wanton sexuality and hedonism.
But elements of sex-negativity and Victorian-style prudishness also exist in our own community, often coming from gays who worry about children being exposed to queer people celebrating their sexuality. These squeamish types — most of whom, it appears, have been able to claim all their rights — have somehow forgotten that it’s what we do with our naked bodies that kept us gays down for so long.
I recently took part in an online discussion about LGBT discrimination and Russia. The moderator wanted to know why Russian gaybashers target men more than women and why fewer male athletes have felt comfortable coming out. I think it’s simple: bum sex.
Homophobes like Vladimir Putin and Rob Ford surely enjoy a casual wank to your average girl-on-girl porn. But the thought of two men fucking triggers a primitive hatred. When we celebrate this love during Pride — whether it’s naked on a parade float surrounded by colourful drag queens or dancing topless in a Church Street beer garden — it reminds them of what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms.
So let’s call it what it is and stop allowing these bigots and nudity-haters from masking their issues with concern for the wide-eyed children. And let’s remember that Pride is not the Santa Claus parade — its roots are in protest and sexual liberation. So long as the Putins and Fords of the world still have platforms from which to stir up hate, there’s no reason why we should ever let up in that protest.
We should also keep in mind that there’s nothing shameful about the naked body or sex. If you think there is, I’d encourage you to avoid Pride. Stay home, turn on the television and show your children the more palatable aspects of our world: perjuring politicians and crack-smoking mayors, airbrushed celebrities, schoolhouse shootings, dead bodies piling up in the Middle East, priests raping children.
I prefer to leave that all behind for a few hours on Pride and head downtown to celebrate gay rights and gay sex — and to protest those who hate us gays and the ways we seek pleasure. And for those, like me, who have never wanted Rob Ford or his ilk at Pride, now we know how to ensure he never shows up. Let’s get naked!
Danny Glenwright is Xtra’s managing editor.