Maybe Rob Ford, as some of his supporters claim, wasn’t a homophobe. Maybe he was just an average guy who didn’t see sexual orientation. If that’s the case, he rarely let his tolerance show.
At every turn in his political career, Ford did something that would cement his hatred of queer and trans people in the public imagination. Here are the top 10 ways Ford demonstrated his disdain for LGBT people.
Like many Torontonians, Ford had a standing tradition of heading up to the cottage in the summer. And that’s why Ford — unlike previous mayors going back to Barbara Hall — never marched in the Pride parade. It was simply a matter of scheduling, and he would otherwise have loved to come. Except that wasn’t the case at all. In 2014, Ford said straight out that he doesn’t attend Pride because he doesn’t want to.
“I’m not going to go to the Pride parade,” Ford said. “I’ve never gone to a Pride parade. So I’m not going to change the way I am.”
Ford voted against funding the parade numerous times. And while that could be defended as looking out for taxpayer dollars, Ford also refused to stand and applaud the work of city staff after World Pride 2014. Instead, he sat in the chamber silently, not willing to engage in an even minimal show of support for the LGBT community. He did eventually attend a couple of Pride flag raisings, but only after years of pressure. Thankfully, it resulted in one of the greatest images of his mayoralty.
Rob Ford had no sympathy for people with HIV/AIDS. In 2006, he famously said that “if you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS, probably.” He apologized for the comments during his 2010 campaign. But Ford’s voting record is where he really showed his callousness towards people infected with or at risk for HIV. He continually voted against funding Toronto’s AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program. In 2011, he even voted against a motion reinstating $100,000 of provincial money for HIV and syphilis screening, even though the funds would have come entirely from the provincial government.
3) LGBT homeless youth
Ford loved the youth. He skipped many a city council meeting to coach football at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School. He said that without his mentorship many of the kids, who “come from gangs” and from “broken homes” (which was lambasted by their parents) would be lost. But when it came to kids who actually were in trouble, Ford believed that the city didn’t have any business in helping them. He voted against a proposal to ask city shelters to allocate beds for queer and trans youth, who are often excluded from the shelter system. Luckily, 37 councillors voted in favour of the motion, and now Sprott House is a reality.
4) Ford Fest
At Ford Fest, the giant barbecue/campaign event/hetero pride party that was held in Etobicoke (and later also in Scarborough), party-goers were welcome to hot dogs, hamburgers and a healthy dose of homophobia. When a group of LGBT protesters crashed one, they were subjected to physical and verbal attacks from attendees. One of Ford’s staunchest supporters, the inimitably awful Ron Banerjee, grabbed the throat of a protester. People chanted, “He believes in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” They ripped signs apart to applause. Ford apologized, but insisted that “we have to move on.”
5) Pride flag
Russia is a bad place to be a queer person these days. So it made sense that the 519 Community Centre would ask that the rainbow flag be flown in support of LGBT athletes during the Sochi Olympics in 2014. But Ford railed against the decision.
“The bottom line is, again, this is about the Olympics, this is about supporting our athletes,” said Ford. Unless those athletes happen to be LGBT, of course.
It’s not that Ford disliked trans people. He just didn’t understand them.
“People might think this is funny but I don’t know what it means. I know what lesbian, gay, bisexual. Transsexual and transgendered, can you explain what that means?” he said during a 2005 council meeting. “Because there’s a group here that says Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans-sexual Transgendered Pride Toronto and I don’t know what a transsexual or transgendered is.”
“Number 1, I don’t understand a transgender, I don’t understand. Is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy?”
Of course, transgender people weren’t the only thing he didn’t understand. Immediately after his comments, he also confessed he was confused by the concept of “racism.”
7) Sex education
The man that cheerily told the world that he never told a female staffer that “I want to eat your pussy” because “I have more than enough to eat at home” was disgusted by the Ontario government’s sex education plan because his young children “should not be talking about what anal sex is or what a blowjob is.” Never mind that that’s not actually what’s in the sex education curriculum. “It makes me sick to my stomach,” he said.
Considering his many homophobic statements and actions, it’s no surprise Ford would support homophobic candidates. In 2010, he gave a rousing endorsement of Wendell Brereton who was running for city council. Brereton believed that same-sex marriage was destroying democratic civilization. Ford said he liked his low tax agenda.
9) Rants during drunken stupors
Ford called Justin Trudeau a “fag” in the infamous crack video. He called Bill Blair a “cocksucker” at Steak Queen. Enough said.
Probably the worst thing for queer people to came out of Ford’s reign was the vitriol expressed by his supporters. They called city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam a “fucking faggot” at City Hall and mailed her threats. They attacked protesters at Ford Fest. They ran ads saying that people shouldn’t vote for George Smitherman because he was married to a man. Rob Ford made the homophobes feel like they had a leader they could rally around and they wouldn’t have to keep their hateful views to themselves.
(Daily Xtra file photos)