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Toronto Pride: On The Brink Of Collapse?

Having seen the federal government’s tourism department yank funding and fun scandals involving groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, it’s a wonder Toronto Pride is even still functioning. Actually, it barely is. A just-released financial report shows the group is more than $100k in debt after running up a $432k deficit, and executive director Tracey Sandilands is stepping down (being pushed out?). So expect fun changes like possible further staff cutting (the group is already down to four staffers) and a noticeably smaller event in June and July. And then there’s the small matter of Toronto playing host to the global event World Pride in 2014, which you might’ve guessed is, uh, an even more expensive undertaking.

By:           JD
On:           Jan 28, 2011
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 26 Comments
    • zacht
      zacht

      GREAT! i think all pride festivals should be done away with. and not because im not proud of who/what i am but because they are unnecessary! they just stir the pot and get conservatives all riled up and show them a side of gay culture that frankly, i dont want to show!! arent we pushing for equality and marriage and to be seen as the same as everyone else? then why do we feel the need to jump up and down with giant dildos in thongs? it just makes us look bad and gives fodder against gays. it embarrasses me as a gay man. maybe back in the 70s/80s there was a good cause for it but not now. i think we should be pushing for reform in policy, government, attitudes…NOT pushing our junk in peoples faces. “pride,” in this sense, is a thing of the past. id love to know what others think about this…

      Jan 28, 2011 at 11:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alejandro
      alejandro

      Oh and don’t forget that toronto now has a homophopbic racist ignorant mayor Rob Ford, who is very against the Pride parade..

      Jan 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @zacht:

      Not all of us live in cities where events like you describe happen. The ones near me have very small parades (if any at all), and really exist solely to let people know what types of government, religious, and political groups exist in the area. And provide a day of mediocre entertainment. And a day to socialize. They serve a purpose for a specific part of the community.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zacht
      zacht

      @DR: right, and that sounds great. a group of people getting together to affect policy and make change is amazing. but thats not the image given off by most prides (maybe the original intent, but not the follow-through). i think we can agree on that.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe
      Joe

      @zacht: I used to have the same opinion as you when it came to pride parades and the like. It seems like an unnecessary display that only adds fuel to the fire against us.

      I went to my first pride parade at Toronto Pride in 2008, after my friends convinced me to give it a chance. My opinions changed that day because I was willing to look past a couple vulgar displays and some nudity. As an artist or even a fan of the arts being a prude is just counterproductive, and so I came to see these people in a different way. But what changed my opinion most was standing next to families with young children waving flags in support of the community. Back home in Northern Michigan this sort of support was really foreign to me and to see several city blocks and thousands of people, it was quite moving.

      After that I came to realize I had been a hypocrite in my beliefs. I didn’t put down mardi gras, or spring break Cancun and they can be far worse than a short parade on the weekend. My advice to you is to stop thinking of this as some in your face display that somehow damages your fragile image and start thinking of it as a way to share all aspects of the community with others.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SA
      SA

      Isn’t Pride, for a large percentage of attendees,really just an excuse for a bunch of guys to get together, do an assload of drugs and try to hookup? I tend to agree with ZACHT. Prides are kind of a thing of the past and at this point are just plain boring. Gays usually are innovative and fresh when it comes to events and personal parties. Pride is anything but that.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChicagoJimmy
      ChicagoJimmy

      @zacht: This is the same discussion that occurs on gay blogs every summer. Good for you to get your opinon out there early.

      I disagree with you totally. While I do want to treated equally under the law, I have no desire in being “seen the same as everyone else” as you wrote. I hear every year from people who have been to their first Pride parade, and they suddenly find themselves proud. Yes, proud of the rich diversity in the gay community and our ability to embrace all of it. Sure, we’ve got some more conservative folks who live quiet lives in obscurity and then we have the live-out-loud folks who like to cross-dress, wave dildos, or wear thongs. We also have a lot of folks that are in between.

      Pride is a celebration of the diversity of the gay community and it includes people who push the envelope in terms of sexual expression and over-the-top costumes. It isn’t for everyone. If you don’t feel proud at these events, don’t go. On the other hand, you could organize a bunch of gay folks that want to be seen as “normal” and have that group march in a parade.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      @zacht: dude, have you ever marched in a pride march? I’ve viewed several and marched last year in NYC. And while some in the parade might be racy there are others who are conservative.

      The point of pride is a day to show that we are there as a community. In all of our flavors, conservative or non-conservative. All races. All colors. And we support each other for the struggles that have come before and will come against us.

      And when you march, you WILL feel that support and it is wonderful.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe
      Joe

      @SA: It is what you make of it really. If you go looking for drugs and guys than your likely going to find it. But the same applies to those who go looking for community and acceptance. Its those people that find families openly supporting their sons and daughters, businesses hanging flags, and plenty of support for equality. There are those who use it as a platform to speak and rally each other to make change in their local governments, and of course there are those who go to find a cheap trick. I don’t deny that there are negative aspects, and they will always something to dislike, but to disregard everything else because of it seems adolescent.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      @zacht: No, that’s the image you can only see. Until you and all others who march in a pride parade I feel your opinions stem from ignorance. And you do LGBT people a disfavor.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph
      Joseph

      @zacht: As a Torontonian, Pride in Toronto is much more than a parade. The parade is the culmination of a whole week of LGBT cultural activities. From theatre, cinema, music, comedy nights, a flag raising at city hall, an HIV/AIDS vidual, street parties, etc. etc. The parade is only one small part finishing off the week. It’s a very important event showing people that we do exist in all of our forms, it’s also there to show LGBT youth that IT GETS BETTER and that people like them exist.

      Pride Toronto will come through and emerge better than ever! What’s wrong with walking around in a thong or picking up a one night stand or partying your ass off? It’s pride!

      Just because you are asking to be treated equal under the law in the States does not mean you have to act like a bunch or prudes! Get a life!

      Oh and by the way, we are treated equal under the law here in Canada and can still wave dildos around, wear thongs in public and even pick up a one night stand! Shock!

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @zacht: I suspect they are pretty important for a lot of young people just coming out. As for the people who are offended, these are the same people who are offended by anything the gays do, including breathing.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zacht
      zacht

      as i said, “pride, in this sense.” i was referring to the type of parade where gratuitous sexuality is on display. gay culture is about a lot of other things and yes, many of those things are on display and should be, but do we really need sex to be out there so prominently? maybe we should pick the aspects of our culture to highlight a little more wisely. and i dont think that we are the “same” (bad word choice) as everyone else nor should we be, but being equal to everyone else is important. and this is not breeding equality. and to those who say this is good for young people just coming out, do you want young people to think that being gay is all about sex? this is definitely the impression that the pride parades ive been to gave. and to those gorgeous gay families parading (i love seeing those!), do you want those children thinking this is what daddy and daddy do? this is what being gay is about? why just thongs and dildos? why not just be naked with hardons? a fine line. celebrating our culture is a good thing but i believe it should be revamped and done a little differently. it doesnt mean im a prude. if you think that, then you are small minded.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zacht
      zacht

      as i said, “pride, in this sense.” i was referring to the type of parade where gratuitous sexuality is on display. gay culture is about a lot of other things and yes, many of those things are on display and should be, but do we really need sex to be out there so prominently? maybe we should pick the aspects of our culture to highlight a little more wisely. and i dont think that we are the “same” (bad word choice) as everyone else nor should we be, but being equal to everyone else is important. and this is not breeding equality. and to those who say this is good for young people just coming out, do you want young people to think that being gay is all about sex? this is definitely the impression that the pride parades ive been to gave. and to those gorgeous gay families parading (i love seeing those!), do you want those children thinking this is what daddy and daddy do? this is what being gay is about? why just thongs and dildos? why not just be naked with hardons? a fine line. celebrating our culture is a good thing but i believe it should be revamped and done a little differently. this doesnt mean im a prude. it means im thinking about the bigger picture in a very realistic way.

      Jan 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zacht
      zacht

      (sorry bout the double-post. the site crashed a minute ago. and i revised a comment, which you get to see now anyway! yay!)

      Jan 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Harbo
      Harbo

      ZACHT I couldn’t agree more. I share your opinion in spades, Nudity, dildos, slings, bare asses on display is a big turn-off to the general public – the very audience we are trying to convince that we are (or can be) someting other than sex-crazed maniacs, druggies and child molesters. A little decorum is never a bad thing.You said it beatifully. I never go to Pride parades because they’re embarrassing. I don’t live my life with a dildo up my ass.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 1:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken S
      Ken S

      Bummer, my bf and I have a hotel reservation already to make our first ever ‘pilgrimage’ to Toronto Pride this summer. We usually go to Halifax, and our own town of Fredericton had its first above-the-radar Pride week last summer, but I’ve wanted to make it to Toronto and see a million people on the streets for the parade since I came out. I’d be pretty disappointed if it were cancelled :(

      As for all the hand-wringing “it makes us look like freaks in front of the almighty straights” crowd– fuck them. Its sex-negative, body-hating, heteronormative prudishness that feeds homophobia by advancing the bullshit view that sex is-and-always-must-be X (man & woman), Y (man in charge) and Z (in the bedroom, lights out, missionary position). Is it *necessary* or even ideal for our collective expression of “pride”– pride that we survive oppressive disdain– to include a bunch of bared skin and gyrating? Probably not. But why the hell shouldn’t it? Are we not free men and women? Why the reflexive pandering to conservative control-freaks with their absurd superstitious ‘moral’ pronouncements on the human body and all of its wonderful uses? Why do you subscribe to the view that it’s the minority who needs to “tone it down” instead of that it’s the majority who needs to loosen the fuck up? Why do the puritan assholes get to dictate what’s appropriate, eh?

      I don’t strip down and fuck in the streets for Pride– I don’t feel the need. But if other people want to why should someone else presume to tell them they can’t? Because of “the children” (that tired old cry of the same old repressive hypocrites)? Well exactly what does it teach young people to shrill that bodies are dirty, shameful things and that the most basic thing they’re build for is disgusting and meant to be hidden? (Then doing a 180 five minutes later and pimping every hard body in service to the advertising industry.)

      Having a stick up your ass probably means you’re a puppet, whether you realise it or not. Try really questioning things for a change, *scrutinize* the hell out of the “moral” majority; likely you’ll find they aren’t half as great the role-models they claim to be, and that peoples’ potential (for happiness, for freedom, for growth and learning) is far better served by a more liberal mindset.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 8:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • divkid
      divkid

      @Harbo: “I never go to Pride parades because they’re embarrassing. I don’t live my life with a dildo up my ass.”

      no, your so tight assed you could’nt fit it in!

      i kid. i kid :-)

      (haha sorry, but you did leave yourself a bit, uh, open)

      Jan 29, 2011 at 8:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joey O'H
      Joey O'H

      I’ve been to Toronto’s Gay Pride Fest and it’s the best time I ever had. 100,000 people lined Younge Street for the grand parade. And Church has one of the finest gay villages I’ve ever visited.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 9:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zacht
      zacht

      @Ken S:
      wow. i disagree so much. where to begin? why do i have to be conservative and a prude puritan to be against public sex??
      see, im willing to bet you dont have a family and probably dont want one. I DO want a family. and frankly, if you did have kids, you probably would not want them to watch pornography, right? (if you do then i dont know where to go from here…)
      what about a woman pulling up her dress and rubbing her junk on a pole, etc. etc, in the middle of the street with people cheering her on? is this something youd want your 10 year old daughter to be exposed to? is this what you want her to think sex is about? i think you are the close-minded one, especially if you think that not wanting sex acts displayed in the street for all to see means a person has a stick up their ass. where does that get us? does it move us forward?
      if you move to a new condo, there are rules, if you move to a new country, there are rules, if you start a new relationship, there are “rules,” otherwise it doesnt work out. just like living in a society, there are limitations that one must abide by. there have to be lines. we are not second class citizens but certainly we are not better than anyone else either. why should we have different rules and expectations? frankly, i dont want people to expect this type of behavior from me but they do! and this is why they do. and i do care what others see and what others expect and even, YES, what they think, because we live in a democratic society where all people make decisions and so their opinions DO matter. maybe that is a good or bad thing, but it is reality.
      “But if other people want to why should someone else presume to tell them they can’t [strip down and fuck in the streets]?” um…because you cant! and therefore you shouldnt. and straight people shouldnt either.
      you have a very selfish point of view. because you DO need to consider other people. otherwise where would that leave us?
      dont you have enough self respect and PRIDE to be WHO you are without a display of WHAT you are? we use the argument against conservatives that “we dont care what you do in the bedroom so why do you care what we do?? that is private between you and the other person!” uh then why are you making it public? speaking of hypocrisy…
      this is what i meant in my original post about there not being as much a reason for blatant sexuality in these gay festivals anymore. i think sexually, we (gays) are liberated. people know what gay sex is. now can we move on?
      now can we just be liberated socially? can we put a bit of a damper on the sex thing and concentrate a bit on all the wonderful things we can (and DO) in the world? take the focus a little off what we do in the bedroom? again, you can say all you want that we shouldnt pander to the almighty straights but what about the almighty greater good (and yes that means the children too)? dont be so victimized by “the straiiights!!!”
      why not change things around and be the bigger people (gays) and instead of saying, “this is us! this is gay sex! in your face! deal with it!”, be respectful of ourselves and treat others with respect? sometimes if we want to exact change in the world, we have to be a bit cunning about it. use our heads. think of the bigger picture. the future (and yes, the children).

      Jan 29, 2011 at 11:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Soupy
      Soupy

      Pride is a day to celebrate being different, embracing and indulging it. We have to work are way around societal conformity every other day of the year. The tradition goes so far back in history when the day of “carnival” allowed European serfs to be masters for a day and a big debauch. It’s about the freedom to be different.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 11:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @zacht: Please do not have children. There’s a chance they’ll be as big a mess as you are. Your rambling reminds me of a Sarah Palin speech.

      Ever been to Mardi Gras? Watched The Sopranos? Pride parades are tame stuff compared to either one.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Soupy
      Soupy

      This argument always irritates me. Pride never was, nor should it be, about building a bridge to the straight community. It’s not about making “them” proud of us. It’s about personal pride in who you are. And to hell with the bigotry of others for at least one day. It’s not about shame.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      @justiceontherocks: Forget him. He’s dogmatic and doesn’t get what “PRIDE” is about. He’s like the homphobes who can only see the “sex” and “depravity” when thinking of gay dudes. Instead of seeing the loving relationship that dudes can have.

      @Ken S: You bring a different take. And I like it. Here! Here!

      @Joey O’H: Good to hear. Glad u enjoyed it.

      Jan 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • afrolito
      afrolito

      @Soupy: @Ken S:

      Agreed and Agreed.

      The pride parades are about celebrating us, and what makes is different and unique. Not about putting on a dog and pony show to impress heteros, about how we’re just like them. So sick of pathetic, self loathing gays and their obsessive desire to show how “normal” we are. I love my gogo boys in thongs, dykes on bikes, drag queens, leather men, and every other form of public debauchery.:)

      Jan 30, 2011 at 6:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin
      Kevin

      apparently I was standing right beside the photographer
      http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=510307513682&set=a.503396623162.2041104.119104256

      Jan 31, 2011 at 8:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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