What do you get when you cross Mayor Rob Ford with all the drama of professional wrestling? The mayor's surprise entrance at an LGBT event yesterday makes for a fun mash-up:
You couldn't have scripted it any better.
After more than a year of speculation, doubt and outrage over Mayor Rob Ford's seeming disinterest in engaging with Toronto's LGBT community, yesterday's flag-raising at City Hall for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia looked to be the final nail in Ford's socially-backwards coffin. Skipping this event – put on by PFLAG and championed by Ford's pal Brian Burke – would make it hard for even the most timid of pundits to avoid using the word “homophobe” to describe the mayor.
But then, just as the flag was set to be raised, Ford showed up. He didn't try for a glamourous entrance, but it was a big moment nonetheless. The crowd, after stunned silence, erupted in applause as the mayor strode toward the podium and read his proclamation.
The Toronto Star once described a hypothetical appearance by Ford at the Pride Parade in professional wrestling terms – big drama, big surprise – and Ford's appearance yesterday lived up to the spirit of that description. It was the emotional culmination of months of build-up and excited speculation, capped off with a last-minute twist that no one saw coming.
The excited voices of WWF commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan fit the scene like a glove.
Yes, there are lots of caveats to all of this.Taken objectively, it does seem absurd to lather the mayor in praise for taking an elevator ride to the roof and then reading a proclamation that says prejudice is bad and equality is important. And it's not as if one appearance erases the often antagonistic relationship Ford has had with the city's queer population over the last decade. And, of course, he's still a politician with policy goals that might kind of suck for a lot of the very same people who cheered him on yesterday.
But given that Ford has never shown much of a willingness to compromise or challenge his own worldview, we've got to take this all in relative terms and praise Ford for what he did. When he stepped out onto that roof, he took steps toward becoming a better mayor – a mayor that represents all the parts that make up Toronto, even the ones that might baffle and annoy him.
Last week, I wrote that we shouldn't have to wonder if the Mayor of Toronto is a homophobe. Yesterday, he proved he isn't. That's worth celebrating.
Thanks to Jonathan Goldsbie for pointing to the Star's pro wrestling reference and sparking the idea for a ridiculous video. And huge credit to HiMY SYeD for capturing video of the mayor's entrance. You can view more footage of the event on his website.
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/ford-for-toronto-matt-elliott/2012/05/18/ford-pflag-moment.html on 2012-05-18T00:00:00.000Z