On the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – and with potential cuts to Pride Toronto (PT) funding looming – Toronto’s queer community will bring a big gay message to the city hall rotunda on May 16.
The message will be directed to Mayor Rob Ford and city councillors: PT is more than just a parade and a party. “It’s about building community, creating jobs and saving lives,” former Community Advisory Panel member Michael Went tells the group of about 20 activists, community members and representatives from various gay, lesbian and trans organizations who gathered at Ryerson University on May 9.
Call it City Hall Pride. Billed as “a celebration of the best of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community,” speakers have been lined up to talk candidly about how the festival touches lives every year. Expect to see drag queens and performers and hear personal stories and heartfelt testimonials.
The Proud of Toronto group formed in April when it became clear that Ford had put a target on the gay community, beginning with Pride Week. PT may soon face devastating funding cuts, which could cost the city World Pride in 2014 and quite likely force the organization into bankruptcy, says PT co-chair Francisco Alvarez.
“We’re a group of people who see the risk and decided to do something to stop it,” Went says. “The mission is to protect LGBT services.”