Active History: “Looking Back on Pride”

I finally bit the bullet and decided to dip my toe into the Active History pool by submitting a short post about Rob Ford’s decision not to attend Toronto Pride. I’ve only just begun my research, but a number of the collections I’ve examined at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives contain some references to the city’s earliest Pride events. Although my research doesn’t focus on Pride events, this is the first time I’ve been able to put my doctoral research to good use. I’m especially happy to have shared it with Active History, as I admire their efforts to connect historians and the work we do with the public.

Looking Back on Pride

Gay Picnic picture (Part of the first Pride Week events): Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives, Toronto Gay Action, Vertical File (c. 1972).

The relationship between the City of Toronto and the city’s queer communities has been a popular topic of discussion in Toronto over the past few weeks. Prompted by Mayor Rob Ford’s decision to forego Pride Week’s festivities in exchange for time at his family cottage, many, critics and supporters alike, have expressed disappointment in the mayor’s decision to forego the 16-year tradition of Toronto’s mayor’s marching in the Pride Parade. While it is true that attending Pride events is not an official duty of the mayor, it certainly is a sign of goodwill from the city’s highest elected office. Since 1995, Toronto mayors have made it a point of attending Pride. To many, this was a sign that the City, which has not always acted in the best interests of the city’s queer communities, was willing to work with them to make Toronto as inclusive as possible and celebrate sexual diversity rather than suppress it. We need to consider Rob Ford’s decision in this context.

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