POLITICS

Why Rob Ford's Relationship With The LGBTQ Community Keeps Surfacing

07/26/2014 03:03 EDT | Updated 07/28/2014 06:59 EDT
CP

An ugly scene broke out Friday at the "Ford Fest" barbecue in Scarborough as supporters of Toronto's controversial mayor clashed with a handful of LGBTQ activists.

There were several verbal confrontations and a man was reportedly shoved violently. A video from Daily Xtra captures a Rob Ford fan grabbing a protester's sign and tearing it apart. At the 2:04 mark of the clip, a man can be heard shouting what sounds like: "go suck a d-ck, f-ggots."

According to The Canadian Press, the commotion took place out of the mayor's sight. Yet, the ruckus reminds those following Ford's bid for re-election that the controversy surrounding him extends beyond his admitted abuse of crack cocaine and "you name it."

In fact, Ford's contentious relationship with Toronto's LGBTQ community keeps surfacing this summer and is giving both his top rivals opportunities to draw sharp contrasts with the mayor they aim to replace.

Ford returned from rehab exactly one day after WorldPride ended. His two main competitors — Olivia Chow and John Tory — both attended and, at least judging by the photos, had some fun.

Ford hasn't attended a Pride parade since becoming mayor in 2010, always saying it conflicts with an annual trip to the cottage. He admitted in February, though, that he chooses not to participate.

"I'm not going to change the way I am," he said at a Scarborough debate.

In his first interviews after returning to work, Ford blamed his addiction problems for homophobic and racist slurs he has used in the past. "You say things, do things that aren't you," he told a reporter.

Yet, Ford also used his substance abuse issues as a way to duck a straightforward question about whether he will attend Pride festivities next year, if re-elected.

"Again, I'm going to take it one day at a time," he told CP24. "That's how we deal with this disease."

Story continues after slideshow:

Why People Think Rob Ford's Homophobic

On Canada Day, a shirtless jogger confronted Ford and won fans online for calling the mayor a "corrupt, racist, lying homophobe." Yet, the mayor maintains he has no problem with gay people.

Two weeks ago, Ford was the only member of Toronto city council not to join in a standing ovation for volunteers and organizers who worked on WorldPride. He wouldn't explain that decision to reporters.

A day later, he was the sole councillor to vote against a proposal to help gay homeless youth.

The motion — which passed 37-1 — asked city staff to study allocating 25 per cent of beds in a youth shelter to LGBTQ individuals. It also asked staff to consider the feasibility of a shelter dedicated to homeless gay youth.

Ford even refused to release his "hold" on the motion the day before — a tactic forcing a council item to be debated rather than passed without a vote. The reason, evidently, was that he wanted to voice his disapproval.

"The mayor is homophobic," concluded Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, the only openly gay or lesbian member of council.

Again, the top contenders to replace Ford in October made their opinions known.

Ford told reporters after that he is "spendaphobic," not homophobic. But the photos and videos from Friday, at an event named in honour of his family, will do little to dissuade those who think "Ford Nation" opposes the LGBTQ community.

Chow and Tory, meanwhile, appear to be telling those with hate in their heart towards gay people that they can take their support elsewhere.

Toronto voters head to the polls on Oct. 27.

With previous files