After three years of conspicuous absence, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has attended his first official pride event.
Ford showed up the ceremony where a rainbow flag is raised outside City Hall Monday and gave a speech in which he said "Toronto’s strong and vibrant LGBT community contributes greatly to [the] city’s cultural fabric.
"In a world often marred by clashes between people who see differences as a reason for conflict, Pride Week is a time to celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and understanding."
Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's first openly gay premier, was also in attendance and was quick to praise Ford for showing up at the ceremony.
But not everyone was impressed. There were protesters at the ceremony and some jeered the mayor during his speech. Many on Twitter questioned Ford's timing. pointing to the ongoing scandal over a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack. Ford has denied he smokes crack and that the video exists.
And while Ford did show up to the flag raising, he has already made it clear that it's likely he won't be attending any other events during Pride Week or the parade itself on Sunday. Ford says he'll be at his family cottage, the same reason he has provided for not attending Pride events for the past two years.
It seems flag raising ceremonies are Ford's favourite way of acknowledging the LGBT community. Last year, the mayor attended a flag raising event to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. During that event he read a statement denouncing homophobia.
You can read the full text of Ford's speech on Monday below and see more tweets from the event below.
WHEREAS Pride Week in Toronto is one of our country’s premier arts and cultural festivals and one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world.
Pride Week celebrates the history and diversity of our city’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirited and Transsexual (LGBT) community and promotes a society in which all residents can live free from discrimination.
Pride Week attracts an estimated 1.2 million people to our city each year for ten days of community activities including street festivals and the highly anticipated Pride Parade.
Toronto’s strong and vibrant LGBT community contributes greatly to our city’s cultural fabric. Pride Week is an opportunity to celebrate the harmony in which we co-exist and raise awareness about the barriers some individuals still face in the areas of health care, public safety, employment and the recognition of family relationships. In a world often marred by clashes between people who see differences as a reason for conflict, Pride Week is a time to celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and understanding.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor Rob Ford, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim June 21 – 30, 2013 as “Pride Week” in the City of Toronto.