02/06/2014 08:19 EST

Rob Ford Admits He Skips Pride Because It's 'The Way I Am'

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TORONTO, ON - JUNE 24: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes an appearance at the raising of the Rainbow flag to kick off Pride Week festivities on the Podium roof at City Hall. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Rob Ford has admitted that he skips Pride events because it's "the way I am" rather than because of an annual trip to his family's cottage.

Ford made the comments at a public forum for mayoral candidates at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus on Wednesday night, The Toronto Star reports.

Asked if he will attend the World Pride festival in Toronto in June, Ford responded unequivocally.

"I’m not going to go to the Pride parade," the mayor said. "I’ve never gone to a Pride parade. So I’m not going to change the way I am."

Ford's comments come after he attended a pride-related event for the first time last year. It was, however, widely noted that Ford looked less than comfortable at the rally to raise the rainbow flag.

Many previous mayors have attended the Pride parade, but Ford has always maintained that it conflicts with a longstanding family tradition to visit the cottage on the Canada Day weekend. Ford has stuck by the claim despite the fact that he attended A Canada Day parade in East York in 2010 while running for mayor.

Former councillor and businessman David Soknacki, Ford's chief rival in the campaign so far, said at the U of T forum that he will attend the Pride Parade, according to The National Post.

“The mayor has to represent all Torontonians,” Soknacki said.

Councillor Doug Ford defended his brother Thursday, saying the mayor is not a homophobe and has gay friends.

Doug Ford told reporters his brother supports funding the event but chooses not to attend.

“You know what’s ironic? I spoke to some folks in the gay community and they said they weren’t going because they didn’t like the idea of middle-aged men with pot bellies running down the street buck naked and they didn’t feel comfortable that they could bring their kids there,” he said.

The councillor said he brought his kids to Pride and wouldn’t do it again.

“Do I condone men running down the middle of Yonge Street buck naked? Absolutely not,” he said.

Listen to audio from Doug Ford’s press scrum below.

Toronto votes for a new mayor on October 27.

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