Would you go? Seriously, if you were Rob Ford right now would you go to Gay Pride? Even if he were to consider it, extricate himself from his entrenched positions in an attempt to make a few friends, is Gay Pride the place to go?
Imagine what a few hours in the Pride parade might look like from Mr. Ford's point of view. It would be hard to fabricate a more fertile ground for humiliation than a crowd of dancing, naked and half-naked critics with the mayor mounted on an open vehicle leading the way.
It's not that there are no Conservatives in the gay community. There are plenty. More than a handful likely even voted for Ford. Were they pissed off at last year's no-show or did they feel, as some Conservatives do, that the mayor's rights as an individual should be allowed to supercede his obligations to the diversity of Torontonians? Maybe they figured it's not like he was going to get laid, so why miss the weekend at the cottage?
But a lot has happened in the last year and whatever support the mayor had from thinking Conservatives has evaporated. Unwilling to negotiate, he has alienated himself from all but a few on city council. The shred of self-respect he has left to hold onto is his unwillingness to cave on the one or two things that are still within his control. So, no pride parade.
My guess is that this year's snub is as much a duck-and-cover as it is a cocky, "I-do-what-I-wanna-do" decision. I don't think it's a case of being unwilling to alienate his homies by hanging with the homos. What's left of his depleted constituency is likely hard core and here to stay.
Petrified of anything outside his comfort zone, the mayor is unwilling to stretch, to reach out, to negotiate at all. I think it's fear disguised as "screw you!" that underlies his tenaciousness.
The mayor is in over his head and it's scary as hell. Hunkering down in the comfort of his own rhetoric, standing firm against unions, and helping individuals who call his office with tangible problems like, "My swimming pool was accidentally built two inches too big and the city wants to tear it out," are his survival tactics. Some of it works well. Most of it doesn't. He is incapable of compromise, even when it's held out as a lifeline he could claim as a win.
Fear can be a great motivator but other people need to share your fears in order for it to work. Mayor Ford is cowering alone. Maybe it's in part council's fault for being so bamboozled by his first kill, Transit City, that they forgot he couldn't actually make unilateral decisions and he got used to it. Maybe brother Doug forgot to review the handbook. When reality hit, the mayor was incapable of rising to it, and like a sore-losing toddler cried technical irrelevancy -- the equivalent of knocking over the board -- when he couldn't make the rules himself.
I'm surprised anyone is shocked the mayor refuses yet again to show up at Pride. It requires courage to have a change of heart.
Mel Lastman swallowed his fears, armed himself with a super-soaker and joined the party. He was a good sport and by all accounts he had fun. Mayor Ford is too scared to be a good sport. At his weigh-in this week PETA supporters dressed in lettuce leaves, pitching the vegan way, were summarily ignored. And remember how Marg Delahunty fared. We all poo-poohed his claims of fear but I think there was something to it.
I love the buttons that say, "Our Mayor Embarrasses Me." But I'd like to see an obligatory button that says, "I'm Embarrassed I Voted for Ford." The news on how boorish and offensive Ford is didn't just surface. People chose to ignore it when they streamed to the polls to vote him in with a significant lead. We got what we voted for.
Despite his inability to get many nuanced thoughts out of his mouth before being elected, now Ford barely says anything beyond his few comfort words: "No new taxes" and "No Light Rapid Transit." Is anyone else reminded a bit of the mayor in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?
As for Ford's second snub of Pride, it takes a leader to lead and we haven't got one.