The City of Toronto launched Pride Week with the raising of the rainbow flag at city hall on Monday, and Mayor Rob Ford attended the ceremony for the first time since he took office.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam and Premier Kathleen Wynne were also present for the flag-raising. But the mayor’s appearance was a surprise.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you to the official kickoff of summer, the 33rd anniversary of Pride,” Wong-Tam said to big cheers from the rooftop crowd.
Pride runs until June 30 and will end with a massive parade in the downtown core.
City Summer 2013: Click here to read our full Pride Week preview.
Wong-Tam later spoke about the significance of the flag and of Pride Week itself.
“The rainbow flag is the internationally recognized flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer people. It represents the equality of life that each LGBTQ person dreams about and strives for. Each member of community wants, needs, fights for and has fought for freedom, equality and social inclusion.
“LGBTQ people have been forced to advocate for basic human rights, human rights that are automatically conferred to others. When we raise the rainbow flag in Toronto, we remind employers, citizens, landlords, corporations, communities and neighbourhoods that our great city welcomes everyone and everyone belongs in the City of Toronto.”
Ford, who has voted against funding Pride, read the Pride proclamation for the first time as mayor. He did not answer questions.
— Tammie Sutherland (@citytammie) June 24, 2013
Wynne did not speak but did help to raise the flag. She said Sunday she would march in the Pride parade, becoming the first sitting Ontario premier to do so. Wong-Tam praised Wynne’s decision on Monday, calling it “historic.”
“The LGBT community is incredibly proud of your historically important political accomplishments and achievements. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.”
Wynne, who is married to Jane Rounthwaite and has three children and two grandchildren, said attending gay pride activities is an annual event for her.
“Well it’s part of summer you know,” said told The Canadian Press in an interview.
“Every year I take part in the Pride events. Jane and I go to the Pride and Remembrance run on Saturday morning. I go to the church service, which is always very, very moving, on Sunday morning, and of course I walk in the parade.”
With files from the Canadian Press