Rob Ford was a predictable no-show at today’s but, for those in attendance, this annual tradition represents something much more than a photo-op.
Flag-raisings are by their nature ceremonial but, as they mean many things to many different people, they can be special on an individual, emotional level. This is particularly true of the rainbow flag that was raised at City Hall on Monday afternoon.
A crowd of 300 or so gathered decked out in all kinds of rainbow paraphernalia, including earrings, bracelets, and a dress. There were at least 26 councillors in attendance to hear Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East)—who some are speculating will run for mayor against Rob Ford in 2014—read the proclamation on behalf of the absentee mayor. (The introductory statement of “I, Mayor Rob Ford” elicited laughter from the audience.)
Photo: David Rider/Toronto Star
While the mood was buoyant, the event held deeper meaning for people like Goran Miletić (pictured below). The International Grand Marshal for this year’s Pride parade, Miletić is an LGBTQ activist in Belgrade and these sorts of pro-Pride public events do not happen there. “2010 was the only time we could have a parade,” he explained on City Hall’s green roof. “There were 5,000 policemen to protect 1,000 of us [marching].”
Photo: David Hains/The Grid
At the end of the parade, participants were driven away in paddy wagons—not for any wrongdoing, but rather protection. Miletić adds that “one of the arguments against Pride is that children watch it,” so it was encouraging for him to see so many kids at today’s flag-raising.
In the front row sat 34 kindergarten students from Geremy Vincent’s Clinton Street Junior Public School class. While two of his students were absent on account of their parents not signing the required permission forms, Vincent was thrilled to have his other students out there. “It’s about [promoting] understanding at a young age,” he said as the kids finished their lunch.
Indeed, this is the kind of educational foundation that’s easy to take for granted but which Miletić respects and admires. In summation, Vincent quoted a student who would make Miletić proud: “‘Today is the day we celebrate boys and girls in the class with two mommys or two daddys.’”