FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO - In the past several weeks, there has been considerable discussion about the participation of a Conservative Party group, called LGBTory, in Pride celebrations in a number of Canadian cities.
Earlier this summer, they marched in the Toronto pride parade with Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown leading the delegation -- the first time a PC leader has ever participated. Among some activists, however, the participation of LGBTory has been met with suspicion. A petition was circulated recently calling on Capital Pride organizers to ban the group from marching in the Ottawa pride parade.
Looking at the stances taken by a number of Conservatives (like Patrick Brown) on issues important to the LGBT community, it easy to see why some people question their sincerity. In recent years, the PC leader has voted against adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of protections under the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. On other occasions, he has supported repealing marriage equality. And at the federal level, the Conservative Party’s Policy Declaration still proclaims its commitment to legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Anger at such political positions is understandable. There is good reason to oppose such outdated stances held by the Conservative parties at both the provincial and federal levels.
However, jumping so quickly to condemn groups like LGBTory may not be the best way to go. Instead, it might be more productive to encourage efforts to create inclusive politics across ALL partisan boundaries. Achieving ‘lived equality’ – our vision at ProudPolitics – means that LGBTIQ+ citizens should be accepted in all parties and in every walk of life. That includes the Conservative Party. We encourage strong and competent leaders to come forward to serve, no matter their political affiliation.
Of course, it is up to groups like LGBTory to push their party as a whole along the route of change and openness. They - and their provincial and federal party leaderships – will have to prove that their intentions go beyond strategic posturing for the sake of getting a piece of the ‘gay vote’. There must be moves to amend policies that oppose marriage equality. Future votes on issues surrounding protection from discrimination will have to shift from past stances.
As anyone who has ever come out to family or friends knows, though, change is not always easy. Whether on the personal or political levels, it is usually something that happens in stages and can take time. Partisans who fly the NDP or Liberal banner, for instance, would do well to remember that not so long ago, those parties also needed pushing on these issues. In every case, it has taken the determination and commitment of leaders on the inside of organizations to get the job done.
At ProudPolitics, we encourage everyone in the community to give LGBTory a chance to show what they can do. We wish them every success in their goal to become an LGBTIQ+ voice inside their party and a Conservative voice within the LGBTIQ+ community.
Let’s all keep the dialogue open and hold back from rush judgements. We look forward to working with candidates, groups, and parties of all stripes.
About ProudPolitics Canada
ProudPolitics is Canada’s only multi-partisan LGBTIQ+ organization aimed at diversifying the face and voice of Canada’s politics by helping emergent openly LGBTIQ+ leaders realize their potential to serve and win elections to all levels of government through candidate support, fundraising, networking, and outreach.
For more information visit: www.proudpolitics.org
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Curtis Atkins, Ph.D.
Deputy Executive Director (Research)
On July 24th, in celebration of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, ProudPolitics in partnership with PridehouseTO hosted a power of sport reception at the 519 Church St. location to celebrate the power of sport in bringing people together. Toronto Mayor John Tory was in attendance to give a speech on the inclusiveness of the games.
The most inclusive multi-sport games in history – this was the goal of PrideHouseTO in welcoming athletes to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. "The 519 has been transformed,” Tory said to the crowd of attendees at the reception. “It’s such a magnificent place.”
Just 11 days remain until Election Day, Oct 27th. If you are unable to vote on the 27th, advance polls are now open across many local municipalities. Check out your local listing for further information. Get out and Vote! http://www.proudpolitics.org/candidates
TORONTO – 26 September 2014
ProudPolitics Condemns Cowardly Attack Against Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
Earlier this week, Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam disclosed what she says is just the latest in a long line of homophobic and racist hate mail she has received since being elected in 2010.
In a letter titled “Let’s Kick the Faggots Out of City Hall,” an anonymous writer attacked the councillor with hate-filled language and expressed the wish that she would “get AIDS and die in public office.”
(See the letter here.) - https://mobile.twitter.com/kristynwongtam/status/514433047266717697
ProudPolitics wholeheartedly condemns this attack. Hateful language and name-calling are the tactics of ignorance and cowardice.
Though addressed to Councillor Wong-Tam, the letter represents an attack on LGBTQ people in general. It is a demonstration of both the challenges encountered by LGBTQ politicians and the work still to be done to combat homophobia. It speaks to the need to develop more confident and effective leaders, like Councillor Wong-Tam. That is part of our mission at ProudPolitics.
Although the letter was signed, “I support Ford Nation,” there is no indication that either current Mayor Rob Ford or mayoral candidate Doug Ford had any involvement with the incident. However, the attack occurs against a backdrop of homophobic innuendo that has characterized municipal politics in Toronto recently. Disputes around issues such as funding for Toronto Pride or whether politicians would march in the annual pride parade have been at the forefront of recent debates.
All politicians – whatever their orientation or ideological persuasion – have a responsibility to condemn attacks such as the letter aimed at Councillor Wong-Tam. They also have a duty to make sure their campaigns or actions do nothing that encourages or relies upon homophobic, racist, or sexist ways of thinking.
Let’s tone down the rhetoric.
Written by: Curtis Atkins-Deputy Executive Director Research
ProudPolitics aims to put more LGBT in office
BY ROB SALERNO, DAILY XTRA
Published Mon, Sep 8, 2014 11:54 am EDT (www.dailyxtra.com/toronto/news/proudpolitics-aims-put-lgbt-leaders-in-office)
Organization offers training, networking and resources to help groom the next generation. By all measures, Canada is a model of acceptance of LGBT people and enjoys an enviable history of openly gay and lesbian people holding elected office. Yet despite our legal equality, LGBT people can still face barriers when running for office, according to a new organization that aims to help queer political candidates overcome obstacles to entering politics.
ProudPolitics, a coalition of queer activists from across the political spectrum, aims to get more LGBT people into office by giving them the tools and training to run a campaign effectively.
The young organization already has a national advisory council made up of current and former politicians from all levels of government and political stripes, including former MP Bill Siksay, former MPP Phil Gillies and school board trustee Paul Marai.
“We believe that LGBT candidates can be the biggest champions of inclusion, regardless of political affiliation, and can be really effective change agents within their parties or political organizations,” says Arthur Kong, executive director of ProudPolitics.
Although gay men and women enjoy legal equality in Canada, LGBT people seeking office may not have access to traditional avenues of power and may face whisper campaigns from opponents hoping to exploit homophobia. Even the simple act of coming out publicly can be fraught with questions of whether, and to what degree, one’s sexual and gender identity should be part of an electoral campaign.
“Homophobia in political life is very real, and it is exploited because homophobia in our society is real,” says Nadia Bello, a former school board trustee who’s also on the national advisory council. “[Being out] might not be a priority for that person. The last thing on their agenda may be to be out or talk about their message in terms of their sexuality.”
Curtis Atkins, deputy executive director of research at ProudPolitics, notes that the 2011 Ontario election featured PC candidates distributing homophobic literature that targeted swing ridings and ethnic minorities, and even Kathleen Wynne’s leadership run featured a whisper campaign about her perceived vulnerability to homophobia. Atkins is working on a research project called the State of the Political Rainbow, which is taking a statistical approach to where out candidates have run in the past and what obstacles remain.
“A lot of the folks we’re working with are running for local office. Your base of voters is small in a lot of places. If you’re facing an unscrupulous opponent who believes they can exploit this as a wedge issue to draw . . . a couple hundred votes, that could be enough to swing an election,” he says. “We want candidates to be aware that you will possibly face this.”
ProudPolitics is consciously modelled on successful organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign in the US, which raise money for LGBT candidates, but with several key differences related to the Canadian system. ProudPolitics does not give money to LGBT candidates (partly because of laws that ban third-party donations federally and in Toronto). It doesn’t even endorse candidates or policies.
In part, that stems from a political culture in Canada where all major parties support LGBT rights to at least some extent. But it also highlights the differing motivations and goals of queer political power in Canada and the US in 2014.
“In the US, the struggle is still [for] legal equality and employment non-discrimination. When you’re up against that kind of battle, it motivates people to come out and support it financially in a different way than it does in Canada,” says Atkins, who hails from Arkansas.
The goal is simply to give LGBT candidates the tools and training to learn how to manage their own campaigns and to build a support network for LGBT people in politics.
“A goal is also to encourage LGBT people to realize that they can be judged by voters on their merit and to teach them you don’t have to be intimidated to run,” Atkins says.
Bello agrees that the training would be useful for new candidates who want to make a difference but don’t understand how the system really works.
“A lot of times, candidates come because they want to change something; they see the way things are and they don’t like it. Wherever your affiliation lies, you learn quickly that you cannot be a single-issue candidate,” she says. “I got elected when I was 27 years old, and the system is not set up to support young people who want to run for office. It assumes you’re independently wealthy or you have someone to support you, particularly at the trustee level, because you don’t earn a salary or benefits the way other levels do.
“The training really helps ground candidates in where do they stand around their identity, and how do they communicate that message to other people,” Bello says. “It’s also a strategic piece around what is your relationship to the community? Can you speak articulately about the issues around queer youth, housing, any of the issues that LGBT people might be facing?”
ProudPolitics is also working with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives to collect and archive the stories of LGBT politicians who have run for office, both to preserve the history and to learn from what these people have overcome on their journeys.
For Immediate Release
September 3, 2014
ProudPolitics launches two new programs for LGBTIQ+ political candidates
TORONTO — ProudPolitics is launching two new programs that will support and assist LGBTIQ+ candidates for political office, and their allies. On September 6 and 7, LGBTIQ+ candidates for all levels of political office will come together at Ryerson University for the Out to Win strategy and communications training conference. The program will provide candidates with hands-on training and help them:
- Understand factors that influence LGBTIQ+ candidates;
- Develop communications strategies to address issues of sexuality, gender identity and trans/homophobia;
- Clarify values, beliefs and priorities on issues that affect LGBTIQ+ communities
The conference will feature a variety of panelists and speakers, including former deputy premier George Smitherman. A full list of panelists and program details is available on our website, or at request.
ProudPolitics is also launching its unique Spotlight program, which documents the stories and political journeys of past and present openly LGBTIQ+ political leaders. The first video, featuring Toronto city councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam, will be launched at the Out to Win event.
For more information:
Co-director, Communications & Marketing
The Huffington Post - Posted: 09/02/2014 1:11 pm EDT Updated: 09/02/2014 1:59 pm EDT
By Udoka Okafor - Writer and Social Critic; Student, McMaster University
When LGBT persons are given critical representation and visibility in society, there is a subsequent and inevitable humanization that comes from the recognition that at its core, the issues that the LGBT community faces is an important faction of the continuum of struggles experienced by all human beings. The dissonance and negative distance that arises from the indiscriminate and incomplete stereotypical representation of the LGBT community is reduced, because persons are able to immediately dismiss these categorizations of individuals within the LGBT community as untrue, by virtue of the political and social visibility that they are, or ought to be, afforded within society.
This political and social visibility is the goal that the ProudPolitics organization as a whole, and its Spotlight Program, is striving to achieve. ProudPolitics is a non-partisan organization, based in Canada that is working to get more LGBT politicians into office. The Spotlight program within the organization, of which I am honoured to be a co-manager and creative director, along side my colleague and friend Warren Brown, is one of the initiatives that seeks to achieve the overarching aim of the organization. The Spotlight Program is an initiative that is currently involved with interviewing past and present LGBT politicians in Canada, both on a federal, a provincial, and a municipal level, and to date, we have interviewed five politicians of all political stripes. The aims of the interviews are to document an important part of the history of the LGBT community in Canada, to highlight the triumphs and tribulations of the journeys of these LGBT politicians in Canada, and to provide inspirations, and foster role models for LGBT youths, disadvantaged communities, minorities, and any LGBT persons out there aspiring for political office.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO – June 12, 2014 - On election night June 12, 2014, CBC News host Robert Fisher referred to Premier Kathleen Wynne's sexuality as a "lifestyle choice", as he was providing political analysis.
ProudPolitics condemns CBC Host Robert Fisher's choice of words in describing Premier Wynne's sexuality as a "lifestyle choice." This expression is dismissive of the complex combination of identity and behaviours which inform sexuality, and of the significant barriers that still exist today due to homophobia and biphobia.
We expect CBC Hosts to demonstrate better knowledge and understanding of sexual diversity now and in the future.
About ProudPolitics Canada
ProudPolitics is Canada’s only multi-partisan LGBT organization aimed at diversifying the face and voice of Canada’s politics by helping emergent openly LGBT leaders realize their potential to serve and win elections to all levels of government through candidate support, fundraising, networking, and outreach.
For more information visit: www.proudpolitics.org
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The team at ProudPolitics would like to wish everyone a safe and warm holiday season. We would like to thank all our volunteers, donors, and supporters who have helped us grow over the past year.
Stay tuned for our Winter 2013/2014 newsletter for updates on our upcoming programs and volunteer opportunities!
The ProudPolitics team would like to thank all of you for your generous donations, support, and for coming out to our inaugural fundraiser, titled Lived Equality, on November 14, 2013. Your support will help grow our programs and continue to increase civic-engagement and political leadership in the LGBTIQ+ community
Special thank you to our keynote speaker Jaime Watt, and VIP guests OHRC Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall, MP Craig Scott, & former MPP Phil Gillies.
Your support and leadership is greatly appreciated!
To volunteer with us, please visit www.proudpolitics.org/fundraiser
To donate to us, please visit www.proudpolitics.org/donate
RSVP to purchase tickets, please visit www.proudpolitics.org/fundraiser