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Pride panders to ancient gay stereotypes, loses touch with the 21st-century man and woman

When Toronto Pride rolls into town, the large attendance always reminds of us just how much the city supports its gay community. Sure, hate crimes still exist, the city recently threatened to pull Pride’s funding, and inappropriate f-words are flung from passing vehicles, but for the most part, Toronto is a safe and relatively easy place for gay men and women to live. Then Tourism Toronto, in partnership with Pride Toronto, launched its P90X parody Pride Pump 2000x, filled with the dainty, over-sexed, workout-obsessed (read: gay archstereotypes). We’re curious as to when an episode of Queer as Folk re-emerged as a gay factory standard.

In the video, instructor Brody wears skintight shorts to show off his glistening oil-rubbed skin, promoting a gym lifestyle centred on the fact that all gay men and women want is “the best chest.” Amid “sparkle crunches,” a “disco break,” a requisite “bear” appearance and a lesbian who is grossed out by a penis (some may be surprised to note that this woman has a deep voice), we can’t help but wonder how out of touch (or straight?) the person who cooked up Pride Toronto’s painful-to-watch and setting-back-the-movement promotional video was. If gay activism is on the rise, how will the community be taken seriously if the organization that fronts the city’s largest gay celebration backs these old-hat, shouldn’t-be jokes? If they were looking to shoot fish in a barrel, why didn’t the Pride committee just hire Big Gay Al?

UPDATE: The video was released by Tourism Toronto in partnership with Pride Toronto. An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed the video. Toronto Life regrets the error.

  • Doug

    I don’t actually think Pride Toronto did this video. While their logo is on it as a partner- I am pretty sure this was made by Tourism Toronto. What an embarrassing mess! Do they really think this is how Toronto’s LGBTQ communities want to promote the city?

  • Sam

    Whatever, if this video is playing on ancient gay stereotypes, then the whole pride parade is one big gay stereotype, there’s floats of bears, twinks, nudest and 90% of them are ripped topless guy with short shorts. So are all the companies/ organization ancient? Maybe we shouldn’t have pride all together if we are so evolved.

    RELAX it’s just a fun video. Don’t take it so seriously.

  • Zip

    So then what’s the right way to do it? The promo itself is lame, but it is a PARADE. What is the author proposing? Oh right – NOTHING. It’s not like a video of Kevin Naulls types would do much to sell the event as fun, so what approach would accomplish that without “setting back the movement?”

  • Hong

    It’s fun, features a diverse set of actors (including a drag queen) and is not at all meant to be taken seriously, or at least not by anyone who understands a little satire. When I see bearded men parading around in fashion spreads and being coveted for their precious facial hair, I don’t moan and wail about how it’s socially alienating as a modern 21st Century Asian man. In a lot of ways, this video is actually a lot more inclusive than this blog:

    http://dressedfordinner.wordpress.com/category/beard-scouting/

    I think most down-to-earth people in the gay community will see this for what it is. A gag. Not an opportunity to criticize a piece of communication for the sake of mediocre column writing.

    On another note, PRIDE IS COMING!!! Come one, come all. Yes. Even you unfortunate few who can’t grow a half-decent beard. -I- won’t judge.

    -H

  • Avid Reader

    People, people, come together!

    A wise women once said, “It’s always easier to criticize than to praise…” Let’s be supportive instead of really going OUT-OF-OUR-WAY to take issue with a fun, upbeat campaign. It’s actually very smart and current as to what is trending now in media as per our discussion among a group of working journalists and reporters at our table.

    I for one LOVE this campaign and feel like we should not take it or ourselves SO SO seriously… I don’t know of “Kevin Naulls” work before this article but it has gone over his head and he missed the point! It clearly isn’t meant to being taken so literally. Hello sense of humour and satire!? It’s sarcastic, witty and over the top – HELLO! As Canadian’s (gay or straight) we are known for having a good sense of humour and even being self-depricating (not that I feel this is). This web based campaign appeals to the mass majority audience that actually comes out to participate in Pride Toronto every summer (on the floats and in the streets) such as my friends and I. It’s fun, sexy and camp and I think Tourism Toronto nailed it with this video. Does author “Kevin Naulls” come out to Pride? Either way it’s unfortunate he missed the boat on this article. If you are current with the times in which we live in media / gay culture you would get this.

    As another reader “H” commented: “I think most down-to-earth people in the gay community will see this for what it is. A gag. Not an opportunity to criticize a piece of communication for the sake of mediocre column writing.” – That nails it.

    Or this comment by “Sam”: “Whatever, if this video is playing on ancient gay stereotypes, then the whole pride parade is one big gay stereotype, there’s floats of bears, twinks, nudest and 90% of them are ripped topless guy with short shorts. –
    RELAX it’s just a fun video. Don’t take it so seriously.”

    Thankfully Tourism Toronto has stepped up to front the money needed thus far for the Pride festivities and including this web campaign video to promote Pride Toronto which surely didn’t come cheap. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but perhaps instead of criticizing this video which supports Pride and it’s community in a fun way – we should direct more attention to the city ie. Rob Ford and the lack of support there both financially and personally in character. 1st mayor not to be in the parade. Very sad.

    Kuddos to all involved in this project. I hope a lot of people get to see this video.

    Happy Pride to all!!! (Even Kevin Naulls)

  • kevin

    While not everyone in Toronto LGBT comunity is happy with this video, many commentators on facebook our outrages that Tourism Toronto insults “the Lesbian community” towards end of video with this insulting comment by a muscle bound Dancing Queen in orange shorts ” Ï don’t understand Lesbians?” he snickers at camera.

    Pride Toronto weekend is no longer a grass roots organizing catering to the LGBT community. It could be run by the Shriners and no one would know the difference, big business, tourism and entertainment, very little of which has do with gay and lesbian community. Its now just a three day weekend, sevens days are affiliated events. Some bakeshop has a baking class. Pride Toronto will call it an affliated event, tomorrow it will baking class again.

    Toronto has other alternative events to Pride, that are arguably more about what it means to be queer in Toronto. There’s Toronto Trigger Festival Thursday June 16 to Saturday June 18 and the Toronto Queer West Arts Festival Monday August 8 to 14, 2011.

    A new one has been add to the grow list of alternative events; Saturday June 26 & 27 – Lesbians are organizing an alternative Pride Toronto weekend called “STONEWALL TO!” in Christie Pits Park run by Sasha Von Bon Bon (VBB) the organizer behind the Take Back The Dyke parade up University Avenue in 2010 a group of about 2000 lesbians split from main Dyke Parade on Pride long weekend.

    So the bottom line is, there much more to queer Toronto than the American long weekend. (Pride Week July 1-3) There is even apparently a new alternative gay district to Church St gay village. Know as the Queer West Village, that I hear from friends is booming.

    Toronto’s growing up, queers are everywhere and doing things differently. Not only thinking outside the box, but put their foot down and crushing it.

  • kevin

    Correction – STONEWALL TO! is Sunday June 26 to Monday June 27, 2011…Mission statement – We will gather. We will march, roll, stroll and dance. We will scream, sing, chant and chat. We will break stereotypes. We will break the city and corporate stronghold. And then we will break BREAD (gluten free of course) in a giant potluck picnic!

  • Hong

    I’m starting to see the light now Kevin.

    “Toronto has other alternative events to Pride, that are arguably more about what it means to be queer in Toronto.” Is that so. If it is, how narrow-minded.

    The truth is that you, are in fact, the 21st Century man, and your hip ways are how you think the masses see and want things. The truth is that you belong to an extremely niche community, and Tourism Toronto didn’t cater to you, per se. So you lash out on a fun, upbeat promo because it’s not up to your standards of being so ridiculously progressive. Niche communities are important, but the very nature of the Queer West community is to go against the grain. And, honestly, that’s who trailblazes the progression of the city. If Tourism Toronto decided to jock these niche events, they wouldn’t be so niche anymore and the whole community would likely move onto the next small thing.

    But this video is meant to attract the bigger piece of the pie while trying to be as inclusive as possible. Rest assured, your hipsters, errr sorry i meant 21st Century men and women, will find their own reasons to come to Toronto for all of the events you’ve listed above. You’re right. There are a lot of other, alternative reasons to come to Toronto for Pride. And yes, your friends are right. Queer West IS booming. (Does anyone else find it surprising that someone with such a strong opinion couldn’t speak on his own behalf about Queer West? Why bother making the distinction that it was his friends who told him? Weird.)

    Bottom line to you Mr. Naulis, if Tourism Toronto decided to make the queerest, most alternative, grassroots, fixed-gear, bearded, rolled-pants promo, draped in a Pendleton wool blanket, with Mark McNairy level detailing and collaborative wardrobing by Junya Watanabe X Alexander Wang, you’d still be complaining.

    -H

  • Dave

    “So the bottom line is, there much more to queer Toronto than the American long weekend. (Pride Week July 1-3) There is even apparently a new alternative gay district to Church St gay village. Know as the Queer West Village, that I hear from friends is booming.”

    Um. What do you mean “apparently” and that “you hear from friends” ?!

    Aren’t you at every Business Woman Special party? This is a classic case of a snob not wanting to commit to anything that’s gaining any sort of popularity. Would it be so bad to admit to being part of the community? Looks like someone is too cool to be gay. Even niche-gay!

    Also, watch for typos.

  • Anonymous

    Love this video!! Agree with what people are saying here about the article. This is a VERY literal interpretation. I guess there would be no article if the author loved it. I’m sure this was made with the best intentions. Humour is a hard sell. Some people get it, some people really don’t get it at all.

    Happy Pride!

  • kevin

    Readers are not fooled by commentators praising the Pride Video. You’re either with Pride Toronto in some capacity or Tourism Toronto. Knocking alternative events and locations means your clearly worried about the future Pride and the traditional gay village in the Church St. Neighbouhood.

  • John Thai

    So much flaming…

    Don’t knock the alt events! Where else would we go during Pride to avoid the masses of sweaty beefcakes (grr!). I think all Pride events are important and both alternative as well as mainstream events have their place.

    I also don’t think there is any ‘threat’ of the traditional village being replaced by the new up and coming village since we are all one big community anyway!

    What’s with all of this talk of segregation and traditional vs. alternative?!

    :(

    This makes me sad.

  • Woodrow M

    GayGuideToronto.com is polling the community today with it’s daily “interaction” question, asking about this video and whether it offends or not. Thus far the majority are not so mortified: http://www.gayguidetoronto.com
    Love your mag btw.

  • Paul

    Lighten up. It’s campy. It’s funny. I had friends who were on the fence about coming up from the States to Toronto Pride with me. I showed them this video, and now they’re on board. They’re all masculine, young professionals who don’t do sparkle crunches… but they’re able to take a joke.

    Since they’re coming, I guess it had its intended effect of increasing tourism, now didn’t it?

    Go take a disco break, Kevin. It’ll help get the sand out of your vag.

  • Scott Dagostino

    I wasn’t offended by this video but I felt its ancient clichés cried out for a more age-appropriate remix ;)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqAZe0oJsv0

  • IsTorontoRacist?

    A swishy Asian bottom, to boot! My life should be complete,

  • Alex

    A previous commenter admonished another by saying, “Looks like someone is too cool to be gay” — what the fuck? As if there’s only one way to be gay. The idea is to celebrate a multiplicity of identities without imposing a rule that only certain “bodies” are acceptable.

  • Strepsi

    It’s aiight.

    I’m gay and from another city and have worked in events and PR with many Torontonians over the years, and I’d bet you dollars to donuts this was in fact made by Toronto queers and that they were rolling on the floor crying with laughter as they made it. This type of Torontonian is so super gay that this video was simply a natural expression.

    And the other half of Torontonians are the ones who just like to get offended by … well… everything. The huffy Torontonians, you know, the ones who didn’t like “The Barenaked Ladies” because the name is misogynist. You know who you are.

    P.S. The people who cry “how will the community be taken seriously?” are the same defensive Torontonians who say “Toronto is a world-class city!” Who the f*** cares if I take you seriously? have fun!

  • ryansouth

    Well-written and relevant article.

    Did anyone see the funny article about the gay pride protest???

    http://milkthebull.com/2011/06/07/gay-pride-protestors-break-into-full-blown-orgy/

  • Kyle Roerick

    For an insightful critical analysis of this issue and video check out my article written for The Gaily http://thegaily.ca/?p=1588

  • Kevin Alexander

    This video is an insult to Toronto’s LGBT community and Pride Toronto should be ashamed of themselves for creating it.

  • rjp3

    what kind of sick awful person wrote this attack article on a light tongue in cheek promo – Kevin feel free to answer for yourself you bitter self righteous person

  • Ewan

    Even if this ISN’T an example of pandering to ancient gay stereotypes, what it certainly is is LAME! And why make a promo video that only gay men will understand when they know about Gay Pride already. So it is a waste of money too.

    Mind you, it does raise the question of whether the whole Gay Pride thing is out of date. Is the message of pride not supposed to be that gay men are not a bunch of camp cross dressing girly boys who live in a different society, but that they are usually perfectly normal men who just happen to be attracted to other men, and are not ashamed of that fact? If that is the case then is gay pride, and this promo video, delivering on these aims or perpetuating stereotypes?

  • Zip

    Is the “kevin” in the comments the ‘Kevin Naulls’ who wrote the article? I hope not.

    Excerpt from a “kevin” comment:

    “While not everyone in Toronto LGBT comunity is happy with this video, many commentators on facebook our outrages that Tourism Toronto insults “the Lesbian community” towards end of video with this insulting comment by a muscle bound Dancing Queen in orange shorts ” Ï don’t understand Lesbians?” he snickers at camera.”

    This “kevin” should be more concerned with homophones, not homophobes.

  • jerry

    sex sex sex so your friends are coming …

    no wonder our community struggles with gaining respect

    pride in Toronto is way more than sex and drugs and self pleasure.

    how sahllow

    people are being killed for being gay

    I will be at Pride and it has nothing to do with sex, drugs and booze

  • canmark

    That video is just… dumb. It’s not offensive: it’s embarrassing.

    As the kids would say, That’s so gay (ie. lame).

  • a

    this was fun and campy, which was what they were aiming for. there’s many pflag other groups with a political message in pride that you can look at for a different message. but there’s also lots of fit young people having fun who care about how they look, so why pretend there isnt? im one of them and i love they made a fun commercial like this. they’re speaking to me, not miserable people that can’t see the humour in it.

  • Mark Smith

    ONLY REAL PROBLEM

    yes this panders to stereotypes, and yes people will complain that it does not represent. No mater what there will be complaints. This attempt at humourously inviting the masses to pride, is one premis, poorly writen, adequetly acted, that goes on for about 180 seconds to long..like a stereotypical SNL skit…

  • Sam

    Perez doesn’t see what the big deal is!
    http://perezhilton.com/2011-06-08-offensive-toronto-pride-video

  • Ian

    SO turned on right now!

  • Linda in ON

    As a bisexual woman, I think this ad was absolutely brilliant! I loved it and laughed my head off. Were we stereotyped? Yes, definitely. But take this ad in the fun way it was intended. I in no way feel this was mean spirited and am not offended. If we cannot laugh at ourselves, then we cannot hope to evolve and become mainstream and then we ourselves run the risk of becoming the mean spirited ones. Chill out, relax, enjoy and laugh at yourselves occasionally. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Steve

    It’s parody, people. parody. I think it’s fucking hilarious.

  • darryl s

    Simply put…if you can’t laugh at yourself then who can you laugh at. Get over it…

  • John Thai

    The Grid just put out a new article outlining a new kind of stereotype.

    I get the feeling the ‘post-mo’ population are the ones who are offended. Sigh.

    http://www.thegridto.com/city/sexuality/dawn-of-a-new-gay/

  • Zip

    The author of this is a good pal of the genius who wrote the ‘post-mo’ article. It all makes sense now. Hatefulness masked behind an ironic smile. Kevin, Paul & your ilk: just because you are ugly on the outside doesn’t mean you need to be ugly on the inside too.

 

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