Joe Clark: Accessibility | Design | Writing

GGVI bid comparisons: Toronto

(See previous article.)


  1. We are misled, but not hugely, right off the bat. "Canada guarantees, in its Charter of Rights, equality of all regardless of race, gender, ability, nationality, sexual orientation and religion" [6]. It’s the Charter of Rights & Freedoms, and it most assuredly does not list sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Such protection was only given de facto addition to the Charter after a number of court challenges forced sexual orientation to be "read into" the Charter, i.e., given the full force of the other enumerated grounds even though it isn’t specifically listed. "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in both the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Ontario Human Rights Code" [63]: It’s the Canadian Human Rights Act and applies only to industries of federal jurisdiction, like transport and broacasting.
  2. "We intend to secure 2/3 to 3/4 of the budget before the Games begin, thereby minimizing costs to participants" [7]: Fine in principle, but Toronto isn’t really charging a notably lower registration fee than other bidders (C$100, or US$73.50). Also, let’s define our terms. Since the Gaymes are held for a week and Toronto, if it wins the bid, will have had nearly five years’ leadtime, even if income were evenly spread out over all 208 weeks Toronto could not fail to accumulate nearly all its budget before the Gaymes. This goal, then, is specious. Front-loading the budget in this way will, however, strain "the community," which, according to the budget, is on the hook for C$1.4 million. This is a lot of money by any standard.
  3. Toronto expects to haul in a wildly optimistic million bucks in sponsorship from four [76] or "three to four," i.e., three or four, companies [81].
  4. "From December 1997 to April 1998, the board anticipates having $500,000 in start-up funds" [82], though no source is specified. The impoverished and overstretched Lesbian & Gay Community Appeal is listed as helping to find unspecified corporate sponsors.
  5. "Traditionally, and throughout early history, athletics has been one of the most oppressive areas that gay men and lesbians have encountered" [36]: We’re on rather shaky ground here. Yes, in the 20th century, queers of all genders have had a bit of a rough go in sport (lesbians arguably less so), but let’s not exaggerate. Homosexuality as a concept did not exist until the late 1800s. Same-sex activity has been going on from day zero, but the kind of gay identity the bid’s phrase is really getting at is a modern invention. What deep historical sources can Toronto cite to back up its claim that "athletics" ("sport" is a better generic term) has been oppressive to people with a same-sex orientation? or that such an orientation, where it existed at all, was ever really taken into account in selecting teammates from the great phys-ed class of history, as it were?
  6. Venues: Because I live here, Toronto’s is the only bid on whose venue selections I can knowledgeably comment.

    • The approach used is clusters of venues. This is a necessity, not a virtue, because Toronto sports venues, like those of all cities not designed under a master plan (is Brasília different?), are spread all over the place. "We are currently proposing seven or eight distinct locations which will feature two or more sporting events within minutes of each other" [36]. The venue clusters are, in many cases, massively distant from each other, equivalent to travelling from tip to tip in Manhattan. The Toronto bid is pretty much stuck with this arrangement. However, the committee needs to be much more honest with people about the true distances – and traveling times – between clusters.
    • York University in the northwest end is bruited as a subhub, so to speak.
    • Storage space for voluminous gear is foreseen. Nice in theory, but I wonder who will really go for it given the possibility of loss, tampering, or theft.
  7. Transit is reasonably well-thought-out, though that may be a mark of my familiarity bias here. The committee proposes to charter local buses (including school buses), though with Toronto’s current city-bus shortage this is iffy. Also proposed are subsidized unlimited transit passes, which, if schlepping around New York was any indication, will be lifesavers. However, Toronto suffers from conventional thinking in the detail of venue-to-venue transit, proposing to ferry everyone to and from a central depot. This just won’t work, particularly when you’ll have to trace out two legs of an isosceles triangle half the time rather than just driving from A to B. The central-depot approach will work in many cases, but Toronto must analyze likely paths between venues and provide direct links. Also, no mention of bus-driver training.
  8. "The estimated number of participants within our sport program is 10,000" [36]; "Toronto... is making arrangements to facilitate participation by 15,000 athletes and artists" [74]; 15,000 participant medals and 7,500 gold/silver/bronze medals are envisioned [47]. We need much more clear estimates of who will fall into the sport and the culture camps. If you can’t nail down this most basic figure, we wonder about all the figures deriving from it.
  9. "We anticipate... a 20-member board.... We will emphasize the need for gender parity among our board, its committees and any paid positions within the organization. Minimally, we will require that our board and its various committees be equally represented by gay men and lesbians through co-chairing. We will also require that underrepresented groups, visible minorities, and disabled persons be represented among our board and its committees" [60]. Welcome to the new Toronto police state (Catharine MacKinnon, empress).

    • This gender-parity crapola is workable and maybe makes sense here and there but is a boondoggle and a cover for an ongoing process of discrimination on a large scale. Let’s start with practical details. Requiring a boy and a grrl for each paid position doubles the number of paid positions but does not correspond to a doubled workload or a doubled output. How many tens of thousands of dollars will be pissed away here?
    • There is an assumption of liberal-feminist utopia at work in which all aspects of life are equally attractive to and populated by men and women with equal levels of expertise and suitability. What this really means is that some co-chairs, most of them women, may be underqualified compared to their counterparts and are included, and given equal decision-making power, just by virtue of an accident of birth. Why is it fair to provide this advantage?
    • Just what is wrong with hiring on merit? Let’s consider what a bloodthirsty Toronto Queer Nation turbodyke might consider a worst case: For three of the biggest sports (in this purely hypothetical example, let’s consider swimming, softball, and volleyball), the most experienced and objectively qualified volunteers are educated white males with good incomes and nice houses in Cabbagetown. Some 5,000 or more athletes could come under these volunteers’ purview (more like 7,500 in Toronto’s estimate). Now, though, due purely to a misguided edict from on high, the volunteers must dig up three female co-chairs who may or may not have sufficient qualifications or experience to add anything substantial to the organization of the events.
    • Or let’s imagine that several sports, possibly even biggies like swimming, softball, and volleyball, can be and are headed up by fully qualified and experienced women. (Include other value-adding features like colour and disability if your mental model needs them.) Why should these sport chairs, who have clear objective license to carry out their duties, have to dig up a man to validate them? Perhaps you’d like the women to change their surnames while you’re at it.
    • Imposing quotas for people of colour, "underrepresented groups" (who gets to define that term?), and crips is not going to work. Queer people are a minority. Queers of colour, queers living with underrepresentation, and disabled queers are minorities within that minority. It is unrealistic to assume that qualifications and experience – clearly necessary to organize the sprawling and very complex Gay Games – correlate with any of those factors.
    • Let’s look at historical reality. Gay men are likely to outnumber lesbians and bisexuals as objectively qualified sports chairs. Deal with it. Hire on merit.
    • Word of warning to adherents of this cult-like policy: Don’t be surprised if white women suffer at the hands of this policy, which implicitly values a poor disabled immigrant single mother of colour higher than anyone else alive.

    What the committee flirts with here is a gravely serious affirmative-action disaster-in-the-making.

  10. There’s another bomb waiting to fizzle, if not actually explode, in the outreach section [88], which posits using "ethnic" queers already here to reach out to the folks in the old country. The plan is half right. A better approach is to use existing contacts here to develop a mailing list, and then have the committee spend its own money to translate materials professionally and do the marketing. Let’s get this straight: Marketing to white anglophones is something the committee recognizes it must do itself, but marketing to foreigners who speak another language you fob off to immigrants? What’s wrong with this picture?
  11. Plans to create a legacy program, stoked mostly by retained earnings, are skimpy and do not concentrate enough on sports. The plan, barely explained at all, is to provide mentorship for the young generation with the old in various topics. But let’s be realistic here. It’s the Gay Games, a sports event. The bid book just finished telling us that "athletics has been one of the most oppressive areas that gay men and lesbians have encountered" [36], so why not pour all the cash into sports? We do not urgently need a legacy program to work on culture.
  12. CITY-TV, a local station, is not a network [64].
  13. The idea of securing any kind of sponsorship from butch-boy sports-gear juggernaut Nike is naïve.
  14. Alarmingly vague, dumb-ass blandishments about translations.
    • "Toronto is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, with over 100 languages spoken. [...] Translation services are available in every language. Through partnerships with the various ethnic communities, and numerous government services, the host organization will be able to offer translation services to all who require them" [64]. Come on, kids. First, don’t assume government will help with anything beyond French, and even that is a stretch. Translation services are manifestly not available to "every" language (how about interpreting between Hausa and Australian Sign Language?). Don’t exaggerate. Hire qualfied professional interpreters (no volunteers) and decide, based purely on research, on a list of languages that will be supported.
    • "Given the wide cross-section of ethnic communities represented in Toronto, there shouldn’t be any problem having all pertinent information translated into any of the world’s languages" [88]. Lots of problems, kids, like finding someone who can really do the translating well, locating typesetting resources in town, and paying for it all. This is barely better than a typically American monoglot view of the world – that we’re all one big happy family, that all concepts are translatable to all languages by average people, and that such translation offers no technical, cultural, or cost barriers whatsoever.
  15. The committee won’t try to make a profit on the souvenir program, selling it for about $8.
  16. Spending $200,000 on travel [79]?

Disability access

Utterly uninformed and misguided, revealing the ignorance and lip service Toronto’s hyperleftist queers, obsessed with race and gender issues, give to the disabled minority. The committee plans to make outreach to "government agencies and independent organizations involved with physically and mentally challenged" [sic, 88], as though there are any government agencies and as though disabled people all huddle around the telephones at impecunious community groups.

The "Physically-Challenged Participants" section [43] starts off with a malapropism and heads downhill from there, slathering on pufferies about the wheelchair accessibility of venues and official buildings (as if anything less were even minimally acceptable) and the existence of an overtaxed paratransit service.

"All physically-challenged individuals will be welcome to participate with all other competitors. If there are enough individuals or teams registered to have a competition in a particular event for the physically-challenged only, this will be facilitated": It would have been much more honest to admit the committee knows nothing about disabled sport and, beyond good intentions, has no idea where to begin.


Inconsistent and hazy, but not criminally so and really not all that much worse than most competing bids. "There are no restrictions for entry into Canada for persons living with HIV/AIDS. While here, individuals can be assured of access to dependable, renowned healthcare services" [7] vs. "It will be imperative for all visitors to Toronto for the Games to have adequate medical insurance coverage" [62]. What they’re trying to say here is that Canadian medical care will cost you real money unless you’re a Canadian citizen and can produce a medicare card from your home province or territory.

Graphic presentation

Glorified word processing. Its/it’s errors twice. Loved the bit about the Pink Turk [sic] Soccer club. The logos proposed to symbolize the Gaymes are a typically uninventive rearrangement of queer tropes – a triangle as the base of a flame accounts for the preferred logo, while a more graphically complex number (with a T derived from negative space around three wavy flag-edges), though graphically superior and even clever, was demoted to second position.

Posted: Circa December 1997 ¶ Updated: 2009.03.01

You are here: Homepage → Gay Games VI bid comparisons

Homepage: Joe Clark Homepage: Joe Clark Media access (captioning, Web accessibility, etc.) Graphic and industrial design Journalism, articles, book