Homophobic Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dead At Age 46

Ford courted controversy and scandal in his term as mayor.

Disgraced former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who refused to march in World Pride and attempted to take the rainbow pride flag down from City Hall, has died at age 46.

The CBC characterized Ford as a man of contradictions: “a millionaire with a working-class attitude; a cost-cutting crusader who promoted subway expansion over less expensive transit solutions; and a man who while serving as mayor often seemed more interested in coaching high school football.”

Ford made international headlines when rumors surfaced that he had been videotaped smoking crack cocaine. He initially denied the charge, but when Gawker produced the video, he admitted he had done crack, probably “in one of my drunken stupors.”

rob ford
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Throughout the scandal, he refused to step down as mayor.

A judge ordered he be removed from office after Ford sent letters to lobbyists asking for donations to his football foundation, but he appealed and won. Eventually, the city council cut his mayoral budget and gave many of his duties to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

More videos surfaced—of Ford yelling obscenities, threatening people and using crack again—and he took a two month leave-of-absence to go to rehab.

rob ford

Ford denied being homophobic, but his record was anything but supportive of LGBT people. In 2014, he was the lone vote against a measure geared to aiding homeless LGBT youth.

“He’s consistent. He’s done everything he can to demonstrate this is a community he doesn’t care about,” said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the only openly gay member of the Toronto City Council, in 2014. “I think he’s voting with his values, and his values are he doesn’t support the LGBT community.”

That year Ford was diagnosed with stomach cancer, prompting him to drop out of the mayoral race. (He ran for city councillor while his brother, Doug, ran for mayor in his place.)

Last May, doctors removed a tumor from Rob Ford’s abdomen, but by the fall, two new ones were discovered in his bladder.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.