I have an early nominee for weirdest column of 2010; it's a piece by Enzo Di Matteo for NOW magazine in Toronto that can be found here. Go read it and then I will give you some context.
Here's the story: Di Matteo wrote a story in the last print edition of NOW of 2009 where, writing about likely Toronto mayoral candidate Adam Giambrone he opined that "He's young. He's bright. He's gay."
Thing is, Giambrone is not gay. Shock and/or horror predictably ensued.
A number of newspapers picked up on the story. None of them, to my reading, made a big deal of the "gay" label as if it was a scandal or characteristic that in any way disqualified him from running for mayor.
No, the reason this was news is that a major Toronto left-wing weekly wrongly "outed" a fellow lefty as being gay. It would be akin to them calling a male candidate a women or a black candidate white. Embarrassing for the newspaper, not for the candidate. In a slow news space in the holiday season, that made for a light news story.
I thought Giambrone handled the "scandal" with humour and class and turned it into a net-positive for him. I read it and thought to myself "maybe Giambrone is more ready for prime time than I gave him credit for."
At least that was my reading of it. Net-net, very embarrassing for NOW, probably a positive for Giambrone. Di Matteo obviously read it all differently:
"Why did certain elements of the (predominantly conservative) media decide to turn it into fodder for the day, helping to put Giambrone, who's never felt the need to define himself, in the awkward position of having to?"
Ah yes, when the neo-conservative Toronto Star printed Giambrone's Twitter post stating that he was "amused but not entirely surprised to learn in NOW Magazine that I'm supposedly gay," -- it was them and their right-wing agenda that was wreaking havoc on Giambrone. They -- and the other media outlets that covered NOW's mistake -- were the bad guys here.
No, the right response by the newspapers would have been to repeat NOW's mistake, right? That would have helped Giambrone avoid the terrible awkwardness that obviously destroyed the guy for, what, at least 10 minutes before he started making jokes about it on Twitter.
Or should they have just ignored NOW's embarrassing mistake entirely? That's what irresponsible right-wing papers are supposed to do, right?
Di Matteo continues:
"But when the person in question happens to be setting up a run for mayor that is freaking out the powers that be just a little, all the spilled ink in the mainstream makes more sense. What better way to undermine his chances?"
That's right, the Star, Post and Sun repeating NOW's mistake was actually part of a larger "powers that be" plot to undermine his nascent campaign.
Di Matteo goes on:
"Let's face it. We may be a decade into the 21st century, but the G-word still carries a fair bit of negative baggage -- maybe not in the city core, but certainly anywhere east of Vic Park and north of the 401."
This is a pretty wild, unfounded assertion. I have no proof that people who live "east of Vic Park and north of the 401" are wildly homophobic and are less likely to vote for an openly gay candidate than those of us sophisticates who live in the city core but I have a feeling that Di Matteo has no greater basis for his pretty offensive bias either (yes, there is an irony that he accuses three-quarters of the city of being homophobic in a column decrying prejudice).
But boy, if only there was a way to test that hypothesis in a real world setting. Maybe by having a serious openly gay candidate run in a city-wide election. Nah, could never happen in a wildly homophobic city like Toronto where NOW wrongly calling someone gay actually makes news... but no matter.
The rest of the column is an amusing scream of why Giambrone is the left's best (only?) hope to save David Miller's wonderful legacy.
As I have written previously, I think Giambrone is a serious candidate if he runs. Yesterday's announcement by John Tory makes him winning far less likely than it was a day before but I wouldn't rule his candidacy out in a race that is likely to have miniscule turnout.
As for this column, a classic.
(Photo: Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)