July 2, 2012

Toronto, With Pride

Image Credit: Stacy Kelly, 2012
Yesterday I attended Toronto Pride for the first time. I had proudly marched with Mark in Kingston Pride over the last few years but I finally got to witness the overwhelming spectacle that is Canada's largest Pride event.

I don't know what the official count was but it was certainly in the hundreds of thousands. We watched the march (a.k.a "the parade") along Yonge Street for the first hour and then retreated to the cool protection of famed Woody's bar for a pint of beer and to people watch.

I must say I got quite emotional watching the various groups and floats go by during the march. My eyes welled up with tears and I was taken aback by the sheer numbers and power of what remains a political act of taking over the street and marching/dancing/holding hands with my beloved husband.

One of the groups  that went by had a sign with a potent message: "Pride is a march not a beer fest". Fair game, I thought to myself. I could see how some of the more activist participants would bemoan how Pride has become, in many ways, a corporate-sponsored Pride-o-fest. Pride Toronto is in its 32nd year now and I imagine it has come along way since 1980.

But so has the city changed. Toronto is no longer "Hogtown" and it is certainly no longer the provincial and WASPy "Toronto the Good" of more recent times. The site of the first Canadian marriage of a gay couple and the epicentre of Canadian queer activism, Toronto is evolving into a dynamic and diverse city.

While we witnessed the entire possible range of human diversity at Toronto Pride (including some wonderfully shameless nudity) one thing that struck me was the presence of so many straight couples, allies in the celebration of our shared queerness. It is no accident the symbol of the Pride movement is the rainbow flag. So much possibility and difference can co-exist and be beautiful.

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