Editorial – It was a place I never dreamed I’d be this past Saturday.
But after a good friend from Kingston invited me, we trekked up to the Pride festivities in Toronto.
For the record, both of us are straight. She is married and has four children.
But that didn’t stop us.
A Cobourg councillor was going to join us, but he had a previous commitment with a dunk tank for charity.
Arriving shortly before 11 a.m., we both thought the “big” parade was on Saturday, but it turned out it was on Sunday.
That was ok too. She brought necklaces to hand out and other attire for the event.
We’ll start out with the fun stuff first.
Really, for the most part, it was amazing the hours we spent there.
Never having been to a Pride celebration in the city, I didn’t know what to expect – or what I’d see.
Walking down Church Street there was a variety of booths promoting or selling various items.
There were booths from the Elementary School Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and many, many more.
Along Church Street various booths were handing out everything from rainbow pencils, magnets, buttons, stickers, tattoo’s and of course condoms. One booth was selling a candles that were in the shape of a phallus, the catchy slogan was “Dicks with Wicks” – you could even get them in a six pack!
There was a booth for HIV testing and also for a type of cancer.
A RBC bank was decked out in Pride colours, dj’s were playing music and people were dancing in the streets.
A few restaurants had drag performers.
Two things that were common that we both spoke about – there was acceptance and happiness.
Didn’t matter the colour you were, what you were wearing – it was fun, love and acceptance.
When the Dyke March paraded by on Yonge Street, it was with a Toronto Police vehicle leading, followed by many, many people on motorcycles and bicycles. After that there was a lull, then there were thousands of mostly women, but many men walking down the street. Some had posters, some promoted their organization.
Asking one person as they walked by what the day meant to them, they said, “it’s a beautiful chance to show everybody how proud we are and how everyone belongs.”
That really was what it was about. It was unrehearsed what the person said, but the words were perfect.
As more people marched passed us, some people in the parade were yelling to watchers on the sidelines to join them in the parade – so – we did.
Honestly, I really can’t see enough good things about the event on Saturday.
Would I go again – in a heartbeat!
A few things I wasn’t the fondest of, with the mayoral race in Toronto, there were a number of booths set up and groups along the route. Goes with the territory during an election but…
Another group with Enough is Enough were shouting, “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous, don’t fuck with us.”
Not the worst thing ever said in the world, but given the mood was peace, love and acceptance, the words, “don’t fuck with us,” seem a bit aggressive.
Another marcher was holding a sign that said, “Bottoms + Tops All Hate Cops.”
We had no clue what it meant then, and still don’t.
Speaking of which, there was a heavily police presence along the parade route and Church Street.
They were fine and along with paramedics and firefighters just stood on the sidelines.
The only negative to the event from my perspective, was to see numerous grown men naked walking up and down Church Street. No shoes, nothing, zip – just wearing their birthday suit. We both started wondering how they even got to the event? Did they take the TTC?
Curious what the police thought about it – we asked. They said, they just weren’t bothering with it. When I asked what if they saw them walking down the street a few days from Saturday, possibly a Monday – what would they do? The officer said quick as a whip, they’d be driving them to the hospital.
A person informed me, sometimes men are naked for that weekend, because Pride started in Toronto as a protest to the bathhouse raids in 1981.
If that’s the case, I understand it – but many others wouldn’t. And given there were young families present during the festivities, maybe if the men wanted to walk down the street naked, they could wait for the big moon to come out before showing theirs.
All in all, great time – happy Pride folks and until next year!