In a word? Epic.
The parade started at 2pm on Bloor St. Luckily, we live so close now that we walked out of our apartment at 1:30, down a back street and got a sweet place to stand (outside a pizza shop) for the duration. Great location and could see everything. Coming from Perth, where the parade lasts about half an hour or so and it’s about two people deep (though I’m not knocking their effort), it was amazing to see so many people turn out for it.
There was a float for everything imaginable. From the usual gay community centres and HIV support groups, to gay cycling groups, gay veterinary technicians, universities, foreskin campaigners, anti-nuclear campaigners, ethnic and religious groups, school teachers’ associations, supermarkets, condoms (the Trojan float was VERY popular), and political parties. Anyone that supported the community (and even some with a highly tenuous link) was in the parade and it went for nearly two and a half hours.
(And I don’t think I’ve seen that many boobs since Game of Thrones finished for the season.)
There were a couple of moments where I got choked up. Firstly, seeing all these people come out for the parade and not just gay people, but everyone. It showed that this was just another facet of life in Toronto, accepted, celebrated and the city considered richer and better for it.
Secondly, seeing the Catholic Teachers’ Association marching and seeing one of them holding a sign that said “We support our LGBTQ students.” How wonderful is that. It made me wonder what the bullying is like in Canadian schools for gay (or seen to be gay) kids. When a country supports marriage equality, it sends a strong message that being gay is ok, that you’re not a second-class citizen. So is the bullying less?
And thirdly, watching the police march, in uniform, and standing with the community. We’ve come a long way from the days they raided bars and clubs and arrested homosexuals. For these reasons, and just the joyful atmosphere of the parade, I felt so happy I could have cried. (A video follows and then a heap of photos at the bottom.)
When it was over, we went back to the apartment to drop off my cameras and then I caught up with Pauline, Kevin and Eileen down on Church St. Glen stayed behind to assemble the day bed.
Church St was packed with people. There were stalls up and down, most of the businesses were open and doing a roaring trade, and there were about six or seven free outdoor stage areas with different events and music. The four of us went for all you can eat sushi (which was really, really good with a lot of variety).
After we’d eaten Pauline and Eileen left and Kevin and I walked around for a bit before Glen joined us. Then we went around to a number of stalls, first the Greenspace one for some disco then we walked up and down Church St some more to find the right music. We liked what they were playing at the Bud Light stage but by the time we’d got in, they were only selling beer (which we don’t drink) so we stayed for one song then went across to Woody’s.
I think we must have got in there about 9:30 and stayed until midnight. It was pretty full and playing some good music. We also made friends, which made the night so much more enjoyable. We decided to call it a night at about midnight, or just after, as Glen had to go do some hospital registration stuff in the morning and I was helping Pauline move. Plus, we were just tired. But it was a great night and such an amazing experience.
Can’t wait for World Pride in Toronto next year. Who’s coming?