Photos by Steve Blackburn | Words by Kirsti Stephenson
TORONTO, ONT – This year, Pride Toronto’s slogan simply stated “You Can Sit With Us” For the first time in Pride’s illustrious history, this was an open invitation for all people to participate in uncensored dialogue of LGBT issues for the entire month of June leading up to the finale events.
Tweets from the event “ Share The Power Of Love for Generations to Come” @RuPaul#PrideTO RuPaul has been a long-standing supporter of Toronto Pride, and our City welcomed him back again with open arms. When asked what he thought of these years’ events? He responded; “ I have been privileged to have been asked to attend almost every year to participate and celebrate in Toronto Pride. And without a doubt, the ‘Partay’ gets larger, grander and more Glam each time. I am honored to be here.” At which point, some people in the crowd spotted him and the chant “We Love You RuPaul” soon ensued amongst cheers. “I Love you too Baby!” He yells back, flashing his Megawatt, contagious Smile.
The 36th Annual Pride Parade started its formidable march at Bloor and Church streets and ended at Yonge Dundas Square. One spectator named Alison, was attending the parade Sunday to support her Brother, who is a Gay Firefighter. His Firehouse had a Rainbow draped Firetruck float in the parade and was greeted by tumultuous cheers by attendees when it drove past, causing Alison to tear up with obvious Pride. Toronto’s Mayor John Tory, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and various local members of Parliament wearing shirts or signs with their respective wards on them, showed up in support of their LGBT constituents, all included at the end of the day; Tens of thousands of Men, Women, Children and Families proudly waved rainbow-colored Canadian Flags.
The Toronto Gay Village literally shuts down its streets and is transformed into a People only, Outdoor Party Zone. With multiple stages and live performances throughout the day and well into the night. 2016 was a Pride Year of numerous “Firsts“ Including a New World Record achieved for the largest Drag Artist Stage Show! Parade revellers gathered in frenzied anticipation at Yonge Dundas Square for “The Final Play“ featuring Grammy Winner Joe Jonas and his band DNCE, as well as multiple international acts.
The YYZEvents Celebrity Radar was in full effect with sighting of; George Takei, actor from the legendary Star Trek series, literary luminary Margaret Atwood, Juno Award Winning Vocalist and Composer Rufus Wainwright, The Prancing Elites Troupe, Celebrity Gossip Columnist and Drag Impersonator Lady Bunny, Celebrated Musicians; Lila Downs, Viktoria Modesta and Beruit`s Mashrou“Leila Band
Toronto`s 36th Annual Pride marked its First Anniversary of Pride Month. A 33 Day Celebration from June 1st-July 3rd, 2016. Culminating in the Toronto Trans March on July 1st, The 20th Anniversary of the Toronto Dyke March on July 2nd, and the Toronto Pride Parade on Sunday, July 3rd.
Pride Toronto is a not for profit organization funded solely by donations and sponsorship partners and is remarkably staffed by hundreds of dedicated volunteers year round. Its goal, is the unification, celebration and empowerment of all individuals with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
North America`s largest Pride Celebration was a phenomenal success this year, showcasing Toronto`s diversity, arts, and cultural talents on the World Stage. We look forward to the 37th event next year, and stay tuned to the YYZ event listings for Pride Month and Parade 2017.