Toronto World Pride 2014 was one of the biggest events Toronto has ever hosted. 10 days of celebrating inclusion of all people while bringing awareness of how far many parts of the world still need to go. Toronto has been a progressive voice for the LGBT community and a beckon of hope for many afraid of persecution or alienation. Those unaware of the struggles often view any Pride as a over-the-top celebration; I think of Pride as a demonstration of the fight for equality.
The opening ceremony concert occurred on June 20th at Toronto City Hall. The crowd was huge and in great spirits for the concert that was to kick off World Pride. Kathleen Wynne took to the stage after her recent majority government win and spoke about being the first gay leader of Ontario. It was a heartfelt testament to the acceptance of equality but reserved with the thought that there were still countries persecuting LGBT (including death).
The opening ceremonies led up to a show by Melissa Etheridge and fireworks over the crowd. A city united in celebration, a city ready to talk seriously about the issues that still effect the LGBT community. I was glad to be present for the opening and a witness to a piece of Toronto history.
On Saturday June 28th I took the time to walk down Church St. and interact with the vendors and sponsors promoting Pride. I also saw that World Pride was both an international draw but also an event attended and supported by many family structures. Gay or straight, the crowd was welcoming and inviting and inclusive. I also got to meet Karen Stintz as she was walking amongst the crowd and happy to see mayoral candidates supporting World Pride. My last stop of the day was to speak with Kristyn Wong-Tam (city councillor for ward 27). We spoke about Pride, politics and why I was downtown and not hitting doors. I responded appropriately by saying "World Pride is an event that celebrates Toronto and I couldn't miss the chance to be a part of it." I wish her luck in her re-election and look forward to possibly working together in December.
My last support of Toronto World Pride was to catch as much of the Parade as possible and to attend the closing ceremony concert. I have always been a huge fan of Tegan & Sara who were closing out the concert. The Parade was fun and interactive, supported by a large amount of companies and organizations. Politicians showed their support; the Liberals walked with Justin Trudeau, mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory each had their own floats; all a show of support for World Pride.
Despite the hot weather and the chance of rain - both the parade and the concert were packed. Residents of Toronto and from around the world united in a celebration of a future that makes being LGBT a non-issue. What better way to end an event than having 2 amazing performers like Tegan & Sara promote Canadian music. The night begun with rain, followed by a rainbow and ended with cheers and fire.
I was proud to represent Ward 3 & Etobicoke for World Pride. Together we can promote a world where everyone feels included and safe from harm or persecution.