Pride Toronto Festival
& WorldPride 2014
June 20 – 29, 2014 | Various Locations | PrideToronto.com
Toronto Pride Week
Attracting over a million attendees every year, Toronto Pride Week is one of the biggest Pride festivals in the world. How big? So big that a single week can’t even contain it. Bursting with enough energy to power a city, Pride “Week” is a 10-day long celebration of queer culture that attracts people of all ages, ethnicities, and sexual identities. Gay, straight, bi, Thai – Pride is all about celebrating diversity.
Every summer in late June, Toronto’s historic Gay Village becomes a pedestrian-only party zone filled with fist-pumping music, bustling crowds, vibrant costumes, and of course plenty of cute guys and gals. With so much eye candy out and about, the summer sun isn’t the only thing that will be making you hot.
Many bars are open until 4am or later so you can keep the party going all night long. Or, if you prefer to keep things more low-key, there’s no shortage of queer-friendly lounges, restaurants, and open spaces to mix and mingle with other people in a comfortable environment. You can even bring your family along to the kid-friendly zone at Family Pride.
The 10 days of revelry culminate in the annual Toronto Pride parade – the largest and most anticipated event of its kind in Canada. One part celebration and one part demonstration, the parade recognizes activists at home and abroad who continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community. Every year, it is led by two grand marshals (one local and one international) who are chosen for their unflinching dedication to human rights, often in the face of persecution.
History of Toronto Pride
The history of Toronto Pride Week begins with the birth of the gay liberation movement following the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.
On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village – a popular local gay bar – and attempted to arrest several of the patrons. The raid quickly escalated into a riot as members of the gay community pushed back, frustrated by the injustice of socially sanctioned discrimination.
A year later, the first Gay Pride marches were held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York to commemorate the anniversary of the riots. North of the border in Toronto, Gay Days picnics began to be organized at Hanlon’s point, eventually moving to Cawthra Square Park in the Church-Wellesley Village.
In 1981, Toronto experienced its own raids as police stormed four bathhouses, arresting over 300 gay men. The day after, a major demonstration was held at Yonge Street and Wellesley to protest the raids and raise awareness about queer issues.
Toronto’s first Pride Committee was created in 1986, and the next year sexual orientation was included in Canada’s Human Rights Code. In 1991, Toronto City Council proclaimed Pride Day for the first time.
Pride Day has now turned into Pride Week – an annual celebration of Toronto’s vibrant queer community that has expanded to include not only the Pride Parade, but also the Dyke March and the Trans March. In 2014, Toronto will be hosting WorldPride, an international celebration incorporating activism, education, and the history and culture of global LGBTQ communities.
Top 10 Toronto Pride Week Events
- The Village Streetfair: Church Street is the epicenter of Toronto’s Gay Village and the main place to be during Pride Week. Every year, the street is shut down for an entire weekend of fun and festivity. Connect with local LGBTQ organizations, drop in at one of the many beverage gardens and bars, enjoy live performances and music, and sample a diverse selection of food.
- Pride at the Gaystone: Toronto Pride Week isn’t limited to the Village. Over in the aptly named Queer West neighbourhood, the historic Gladstone Hotel becomes the Gaystone, playing host to a variety of events including the annual “That’s So Gay” exhibit and the country-themed Steers & Queers dance party.
- DJ Central: While winding your way through the Village Streetfair, drop by the central stage at Church Street and Maitland for three full days of divas, DJs, and dancers. Previously featured big names include MC Flipside and Sydney Blu.
- Trans Pride March: Whether you identify as trans or are a cisgender ally, the Trans Pride March offers a safe environment for all. Help raise awareness of trans-related topics and foster an atmosphere of inclusion and positivity by lending your voice to Trans Pride.
- Dyke March: Founded in 1996 to raise awareness regarding lesbian and trans visibility in the queer community, the Dyke March has become a tradition not only in Toronto, but in cities across North America. March with your head held high to show that all members of the LGBTQ community are valued and accepted.
- Family Pride: Pride is about embracing people from every walk of life, including moms and dads. Celebrate Pride with your little ones at the kid-friendly zone organized by the Family Pride Committee. Crafts and games, face-painting, live entertainment – it’s fun for the whole family!
- Clean, Sober, & Proud: If drinking and partying isn’t your scene, you may feel at home at the Clean, Sober & Proud space at Paul Kane Parkette, a substance-free zone that features live performances, holistic services, and confidential recovery meetings. The space is a great place to relax away from the non-stop (and sometimes overwhelming) energy of Church Street.
- Cawthra Square Park: Cawthra Square Park, located right beside the 519 Community Centre, is a large, tree-lined space that is host to some of Pride Week’s most anticipated events. Drop by Lipstick Jungle before heading to the Dyke March, and close off the week at the Disco, Disco dance party. Events at Cawthra Square Park are free to enter, and all proceeds from beverage sales go directly to support the efforts of the 519 Community Centre.
- Annual Pride and Remembrance Run: Held every year on the Saturday morning before the big Parade, the Pride and Remembrance Run has raised more than $900,000 for over a dozen LGBTQ Charities to date. Help give back by participating in the run, or stand by the sidelines to cheer the runners on.
- Pride Parade: This is the big one. If you see nothing else during Pride Week, be sure to make your way down to Yonge Street for the annual Pride Parade. Complete with colourful floats, elaborate costumes, infectious music, and a healthy dose of bare skin, the Parade is a spectacle not to be missed.
More than anything, Toronto Pride Week is about showing the world that differences are not to be condemned and feared, but embraced and celebrated. Show your Pride by taking part in Canada’s biggest, wildest, queerest celebration!
For more information, visit PrideToronto.com.
- View the Pride Toronto Parade route.
- Tourism Toronto is excited to be partnering with Pride Toronto to host WorldPride 2014 in Toronto from June 27 to July 6, 2014. More about WorldPride 2014.
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