This article was published on July 4th, 2016
Toronto Pride launched on the June 1, with its inaugural city proclamation and the raising of the Rainbow flag by Mayor John Tory at the Toronto City Hall. Featuring lively celebrations and provocative events throughout the city the unprecedented 33 day festival celebrated the strength and beauty of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. Pride month all culminated with the much anticipated annual Pride Parade on the July 3, in which the partying took to the streets where one and all could join in the celebrations of victories and the continued fight for justice.
History was made as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined tens of thousands of participants becoming Canada’s first sitting PM to participate in the annual Pride Parade. Also joining were, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory. The Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando from June 12 were close to everyone’s hearts as they were addressed with a powerful moment of silence which took place during the Parade commemorating the victims of the horrible incident.
This year Pride Month really outdid itself showcasing a wide array of human rights issues, providing artistic creativity and rich cultural partnerships with community partners, universities and major institutions. Expert curators created diverse, dynamic and provocative programs, which were promoted under the theme, “You Can Sit With Us,” encouraging meaningful conversations with new audiences across the city.
Other noteworthy events included; a performance from a record setting 73 drag queens, kings and performance artists officially securing the Guinness World Record for “Largest Drag Artist Stage Show,” an emotional speech from the world’s first drag supermodel, Rupaul and the first openly trans person, Board Secretary Rachel Lauren Clark, to throw a ceremonial first pitch ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays’ June 9 game at the Rogers Centre.
This year also marked the 20th year anniversary of the Dyke March which came together over a weekend coupled with the Trans March. Both were powerful political demonstrations where women and trans alongside their friends and allies came together with a sense of community and took to the streets to celebrate their unique strength and history, marching in solidarity.
There were many artists that provided lively and amazing performances throughout Pride Month. Some of the notable artists were: Alex Newell, living legend DJ Honey Dijon, the cast members of Orange Is The New Black, RuPaul and Joe Jonas with DNCE.
All in all Pride Month was a roaring success setting the president for all future Pride celebrations to come. Aaron GlynWilliams, Co-Chair of Pride Toronto’s Board of Directors summed it up best when he stated “Pride Month was a testament to the diversity and power of our community, though our hearts ache for the victims’ families and loved ones, we strengthen our resolve to respond to hate with love and fight for the right to live our lives and be ourselves.”