Sunday, July 04, 2010

Toronto Pride attracts over 1 million people

"More than a million people crowded Toronto on Sunday, decked out in fanciful costumes and hoisting rainbow flags as they celebrated thirty years of Pride in sweltering heat."

Canadian Press reports:
In three decades, the parade for gay and lesbian rights has morphed into a place for politics and a place to party, as people on the streets sang, danced and cheered.

“It gets bigger every year,” said Tash Kalvfleish, as she stood next to friends waiting for the parade to make its way down Yonge Street in Toronto. Ms. Kalvfleish has been to the parade five times, and said it's arguably the best in Canada, if not the world. “It's the biggest party in the world, man,” Ms. Kalvfleish said. “I've heard that it's better than San Francisco Pride, but I've never been,” she said laughing with a mischievous smile, as she taunted the California city known for its Pride festivities.

As the parade winded its way through city streets, people cheered, confetti was thrown and volunteers sprayed the sweaty masses with water guns as the crowd watched the parade.

“The weather is amazing. It's been a couple of years since we've had a really, sunny amazing day: Thank you, G20, we got pushed by a week,” Len Henry said with a big grin, referring to the summit almost trampling on Pride week festivities. Lady Gaga music blared over speakers strapped to trucks as people yelled out “Happy Pride.”

Toronto Pride Parade Beats the Heat

CBC reports:
Toronto's Pride parade organizers estimated 1.3 million people turned out to watch the annual parade, which draws spectators from all over Canada, the U.S., and around the world.

This year's event found itself embroiled in controversy over a Pride Toronto's decision to ban the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from the march. Pride Toronto later rescinded the decision to ban the group from the march, but not before a number of past honorees had returned their citations, claiming the Pride organizers were trampling on free speech rights.

Another issue that re-emerged this past week is the relationship between the gay community and Toronto police, which in the past has been strained.

There were accusations that during the G20 protests Toronto Police had targeted gays and lesbians. An appearance by Chief Bill Blair at a Pride event on Tuesday was met with jeers and protests. But members of the Toronto police force did take part in Sunday's parade. Scores of officers were on hand to lead the parade, direct traffic and help with crowd control.

Others taking part in the parade included gay and lesbian rights groups and AIDS activists, along with public service workers, local, provincial and federal politicians. Banks, real estate groups, even the Canadian military sent marchers and floats.

In total there were about 150 floats and 10,000 participants, according to organizers. One of the highlights of the 2010 parade was the marriage of several gay couples on floats during the parade. The Pride Parade — the largest of its kind in North America — is the culmination of a week-long festival in Toronto.

Toronto has also been selected as the venue for World Pride in 2014.

Gay Calgary Couple Wed During Toronto's Gay Pride

Calgary Herald reports:
This weekend, as the Toronto Gay Pride Parade celebrates its 30th anniversary, Brett Taylor and David Mitchell married on a float winding along the parade route. The co-owners of Outlooks Magazine, a national gay and lesbian lifestyle publication, are among six couples who won a contest held by Man-Crunch. com -- an online dating service that focuses on long-lasting relationships.

Similar histories and passions have made Taylor, 53, and Mitchell, 49, a good match. Taylor, the extrovert, is a good foil for introverted Mitchell. They love the same things: fitness, theatre and the arts. And the pair -- both divorced following traditional marriages that led to children -- have similar family values. Together, they blended their families, raising Mitchell's daughter and one of Taylor's sons.
The couple, who have been together for about eight years, hemmed and hawed before choosing to enter the contest.

Talk of marriage had come up before, but it was always complicated by an ever-growing guest list, said Taylor, and that there was never a right time to do it, added Mitchell. The fact their wedding had roughly 1.3 million guests was one reason for the hesitation. "Neither of us are into a big show," Taylor explained. "We'll just keep looking at the float and one another." But Mitchell said the bigger the audience, the more personal it will feel. "Really, it's only Brett and I. It's almost like eloping."

The parade comes just after the five-year anniversary of legalized same-sex marriage in Canada -- a milestone that factored into Taylor and Mitchell's decision to tie the knot. Same-sex couples today may take for granted what others had to fight for in the past, said Taylor. "It is that lead by example. The more gay and lesbian couples carry through and get married and acknowledge the rights that have been achieved, the better."

Dyke March Helps Toronto Heal after G20 Riots

Toronto Star reports:
Rainbow flags, fishnet stockings and broad smiles littered the streets as thousands celebrated Toronto’s Dyke March under a bright, pelting sun Saturday (July 3, 2010).

It was a stark difference from the G20 riots last weekend where black-clad protesters clashed with police under wet, dreary skies. This time, police and marchers mixed with ease. “Our guys needed this,” said Sgt. Nancy McLean, an openly-gay Toronto police officer. “Morale was pretty low after last weekend.”

McLean escorted the parade on bicycle, but still participated as she posed for pictures with supporters, who loved her rainbow-coloured socks and the paper rainbow flag planted into her helmet.

About 60 motorcycles, including a Toronto police Harley-Davidson in the lead, rumbled onto Bloor St. from Church to mark the start of the march. Riders wore everything from bikinis to feathered rainbow boas.