Everyone has a degree of civic pride, yes? But my city has an abundance, as well as SO MANY great reasons you should come and celebrate with us. Basically, you should call in sick between June 20 – 29, get your pretty little selves to the T-dot, and get ready for the party of a lifetime.
Toronto, as a city, has a strong reputation for multiculturalism, open-mindedness, and friendliness. All this amounts to a Pride week where everyone is welcome, regardless of sexual/gender identification, age, class, or ethnicity. Friends I’d never expect to see anywhere near a drag show attend Pride with aplomb, mixing with queens, queers, self-proclaimed dykes, allies, leather daddies, young couples with children, politicians, wide-eyed teenagers, police officers (they even participate!), grandparents, and literally everyone else you could ever imagine. Pride in Toronto is like a page of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ in the best possible way.
Yes, Anglican minsters proudly attend Pride. It’s Toronto–everybody’s welcome!
You know the stereotype about Canadians: we’ll bump into a wall and say ‘oh, sorry!’ and that’s how we like things. We promise to be kind no matter what you’re all about! To whit: the Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t exist here (at all). The only altercations with police involved water fights, because it was CRAZY hot out and people needed to stay cool. We flew the rainbow flag during the Olympics this past year in support of both Russia’s LGBTQ community and athletes who feared repercussions for their sexual orientation. WE JUST WANT EVERYONE TO HUG AND HAVE A GOOD SUMMER, OKAY?
Toronto Police officers at Pride 2013: scary stuff.
3. Our idiot of a mayor is in rehab, so he won’t stumble around the city in a drunken stupor. BUT YOU CAN!
Toronto has an amazing food and drink scene, and these awesome restaurants and bars take full advantage of the fun that is Pride Week. Flags fly city-wide, storefronts are redone in rainbow colours, and basically the entire city becomes one giant extension of the Village. The Gladstone Hotel will host this month’s ‘Steers and Queers’ party (a west end staple); Queen St. West between Bathurst and Gladstone renames itself ‘Queer St. West’ and most of its shops offer Pride-related discounts; favourite hipster dive bars go from mostly-black to rainbow colored for the week. Be who you want to be wherever you want to go– the entire city is your oyster.
4. Our mayor-in-waiting, Olivia Chow, is hosting her own EPIC WorldPride party.
Yes, that’s right: a former member of federal parliament/mayoral hopeful will be hosting a rager featuring some of Toronto’s top performers and DJs, at Woody’s (probably one of Toronto’s most famous gay clubs). Admission is free, but the line up will probably be intense. You know it’ll be worth it, though, just to be able to tell people you partied with a badass politician with a penchant for showing up at Pride dressed like this:
From 2007. I love you, Olivia. Never change.
5. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, was reelected for a full term last week. She’s the first openly gay person to be elected as a head of government in the English-speaking world.
You may have heard about it after a little-known internet personality named George Takei posted about Wynne’s historic win. The best part? Never once during the campaigning was her sexuality mentioned as either a talking point or a point of criticism. She never hid her sexuality (she brought her partner up on stage during her victory speech, both of them clad in the Liberal party’s (and Canada’s) colours), but it never came up because it just plain wasn’t relevant.
Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, surrounded by fabulous drag queens
6. Because we know how much y’all love ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’— why not LIVE it?!?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a drag queen perform in Toronto, I’d have at least a loonie ($1 coin). And I don’t even seek them out on all occasions– they’re just everywhere. As an example: my mom and dad went to a party about a decade ago, thrown by a good friend of theirs in the theatre community. The bathrooms weren’t marked, so everyone was just using whichever they wanted to. The sheer number of drag queens/cross dressers/people doing their own thing made choosing a line difficult. My mom’s strategy? “I followed the prettiest ones,” she said. “They seemed like they’d be the most fun.” These words were spoken by an elementary school teacher in her 40s in the 1990s. She just wanted to party in the bathroom with drag queens (I love my mom). Things have only gotten crazier since then. Drag clubs are one of the most common places for bachelorette parties and birthdays, because if you want to have a good time, you follow the prettiest/most fabulous ones. MORAL: WE LOVE DRAG HERE.
You call this “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” During Pride Week, this is a Tuesday afternoon.
7. Because it’s the first time World Pride has ever been in North America, and we’re honored to host.
The organization that runs World Pride chose Toronto over New York City or San Francisco– what does that tell you? I’d like to think we were given the honour not just because we outbid other cities (it’s sort of like the Olympic bidding process?) but because same-sex marriage has been legal here for 13 years, because Toronto has a huge number of LGBTQ seeking asylum for fear of persecution, because people seem comfortable to be themselves here, whether walking down the street holding hands with their significant other, cuddling in a park, or going out dancing, and because WE KNOW HOW TO THROW A FUN PARTY. An awesome bonus? All the crosswalks along Church St. (traditionally the home of Toronto’s gay village) have gotten a rainbow flag makeover not just for the event, but permanently.
Our brand, spankin’ new rainbow crosswalks.
8. Because Air Canada, our biggest airline, is offering discounts if you’re travelling for Pride 2014.
Seriously. You have no excuse not to come.
Have a safe and happy Pride Week, friends!