Volume 1, Edition 22
Toronto’s Pride week 2009 festivities culminated with the grand Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 28. The parade is among the largest in the world and is a cultural event of the city and the country.
It was raining in the morning but that did not subdue the crowds who thronged the streets. Some were wearing protective rain gear, others simply enjoyed the rain. However, as soon as the parade started, the sky turned blue with plenty of sunshine. 🙂 Suddenly umbrellas were replaced with sunglasses and sunscreen.
Pride week brings out lots of artsy activities such as performances, exhibits, theater, dance, music and other creative cultural expressions. Primarily focused around the Church and Wellesley gay village, the pride week attracts thousands, with almost a million attending the final parade on Sunday.
I saw tons of East Asian and South Asian tourists – aunties and uncles, babies on strollers and hordes of curious Chinese tourists. Clicking pictures of everything they saw, posing with drag queens, clowns and men in costumes, such as someone dressed as a Roman soldier, or a condom, everyone was clearly having a fun time.
The parade ended by 16:30 and was followed by street parties that ended around midnight. There was street food, beer gardens, and extremely crowded streets that reminded me of peak rush hour traffic in Mumbai. Streets were littered with colorful post-parade fare that might take days to clean since the city’s garbage workers are currently on a strike. It seems that the union deliberately chose the pride week to go on strike, thinking that it would be a bargaining strategy. Thankfully the city did not give in to the outrageous demands of unionised workers.
Pride week is extremely inclusive and sees participation from young and old, black and white, straight and queer and it feels like a carnival or an Indian mela. It is broadcasted live on television channels, sees participation from political parties, religious agencies (churches), government (municipalities, police), restaurants, transport companies, charities, non-profits, private and public organizations and a host of other community stakeholders. The city of Toronto pumps a lot of money in organization of this festival since it is the largest tourist attraction for the city.