As we head into Toronto’s first-ever month officially dedicated to the LGBTQ community, Vv Magazine’s Ama Scriver reminds us of Pride’s beginnings and why Pride is about more than just a parade.
The flag has been raised at Toronto’s own City Hall and we are now fully immersed into the month-long Pride Toronto festivities. Throughout the course of the month, Pride Toronto will feature 33 days of programming ranging from several human rights vigils, candlelight ceremony for those living with HIV and many entertainment stages.
But as we launch into Pride Month, we cannot forget to remember the true importance of what Pride is about.
But as we launch into Pride Month, we cannot forget to remember the true importance of what Pride is about. Spurred on by Canada’s decriminalization of homosexual acts for consenting adults in 1969, one of the very first Pride-themed events took place in 1971. The group organized the first Gay Day picnic held at Hanlan’s Point, which grew larger and larger in support. One year later, Toronto held its very first Pride Week organized to take away stigma and backlash from the gay community. While these individuals worked hard, the visibility of these individuals was increased when Toronto police arrested 306 people in a series of bathhouse raids in the Church and Wellesley area during the 1980s. The city provided even more reasons for Pride Toronto to carry on and make their voices louder than ever before.
This year’s theme focuses heavily on inclusion, sparking a dialogue on belonging and acceptance.
As we launch into the 2016 programming, the theme is, “You Can Sit With Us”. The powerful and impactful words should not be lost on those who have never attended a Pride event or have never thought much about the LGBTQ community. This year’s theme focuses heavily on inclusion, sparking a dialogue on belonging and acceptance. Even in 2016, discussions like these remain absolutely critical, as we face issues of trans exclusion (transgender homicide rate hit a historic high in US during 2015,) and need to provide a safe space for more gender identities and ethnicities in the queer community (Pride Toronto has provided space for all gay Syrian refugees to participate and take part in the month-long events). The fact is, Pride is probably more important now than it ever was.
The fact is, Pride is probably more important now than it ever was.
In years past, Pride was always fit into one solid week of programming making it difficult not just for the community to shine a light on the issues affecting them day-in and day-out but making it difficult for those visiting and celebrating to really take part in the programming or events. This year, several noted political leaders have decided to take up space including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, who will become the very first PM to participate in the festival.
The month provides a time for those outside the community to learn about the history and the accomplishments that the LGBTQ community has achieved.
While much has changed from 1969 to now, including more sponsorships, more celebrities and more outward appeal to those who lead a heteronormative lifestyle – the fact remains that Pride Month is still needed. The month provides a time for those outside the community to learn about the history and the accomplishments that the LGBTQ community has achieved but most importantly it gives those a part of the community a chance to celebrate their sexual and gender identities with freedom in public.
As we kick-off June, let’s remember that being gay is absolutely okay and Pride Month is more than just a parade. Stay tuned to our future Pride Month updates, where we’ll discuss the events you’ll need to check out.
What does Pride mean to you? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.