Pride month is here and events are back in full swing. This is a month where 2SLGBTQ+communities come together to recognize the arduous history of those who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice, celebrate the strides made and uplift 2SLGBTQ+voices. Every year, a half a million people gather in Toronto in June, a month that pays homage to the Stonewall uprising in June 1969 in New York City, which helped spark the gay rights movement. When thinking of the 2SLGBTQ+rights movement in Toronto, The 519 is at the forefront.
Since opening its doors in the 1970s, The 519 has been building and supporting 2SLGBTQ+communities in Toronto by providing a space, services and leadership. They respond to the evolving needs of the 2SLGBTQ+communities, from counselling services and queer parenting resources to coming out groups, trans programming, and senior’s support. They also provide free, accommodating and non-judgmental space where individuals, organizations and non-profit groups can meet, organize and work towards their goals. With the incredible work of The 519, we’re here to shed light on this important organization and showcase the upcoming events that you can partake in this Pride!
The 519 has year-round programming that reflects the ever changing, vibrant, and diverse newcomer and refugee communities they work with and these programs span support around health and language competency, financial literacy, and fostering spaces for friendships to build and communities to flourish. Programming also offers individualized support for newcomers and refugees. Whether meeting virtually or in-person, The 519 is also committed to celebrating, defending, and honouring the identities and experiences of 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary communities.
Another highly-anticipated event organized by The 519 is the Green Space Festival which returns to Barbara Hall Park [519 Church St.], June 23-26, 2022. It’s an event that lets people party for a cause. Since its inception in 2008, The 519’s Green Space Festival has become a thriving, internationally recognized cultural festival with a lineup of world-class DJs, legendary performers and international drag queen royalty including Willow Pill, Angeria Paris Van Micheals and Bosco set to perform this year. What makes it even more special is that all funds raised through the festival support the year-round programs at The 519. For example, The 519 kept up their signature seasonal events for 2SLGBTQ+ families, while expanding programs through a Family Wellness series, which saw over 200 participants engage in programs developed in partnership with experts from yoga, tai chi, dance, and nutrition. Free clothing markets, field trips, and distribution of frozen meals, and arts and crafts kept their families connected and supported throughout the year. So, this year, stop by the best alfresco parties with enticing music, shows and delicious food and drinks to keep pride alive all year at The 519.
We also spoke with team members at The 519 to learn more about their initiatives and ways we can support. “The 519 plays an integral role supporting 2SLGBTQ+ newcomers to Canada,” Martha Singh Jennings, Manager, Community Engagement at The 519 told View the Vibe. “In 2021, we supported over 530 refugee claimants in addition over 1000 new and returning newcomer/refugee clients, helping them navigate complex and often overwhelming paperwork, refugee hearings, and adjustment to life in Canada.” For Martha, “The 519 provides welcoming spaces to meet and build community” which you can truly feel and experience at all events.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated deep needs within our underserved 2SLGBTQ+ communities,” Stacy G. Kelly (he/him), Director, Philanthropy at The 519 adds. “The 519 is supporting older adults in times of social isolation, addressing increased food insecurity and broadening our programs such as Legal Clinics, to close gaps in non-affirming social services. This work is greatly assisted by the generosity of our donors and our volunteers.”
This is the first year since the pandemic that in-person pride events are back, and there are lots of ways to show your support whether in-person or virtually.
SUPPORT THE 519: The519.org/donate
STAY IN TOUCH: The519.org
Paid for by Olay. Olay’s commitment to diversity and equity by supporting the 2SLGBTQ+community via The 519 through a $50,000 donation and the sponsorship of this article.
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