Toronto’s 29th Annual Pride Parade

Caileen Weitz

pride1Rainbows decorated stores, flags and bodies in downtown Toronto on June 28th, the final day of the 29th annual Pride festival.

The festival began on the 19th and after 10 days of events such as Family Pride and the Dyke March, came to a close with a final celebration: the Pride Parade.

Crowds of people from across the area watched and cheered as floats and people moved through Toronto, spraying onlookers with water and tossing out gum, condoms, candy and even t-shirts.

Not just a day of fun, the Parade is a symbol of how far society has come in accepting homosexuality and is a chance to be proud of one’s sexual orientation. The Parade, following the theme of the festival “CAN’T STOP: WON’T STOP,” was broadcast live on CP24 for the first time in history.

Max Crispo, a student at Guelph University, wearing a pink shirt that read “Little Ms. Curious,” described how Pridepride2 “allows the gay culture and community to be brought into the open.”

“It’s giving a minority group a chance to be more accepted by the populous,” he says.

The Parade works towards raising awareness. There were floats and marches which supported gay rights in more conservative countries such as Israel, Africa, Japan and Thailand. Also present were floats promoting research in AIDS prevention, Toronto’s community center, and certain Torontonian churches.

In addition, the Parade is a chance for organizations such as banks, the police force and city transportation to show their support. Jack Layton and his wife did this from atop of the NDP float.

Many of those attending Pride were not gay or lesbian, but came in support of those they love who were. Some wore costumes or shirts with phrases such as, “Not gay, but supportive,” “Free love,” and “I love my gay friend.”

Samantha Richter, a student who lives in Toronto, joined in the Pride festivities despite her heterosexuality.

“Even though I’m not gay, I still appreciate and respect the gay community,” she explains. “I embrace the culture and think their resilience to adversary is something to admire.”