The month of June has been designated LGBT Pride Month (or LGBTTIQQ2SA Pride Month, if you care to use the fully inclusive abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited, and Allies) in honour of the Stonewall Riots which occurred in New York City in 1969. Since then Pride Celebrations have taken place celebrating the history, courage, diversity, and future of LGBTTIQQ2SA communities worldwide. From June 20-29, 2014 Pride Toronto welcomes the WorldPride Human Rights Conference to our city, marking the first time the event will be held in North America.
Pride Toronto began in the early 1970s with its Gay Days Picnics and became an annual event in 1981 with the first Pride Day being officially proclaimed by City Council in 1991. Since then the organization has promoted activism, education, and culture of global LGBTTIQQ2SA communities, assisting in making Toronto one of the world’s most progressive and liveable cities. Toronto’s two gay villages each boast terrific nightlife, cutting edge queer theatre, and funky restaurants. The Church Wellesley Village is home of the ground-breaking inclusive community centre The 519 which has over 80 community-led social, recreational, arts, and cultural programs including the youth writing program Pink Ink and OUTwrites, a space for queer writers and literature workshops for queer participants.
Aside from WorldPride featuring spoken word events, singer-songwriters, drag artists, dance, and burlesque performances across 10 open air stages, the youth programs Fruit Loopz and Black Queer Youth and the family friendly zone Family Pride will provide entertainment for visitors of all ages. The Pride Festival has also partnered with Toronto’s galleries and museums for a diverse cultural program to support the WorldPride Human Rights Conference taking place from June 25 to 27 at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. The festival’s Opening Ceremony is June 20 followed by nine days of events including the Trans March and Dyke March on June 27 and 28 and the Annual Pride Parade on June 29. A free street-fair and Arts and Culture Festival will also take place from June 27-29.
In a city whose LGBTTIQQ2SA population is estimated to be around 10% – making it one of the largest gay communities in North America – it is no surprise that Toronto is such a “creative, dynamic, connected, and welcoming” place (to quote The Village’s website). WorldPride 2014 will likely put the city and Canada as a whole on the map as a leader in acceptance, equality, and human rights and is sure to be the can’t-miss cultural event of the summer.For more information visit worldpridetoronto.com.