The time of year has come when Yonge Street becomes a mecca of rainbow flags and joy as Pride Week takes over Toronto. With tons of events taking place across the city, there's something for everyone to experience the wonders of the city's LGBT community ending off with the annual noteworthy Pride Parade which happens on the last Sunday in June. Before you go down to celebrate with hundreds of thousands of other Torontonians, here are some facts behind Pride Week and the significance it has to our city.
1. Toronto's Very First Pride Events
In the 1970s, organizations 'Toronto Gay Action Now' and 'The Community Homophile Association of Toronto' hosted annual picnics on the Toronto Islands as a way to unite the LGBT community to fight homophobia and issues around gay rights. As the picnics grew in size by 1975, the organizations called on the city to have the picnics officially recognized by the city of Toronto and to allow a march down Yonge Street, but both requests were denied by then Mayor David Crombie.
2. Bathhouse Raids Formed The Pride Parade
What's been said to be the very first Pride Parade took place in February 1981 following Operation Soap, the Toronto Police raids of four gay bathhouses in the downtown core where nearly 300 men were arrested. The public response from these raids was so massive, demonstrators began marching in the streets of Toronto on two occasions that same month evolving into what is now the Pride Parade.
Photo cred - Demotix
3. Rob Ford A Common No-Show
The weekend of Pride is a time where the whole city can come out and show their support to the LGBT community. While past mayors like David Miller and Mel Lastman have chosen to take part in Pride year after year during their time in City Hall, Rob Ford was the only mayor in the city's history that chose to opt out of attending. His excuse every year he was mayor; that it's the last weekend of June and he wants to go to his cottage and spend time with the family. Being the significant event the Pride Parade is to Toronto, many residents saw this as slightly disrespectful to the city's LGBT community.
4. One of the Largest Pride Celebrations In The World
Toronto's LGBT community is one of the most notable in the city, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the city is fourth on the list of the largest Pride celebrations around the world beating out more recognized gay-friendly cities such as San Francisco. It probably helps that there's an insane amount of tourism surrounding Pride Week and events across the city that are held during Toronto's celebration.
5. The Million People Myth at Pride
It's commonly said ahead of each Pride Parade that one million people are expected to attend and that the common number of people attending Pride is 1.2 million, but after some research was completed, this claim was deemed false. In past years, however, it's been said that looking at the economic impact of Pride on Toronto's tourism industry that roughly half a million or 500,000 individuals attend the entire Pride Week each year.
6. YOU CAN SPRAY POLICE OFFICERS WITH WATER GUNS!
Photo cred - All Viral Posts
Yes the one time of year where you can actually get away with throwing something at a police officer. It's tradition at the Pride Parade to be in the crowd of spectators and take water bottles or water guns and spray those participating in the Parade. Even the ones who serve and protect.
7. The First Documented Pride Baby Turns 1
During the 2014 Pride Parade, a same-sex couple welcomed a baby boy, Milo, via surrogate and a picture of the two fathers holding their son became an overnight viral sensation on social media. The now called 'Pride Baby' celebrates his first birthday and Pride Parade this year with his parents. Milo is the first baby to be born during the Pride Parade in the history of the event in Toronto.
Photo cred - We Have All Been Touched
8. Pride 2014's Grand Marshal Married Canada's First Same-Sex Couple
Every year during the Pride Parade, a Grand Marshal leads the Parade down Yonge Street. This year 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' songstress Cyndi Lauper will be leading the charge but last year's marshal Rev. Brent Hawkes made history in January 2001 by marrying Canada's first same sex couples at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. Hawkes married the couples using the Marriages Act, where a marriage license can be given if banns (announcements as to why the marriage shouldn't take place) are published three Sundays before the marriage takes place without any objections.
9. The Parade/Pride Week Is Inclusive to All Groups
You may think because the Pride Parade is for the LGBT community and to combat homophobia that it would be for just that community but the beauty of Pride is anyone can take part. Plenty of non-LGBT groups in support of gay rights issues take part in the parade every year including different companies, political parties, universities, and more.
10. The Late Inclusion of the Trans March
If there are those who aren't in the know, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and while the Pride Parade kicked off in 1981, the Dyke March dedicated to the lesbian community began in 1996, the Trans March created for the city's transexual community only began in 2009. There have been issues in the past with the organization of this particular march but as of the past couple years, things have seemed to be on the uphill
The Pride Parade kicks off at the intersection of Church and Bloor St. W at 2 p.m. and will run all along Yonge Street to Yonge-Dundas Square THIS Sunday, June 28.