With Toronto’s annual Pride Parade just around the corner, the LGBTQ community is ready to step into the spotlight and strut down Church Street.
As with every Pride Parade, there’s at least one, “Okay, but why do they even need a parade?”
Or, “I’m all for expressing your sexuality, but do you need to do it like that?”
Or even, “how do they expect to be taken seriously when they act like this.”
So before you offer up any rash comments in the company of friends, it might be helpful to broaden your knowledge of Toronto’s queer history.
Toronto’s first Pride Parade was actually a product of the 1981 Toronto Bathhouse Raids, during which over 300 men were arrested without reason. This occurrence wasn’t the first event of its kind, but the severity of it sparked a fire in the LGBTQ community that continues to burn bright today. Mass protests and rallies were held after the incident, which then evolved into Toronto’s Pride Week (now Pride Month) – one of the largest celebrations of gay pride in the world.
The festival is more than shirtless men in speedos. It’s more than drag queens performing outrageously. It’s more than feather boas, rainbows, and raising a flag. It’s not hedonism, nor for pleasure alone.
Pride is bravery. It’s a declaration of personal self-acceptance.
Every single member of the LGBTQ community who attends Pride makes a statement – a loud one – without even saying anything. Sometimes attending Pride could mean being ostracized by your family or judged by your coworkers if a photo surfaces. Sometimes attending Pride means quietly brushing off hateful slurs from nearby protestors. By attending Pride, people are showing that they are not afraid of being themselves, and that even if they do have fear, their courage is stronger.
Perhaps that’s what makes people most uncomfortable about this colourful festivity – nobody is trying to hide.
Rather than trying to blend into a heteronormative society, Pride flaunts its identity in whichever way it wants. The aspects of it that people deem as trashy or disgraceful are actually bold acts of rebellion, a shameless expression that demands to be heard.
The whole point of this month is to be in your face – not as a caricature, a stereotype, or a silly character on television – but as a person in this world.
A rejection or dismissal of this event is a rejection of an entire community who deserves to be heard, seen, and celebrated; it’s a step backwards in all the progress the LGBTQ community has made.
To those of you gearing up for the Parade, I hope you have the most amazing time being the best versions of yourself – because that is always something worth celebrating.