Why Toronto is One of the Most Progressive Cities in the World

All eyes were on the pitcher’s mound at last evenings Jay’s game as a transgender woman pitched her way into history.

Rachel Lauren Clark threw the ceremonial first pitch before Toronto took on the Baltimore Orioles for Pride night at the Rogers Centre ,and in doing so became the first trans person to carry out that honour at a major league game.

Clark, who works as the board secretary for Pride Toronto, said she was proud to have this incredible opportunity and that “there are so many people in our community that have fought for so long and so hard and I wish I could have them all out here with me.”

But Clark’s historical pitch isn’t the only progressive move we’ve seen take place in Toronto in recent months.

We’ve gone from a mayor who refused to attend Toronto’s Pride Parade to a Prime Minister who will happily march in it.

And just last week, both the official Pride and trans flags were raised at the same time for the first time ever at Toronto’s City Hall to help kick off Canada’s Pride Month. 

But as Clark said, transgender people still have a long way to go, even in a city like Toronto. Despite the progress we’ve seen in making the LGBTQ community feel safe, welcomed, and accepted, prejudice still exists.

So in honour of Pride Month and our LGBTQ community, this is how Toronto continues to be one of the most progressive cities in the world.

Evolving Neighbourhoods
Toronto’s Village, which is located around the Church-Wellesley corner, is a cultural hub in the city, bursting with restaurants, bars, galleries, theatres, and gay-friendly businesses. Here you’ll find plenty of events such as Pride Week celebrations, Pride March, and Dyke March. While the Church-Wellesley Village remains the focal point of LGBTQ activity, Toronto’s west end has evolved into “Queer West Village” and has quickly become an alternative to the Church Street scene. You might not find as many gay bars in this neck of the woods, but you’ll find several venues that attract open-minded gays, straights and everyone in between.

Pride Month
Toronto has been hosting Pride Week for 35 years, but this summer marks the city’s, and country’s, first-ever Pride month. The month-long festivities will feature extended events and activities throughout the city, culminating with the much anticipated annual Pride Parade on July 3rd. The parade will attract not only members of the LGBTQ community from across Canada, but also Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Inside Out Festival 
The Inside Out Festival brings together the best LGBT cinema from around the world, and each year the festival draws crowds of close to 35,000 to screenings. Here you’ll find artist talks, panel discussions, installations, and parties that highlight more than 200 films and videos from Canada and around the world. There is definitely something for everyone at this festival, which features everything from sociocultural documentaries, to hard-hitting dramas, to comedies.

Political Support
From showing the city’s support by raising the Pride flag at City Hall to participating in the Pride parade and other city events, Mayor John Tory continues to show his support and acceptance for all members of Toronto’s diverse population.

Ontario Premiere Kathleen Wynne also acts as a trailblazer for progress in Toronto, as she’s the first woman and openly lesbian premiere in Ontario history. She continues to raise awareness for not only women’s rights, but for LGBTQ equality as well.

Regent Park Sets the Bar for Inclusion
The neighbourhood, which was built in 1948, was once a community made up of 100 per cent social housing but has since undergone a radical rejuvenation plan that has welcomed new condos and public centres. During the rejuvenation plan, residents were removed from their homes but then invited back to live once there the project was completed – no matter if they were gay, straight, or trans. Now, Regent Park provides a safe space for transgender residents and Muslim women and ensures that they are both economically and culturally integrated into the community.