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19 pictures that show why Pride Toronto was one of the coolest festivals of the year

19 pictures that show why Pride Toronto was one of the coolest festivals of the year

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, centre, at Pride Toronto 2016

The annual Pride Toronto festival concluded Sunday with the signature parade through the downtown province capital of Ontario.

This year, for the first time, the festival was expanded to run for a whole month and included a tremendously diverse mix of events, discussions and gatherings – all grouped under the umbrella theme of ‘You Can Sit With Us’.

It was a hot day. Many had to strip down to stay cool.
The temperature hit 80F and many had to strip down to stay cool. Obviously.

However, following Friday night’s Trans March (which police estimate attracted 11,000 participants), and Saturday’s Dyke March, the real biggie was always going to be Sunday’s Pride parade.

The reason why this year’s parade was sure to grab headlines was one of its very special guests: Canada’s widely popular and respected new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Mr Trudeau has attended Pride in the past but this was the first time he was attending as a serving Prime Minister – a first for any Pride festival in Canada. He was joined by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (the first openly gay head of government in Canada) and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Watching the parade along Bloor Street
Watching the parade along Bloor Street

The parade was dedicated to the memory of those who were recently killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. It included a minute’s silence at 3pm which was observed by all those along the route.

‘We will never forget the 49 family members taken from us in Florida,’ said Mathieu Chantelois, Executive Director of Pride Toronto in a statement after the event.

‘Just as we never forget all of the lives we have lost due to discrimination and violence. It’s uplifting to see so many people come to Toronto from across Canada and around the world to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of our community.’

The parade made its way down Yonge Street, where onlookers climbed rooftops and scaffolding to get themselves the best vantage points.

Onlookers climbed buildings to get a good view
Onlookers climbed buildings to get a good view

Black Lives Matter bring parade to a halt

There was a few moment of drama when members of #BlackLivesMatter Toronto decided to hold a sit-down protest midway along the route. They remain seated for at least 30 minutes, bringing the parade to a halt.

The purpose of the sit-down was to issue a number of demands to Pride organizers, including that there be no police floats at next year’s Pride and that there is increased funding for Blockorama and other community stages and events.

Eventually, they were persuaded to end their protest after the Pride Toronto’s Executive Director, Mathieu Chantelois, signed – using a black feather pen – the group’s list of demands, reported CBC Canada. Pride Toronto have been approached for comment to clarify.

Janaya Khan, a spokesperson with Black Lives Matter, later CBC Radio’s Metro Morning: ‘We didn’t halt the parade, we made progress in the parade.’

The protest was the only hiccup in the smooth running of a Pride march that, with Mr Trudeau’s help, made Canadian history.

Post-parade celebrations across downtown district

Afterwards, many flocked to Dundas Square to catch stage entertainment, including a moving and motivational speech from RuPaul on the importance of truly loving yourself and other members of your global LGBTI tribe.

Other smaller stages were dotted around the gay village district of Church and Wellesley, which was packed with good-natured revelers for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

The festival offered up thousands of happy, smiley faces and a real sense of community and respect – not least for those lost in Orlando, who were commemorated by several of the walking groups.

Well done, Toronto, for organizing one of the most amazing Pride festivals we’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Same time next year, then?

Dancing in the streets
Dancing in the streets
LGBTI muslims were represented, among other faith groups
LGBTI muslims were represented, among other faith groups
Costumes aplenty
Costumes aplenty
Hanging out on Church Street
Hanging out on Church Street
Love was all around
Love was all around
Throwing shade!
Throwing shade!
Toronto Pride
Toronto Pride
There were also plenty of pets showing their pride
There were also plenty of pets showing their pride
Veteran pride goers turned out in force
Veteran pride goers turned out in force
Offering redemption on Church Street
Offering redemption on Church Street
Canada has hot police officers. Fact.
Canada has hot police officers. Fact.
Drag queens backstage in Dundas Square
Drag queens backstage in Dundas Square
Sisterly love on Yonge Street
Sisterly love on Yonge Street
A couple of Trudeau fans waltz down Bloor Street
A couple of Trudeau fans waltz down Bloor Street – his image emblazoned on their dresses

 

Main image: Scott Corman. All other images: David Hudson, who visited Toronto with the assistance of Ontario Travel and Toursim Toronto.