Toronto is awash in rainbows.
People of all ages dressed in brightly coloured clothing and wrapped in flags representing every niche in the 2SLGBTQ+ community lined Toronto’s downtown streets Sunday for the annual Pride Parade.
The parade, the first in-person pride march since 2019, drew massive crowds, filling Yonge and Church Streets, and a section of Bloor Street, with revellers.
The mood was jubilant, with cheers often rising up unprompted throughout the throngs of people.
For many, the weekend marked an opportunity to reconnect with their communities after COVID-19 shuttered festivities and put a hold on Pride Toronto’s annual street festival and rallies.
First-time Pride participant Jamie McGuire said that coming out with their identity during the pandemic meant few opportunities to connect with people like them, and said they were “so excited” to be marching alongside others celebrating their identities.
Marching, McGuire said, was a signal that people were emerging from the pandemic “just as strong as ever.”
“It really shows how strong our city and our community is,” McGuire said of the weekend-long event’s massive turnout.
Celebrants of all gender expressions and sexual attractions turned out, including Tyler Herrington, who was also attending Pride for the first time.
Herrington, who identifies as aromantic, was excited to be marching alongside others to bring awareness to the aromantic and asexual community.
“(People) don’t have much of an idea of what the (word aromantic) means or what it means to have little to no romantic attraction,” Herrington said, carrying a sign which read “I love you platonically.”
Among the messages of support carried by the contingent Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a fixture in parade events, was a sign reading “labels are for canned soup.”
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Jo Baker was attending pride for the 18th time. “It’s great to see everybody so happy,” Baker said.
Marching amongst the 2SLGBTQ community members were Toronto Mayor John Tory, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Amid loud cheers from onlookers, Singh stopped frequently for photo selfies. The large NDP contingent was followed closely by a float carrying a DJ.
Unlike past years, spectators were not separated from the parade route by metal barriers. Instead, people filled the streets and danced around the parade and floats.
Despite the lack of separation, the parade seemed to move smoothly, if slower than in years prior.
At the nearby street festival, away from the parade itself, other pride revellers browsed vendors, danced in the streets or took to the festival’s multiple beer gardens for a dance and a drink.
On the corner of Yonge and Bloor near the parade’s starting point, people could be seen selling flags to wave. Other vendors sold fruit and cold drinks for the hot day ahead.
While the streets were tightly packed with spectators, many pockets of downtown turned into impromptu dance parties. Music and bubbles filled the air, and despite the heat and humidity which threatened a thunderstorm, the sun emerged to brighten up the party.
The 2022 event comes amid a rise in tensions toward the 2SLGBTQ community in the U.S. and a mass shooting Saturday in Oslo, Norway, where a gunman opened fire on pride celebrants.
This year, Pride organizers tightened security measures, with bag checks at the entrance of many events. Police were present throughout the parade.
Pride month isn’t over yet. On Tuesday, there’s a free outdoor screening of a queer classic film at Fort York National Historic Site, starting at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra along with Finnish vocal ensemble Rajaton will perform ABBA songs at Roy Thomson Hall.
Jenna Moon is a Toronto-based business reporter, focused on personal finance and affordability. Follow her on Twitter: @_jennamoon
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