Toronto has not exactly been meek with its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited and Allies (hereon abbreviated as LGBTTIQQ2SA) events in June of each year. Just as the city heats up to a breathing-optional temperature, the rainbow flags become more common than our Canadian maple leaf. It's always one of the biggest celebrations of the year.
Just because the sun is shining doesn't mean a rainbow umbrella isn't a good idea — Photo courtesy of Kitty Rainbow
Toronto's annual pride festival will get a little bigger this year, as Toronto has been voted as the WorldPride leader at the first WorldPride event ever in North America. (Next year, things will return to normal with the Toronto Pride Week, but this year Toronto is hosting the global ten-day celebration.)
The event will incorporate history, activism, education and culture of LGBTTIQQ2SA communities. It kicks off with a concert on June 20, which will fill all the holes in your heart left by the end of the Olympics. Headliners include Deborah Cox, Steve Grand and Melissa Etheridge.
Melissa Etheridge. She's kind of a big deal — Photo courtesy of Pride Toronto
And that is just the beginning.
As the week unfolds, the mood fluctuates from the somber to the celebratory. Case in point: there is an AIDS vigil in Cawthra Square Park on June 24. One day later, there is a two-day hullaballoo (Excuse us for the word, but it did seem appropriate.).
There will be 10 free open-air concerts, with major headliners including Carly Rae Jepson. Bring back memories of summer 2013 with the earworm "Call Me Maybe" to see if this year you are strong enough to think of anything else. (Hint: probably not.)
Carly Rae Jepson. Call her maybe? — Photo courtesy of Pride Toronto
With all of this free going on, there obviously has to be a lot of volunteers. Indeed, this is true, and last year 1,400 amazing volunteers banded together to make the event run as seamlessly as possible. This year there are expected to be 2,000 volunteers, which sounds about right considering two million revelers intend to come to Toronto for this special week in June. The chosen theme for this year is "Rise Up!"
The events will sprawl throughout downtown Toronto, rather than being limited to the Church-Wellesley village. Twenty-five blocks will be decked out with the intention of connecting to a global movement. Local movements will be honoured, and Toronto intends to give a platform to anyone who wants to assert their pride. Go big or go home (or go to Madrid in 2017, where the next WorldPride event will be hosted).
The flags have taken the theme seriously — Photo courtesy of William Murphy, Flickr Creative Commons
Whether you plan to participate or support, there are a ton of diverse events to suit your mood. We're talking film, art, theatre, community activism and fun events. Did we mention dance parties? There will certainly be many, many dance parties.
Pride Week gives any Torontonian reason to be proud to live in such a multicultural, welcoming city. WorldPride just takes it to the next level. It will honour the past of LGBTTIQQ2SA individuals, celebrate the present and inspire an even better future.
Even so, it will be hard to find a better party in the future, so be certain to make some time to attend this year.