A trail of glitter now runs from Queen’s Park to the Church and Wellesley Village after more than 1,000 rainbow-covered queer people took over the streets June 26 for Stonewall TO.
The energy was exuberant as the group marched, and at times danced, to Cawthra Park. When the march ended, the party joined up with Back to Our Roots: Breaking New Ground, an event organized by a collection of queer groups, including Blackness Yes!, Ontario Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf, Ill Nana, Colour Me Dragg, Fruitloopz, BlackCAP, Pride Coalition for Free Speech and Proud of Toronto.
Stonewall TO paid homage to the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City, which spearheaded the gay liberation movement.
The march put the politics of Pride front and centre, especially in the wake of the city’s threats to pull funding from Pride Toronto (PT) this year and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’s (QuAIA) self-removal from the 2011 parade, said organizer Sasha Van Bon Bon.
As the march kicked off, Van Bon Bon led the group with a chant: “An army of lovers will never be defeated,” a message that perfectly described the electric mood.
Inside the truck at the very front, singer Faith Nolan performed while the line of people, some carrying signs, singing and dancing, made their way toward Cawthra Park.
Nolan marvelled at the positivity of the crowd. “This is how Pride started. This is the real Pride. The parade is so corporate. We don’t own it. Now, if the profits went to the community, that would be different, but it doesn’t.”
Another organizer, Adriana Alarcon, said she felt empowered.
“This is my Pride,” she said. “This is all I need. What an amazing day.”
Honoured dyke and youth grand marshal Leanne Iskander and members of Catholic Schools for GSAs (gay-straight alliances) were out in full force, carrying fluorescent homemade signs and dancing down Church St.
When the march ended at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, Queer Ontario hosted lunch in the park, while dancers, spoken-word and drag artists performed on the stage.
Pride festivities continue June 27 with the raising of the rainbow flag and reading of the official proclamation at city hall at noon.