Toronto
3 min

Happy Pride!

A weekend of heaven

FUN & SEX. What Pride was all about this year. Credit: Jan Becker

Hatemonger Fred Phelps take note: the rain stopped when the Pride parade started wending its way down Yonge St and here and there, the sun peeked through the clouds.



The Kansas pastor who runs the web site godhatefags.com and threatened to demonstrate against Toronto Pride never showed up – screwing up the planned counter-picket. John Tossell was readying a sign that read: “You’re cute when you’re mad.”



The handful of local Christians who did show up wandered along Yonge telling revellers to repent. They settled on St Mary, to the west of the main drag, with their little signs proclaiming the evils of homosex. They were met with a good-natured cheer – and then ignored.



Certainly there was enough homo sex to drive them nuts. A couple of Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity did just that, waltzing along the Jun 27 parade route with gay abandon. Others had their willies all wrapped up (in a present with a bow). Another had a raccoon tail.



There were boys in jockstraps in the windows of one building; a blow job on a roof. A man in a kilt kept flipping up his sporran.



The Subtonic Monks – the lovely hyperactive gaggle of clanging percussionists at the front of the parade – featured a totally naked woman.



But the girlies really took it all off on Saturday (the 26th) right after the Dyke March. The wading pool behind the 519 Church Street Community Centre was filled with naked lesbians (and one floating on her back jerking off her strap-on).



Everything started off Friday night with drag queens squeegeeing at the corner of Church and Wellesley (pushing out the real street kids?) and crowds steadily getting bigger and bigger on Church St. The evening was spent wandering about Church meeting old friends and making new ones.



By Saturday, the set-up was complete, and the new stages – high up off the ground – cut back on intimacy, but this bit of genius meant the fainting-spell-inducing congestion of last year was not repeated.



Michelle Maloney Leonard plastered stickers that read “Dyke Visibility On Church St Now!” and thousands of girls took her up on it (on Saturday, at least) showing up for the Dyke March – a more political event than was Sunday.



Biggest watergun of the weekend award goes to a woman accompanying the Slack Alice float with a bazooka squirt gun bigger than her upper torso. Women of colour were front and centre, with Courageous South Asian Dykes and World Majority Lesbians banners.



Bisexual Women Of Toronto pulled a wading pool on wheels. Anti-Racist Action declared solidarity with prostitutes. The Portuguese gay and lesbian group Arco Iris had a big presence throughout the weekend. The Lesbian Helpers were out (with a scantily clad cigarette girl). And a very hairy Lola in a rubber mask and feather boas marched in solidarity.



An estimated 20,000 attended.



Pride organizers were a bit shocked by the Saturday turnout, and were a bit short-staffed. But the First Nations Protection Service, a private (and straight) security firm hired for the weekend, were a patient bunch.



On Sunday, thousands pushed up against the metal barriers despite the showers to watch the parade – the longest ever, with 72 cars and floats plus another 48 groups marching without any mechanical help.



Someone yelled “girlfriend” to the cop in the lead police car; the copper hid his face behind his hand. The next police car was totally sealed from the outside world, windows up and a driver wearing shades. City Councillor Pam McConnell water-sprayed a cop sitting on some scaffolding, and the two officers tagging along behind a soaked Mayor Mel Lastman (on his pumper with his own pumper squeezing back) looked pouty.



(Other cops had to rescue parade watchers from the roof of a Yonge St building – the annoyed owner had locked them up there. Otherwise, no arrests and no serious medical problems, the Pride committee reports. And no official crowd estimates, either!)



One screeching queen’s T-shirt read: Cock – Taste It. He had only brought two bananas to deep throat – for the duration of his three-hour-long trek.



Young people were out in force, marching near the front. There were banners from Belleville, McMaster University, George Brown College, London, St Catharines, drag queens from Buffalo, and labour unions. Seven members of the Muslim group, Al-Fatiha, marched.



There was an increase in corporate floats, but the community groups outnumbered them – and lots marched along, waving at the crowds -giving the parade a wonderful grassroots feel.



There was politics. “Make St Mike’s a public hospital,” one group chanted. “Homelessness is a national disgrace” read a sign. The po-po kollective decried teen suicide – and deaths caused by homophobia – by rolling a body down the street.



Tinky Winky (the homo Teletubby) was handing out postcards, “Stop Starving People With AIDS,” chastising the Tories for cutting off PWAs from liquid dietary supplements.



There was fun. Folks on the Woody’s float handed out stuffed animals to the kiddies. Xtra’s first ever float featured a confetti-shooting penis and a gigantic vagina.



Keshet Shalom, the Jewish group that almost collapsed for lack of members a few months ago, showed off a convertible and a dozen people. And the latino group Hola brought up the rear.



Happy Pride to all!