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Meet the 2016 Pride Toronto grand marshals

A wide array of talent comes together to celebrate the LGBT community

Toronto’s Black Lives Matter will be Pride Toronto’s honoured group. Credit: Pride Toronto

Pride Toronto has released the list of who will be leading this year’s parade. Here’s the rundown.

The Prancing Elites – International Honoured Guests

The five gay and genderqueer dancers that makes up Prancing Elites are are the closest thing the world has to demigods this side of Beyoncé. From Mobile, Alabama, the troupe are now the most high-profile practitioners of J-Setting, a type of dancing/marching madness that generally leaves everyone floored. Founded over a decade ago while they were in high school, they’ve been banned from performing at football games and at small-town Alabama parades. But considering the fact they’ve got their own reality show, I think they’re doing all right.

Aydian Dowling – International Grand Marshal

The New York body builder and activist was the first trans man to run in the Men’s Health Ultimate Guy competition, the true arbiter of which man is the most man of all the men. With 72,000 people voting for him, Dowling was the runner-up, but became a prominent voice for trans men. Since 2011, he’s owned and operated Point 5cc, a clothing company aimed at trans folks, which he founded to raise money for his top surgery, and has put on annual fundraisers for other trans guys surgeries.

As you might imagine, the dude is ripped.

Salah Bachir – Grand Marshal

Bachir is the president of Cineplex Media (not to be confused with parent-company Cineplex Entertainment, which runs the theatres where you go to watch all those Space Trex sequels). Over the years, he’s donated wheelbarrow-loads of money to LGBT causes in Canada, including the 519 (which named a wing after him), the Canadian Federation for AIDS Research, Inside Out, The Lebanon Project, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and pretty much any other major artistic institution in the city. Bachir was also a grand marshal during the 2005 Pride parade, so this will be his second time holding the metaphorical baton.

Vivek Shraya – Grand Marshal

Shraya, a true renaissance woman, is a writer, playwright, musician and multimedia artist who represents a unique and powerful voice in Toronto’s LGBT community. She’s been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, performs with her brother in Too Attached and has shared the stage with everyone from Tegan & Sarah to a real-life Spice Girl. Her art pushes a strong queer and anti-racist message in an arts world that often

In one of her most recent projects, Trisha, she stands in for and recreates photos of her mother. It’s pretty incredible.

Jordyn Samuels – Youth Ambassador

This year’s youth ambassador was nominated by SOY, and they’ve gone ahead and chosen a goddamn boss. Jordyn Samuels is all about making shit right: she’s currently majoring in equity studies and sexual diversity at UofT, and has been a youth ambassador for SOY’s human rights equity access team since 2010. If this year’s Pride is all about shining a spotlight on the diversity there is in our community, then Whitney Houston got it right: I believe the children are our future.

Black Lives Matter Toronto – Honoured Group

The Toronto coalition of Black Lives Matter has achieved extraordinary success the last few months (You can read about why we think they’re Toronto’s most important LGBT movement here). Pride Toronto announced earlier this year that they will be the honoured group, and BLMTO accepted, albeit with some hesitation. Rodney Diverlus, one of the co-founders of BLMTO, will also participate in a panel on blackness and queer politics, which will be hosted at the 519.