On June 23, people from all over the world gathered in downtown Toronto to celebrate the city’s annual Pride parade.
At its core, Pride is a celebration of identities, and of people making a statement that there’s nothing wrong with being who you are and loving who you want.
Xtra walked around Toronto’s gay village to meet some of these people.
Celebrating my queer kids
“We’re here because my oldest child Jae is trans. My youngest child is bisexual. My oldest child’s friend is trans and gay. It’s important for me to be here because I want people to know that I accept my children as they are and I don’t expect them to be anything that they’re not. I want other parents to know that their child being something other than straight is okay. I just I don’t understand why people don’t just accept our children as they are.” — Marci Buchanan (She/Her)
“It’s really reaffirming for me because there was a while that I wasn’t sure if people were going to accept me if I came out and stuff and knowing that she loves me no matter who I am or what I do with my life is really a good feeling.” — Jae Buchanan (They/Them, He/Him)
Celebrating my first Pride
“I’m actually from Montreal which is a six-hour drive from here. I heard that here in Toronto is the biggest Pride parade in Canada and I wanted to see it for myself. This is my first Pride parade and it’s pretty special to me. I’m here to celebrate with my boyfriend.” — Jeremy Racine (He/Him)
Celebrating through art
“I’m visiting Toronto with my project called Big Love Ball and it’s a project about inclusion and connection. I’m basically saying, ‘love bigger,’ not necessarily louder. I do public gestures of inclusion meant to connect people and I am bringing my message from Vancouver to Toronto to let you know loud and clear that we love you.” — Wendy Williams Watt (She/her)
Celebrating the right to be ourselves
“It’s good to be free and see everyone being their real self, not hiding from anything. I celebrate it for myself.” — Samson Chigozie (He/Him)
“I came to Toronto to celebrate Pride Month. This is my first time to celebrate in Toronto with people from every part of the world. I’m so happy because people are being recognized for who they are. In my country, Nigeria, people were being criminalized for being gay, lesbian and transgender. It’s a lot of homophobia.
Today I can walk openly in the streets and people accept me for who I am. I’m so proud. I don’t see myself that God hates me. I see myself that God loves me because of the fact that I was meant to be this way. I believe in a pride, I believe in equality and I believe that people can live any way they want without being discriminated, without being hated, without being killed, without being segregated from the rest of the world.” — Steve Ogunjimi (He/Him)
Celebrating myself, without fear
“I’m from St Thomas, two hours away from Toronto. [Pride is] the time when you can be yourself without having to be fearful of anything.” — JC (He/Him)
“I’m with my husband and his grandson. We just live up the street and we do this every year. We like seeing people like this, getting out and getting together. No more hiding in the closet.” — Louise (She/Her)
Celebrating a milestone
“The first time I marched in Pride was when I first came to Canada eight years ago. This year I just did my double mastectomy. So, it’s a great time for me to celebrate with the rest of my community. I moved from Singapore, coming from [that part of] Asia where gays and lesbians are not recognized. My wife and I came to Canada to get married eight years ago and we’ve stayed here ever since. I think it’s important to be visible, and it’s important to be heard and to be seen.” — Seth (He/Him)
Celebrating without shame
“I am a nudist and I like showing my nude body in public because that’s what nature intended. People should not feel ashamed or shy for exposing their bodies. We all have different body figures and shapes. Everyone should be proud of themselves no matter what they look like.” — Jason (He/Him)
Celebrating ourselves (and our dogs)
“I’m here with my girlfriend (Sydney). It’s my first year for Pride and we’re here with our dogs. It’s really good training for the dogs. They’re both service dogs so it’s a good exposure training for them too. And [Pride] is a really nice inclusive event to come to. With a service dog and being gay, general day-to-day stuff is not so inclusive, so being here is a lot nicer because you don’t stand out.” — Kayla (She/Her)
“I’m here for myself and for the whole community. I’m here to celebrate diversity, it’s such a beautiful thing and to feel part of a phenomenal event in one of the greatest cities, Toronto. It’s important because it shows everyone in the world that are not as accepting, that if we take one step at a time in a place that does accept diversity then we can reach it elsewhere.” — Daniel (He/Him)
Celebrating Pride for future generations
“We’re just here to teach our daughter that inclusivity is really important. And being a part of the community is really important. We want to teach her from a young age, so she has a strong mind to fight off [hateful people] and she can make up her own mind about things.” — Kate Ellis (She/Her)