You can run yourself ragged rushing from brunch to concert to dancefloor to slingroom — especially in heels! So we here at Xtra hope to ease the pain of Pride-fun overload with a hit list of to-dos and must-sees over Pride. Don’t do it all; do it fabulous.
10) Tune in
Pride offers a terrific showcase for indie music, from pop and rock to hip hop and electro. And while bloated, middle-aged retro acts play to the common denominator, there are some top-flight Canadian talents who hold their own against the best of the world. The Cliks rock a free outdoors North by Northeast gig on Fri, Jun 19. Then Pride stages play host to the likes of Gentleman Reg, Esthero, d’bi.young, Lioness, Deborah Cox and the incomparable Carole Pope (see Xtra’s Ultimate Pride Guide for details).
Toronto is home to a huge queer cabaret, drag and alt-theatre scene. Get an ample free sampling on Pride stages, especially the Village Stage (on Wellesley St E and Church). But nothing compares to Toronto performers full-on. Check out the parties and theatrical offerings at Buddies (12 Alexander St; Cheap Queers, running Wed, Jun 24 to 26 is a great, demented bet), Goodhandy’s (120 Church St) and most of the bars along the Church St strip.
8) Drop the baggage
Know your needs, state them clearly, listen, negotiate, count to 10. Let’s keep breakup dramas and hissy fits to a minimum.
7) Get it on
Toronto has seven bathhouses (one with a woman’s night), at least two Church St bars with backrooms plus a myriad of fecund parks and licentious laneways. For GPS (global propositioning system) check Squirt.org.
If you don’t have a crash pad handy, make sure to cool your jets. There are shady beer gardens with green spaces at Cawthra Square Park (behind The 519, with a splash pool), the Alexander Street Parkette (beside Buddies) and George Hislop Parkette (near Isabella and Yonge). George Hislop is the northernmost of three parks that are great places to retreat to with some takeaway nosh.
Don’t make too strict a plan. The Pride site is humongous and organizers have sprinkled surprises and intrigues throughout. Explore. See where the winds of weird take you.
There are many ways to participate in Pride Toronto’s three marches (the Trans March on Fri, Jun 26 at 8pm, the Dyke March on Jun 27 at 2pm and the Pride Parade on Jun 28 at 2pm: Join in, cheer on, volunteer or wander around the staging areas. But why limit yourself? Put on a silly outfit and turn yourself into your own parade. There are dollar stores and full theatrical makeup supply stores up and down Yonge St. Pride Toronto even offers you a free makeover (okay, it’s just one body part — but think of which parts!) as part of its art series on Saturday from 3pm to 6pm in Norman Jewison Parkette (near Gloucester and Yonge).
3) Experience life live
Put down the camera. Unplug the iPod. Why document other people’s experiences? Have some experiences yourself, unadulterated, person-to-person.
Power to those of you who drop major change to hit the big circuit parties over Pride weekend. But there are many cheaper options including the village dance clubs like Fly (8 Gloucester St), Buddies, Straight (553 Church St), Crews/Tango (508 Church St), Zipperz (72 Carlton St) and Goodhandy’s — lineups, though, are often a hassle. An easy option — and free — are Pride’s various stages. With its steamy lineup of great DJs, the Central Stage is an obvious option but lineups here, too, can be a problem. Blockorama throughout the day and night on Sunday is a fantastic choice — it’s really worth the trip to George Hislop Parkette — cool grass, shady trees and hot beats. And usually there’s an impromptu dance party on Church St near the Village Stage at Wellesley.
1) Feel beautiful
This party is a political act: First and foremost it can change the way queers see ourselves. (Who cares what the straight onlookers and Debbie-downers have to say about it, really?) Pride offers the opportunity to feel different in our bodies, to actually embody what gay liberation is all about. Feel the love. Be beautiful.