Toronto’s Pride hangover has yet to subside, and glitter still sparkles along Church Street, but planning for WorldPride 2014 is already in full swing.
Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu says he is basking in the afterglow of a successful 33rd Pride parade. This was the first time in 10 years it stretched all the way to Yonge and Dundas, a taste of what the city can expect next year.
But that wasn’t the only first for the 2013 parade.
“This was the first time we had women firefighters join us in the parade,” Beaulieu says. “That was fantastic. I loved hearing that.”
Beaulieu says his favourite moment was seeing Argentine international grand marshal Marcela Romero speak to the massive crowd at Yonge-Dundas Square about trans rights.
“Seeing that packed crowd whipped into a frenzy for trans rights around the world was an amazing moment,” he says. “That was something I’ll never forget.”
Beaulieu says the political spirit of the marches is always a high point for him, especially this year. Thousands of trans community members and allies marched on Yonge Street. It was the largest Trans March Toronto has ever seen. “It was marvellous. I really think it came together very well,” he says. “It was magic.”
But the best part of Pride, he says, is feeling the euphoria of being in the middle of the crowds that fill the Village throughout the weekend.
“I love those moments, every year, when the community is out, walking around, people are talking to one another, smiling and dancing in the street,” he says. “It’s a wonderful feeling. Pride has happened again. We’re all together. That’s a beautiful moment for me every year.”
And the cleanup is already complete, Beaulieu says. Pride hosts seven stages, which all come down Sunday night so that the streets are ready for regular traffic Monday morning.
“People are out there cleaning up until 6am Monday morning,” he says. “It’s a really impressive volunteer effort, like nothing I have ever seen.”
Now that the 2013 festival has been put to bed, Beaulieu says, it is full steam ahead toward WorldPride next year.
“Up to now we have been planning on parallel tracks,” he says. “Now we bring them together. The whole organization, the whole machinery of Pride Toronto, turns to producing WorldPride . . . A year will go by in the blink of an eye.”
Along with the marquee parade, Dyke March and Trans March, the event will also feature an opening and closing ceremony, a human rights conference and Pride-focused events in neighbourhoods all across the city.
“We will also be continuing over the course of this summer, as Pride festivals happen all around the world, to make sure that we’re there,” he says. “That may be meeting people in person, or having a presence in the parade, and street festivals, or even just an ad in their Pride guides. That will continue to happen, because we need to invite the world.”