2 min

Unspeakable joy

Rory Pederzolli is a bit emotional. “I just spent the last 20 minutes crying because I’m so happy,” he says, right after getting a call from the Pride committee telling him the float he put together with his boyfriend – for fun – won an award.

“We’re just two guys that decided to put a float in the parade,” says Pederzolli. “It wasn’t easy to do, it was a lot of very hard work.”

“As soon as you turn onto Bloor St and start the music cranking and people start clapping and cheering and you can see people’s mouths saying, ‘Oh, look at that….'” his voice trails off.

Pederzolli says it’s all worth it.

He and his boyfriend, Crispin Redhead, held a couple of parties and raised a shocking $25,000 – leaving them enough to pay for the float and donate a chunk of cash (four grand) to Casey House.

The float is called Heart, a red flying carpet with drag performer Michelle Ross as a genie from the past. The carpet flowed into a silver spaceship, surrounded by futuristic looking folk. It all fit perfectly into Pride’s theme – Heroic Past, Proud Future (and that’s what they won the award for).

“It all ties in with the heart, what we created this year. Our focus was very positive – joy and strength and power – it all starts from the heart. I have a heart tattoo on my back.”

Pederzolli and Redhead have known each other for 15 years. They’ve worked together for 10 (both are fitness instructors) and Pederzolli calls his lover his “soulmate.”

Pederzolli had been on a parade float quite regularly until two years ago. No one asked him that year. So he and Redhead decided to make one themselves.

Their first attempt was called We Are Many, We Are One. It featured a collection of friends with flags from various countries, rainbow columns and balloons.

It cost $6,000, and they raised the money by inviting friends and acquaintances to a silent auction. The extra thousand bucks they pulled in went to charity.

This year, they held a Christmas party (in a donated studio space) with cheques accepted in lieu of gifts; a silent auction in May (also in a donated party hall) sold 1,003 tickets at $10 a pop. Everyone who came was a friend or a friend of a friend – no strangers.

They also pulled together a collection of friends as an advisory committee – for input. And Pederzolli says he’s thinking of growing the effort to eventually creating a foundation.

He says the pair couldn’t have done it without help. “We would like to thank all our friends for being able to do what we did.”