Get out your super soakers and your rainbow flags because Toronto’s Pride Week kicks of June 21.
“It’s one of the first big public events that signals the start of summer – so that’s always a great time of year to mark. The beginning of warm weather and socializing and getting together,” Pride co-chair Francisco Alvarez told CityNews.
“It’s the best people watching all year.”
This year’s theme is Superqueer!
“The [theme] suggests the idea of super heroes with various powers that might be related to our community – so we’re interested to see how it gets interpreted,” Alvarez explained.
The week-long celebration begins with the flag raising ceremony at City Hall and ends with the Pride parade which draws people from around the world into the city’s downtown core.
It’s estimated that 1.22 million people were in attendance last year and the number is expected to keep growing – a fact which organizers are accommodating with a super-sized route.
“The parade is going to be longer,” Alvarez explained. “It’s going to go all the way down to Yonge-Dundas Square this year so we hope that that will also make it possible for more people to see the parade.”
Over the course of the weekend, party goers can then make their way to the Church and Wellesley area for the annual streetfair where they can enjoy music, food, dancing, shopping and take in some of the area’s distinctive culture.
For families who want to take a little time away from the busy crowds, the Church Street Public School will be home to Family Pride.
“Families can go there and they can find activities for the kids in a place that’s supportive of LGBT families,” Alvarez said. “It’s a more-quiet, less-crowded place for the youngsters.”
Pride Week also draws amazing musical talent both local and international artists.
In previous years headliners have included Cyndi Lauper, The Indigo Girls, Carol Pope, former Spice Girl Mel C, Corey Hart and Toronto’s own Deborah Cox. Organizers also make a point to showcase local talent throughout the week.
“The majority of the artists we present are Canadians so it gives exposure to a lot of emerging artists,” said Alvarez. “Where else would you get three days of programming for free with seven stages programmed for three days?”
A new stage will also be set up this year at Yonge-Dundas Square, which means even more entertainment.
Next year, Toronto will host World Pride, an organization that promotes LGBT issues on a global scale. Toronto was chosen as the host by InterPride, an international association of pride coordinators, in 2009.
Alvarez said they have a number of new events in the works for World Pride, including a human rights conference at the University of Toronto, a large gala, as well as opening and closing ceremonies.
And for the first time, Pride events may expand outside of the downtown core into the suburbs such as Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.
“We want to have World Pride events that happen across the city. Engage more local communities and also ethnic communities,” said Alvarez. “It also might be that we have Greektown Pride or Little Italy Pride. The idea is to engage more people on a more local basis across the whole GTA.”
For a complete list of events happening during Pride Week visit the official Pride website.