The 2008 Toronto Pride Week wrapped up the week’s festivities on Sunday with the Pride Parade. For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, Pride is a worldwide festival that celebrates the queer community: gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals.
M. appeared less than enthused about going to the parade. “Just because you go to watch the parade doesn’t mean you’re gay,” I assure him. So we join the million people lining Yonge Street craning for a glimpse of the marchers.
That’s right. One million.
St. Louis also celebrated PrideFest at Tower Grove Park, touted as the largest gay and lesbian festival in the Midwest. The crowd was estimated at about 80,000. Of course, Toronto is a much larger city, and its citizens are generally less uptight about queer people. Or at least those who are uptight hide under a rock, as far as I can tell.
The parade featured, of course, the requisite number of scantily clad guys, gals — and a few whose gender was anyone’s guess — gyrating to Abba. Other characters included a bare-buttocked cowboy, wearing nothing but chaps, knee-high boots, a cowboy hat and a bandana, cracking a bull whip; geishas twirling parasols; drag queens showing off impossibly shapely legs; gladiators, clowns, fairies and other costumed creatures.
But joining the more colorful marchers were regular, everyday people, waving rainbow flags or hoisting rainbow umbrellas. Police officers. Engineers. Teachers. Students. Politicians. People with AIDS. Even members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Expanding on the rainbow theme, many of the floats featured ethnic groups: Chinese, South Asian, Jamaican, Japanese. There was even a small group representing gay Muslims. One marcher dressed in Saudi garb carried a sign pointing out that this type of demonstration would not be allowed in that part of the world.
I may not be queer, but I felt a sense of pride.
(More photos of the 2008 Toronto Pride Parade after the jump)