My wife and I have this bad pattern with the Pride Parade in Toronto. We always show up late and end up chasing the end of the Parade down Yonge St. I couldn’t believe we did this once again this year. Luckily this does not necessarily mean you won’t enjoy the parade – you’ll just be enjoying the after effects of what happened, rather than the parade itself.
Some years I am more into Canada Day than the Pride Parade. But this year I felt less patriotic for a few reasons. First, last year George W. Bush was the President and this year Barack Obama is the President. My feelings about America have done a complete 180 since last year. What has happened in Canada? Well, we’re still stuck with Helmet Head Harper. I have become aware of a lot of corruption in our government bureaucracies – and with the garbage strike in Toronto I decided it was time to give a temporary rest to my Canada Day Pride.
Canada really can have some pride in our more progressive attitudes and laws towards Gay and Lesbian rights. The Pride Parade in Toronto is one of our biggest events, along with Caribana and the Toronto Film Festival. Even though I am straight I love to go to this parade.
Forgive the generalizations, but in many ways I am culturally gay. I enjoy Disco. I would rather watch a Broadway Show then a football game, or any kind of game really. I scramble for tickets when Madonna is in town. And so forth. I wonder if I fall into a stereotype of Gay loving straight males who attend the parade.
Even though we knew the parade started at 2:00 we showed up at 4:00. “I want to look good!” was what my wife kept barking at me while I waited impatiently at the door. We parked in Rosedale where a man gave us directions out of the Rosedale labyrinth. He also provided us a little bit of a tour of the area for some reason. When we got to Bloor St. we could see the end of the parade in the distance. The crowd was still buzzing and garbage was strewn everywhere. Oddly there was no music, since the floats were probably providing the soundtrack. It was almost like a post-apocalyptic scene with water drenched zombies.
We hurried down Yonge St. and stopped to observe some bare breasted women putting on a show in some upper apartments along the parade route. We tried to go through College Park mall, but the intersection was jammed. When we came out of the mall doors someone was yelling “BIGOT! THAT GUY IS A BIGOT!” My wife and I must have looked startled because then the guy said, “No not you! HIM!” I looked to my right and saw a strange and confused looking man who was carrying a placard around his neck that had some quote from the bible about the sins of homosexuality.
At some point we ended up running through back alleys to try and catch up, but I began to realize it was hopeless. We crossed over to Church St. where for just a moment we saw the last part of the parade.
Luckily the party continued on Church St. The vendors are all over the place recruiting for the army and the police, selling Caribbean food and all sorts of fun sexy stuff.
The Pride Parade has become very commercial as businesses have suddenly figured out they can make money off of this demographic. In some ways it is a capitalistic revolution and I heard some complaints about over-sponsorship this year. My only complaint is that I don’t understand why people are pushing baby carriages through this crowd. I’m 6’1 and I have trouble negotiating this crowd. Why do you want to push your baby through this crowd?
At one point I saw a stroller lady coming for me and I decided to stand my ground and from the corner of my eye I saw the woman deliberately push her carriage into my foot and then say “Sorry.” So I moved. Hey I’m not that much of a jerk.
We went to India Hut for the buffet and relaxed and then walked up and down Church St. again. We were both surprised by how few people we knew. This is such a big city. The sun started to go down but the dance music and the old Michael Jackson records kept playing late into the night..
I don’t know who the hell picked up all that garbage! Happy Pride!
Photos: Jamillah Ross