After years of being oppressed and bullied by the brutal NYC Police Department, the patrons of Stonewall Inn fought back. During the final weekend of June 1969, drag quees and queer street kids pushed back and a riot erupted. These riots marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement that transformed the suppression of the LGBTIQQ2SA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersexed, queer, questioning, two-spirited and allies) community into a movement of pride.
Pride Toronto has been in existence in various forms since the late 1970s when "Gay Day" picnics were held at Hanlon's Point at the Toronto Islands. These picnics were eventually moved downtown to Cawthra Park with ceremonies on the steps of the 519 community centre and Pride Toronto's first-ever beer garden.
In 1981, Toronto police raided several bathhouses and publicly humiliated members of Toronto's gay community. Three hundred men were arrested and the media was present to record and publish it all: photographs and names appeared in the morning papers. These attacks motivated gays, queers and their supporters to organize a demonstration at Yonge and Wellesley Streets the next day. This event raised public awareness of the LGBTTIQQ2S community and some of the abuses they were experiencing.
As Toronto residents became more accepting of queer issues, Toronto's pride movement began to grown. In 1984, Church Street was closed for the first time and people danced in the street. Toronto's first Pride Committee was created in 1986. It was also the same year that sexual orientation was added to the Ontario Human Rights Code as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Momentum continued to build and in 199, City Council proclaimed Pride Day for the first time and more than 80,000 people celebrated.
This year, Toronto not only plays host to World Pride but on June 29, 2014, it also marks the 34th annual Pride Parade. Members of the Rainbow Alliance and their allies look forward to marching and celebrating in true pride fashion with the rest of the world! All are welcome!
In anticipation of the parade, the Workers of Colour Caucus will be hosting a Pride Breakfast at 10 am. Directly following the march, the Provincial Human Rights Committee will host a Pride BBQ. Both will be held at OPSEU's office at 31 Wellesley Street East.
If you are interested in marching in the parade, you are asked to meet at the OPSEU office for noon. Contact a member of the Rainbow Alliance to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on World Pride activities, click here: World Pride 2014