Well, it finally happened – we got our Toronto Pride Weekend back after two long years of waiting! The weather was hot and everyone was ready to party. It was a record year for attendance, exceeding something like 1.9 million people invading the downtown core!
On Church Street
Drag Ball 2022
I didn’t take as many pictures of the Church Street antics this year as I was at Yonge-Dundas Square for most of Saturday enjoying the awesome Drag Ball 2022. I came away from that event with a nasty sunburn and COVID-19, but somehow it was all worth it – what a great day!
From Pride Toronto’s website: Drag Ball is back in-person, baby! And bigger than ever, with over 50 local drag queens, kings, gender performers, and surprise guests from Drag Race Canada and Call Me Mother. These performers will grace this massive stage for one of the biggest drag shows Pride has ever seen. Get ready for glitter bombs, gowns, meaty tucks, wigs, facial hair, passion, hunty, fierce, fierce, fierce, Tongue pop! Hosted by your favourite sweet and sour treat Lemon, you won’t wanna take your eyes off this stage from start to finish. Our city is overflowing with drag talent, so come out and support Toronto’s drag community on this very important day.
Here’s just a bit of what went down that afternoon:
With Pride happening next weekend in Toronto – after a two year absence due to COVID-19 – I thought it quite appropriate to repost this article by Gordon Bowness from the everythingzoomer.com website. So much of the article sums up my feelings about this special time of year.
I know how to do Pride well. I can run a mile in a cork wedgie — and have, repeatedly, even as I slid into my late 50s. I marched in New York at an unsanctioned parade to mark AIDS activism and the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, the 1969 riot sparked by a police raid on a LGBTQ2S+ club. This uprising by a group of white, brown and Black queer and trans folk is commemorated by all Prides, like the one in my hometown of Winnipeg, which I skipped through in a sarong. Or the parade in Toronto that my boyfriend and I, dressed in ridiculous outfits, pranced through for 18 years in a row, a tradition that stopped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To say that I yearn to reconnect physically with legions of other LGBTQ2S+ folks at Pride is a gross understatement.
That desire among queer and trans folk is palpable across the country. There is a special energy generated when we gather en masse. And while we have shown incredible ingenuity and tenacity in maintaining connections through social media and other physically distant means, nothing can replace that face-to-face, skin-to-skin, high-heels-on-pavement connection.
After a two-year hiatus, Pride festivities return to in-person events across Canada this summer, with parades being planned from Victoria (June 26) to Winnipeg (June 5), Toronto (June 26) to St. John’s (July 14).
Granted, many Canadians are still wary of COVID-19 and may prefer to show their Pride online or at more private affairs. But those who do venture out are going to devour every flirty look, every awkward encounter with our exes, every moment of campy excess.
At the heart of Pride’s exuberance beats an ignoble secret: pain. That’s why queer and trans joy is so intense; it’s the flip side of pain. And that’s why Pride has always been a party and a protest, whether it was during the AIDS crisis of the ’80s and ’90s, the calls for racial justice and defunding the police in the last few years, or our current crisis of violence against trans folk, where a rash of legislative attacks on trans youth march in lockstep with physical attacks, especially against trans women of colour. A lot of intersectional politics courses through the seemingly frivolous festivities at Pride. Many in our communities are besieged. But when the world is out to get you, there is something vitally radical about just being alive. It’s a simple truth, hard won. Pride is a celebration of life.
Have the past two years been challenging for you? Come join us queer and trans folk at Pride. Shake out the sorrow. We know how to do this, and why.
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 2022 issue with the headline ‘Canadian Pride’, p. 13.