Hey, I had a great weekend! I went to join in the fun that's Toronto's gay pride party (and march) this last weekend. Great stuff, lots of stages with non-stop events, and security asking for my ID to check my age (trust me, when you are about to turn mid-40s you do appreciate that someone is kind enough to check whether you've reached maturity).
Well, the march was ... long, very long, something like 4 hours (my mid-40s feet started hurting eventually), and ... ummm ... somewhat boring. Compared to the in-your-face kinkiness that Sydney and Berlin tend to offer to the (very much suspecting) public, this was a sedate affair, all in all. The occasional naked marcher popped up, even some leather folks, as well as a naked pre-op transsexual. And that was that. In any case, it's been a great great show that these volunteers put on. I am truly grateful for the time people put in in order to make this a memorable gay pride. This being the mainstream event that it is, even my bank had its own little float, as had other banks, radio and TV stations, the armed forces, firefighters, huge contingents of the Liberal, NDP and Green parties (kindly the Conservatives decided not to show up - this should conserve its Western prairies votes quite nicely - well done Mr Harper!), as well as the police, nurses and the list goes on and on and on. Mind you, even the hotel where I was staying, the downtown Hilton had its own contingent in the march. Good on them! There were even gay Christians like Catholics, Anglicans and assorted other Christian sects (they should really have another look at their God's bible, my hunch is that they just might have missed something there...)
The guy leading the march was a Jamaican gay activist (probably looking for asylum in Canada, seeing how militantly homophobic that creepy little island state is). No doubt this has been a very smart choice as it keeps reminding people how terrible the situation for gay people in even reasonably close-by places is. You'd find in the local Toronto papers suggestions that Canadian tourists should boycott Caribbean tourist destinations that do not protect the human rights of their gay citizens. Great idea!
Of course, gay events and alcohol go well together, so the main sponsor of much of this seems to have been the producer of a drink called xyz ice or something. No idea what it is, but whoever they were, they certainly splashed out, trying to persuade the partying crowd to buy their 7$ a pop drink. No doubt there were hidden stickers saying 'drink responsibly'. And you know what, people even party responsibly in Canada. I saw very very few people who were seriously over their limit. All in all, it's been a family friendly event (and I don't necessarily mean gay families, but any kinds of families). Nice one!
Oh ye, about the heading of this blog entry, check out this link... CTV, the media sponsor of this year's pride kinda couldn't decide how many people lined the streets to cheer on the marchers. The title says 'thousands of spectators', in the articles it says 'a million spectators'. I do accept that many thousands eventually translate into a million (and potentially more than that), but it's odd nonetheless.
On that note, glad I went. I even bumped into a colleague from Toronto Uni. Small world.