If you are thinking of working in, or visiting Toronto, there is something to do here every single weekend.
Pride has an enormous impact on the city, and this year the city hosted “World Pride” for the first time. If you live downtown, Pride will somehow announce itself to you. Perhaps your view, like my office-mate’s, is that “everyone has their own views, don’t they?”
Since my first year here, where we used Pride as the guerilla backdrop for an indie film by slipping into the un-barricaded march with our star to shoot a scene with our DVX100 (in 24P!), it seems like this was the first year I haven’t been working the event, this time having the distinct honour of marching in the parade “officially” for the first time.
You might wonder, “UR a family guy with a kid, WTFRU doing at Pride?” Well, Pride is a family event. I marched with the union to represent acceptance, against discrimination, and to openly support close friends and relatives who have faced needless discrimination because of their gender and sexual identities. It is true, I once was afraid and/or vocally against anything that smacked of “gay,” a label my childhood friends used to taunt me with because I speak with my hands and like to match my clothes. Stereotypes! Participating in drag events for work first exposed me to this subculture in an accepting way. That, and a love of house music! But, those too are stereotypes, and subjects for another post. I promise.
We received strict instructions that ONLY THOSE ON THE LIST WOULD MARCH, worded so tersely that I worried out loud to my wife and daughter about the permanent revisions they snipped and tied into Syd’s official t-shirt. “We’ve modified the uniform,” I worried.
Unfounded fears. First, this is the THEATRICAL UNION, so artists and stylists were on hand and at the ready with scissors, ribbons and accessories. Our new friends helped us to accessorize and finish our wardrobes, and brought Bliss some much needed cold water.
Secondly, this parade is about turning oppression into pride – so it would not really be the Pride parade at all if rulebreakers were punished. Even at the first-ever World Pride, heavy with the slick veneer of sponsorship and fees to officially march, you may note the parade’s attendance thickening by end-of-route, as joiners-on of all kinds find their way through and over the barricades.
Near us, the infiltration began with a polite new labour-oriented, kilted friend who joined us from Boston (drawn to our Boston Terrier). Then as we rolled out to march, some rebellious flag-bearers unfurled a very naughty banner behind us. An angry-looking, yet well apportioned nude fellow joined by two friends, rudely (some said) inserted themselves and their hand-scrawled message between us and our brethren in the Ontario Federation of Labour. More of concern to me personally, this also separated us from the DJ, and the refreshing water guns on the float behind.
But, somehow even in the 30 above, humid heat, cooler heads prevailed. After some tense negotiations between the union rep and the nude man while we paused along Bloor Street, everyone marched together. Based on the very nice multicam setup witnessed by the writer of this post, we presume the directors of the televised feed were able to excise most of our rude friends’ appearance. I have left a few frames of the rebels intact for your enjoyment, and their validation, above.
After our march finished, we retired to the Family Pride compound where we kicked around a ball and tucked into some street food before our friend went off to work Blockorama.