Toronto is one of my favorite cities I have had the pleasure of visiting so far. I didn't have the chance to go to World Pride when it was held there, but I have vowed to return to enjoy everything this great city has to offer, Pride or no Pride. It seems that the organizers of Toronto Pride are looking to help me in my travel scheduling woes by increasing their Pride to cover the entire month of June and into the Fourth of July weekend. They've also decided to use the word PRIDE in a different and more simplifying fashion.
Toronto’s annual Pride parade will move to the July long weekend in 2016, following six weeks of queer-themed programming that will have June dubbed as “Pride month,” executive director Mathieu Chantelois announced at the Pride annual general meeting Oct 22, 2015.
The move is part of a new strategic direction that Chantelois says will attract more tourists to the final weekend of the festival, as Canadians and Americans will be able to take advantage of the long weekend. Toronto Pride will also no longer overlap with nearby New York Pride, which traditionally takes place on the same weekend, commemorating the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots.
The last time Pride was moved to the July long weekend was in 2010, and the move was one of several controversies that year that sparked the creation of a Community Advisory Panel (CAP) to demand greater accountability from Pride Toronto. With the parade in the shadow of that year’s massive G20 conference and competing protests over whether a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid would be allowed to march, anecdotal reports were that additional tourists did not show up, and many community members spent the long weekend away.
Pride had planned to move to the July long weekend for WorldPride 2014 but was stymied by a competing international conference that had booked the majority of the city’s hotel rooms in advance.
One of the recommendations of the 2011 CAP report was that the Pride festival should always incorporate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. If the parade were held on the final Sunday of June, it would land on June 26, missing the anniversary by two days.
Chantelois also announced that this year’s Pride festival will expand from a Pride week to a June “Pride month,” which will actually stretch from the end of May to early July. It will incorporate many already planned LGBT events including the Inside Out film festival, which has moved down its dates to May 26–June 5. Pride month will officially kick off with a flag-raising at city hall on June 1.
“I like to think we’re just going to build great momentum,” Chantelois says. “Pride month is super exciting. It’s not going to cost us a lot more money as well, it’s mostly partnership. It’s just a good way for us to partner with everybody. Things were so condensed, some days we had 30 events. This is going to help us to say that ‘today, this is what’s happening and nothing else.’”
Chantelois says Pride consulted with its staff, board of directors, partner organizations and with the city before moving the dates.
Pride’s new strategic plan for 2016–2021, “Beyond 20/20,” also raises eyebrows in that it no longer names the LGBTT2QSA community as the one being celebrated. The words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bi,” and “trans” don’t appear in the document. Instead, the new mission statement is “Pride Toronto brings people together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of our community,” with the vision that “As a leader in the Pride movement, we aspire to unite and empower people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.” – dailyxtra.com
There's no way I would be able to enjoy all of Toronto Pride's activities from late May to early July. Looking back at all of my Fourth of Julys, I would have to say that some of my more vibrant memories of that American holiday have been from times I spent in Montreal, Canada.
And with the Canadian dollar being weak against the American dollar, it's going to be cheap to visit. I remember I withdrew 300 American dollars during my last visit and was given 400 Canadian dollars. It was just better than that recently, but now it is back to the 3 to 4 ratio.
To read more about Toronto Pride and it's very diverse planning board, head on over to dailyxtra.com.