Who Had The Best Pride Toronto Ever? My Vote Goes To This Man.

So many wonderful stories have come out of Pride Toronto, the largest pride celebration in Canada.  My personal Facebook feed was flowing with great videos, pics, and praised of what a great Pride Toronto put together. 


One amazing story I read was from cbc.ca.  Bassel Mcleash had hope to get to see or wave at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the parade, but what happened was shocking and glorious.

Bassel Mcleash's long journey from Syria to Toronto and finally to Sunday's Pride parade was anything but smooth.  It was a road filled with war, hatred and hardship, which is why the chance to participate in his first Pride parade was so special.  

"To be honest, I'm totally speechless," he said as he moved towards the start of the parade. "The excitement and the emotion that's happening, it's overwhelming. It's too much to handle."  Moments later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped in front of the large group of politicians and supporters that Mcleash had joined. At most, Mcleash had hoped to capture a glimpse of Canada's celebrity prime minister.  Standing 5-foot-1, it was easy for the 29-year-old Syrian refugee to work his way to the front of the group and next to the leader of his new country — a spot he didn't surrender for the entire parade route.  "Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about having a day like this, marching next to the prime minister or marching in a Pride," he said.

He arrived in Toronto May 26, almost three years after he left the home he'd shared with his mother in Damascus, Syria, and just days before Toronto Mayor John Tory proclaimed Pride Month at City Hall.  He left Damascus after the aviation company he worked for decided it was too dangerous to continue operating in the city. At first he was happy to be away from the violence in Syria and he continued his work as a fuel co-ordinator in Egypt. But when the company refused to honour a pay agreement, Mcleash quit.

In 2014, he was diagnosed with HIV, a difficult situation made worse by the fact that in Egypt, foreigners aren't permitted to work if they're HIV positive. So Mcleash was forced live on the margins of Egyptian society, getting paid under the table for translating for foreigners and doing odd jobs. He depended on the kindness of a small LGBT group.

… (for more about Mcleash's journey to toronto and coming out to his family, go to the full article over at cbc.ca)

At the parade, Mcleash thought of friends in Syria and Egypt who he wished were there to celebrate with him. He knows he's one of the lucky ones.

Pride without friends can be a lonely experience. "I'm still new, most of the time I'm going to events alone so that's sort of a cause for depression, but I know that this is only a temporary feeling because in time I will have friends. It's not a big deal. I'm still starting a life here."

When the excitement and euphoria of Pride subsides, he will continue to search for a job. And when he lands one, Mcleash hopes to help his mother and several of those friends he misses to come to Canada. He's also considering going to university, an option that wasn't really available in Syria or Egypt. 

But such logistics could wait Sunday as he enjoyed Pride, and being who he is and his new freedom.  "I set the bar so high, so the next year it should be way more amazing or it's going to be so dull!" he joked.  – cbc.ca

Have you had a glorious Pride like Mcleash ?

Who were you most excited to see march in a Pride?


h/t:  cbc.ca

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