Our first summer here in Toronto we decided to go to the Toronto Pride Parade. We had no idea what to expect, least of all the sheer number of people that show up. Estimates typically go to over a million people lining the streets along the route. The crowds are huge and the noise is cacophonous.
When I first got here my boss thought I was strange for bringing my son to the parade as his idea of it was that of many: Debauchery, partial (and a little full) nudity, and suggestive themes. To some extent this is true. That said, most of the suggestive costumes are no less revealing than those at other summer parades or at the beach. I explained why I bring him this way: Yes, there are a few things we might have to explain to our son. But there are some other messages we were really glad he got to see. Messages that got cheers and support from the million-plus crowd. Here are a few of them:
(Yes, I know, there’s a bit of controversy about the police and pride these days. A bit beyond the scope of this post at the moment.)
Even our Prime Minister shows up with his family:
Because that year it landed on the same day as Eid, he wished not only Eid Mubarak and Happy Pride, he wished everyone “Pride Mubarak”
In 2011, as a rider in my second year of the Friends for Life Bike Rally, a 600 km charity bike ride from Toronto to Montreal to benefit the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation, I was invited to ride in the parade with other riders and support team. It was one thing to see and hear the parade from one spot. As you can see from the photos and video I’ve shared above, there are a huge number of people. But it is nothing compared to the overwhelming sight of that many people lining the sidewalks, stairs, leaning out of buildings, and cheering from rooftops for the length of the parade. The sight is overwhelming and the sound is deafening. But the message to me is clear: You are living in and raised your child in a place you want to be.