Toronto hosts a Pride Festival every June that is one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world. This year however is expected to be mammoth.
Next week, Toronto will be opening its doors for World Pride and hosting the World Pride Human Rights Conference at the University of Toronto. Hundreds of delegates from the around the world, including political leaders, activists, and journalists are expected to attend this conference. Attendance at the Pride Parade next weekend is expected to exceed 3 million.
June 28th marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City which were triggered by police raids on a bar frequented by the gay community. It is widely believed that this event was a major catalyst to the movement for gay and lesbian rights in North America. Gay Pride marches began in the 1970s in memory of the Stonewall Riots and are now celebrated every year in many cities around the world during the last week of June.
Downtown Toronto has been decorated in rainbows to welcome visitors from all over the world. The city, banks, businesses, and even public transit has been given a make-over for this event.
This is only the 4th World Pride event since its inception in Rome in 2000. Each World Pride celebration was marred by controversy as the host cities received overwhelming pressure from anti-gay groups, including the Vatican in 2000.
Toronto often gets bashed for the many things it gets wrong. I only have to point to our alcoholic, crack-smoking, racist, and homophobic mayor as an example. Frankly, we deserve criticism for that one, but this time I hope Toronto gets it right and demonstrates to the world its diversity and acceptance.
After all, we are one world, one people.
All photos were taken by my son, Jordan, with his iPhone in downtown Toronto. He will be attending next week’s Pride celebrations as he has for the past many years.