By Andy Lee
Wading through the sweaty sea of revellers that flooded Church Street on Saturday night, it was hard to fathom that just six months earlier we were deep in the throes of a lockdown. Now, we were at Toronto’s first in-person Pride festival in two years.
Throughout the final weekend, the full spectrum of the 2SLGBTQ+ rainbow shone across the festival zone, which spanned from Church and Bloor Street, through Toronto Metropolitan University campus, to Yonge-Dundas Square.
As before, the main weekend kicked off Friday night with the Trans Rally and March, which began at the corner of Church and Charles Streets and made its way down Yonge Street, ending at Allan Gardens.
Hundreds of participants followed the same route for Saturday’s Dyke March, including pro-choice supporters protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case.
At the forefront of Sunday’s Pride Parade were international grand marshal Lady Phyll and Toronto mayor John Tory, whose granddaughter Isabel recently came out as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Whereas NDP leader Jagmeet Singh attracted a small swarm of fans, premier Doug Ford’s conspicuous absence was called out by a parade participant’s purple “Where’s Doug?” T-shirt.
Hundreds of thousands of onlookers cheered as various groups and colourful floats streamed down Yonge Street. Among the ranks were drag queens, scantily clad dancers, squirt gun-toting firefighters, teachers, doctors, union members, and corporate-sponsor employees decked out in branded rainbow gear while dishing out swag.
A Canada’s Drag Race float elicited squeals of joy from the crowd with appearances by inaugural winner Priyanka and fellow queens Brooke Lynn Hytes and Icesis Couture.
Despite looming thunderstorms, a Pride miracle ensured—it only ended up raining men during the parade. Shortly afterwards, however, a downpour drenched attendees as they scrambled for refuge under awnings, trees and vendor tents.
As the rain cleared, hardcore partiers heeded a “Don’t Stop Me Now” banner on Church Street by boogieing to blaring house beats on slick asphalt well into the last, wee hours of Pride’s triumphant comeback.
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All images © 2022, Andy Lee.