To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been inconvenient is an understatement.
Businesses, communities, and individuals throughout the world have been negatively impacted by social distancing measures and reduced economic activity. One group in local Toronto who’s felt the impact is the LGBT community. Many concerts, festivals, and social gatherings faced cancellations throughout Toronto this year, including the highly-anticipated Caribana Caribbean Festival, which has been running uninterrupted for several decades.
These limitations did not stop Toronto Pride and its related organizations from handling the annual pride festivities. These are the activities of virtual Pride this year that strived to retain the personal aspects of the event, while still keeping everyone safe.
The Pride organization in nearby Hamilton put together its own 3-hour live stream featuring performances and political activism. The focus was on active community engagement and creating safe spaces within the city. The event was overall well-received as a result.
Pride Toronto has had a rich history beginning all the way back in 1981, though its efforts have had roots much earlier going back to the 70s. Starting off as a small group of queer activists enjoying “Gay Day” picnics, Pride has faced many successes and many political demonstrations since then.
One of its most significant recent successes occurred in 2014 when it passed an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act that added gender identity as a prohibited form of discrimination.
Pride Hamilton and Pride Toronto have worked together to align Pride with social distancing measures. On top of the usual rainbow flags, the city of Toronto instituted its annual parade online this year for the month of June. The festivities included:
It’s clear that, while the physical meetings could not occur, Pride Month is still going strong through quarantine.
You can view the events online using Zoom meetup codes, or Twitch streams. Some of those activities include:
For instance, the Strapped Brunch Takeover event on June 14th featured the arts and performances of female and non-binary people of color throughout the city. Family Pride on June 19th featured “Fay & Fluffy Storytime,” presented by Maple Leaf Foods.
And don’t forget the Trans Rally and March on June 26th, one of Toronto’s most anticipated events. Trans, non-binary, and allies all march together in alignment with 2020’s theme of “Kinder and Stronger together.”
All of these can be accessed on the website of the organization at any time. Join today and get the full Pride experience even from your own home.
Many community organizations that operate in the city help out members of the LGBTQ2S community, and Pride is proud to honor them.
Canada’s most prominent LGBTQ2S center has held many meetings and events for the community. Serving downtown Toronto and the GTA, it has provided essential services throughout the COVID crisis:
Individual community-led subgroups exist within the organization too, including ones for bisexual women, church groups, drug addiction recoverers, and gay parents.
The 519 is an official City of Toronto registered charity and is proud to continue its work through the quarantine.
Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
Made up of local sex workers across the city, this group aims to de-stigmatize and decriminalize sex work, pushing it as a legitimate form of labour.
Founded originally in 1986 in response to the AIDS epidemic, Maggie’s aims to help out professionals working in pornography, exotic dancing, phone sex, massage parlors, and others.
Finally, Pride Toronto thanks its corporate sponsors, which include The Home Depot, Ryerson University, IKEA, Google, and Bud Light among many others.
And, of course, special thanks goes to the front line workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the doctors, nurses, food suppliers, and couriers have all helped keep us going during these difficult times.
The Pride events online all thank the staff, volunteers, curators, and sponsors who have made everything possible despite bleak health conditions.
Pride Toronto aims to make the LGBTQ+ community not only tolerated, but also accepted. Virtual Pride aims to boost optimism even during COVID.