Showing off a world of Pride
An estimated 12,000 people walked, danced and rode along the downtown parade route capping off 10 days of World Pride celebrations.
The “Queen of Bermuda” came ready to talk politics as well the importance of celebrating World Pride and, unsurprisingly, showed up dressed to kill.
“I’m from a country that at one time it was legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation,” said Sybil Barrington, one of an estimated 12,000 people who walked, danced and rode along the parade route that capped off 10 days of Pride celebrations.
Barrington, clad in tight iridescent pants, a sash and tiara, explained that a little over a year ago the government in Bermuda amended the human rights act to legally protect people against discrimination because of their sexual orientation when they are seeking employment or housing.
“So we are here celebrating that,” said Barrington, who was born in Bermuda and, after establishing a career as a drag queen in New York City, returned there to live.
Bermuda has become a more tolerant place, but as a country they still have a long way to go, said Barrington who walked with the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda.
In Toronto, the Pride Parade and festival is in its 34th year. This year’s celebration is the fourth World Pride. The first was held in Rome in 2000.
Before the parade, one staging area near Bloor St. E. and Church St. was practically overflowing, as glittering, naked, bejewelled and leather-clad participants wove through the assembled crowds and into their position for the march.
Some outfits required special accommodations. “Cigarettes out please, watch the balloons,” instructed one of several members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, as the group manoeuvred into place wearing sea anemone-like clusters of inflated balloons on their backs.
Sitting nearby, two young women, part of the pack of onlookers watching the pre-parade show, tackled an important last-minute detail before the march.
“Is that your gold spray or sunscreen,” Kristen Lee, 27, asked Jessie Yelle, 26, as she sprayed a sparkling mist on her legs and feet.
“Gold spray,” responded Yelle.
In the middle of the crowd stood Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly , who was invited to walk with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
This was, he said excitedly, his first year to walk in both Pride and in the Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He said he expected to have the same enjoyable experience at Pride.
Kelly said World Pride not only serves as symbol of the diversity of humanity and its common unity, but this year it also reminds the world that Toronto is a tolerant, inclusive and world-class city.
“This is a city that receives people from all over the world. Our motto is ‘Diversity Our Strength,’ and it is important at times that you walk the talk,” said Kelly.
Also among the growing mass of people were representatives from the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) and David Jay, the founder of Asexuality.org . The asexual movement is somewhat misunderstood and that usually results in a few questions, particularly during Pride, Jay said.
“There are some people who have spent so long fighting for the right to be sexual on their own terms they at first don’t see how we fit into that,” said Jay. He added that once they explain that their group is simply fighting for the right to be intimate on their own terms, people understand and support their cause.
Standing a few groups back with Toronto Leather Pride was Pup Sprocket, who said he identifies as a puppy within the leather community and who was wearing the appropriate mask.
After a few playful and in-character barks, he spoke about how his personal experiences with hatred and homophobia have convinced him that Pride will always be an important event.
“There are always people out there we need to educate; we need to break down barriers and remove discrimination in all shapes and forms,” said Sprocket, who asked to use his puppy name to protect his privacy.
He had two words for people watching from around the world.
Source: The Toronto Star
See more: Photo Gallery