Near Canada Day, I usually think of two things: first summer is here. And, second, so is Pride Toronto. In this year’s case, Toronto hosted WorldPride 2014. Pride merriments, for many, may be the only time (or the first time) they feel they can be who they are. Not only feeling accepted, but also loved and celebrated.
I grew up in a rural Saskatchewan town, which means a Pride Parade was not commonplace. The only rainbows embraced were after a much-needed rain for the crops or in children’s colouring books. It wasn’t until university that I really came to learn about Pride Week, it’s purpose and the flamboyant festivities.
For that week or so in late June, Toronto becomes a safe haven for all types of people. The only rules that I see are ensuring a safe, judgment-free zone is provided for all those LGBTTIQQ2SA* persons who participate or support LGBTTIQQ2SA* persons. It’s one of the few times that I can think of where not wearing much clothing is celebrated and encouraged in downtown Toronto. Although, I prefer to wear clothing in such close proximity to the anticipated one million plus attendees, I admire those for putting themselves out there. Sometimes ALL of themselves.
It’s part of a larger personal statement that goes something like, “I am who I am. I am proud of who I am. I will not hide my shine.” This vibe is amplified because there are people beside you either supporting you or doing their own version of similar thing. The city air becomes positively electrified. To me, it’s an assemblage of people supporting and celebrating whoever one wants to be and wants to be with. It’s like sexual orientation-identity-graduation day: go on into the world and create your life. And, like any good advice, Pride is peppered with a message of safety: use protection.
Self-expression through clothing, or lack thereof, is a huge element to the party. One of the ways to self-love, acceptance and exploration is through the clothing they wear. Look no further than the parades to see bright colours, sequins and sparkle galore. Not everyone is sartorially flamboyant – and that’s okay too. It appears to me that people embrace whatever version of oneself you’d like to share that day. Good for you. There are no rules except love. Especially for Pride, I say, wear whatever you feel good in. Whether it’s hot pants, bedazzled wings, or jeans and a T; you shimmy, shake and sway to whatever drum beat your heart desires. Just be you.
The timing for Pride could not be more idyllic. Being born in Canada is a bit like winning the birthplace lottery. Canada is awesome. If you are relocating here or visiting, I believe Canada is the place where no matter where you came from, we welcome you as you are. You can come and build a life of your dreams. For this reason I could not be more proud to be Canadian.
*The WorldPride Toronto website notes that, “LGBTTIQQ2SA is an abbreviation used to represent a broad array of identities such as, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, and allies.”