Photo by Iamkevin from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
It’s that time again. Toronto’s Pride Week kicks off this evening and runs until Sunday, June 24.
As one of the largest festivals in North America, Pride Week has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year for some Torontonians—sort of like Christmas for queers, but with more glitter and lights and all the fruitcake you can handle.
Since you couldn’t possibly attend every event the Pride gang has planned for the next week, Torontoist offers a guide to the best of the fest (in the form of contributors Carly Beath, Christopher Dart, Chris Tindal, and Johnnie Walker).
Maybe you’re a gay man, or maybe your best friend is gay. Maybe you just like techno and crantinis (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Head down to the Church and Wellesley village and watch as the city transforms into a utopia of all things gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered, intersexed, asexual and two-spirited. We’ll see you there.
BY CHRIS TINDAL
For many, the Pride Parade is the somewhat messy climax to the end of a hot sweaty week of back and forth—over one million people will crowd Yonge Street between Bloor and Gerrard. Last year’s parade featured an extremely diverse group of marchers and floats, including banks, large and small businesses, church groups, political leaders and, for the first time ever, the police chief.
Hot Tip #1: You will get wet. There will be many water guns and balloons, and while the general rule of thumb is not to shoot someone who is defenseless, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Hot Tip #2: Sneak Peak. The big crowds of the parade are part of the fun, but if that’s not your thing, you can watch the floats from the bottom of the staging area at the corner of Park Road and Rosedale Valley Road. While it won’t be quite as exciting as the real thing, you can lounge comfortably on a blanket in the grass and see the floats before anyone else.
Hot Tip #3: Dyke March. It’s the women-and-trans-folk-only version held on the Saturday rather than the Sunday. Check out the parade route map here.
Hot Tip #4: Sunscreen. Hat. Water bottle. Or you die.
Hot Tip #5: You’ll see less nudity than at the Dyke March, but still more than at the Santa Claus Parade. Which, in our opinion, is really the perfect amount of nudity.
Hot Tip #6: The parade starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 24. We know the last Saturday night of Pride Week can get a bit rowdy, but try not to sleep in.
BY CARLY BEATH
Photo by produzentin from Flickr.
On Tuesday, June 19 at 8 p.m., head to the Gladstone for a free fiesta hosted by Latina LBTTIQQ2S, the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape and the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. The fun includes a film screening, drag kings, spoken word performances, art and, to fire up the dance floor, salsa and merengue music.
Solstice Pride brings hip hop, ska, afrobeat, samba and funk to Footwork (425 Adelaide West) on Thursday, June 21. Organizer Felicia A. Morrison says the event aims to “offer an experience outside of cultural stereotypes, that will challenge the way queer culture and sexuality is represented in Toronto.” Head over after 8 p.m. to celebrate Pride and the first day of summer—2 for the price of 1!
Also on June 21 is LIBIDO, a saucy fundraiser for the Dyke March taking place at the Gladstone. Your $20 ticket gets you access to stellar musical performances—including one by Bitch, formerly a Righteous Babe artist and half of the duo Bitch and Animal—spoken word, drag shows and burlesque by Skin Tight Outta Sight. DJ Winnie will spin tunes and, best of all, the Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee (who hosted their annual Pussy Palace bathhouse for women on June 14) will have a kissing booth set up.
Another option is Queer West Fest, an alternative to the bigger Pride festival. Check out the kickoff party on June 15 at the Rhino (1249 Queen West) Hosted by drag queen Rikki Reeves, the night begins with bands RA:TIO, Brazen Crush and Tomboyfriend and finishes off with DJ 4est and DJ Phil Ville. The party starts at 9 p.m. and cover is $5 before 11 p.m., or $8 after.
Music and Performances
BY JOHNNIE WALKER
Photo by the futuristics from Flickr.
There is more to Pride than make-outs and drinking—we swear! Torontoist presents an overview of the performances worth checking out if you’re gay or gay-at-heart:
Things kick off Saturday, June 16 as the I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble queer up classical music at the Metropolitan United Church.
Tuesday, June 19 is a big day for performances. For starters, there is Pride Slam, a queer-themed poetry slam at the NOW lounge featuring a performance by acclaimed actor/poet/playwright d’ bi.young. However, the big ticket of that night is the True Colours concert at the Molson Amphitheatre. Gay-faves like Margaret Cho, Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, The Dresden Dolls, The Gossip, The Cliks and Debbie Harry will entertain.
During the final weekend of Pride, things get serious on the main stages. On Friday June 22, there is a late performance by Cazwell (he’s the latest gay sensation!—or hadn’t you heard?) that’s bound to be a dance party of sexy proportions. On Saturday, June 23, you can see you can see Bitch (of Shortbus fame) and her new band The Exciting Conclusion at 5:00 p.m. on the South stage, or Martha Wash, the chick who sang “It’s Raining Men” and “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” at 6:00 p.m. on the Wellesley stage. Afterwards, you’ll still have plenty of time to see The Cliks open for The Indigo Girls at 8:30 p.m. However, if you linger to hear everyone’s favourite lesbian folk duo, you will probably have to skip out on Kids on TV’s 10:00 p.m. performance, which will probably be an extremely different experience.
There’s lots to do after the parade on Sunday, June 24. In fact, you’re almost spoiled for choice. At 6:00 p.m., music-loving ‘mos may have a hard time choosing between Lilith Fair veteran Kinnie Starr, Lady Miss Keir (from Dee-Lite) or Buddies’ drag-queen-in-residence Donnarama. So why not give them all a miss and check out Adam Joseph, whose single “Faggoty Attention” is the funniest shit ever.
Later in the evening, you can see Carole Pope at 7:00 p.m., Lesbians on Ecstasy at 8:00 p.m. and finish it all off with the Mr. Goodhandys at 9:00 p.m., which is a drag king version of the Chippendales dancers. After that, you will probably be very tired, a little drunk, and ready to go home. Preferably, not alone.
The Pride Video Project
BY CHRISTOPHER DART
Original photo by Xanada from Flickr, edited by Karen Whaley.
The Pride Video Project’s website promises an “unstoppable assault on the city’s senses.”
While not everyone wants their senses assaulted, a strong artist line-up makes it sound like the project will be less of a full on sensory assault and more of a vigorous sensory work-out.
The Project features works from five of the city’s best LGQBTT+ video artists and filmmakers. The featured artists are United Artist Award winners Peter Kingstone, York U film professor and 20-year video art veteran John Greyson, Aussie-born artist, curator and writer Dara Gellman, trans community leader and playwright Alec Butler and sound editor-turned-director Mishann Lau.
Gellman says her contribution will feature clips from mainstream media re-worked to reveal queer subtext. “All of the artists make really smart, queer work,” she said. “There will be a diverse set of different styles of work… Some of the work will be funny. My work is kind of sexy, but with a layer of critical commentary about how lesbians are portrayed.”
The Project will centre around a giant video screen at the corner of Church and Hayden streets, erected during the parade weekend. In the week leading up to the parade, queer video art will be visible across the city, including on the TTC, with subway info screens showing art pieces. The Spin Gallery’s second floor will also be part of the project, screening videos for the week leading up to the parade.
The main Church and Hayden screen will run on June 23 and 24, from noon to 11:00 p.m. Subway video screens will be showcasing queer-themed video art throughout the week. Videos will be shown at the Spin Gallery from June 20-23, from noon to 6 p.m. The Video Project will kick off with a launch party at the Drake Underground on Monday June 18, 2007 and 6:00 p.m.