Bears, Queens, and Femmes in a New Pride Toronto Video Series
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Bears, Queens, and Femmes in a New Pride Toronto Video Series

A series of black-and-white videos celebrates the rainbow within.

Toronto may be covered from head to toe in rainbows for Pride Week, but a series of short videos just released by Pride Toronto and Google+ proves that black and white can get the message across just as well. Each of the beautifully shot one- to two-minute videos profiles a member of Toronto’s LGBT community, including a drag queen, a gay man who spent decades in the Canadian Forces, a femme lesbian, an older couple who took part in the very first pride march in 1972, and a gay teen who just came out to his dad days before the video was shot.

Google+—a new corporate sponsor this year for Pride Toronto—funded the videos, and award-winning L.A.-based documentary director Jeff Feuerzeig (best known for The Devil and Daniel Johnston) was recruited to shoot them. “Toronto’s always been on the leading edge of gay rights and gay activism,” says Feuerzeig. “It wasn’t that hard to network to find interesting and unique stories under the different categories of LGBTQ.”

Feuerzeig found his stars through a combination of casting calls, word of mouth, and hanging out in the right place at the right time. For instance, he met Jonathan, a drag queen whom we see transform into Judy (inspired by Judy Garland, of course), by hanging out at the well-known gay club Goodhandy’s, on Church Street.

Jonathan/Judy’s video is an example of the positivity that shines through in this series. As Jonathan is shown making his transformation in front of a mirror, he talks with ease about the moment he realized he was different: “I started thinking that I might not be like other boys when I was about 13,” he says in the video. “There was a scene in Terminator where Arnold Schwarzenegger was naked, and I was like, that looks interesting!”

Even the video series’ opening and closing music reflects a playful, queer-positive vibe—the song is a cover of the quirky 1926 tune “I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana,” recorded by gay musician Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

“There’s so much focus on negativity with reality TV in everybody’s face all the time, and I think what’s interesting about the films is they have really positive stories—and we didn’t spin them that way, they just turned out that way,” says Feuerzeig. “People are clearly much more open and accepting in 2012, whether it’s their children, or their husband, or their dad coming out as gay.”

To watch the entire video series, visit Pride Toronto’s YouTube page.