What Pride Means to Toronto Performer Dainty Smith
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What Pride Means to Toronto Performer Dainty Smith

The festival is an opportunity to both recognize and set aside differences.

Dainty Smith is a Black queer and femme actor, performer, and speaker based in Toronto. Here’s what Pride means to her.

Photo by Sly Sarkisova.

Photo by Sly Sarkisova.

Every time I ask myself what Pride means to me, I think of Taylor Swift.

I can’t help but see her blonde, smiling face in my mind. At first, I was at a loss for why the pop star—oh so hetero—would be the first person my brain conjures when I think of a celebration of LGBTQ Torontonians. Then my friends Shaugna and Anabel spelled it out for me: “You know shouldn’t like her because there’s a hell of a lot to critique, but she does have a couple of songs that are very catchy that you can’t help but dance to,” they said.

Pride, for me, is a lot like Swift. I know I shouldn’t like it—but I do.

There’s so much not to like about Pride in Toronto: it’s a corporate, money-making festival. It isn’t accessible financially and physically for a lot of folks. It has, historically, done a poor job of being inclusive.

As a Black queer woman, I struggle to enjoy Pride because, as an organization, it has so much more work to do to be racially inclusive. I want to see the Blockorama stage, a stage that celebrate queerness in the Black community, promoted more widely. I want to see fat bodies and people with disabilities heralded more as beautiful and desirable. I want to see trans and gender non-conforming people admired.

But, despite its shortcomings, I just can’t help getting caught up in the excitement of Pride.

Celebrating is important. There has been plenty of resistance and fighting for acceptance within the LGBTQ community, and Pride offers an opportunity to just feel good about each other. It is a chance to feel hopeful that our society is improving. It is the time to be mindful and encouraged about all of the work that has already been done, and all the victories that have been won—no matter how big or small. The queer community has come so far, and it is worth recognizing.

Perhaps I am an eternal optimist, but Pride, for me, brings about hope that we care about one another, and that we can unite together as a moving force. I like seeing queer people and straight allies come together and have dance-offs in the street to see who has the best moves (spoiler: queer folks do). I like seeing white queers, Black queers, and people of colour get down and have fun with each other. I look forward to taking it all in: the feathered boas, the five-inch heels, the sequins that cover every inch of Church and Wellesley, the teeny-tiny outfits, the gigantic smiles, the spontaneous high-fives from strangers, the drag queens embracing their beauty and femininity.

There will always be important discussions to be had about race, privilege, and oppression, but it’s nice to have moments when we see the humanity in each other. (It’s especially nice when our beautiful selves are covered in glitter.)

Pride is the hope of what we could be, what we aim to be, and what we have the capacity to be: a unified community of people that live and love fearlessly and fabulously.

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