Two hangovers and one UW engineering march later…

Every year Toronto Pride is re-examined as an event in the Toronto core during the end of June to experience and support the LGBT community.

World Pride on the other hand, with its sheer size moved beyond the cozy, community-based experience into something else all together: sheer madness.

Church Street and its feeder streets were packed full of beloved characters seen every year — the cruising bears knocking back beers at Black Eagle, the twiggy blonds, and the pierced and shaved queer folk — except in greater numbers. In such great numbers that the concept of breathing air not inhaled by the surrounding people or finding room to talk was laughable at World Pride.

Going to a gay club? Forget about it. Crews and Tangos, Woodys, Flash, and other staple bars on Church Street were bursting at the seams with long lines. Even the plethora of free concerts had their own dedicated wait lines.

The alternative was what made World Pride, and especially World Pride nights, a good kind of madness. Instead of the traditional bars, people resorted to creating their own dance parties and clubs in the middle of the street, huddled around an open patio sweating and dancing.

People turned street corners into communal meeting points where clouds of smoke hovered like fog, people shared beers, and of course fought, like a kind of wall-less bar.

There were the few bewildered people who seemed to simply have been swept away with the current, and it was incredibly easy to be swept away with the amount of people present. But at the smaller concerts and roasted corn, churro, or beef ribs food stands there was breathing room to appreciate a small piece of private pride.

Even the parade itself was bigger and louder than before with nearly 12,000 marchers (not including floats). The amount of corporate sponsors this year, like Home Depot and Hilton Hotels, was astounding although not surprising since this World Pride generated $268 million for Toronto.

From the telltale roar of the Dykes on Bikes at the start of the parade to, according to Feds, the 150 UW marchers, the annual Pride Parade was bigger and better than ever before.

Much like the increasing size of Toronto Pride, within UW there has been a shift in the amount of LGBT diversity that is being acknowledged on campus.

According to Nicole Joron, Feds special events co-ordinator, “We have asked past participants why they chose to attend the parade with us and have received a mix of responses including showing school spirit, supporting LGBT-identified friends and loved ones, demonstrating support for inclusivity, and celebrating diversity.”

The attitudes towards supporting LGBT people were demonstrated this year with the addition of the engineering society to the Pride Parade which, according to president of the engineeringsociety Allyson Francis, was due to “the fantastic response from alumni as well as the faculty, combined with the great turnout of engineering students,” that “prompted us to look into purchasing our own permit for this year.

“By their [alumni’s] accounts, they remember EngSoc as having been a ‘boy’s club’ that had a heteronormative attitude and a low representation of minorities and LGBT individuals,” said Francis.

The engineering society, “[was] hoping to lead by example in promoting a new image of what it means to be an engineer.”

With this increase in UW’s participation, along with the increase in this year’s Toronto Pride participation, the madness of World Pride 2014 comes as a good sign.

In turn, the future looks bigger and prouder for Ontario’s LGBT community than ever before.


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