Pride's the word
|GROOVE DOWN. Pride officials estimate more than 800,000 people came to Pride.(Image by Dean Tomlinson)||
story by Eleanor Brown /
Jun 28 2001
He swooped into the Pride storefront Friday night, demanding the colour scheme for the Toonie Drive fundraiser’s apparel. "I must accessorize properly," he announced.
And the next day, he was. Decked out in lavender wrap, matching socks and bejewelled hat, the shade perfectly matched the logo on the white T.
It was the year of crossing-your-fingers-for-fabulousness. Small businesses up and down Yonge flew rainbow everything. And Church St alone kept balloon sellers well in coin. Even Bigliardi’s steak house, not always known for its homo comfort levels in the past, sported a rainbow flag.
Pride brass heralded the success of the new Fabulousness Committee, set up to police fun (phone arounds demanded details of special extras to be added to floats and dress).
Some smaller shops closed down their washrooms (hello, Timothy’s). The Beer Store changed its hours for Pride. A handful of bars jubilantly served booze until 4am (line-ups were de rigueur). Pride beer gardens went gangbusters, operating at capacity most of the weekend.
Homos slowly started taking over the street on Friday night (Jun 23). Big crowds ogled the gogo dancer at Ma Zone (in white briefs and a rainbow lei).
By Saturday, the ’hood was all ours. Lesbian Standard Time ruled (we’ll start when we’re damn well ready), and the Dyke March was 40 minutes late.
The clouds were good-naturedly ignored, and it never did rain. A couple of dozen dykes on bikes got their annual bout of exhibitionism out of the way (some wore Amazons colours on their jackets — only one was topless, and a male cop almost twisted his head off checking her gazongas; it was a chaste weekend for fans of toplessness).
The Pussy Palace grrrls (the honoured group) lead the way. "What do we want? Pussy! When do we want it? Now!"
A big girl in a leopard bikini, wand and leather Pride flag worn as a cape was dirty dancing with... uh, I didn’t notice.... And a woman in a wheelchair was grinding it up with a member of the Women’s Bathhouse Organizing Committee.
Most vehicles were low-slung pick-ups. The Ferret Aid Society was there, and Jewish Women Against The Occupation. The pregnant contingent was "Queer and queasy." Ms Toronto Leather had her slave tightly reined. And "Bi Babes say screw the FTAA!" trade agreement.
Finally, a Parisienne with vanity plates ferried Pynky The Love Goddess. She hadn’t registered, but Pridesters saw the hair and couldn’t turn her down.
There were men, too: A guy wearing shorts, rainbow cape and water-squirting breasts....
Homo environmentalists at Grange Park (behind the Ontario Art Gallery) started off slow on Sunday, with only a handful of people about at noon. Posters warned of impending environmental devastation. Queer By Nature wants to ban the Indy and keep the Olympics from Toronto.
The Jun 24 Pride parade started a half-hour late because barricades came late — spectators were already flooding Yonge as the heavy fences were dropped into place. The parade took just over two hours to watch.
Grand marshal Mirha-Soleil Ross was joined by a bevy of animal rights activists (in snouts, fatigues and protest posters) and the honoured group, the 519 Church Street Community Centre, thanked volunteers.
Labour, parents of, social activists and bearded ladies were all there. Sports groups, bears, religious folk and dancers, youth and ravers. Queer Women Of Colour, the Latin American Coalition Against Racism.
The Deaf Outreach Project signed "I love you" with yellow gloves on sticks; the Raelians (whose leader preaches free love and brags of being kidnapped by aliens) finally found a reason for their presence, hyping a cloning project (EZ kids for homos!). Flashing the Totally Naked Toronto Men Enjoying Nudity at their booth got you free beads (the guys removed the hearts about their penises in the parade; there were no arrests).
The company commercialism was more muted this year, and the overwhelming theme for floats was greenery — forest love and jungle love.
The biggest traffic jam occurred after the parade on Yonge just below Isabella, where the beautiful boys in a second-floor window strutted butts and grabbed penises (barely) with their fists. Straights said they were appalled, then all stopped to watch an older man pretend to suck off a dancer.
Pride parade judges were David Gale (host of WTN’s Loving Spoonfuls), playwright Brad Fraser (who flew in from Winnipeg) and downtown board of education trustee Sheila Ward. Comic Diane Flacks was tapped, but got stuck unexpectedly in Chicago.
Best Celebration Of Theme (Love), went to the float for Miss Gay Latino America (Sasha Montenegro). Most Fabulous Float went to Grüv (a new vodka drink), which featured club dancer Lena Luv. Most Fabulously Costumed Individual was Wonder Woman (Carolyn Brown, a straight woman who’s made fundraising for AIDS groups a top priority in her life). Most Fabulously Costumed Group were Ronei Fernandes and Ronaldo Sucupa (in red and peacock feathers).
And Most Fabulous Choreography went to the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps-Toronto, an annual crowd pleaser resplendent in deep purple flags and tops.
An estimated 800,000 people attended. There were153 contingents in this year’s parade, of which 52 were floats. Another 40 were vehicles like Mayor Mel Lastman’s antique firetruck, or golf carts. And the rest were marching groups. There were 50 percent more groups than last year, says Pride media relations co-chair Jeff Russell, but the committee is counting differently this time around.