Pride in Toronto 2021

Happy pride month! This article explores the origins of how pride month began, its symbolic flag, and how celebrations will look different in 2021.

Written by: Thomas Tinmouth

With June once again upon us, so comes the annual celebration of pride in Toronto. This year’s celebrations are jam-packed with a mix of in-person and online events. Pride is a time to celebrate LGBTQIA+ culture, amplify LGBTQIA+ voices, and recognize both the progress and work to be done for LGBTQIA+ rights. In the past, Pride month in Toronto has been filled with parades, concerts, various live performances, and much more. See this link for a list of the various events happening in Toronto throughout the month.

Why is Pride Celebrated in June?

Figure 1 – Stonewall Riots, New York City, 1969.

The origins of pride month coincide with the Stonewall Uprising, widely known as the start of The Gay Liberation Movement. In the early morning of June 28th, 1969, police completed a raid at a popular New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. At the time this was a very common occurrence. What followed was far from common. In this particular instance, the people in the bar did not take what was happening as commonplace but rather decided to bravely stand up and fight back. This small uprising sparked a much bigger movement, known as the Stonewall Riots which went on for six days. Marches and rioting filled the streets causing clashes between protestors and law enforcement. Though the actual riots lasted only a few days, the ideologies behind the symbolic movement lived on.

The Symbol of Pride

In 1978, artist Gilbert Baker created what is widely known as the symbol of pride, the rainbow flag. What many people don’t know is each colour of the flag actually has its own meaning. The most popular representation of the flag has six colours, as depicted in figure 2. Over the years there have been multiple variations of the pride flag, with the 2021 version including a black, brown, light blue, and light pink stripe. The black and brown stripes were included to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, representing diversity. The light blue and pink stripes represent colours from the trans flag.

Pride During a Pandemic

Like many other things in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way in which pride is celebrated. For the past 14 months, large gatherings have been relatively foreign in North America, including the 2020 pride celebrations which were almost completely virtual. This doesn’t mean pride cannot be celebrated! There is an abundance of virtual events being put on that is sure to be informative and fun. If you do decide to participate in an in-person gathering or event, remember that though we are on a positive trajectory, there still is the threat of COVID-19. Shout, smile, and wave that flag proudly, but masks and social distancing should still be the norm to keep everyone safe.

Celebrations have looked different in the past couple of years, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still honour and push forward the voices who have made the event what it is today. For some, pride may be a foreign topic, not something you know much about or have experienced where you grew up. Sometimes the best way to learn is simply by listening. Listen to the trauma, history, camaraderie, and plethora of other emotions and information that come along with the celebrations. Pride is not just a rainbow-coloured storefront, it’s a time for groups of people that have been suppressed for far too long to stand up and say it’s okay to be who I am, and that’s something everyone can learn from.

Interested in learning more about Pride? See some of our articles here.

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