World Pride Toronto 2014

15 events to check out at World Pride Toronto 2014

World Pride 2014 will be held here in Toronto the good this year. It will mark the first World pride in North America, and the fourth ever international Pride festival. While Toronto's Pride week brings out about a million visitors each year, we'll see an even greater number of guests for this edition. So dig up your rainbow booty shorts, dancing shoes, and craziest wig, and start marking your calendars for one big, huge, proud festival.

Here's a breakdown of top events for World Pride 2014 (parties to come next!).

Opening ceremonies at Nathan Phillips Square
The rainbow flag will be raised at City Hall on June 20, with the ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. This year, Melissa Ethridge, Deborah Cox, and Steve Grand will perform, adding a little extra pizazz beyond the usual news that Rob Ford refused to show up. Gilbert Baker, the artist who designed the iconic Pride flag, will be present at the free event, and drinks will be served, too.

WorldPride Gala and Awards
The World Pride gala and awards are held in support of Camp fYrefly, the country's only national leadership retreat for Canada's LGBTQ++ youth. k.d. lang and Lea DeLaria will perform. The gala will be held at the Arcadian Court, above The Bay at Queen and Yonge, on June 25, 6:30 until 11 p.m. For ticket information, email

The gay village will close down to cars and open to pedestrians from Friday, June 27 until Sunday, June 29. Browse through a marketplace full of wares created by local artists and artisans, and sample some of Toronto's gastro delights, all while celebrating the city's many and diverse queer community. The street fair runs through until 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and entrance is free.

The Big Pride Sing Along
Singing Out is Toronto's own LGBTQ++ chorus, and they'll be presenting a special World Pride show on June 28. There will be two shows, to be specific, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9:15 p.m., both at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in the village. Tickets are $15, and I would hurry if I were you because this is a can't-miss. You'll catch everything from drag king Mounties to Madonna vs. Lady Gaga mashups.

Catch some gay theatre at Buddies
Buddies in Bad Times theatre is presenting a ton of queer programming throughout the month. Their plays cover everything from open mic to strip tease and The Lady Hamlet, with something new on stage just about every night during Pride.

Greenspace: World Pride Edition
An annual days-long event orchestrated by the 519 Community Centre, this year's Greenspace will be amped up a few notches. The Ryerson Quad and Cawthra Square Park are turned into giant gay celebrations, running from 1 p.m. until 1 a.m. Parties like Lipstick Jungle, Starry Night and TreeHouse are what Pride is all about, for many of us. Check out more details on their site.

Human Rights Conference
All past International Grand Marshals will participate in this year's human rights conference, alongside this year's Marshal, Georgian human rights activist Anna Rekhviashvili. Some of the topics to be explored include challenging the colonial anti-sodomy law legacy, LGBTQ++ issues in the global workplace, sex work activism, and greater inclusiveness in schools. The conference runs from June 25 to 27, with further scheduling available online.

Closing ceremonies
Tegan and Sara and Rich Aucoin, among others, will perform in Yonge-Dundas Square to mark the closing ceremonies of World Pride 2014. Parade awards will be handed out, and the nest World Pride host city honoured. The event, on June 29 at 5 p.m., is free. And alcohol will be served, in case you were wondering.

Art Shows

Generations of Queer exhibit at OCAD
Generations of Queer features diverse work by artists Robert Flack, John Greyson, Elisha Lim and Kiley May. It's all about storytelling, exploring the relationship between the two older artists who have paved the way through their activism, and the resulting world the younger artists grow up in as a result of that. It also features an interactive component made to honour LGBTQ++ people worldwide in the form of the blog The Queer Pride Chronicles.This exhibit is already on at OCAD, and will continue through until June 28.

What It Means To Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility
What It Means To Be Seen chronicles the importance of visibility when it comes to widespread acceptance of people within LGBTQ++ communities. It will include a range of photographs from Ryerson's Black Star collection, the Canadian Lesbian + Gay Archives, and other collections from the U.S. and Europe.The exhibit is organized and presented at the Ryerson Image Centre, in collaboration with the AGO and WorldPride 2014.

Over the Rainbow: Seduction and Identity
The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art will take a look beyond the campy mainstream portrayal of queer sexuality and identity, looking deeper into a more authentic queer identity, and the influence that identity has had on more "mainstream" culture. Artists include Stephen Andrews, Attila Richard Lukacs, and Public Studio, among others. The opening reception is on Saturday, June 21, and in case you're already tied up throughout Pride, it runs through until August 17.

Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography
This AGO exhibit will examine gender play in both photography and video. Specifically, the show will "question and extend the practice of drag," and will feature the work of both Canadian and international artists. Fan the Flames will open to the public June 18, and it will run until September.

Parades and Marches

Trans* March
The Trans* March is for any and all who identify as trans*. It begins with a rally at the north stage, at the Church and Isabella intersection. This will involve both inspirational chants and a quick teaching session for everyone to learn the chants that go along with the march. This year's Trans* March is Friday, June 27, with the ally beginning at 7 p.m. and the march itself at 8 p.m.

Dyke March
The Dyke March is one of the more serious events taking place during Pride week. It's not a parade, but a political demonstration in which LGBTQ++ women and trans* folk take over the streets. The march begins at 12:30 p.m. on June 28 with sign making in Allan Gardens, then winds along carlton and up Yonge Street.

Main parade
This is one of the only vastly overcrowded events in the city's summer heat during which I am able to stay ferociously stoked the entire time. Seeing everyone from condom companies to accountants come out and march for gay pride is just unbelievably heart-warming and fun. Though things aren't perfect and there are still many bigots out there on the loose, the parade shows just how loving and beautiful people can be. You can also probably show up naked to this one and not get long as you're not affiliated in any way with the TDSB.

Photo by Mauricio Calero

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