alternative pride toronto

Toronto is getting an alternative Pride festival

When it comes to reveling in all things queer, the be all and end all of events has long been Pride Toronto.

But a monumental new festival is emerging this year: one that promises a lot less family-friendly content and a lot more sweaty dancing. 

Alternative Pride Toronto (APT) is a new four-day celebration hitting the city on June 20 with "warehouse take-overs, outdoor urban activities, wild gallery parties, and grimy underground after-hours" that run until June 24.

The DJ-heavy event promises a new festival outside the regular Pride Toronto circuit, marking a significant expansion of citywide events for Pride Month. 

Unlike Pride Toronto, which receives funding from the City and several corporate sponsors like TD Bank, LCBO, and Lyft, Alternative Pride is run by Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL), a non-profit based in the west coast that has been running Vancouver's Alternative Pride for the last four years.

"Since we don't have [Pride Toronto] funding, we don't have to worry that Doug Ford or a bank has any kind of opinion," says Aeryn Pfaff, APT's co-ordinator and artistic director.  

"We're able to do things that are a little bit gritty."

Critics of Pride Toronto have previously blamed the festival's corporate connections for influencing the artistic decisions of the historically political protest. 

It's pretty obvious that's not currently a problem for APT, with events named Foreplay (a drag queen and DJ show at Dundas Video), Backdoor (a warehouse party at a secret location), and Nocturnal Emissions (a "lucid wet dream" art gallery that will have you "climaxing all night long").

Alternative Pride Toronto will focus heavily on the queer underground house and techno scene with six events and a slew of DJs playing at a series of dark and sultry rooms.

It won't just be dancing, raving, and grinding, though: a panel at Dead Dog Records will feature legendary 20-year DJ veteran Keenan Orr from D.C.—a noteworthy event for Toronto's budding queer artists. 

The last day of the festival will also see an outdoor block party called Bears In Space! taking place at Stackt Market from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. 

While Alternative Pride Toronto is happening the same weekend as Toronto Pride, Pfaff says their event isn't meant ot be "adversarial" to Pride proper. 

"We just want to provide an alternative to Pride traditions," he says. 

Lead photo by

Vancouver Art and Leisure


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