Pride Week is an event held in Toronto, Ontario during the last week of June each year. It is a celebration of the diversity of the LGBT community in the Greater Toronto Area. It is the one of the largest organized Gay Pride festivals in the world, featuring several stages with live performers and DJs, several licensed venues, a large Dyke March, and the Pride Parade. The epicentre of Pride Week is the city's Church and Wellesley village, and both the Dyke March and the main Pride Parade are primarily routed along the nearby Yonge Street, Gerrard Street and Bloor Street.
Pride Week is organized by Pride Toronto, a non-profit organization. A small complement of seven staff support the work of 22 committees, each responsible for an aspect of the festival. Each committee is administered by two volunteer coordinators. The long-term vision for, and strategic oversight of, the organization and the festival is managed by 12 volunteers on the Board of Directors.
Main events of Pride Week include the Dyke March and the Pride parade. In 2004 the Toronto Star reported that 1,200,000 people lined the parade route. The festival is often touted as being one of the largest cultural festivals in North America and the 12 city blocks that make up the festival site is closed to vehicular traffic.
Toronto's Pride Week evolved out of the mass protests that followed the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2005. In the 2005 parade, newly appointed Toronto police chief Bill Blair became the first chief of police in the city's history to personally take part in the parade. He marched alongside politicians of all parties, including several federal and provincial cabinet ministers and Mayor David Miller.
Toronto Pride Week has not been without controversy, as the growth of the event in recent years has led to questions about whether it has become an overly commercial enterprise at the mercy of its sponsors and business interests. Toronto's incredibly diverse queer community has also demanded (and, for the most part, received) programming that includes all races, communities, and gender identifications.
Like many successful Pride events worldwide, the official events are suplemented with non-official events. The result is to make Toronto Pride Week a massive city-wide event. One of the largest such events is PRISM Weekend, a multi-day "circuit" party. The Prism parties reached their peak in 2003 with a total attendance of over 7,000 people, making it the second largest gay dance party in the country, after Montreal's Black and Blue Festival. In recent years, the decline of the circuit scene and a perceived lack of freshness in programming has seen participation dwindle.
A theme is selected for each Pride Week that reflects the current context of the queer community and helps shape the festivities. Previous themes included "Fearless" (2006) and "Unstoppable!" (2007). Pride Week 2008 will run from June 20-29 and its theme will be "Unified!"
Coverage by n8n media group