Thursday, July 14, 2016

Toronto: Pride Parade from the Inside - Part 2

Final LGBT media brunch at the 180!
Thankfully Toronto’s Pride parade does not cover the entire city! As I noted in part 1, it’s a manageable event and accordingly its parade only covers about 1.5 miles over what should be about 3-4 hours. That proved useful so I could reach and march with Prime Minister Trudeau – and still return for a fun filled afternoon taking in all of the parade!

Arriving late to the route, because I was enjoying company at our last meal courtesy of Toronto & Ontario Tourism, on top of The 180 – go for the view (and if you like this Coron-ita). Since the parade just kicked off when I found it a few blocks away, I was trapped on one side. So, I ran around the whole staging area which included lots of government-looking vehicles (with no one in them). I realized this meant I must have just missed Trudeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
I raced down the already closed gay street in the village Church Street to find a way to get ahead of the parade (they keep this parallel street closed for whats basically a Pride Fest). Vendors, non-profit’s, kids selling Rainbow bandanas and corporations promoting to LGBTs all stood in my way. But, as I approached a "Media area" on the south side of the route, police waved me into the route with my pass.

At that point the Black Lives Matter truck had already slowed the progress of the parade, as they chanted “Shut it down” (which was confusing to everyone until just short of the end, they did just that) – but I ventured further north to find the Prime Minister, looking for that best shot of the parade lined with Rainbow & Canadian flags.

My new friend on the route...
After chilling with Trudeau (during the parade's stoppage) – and marching along behind him for some time, I wanted to take the opportunity to see the rest - and really enjoy the parade. After all, parades are basically huge street parties! So, I unleashed my rainbow suspenders and ventured to the start of the parade again, with media pass and camera in hand – somewhat hoping to see friends I could join, but mainly excited to experience it all.

Walking through the parade gives you the opportunity to quickly see everything, take selfies with new friends (: – and dance around the floats with the best music. I found every group you could imagine - from the corporate to the totally naked protestors & naturists. And of course, everyone welcomed me – I know not everyone has the guts, stamina and relative insanity that I do for wandering around inside a pride parade – but I highly recommend it!

Spectators on every surface!
I've enjoyed parades this way from Tel Aviv to Berlin, DC to NYC - but this time I was official thanks to my status as a ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent - which made it easier, especially given the Prime Minister's presence. However (shhhhh!) don't tell everyone, but with a little confidence you can usually look like you belong in the parade anyway and join in.

In the end, I finished the parade with dozens of LGBT employees of the Royal Bank of Canada – where one member stopped to give me a rainbow bracelet, that I’m still wearing weeks later. It says “Show Your Pride Every Day” and after the recent violence – from Orlando to Baghdad and Istanbul to Dallas – I intend to, to keep celebrating diversity and to remember such an incredible weekend in Canada’s downtown.

Royal Bank of Canada Pride band
Find out about my final shenanigans - and the hot (and of course friendly) guy I met during #PrideTo's closing hours in Part 3 of Toronto Pride next week, all made possible by ManAboutWorld magazine - and don't forget to click to get your 3 month subscription to this great resource for LGBT travel exclusively for GAYography readers.

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