Getting Ready For Toronto’s Pride Week

Every year Toronto hosts Pride Week during June. This year will be bigger than ever with an additional $300,000 from the Government of Ontario to help with the planning. The event this year will be held June 19-28.

Pride Toronto says that the yearly event supports 650 jobs, brings in $18 million in government tax revenue and has a positive $100 million in direct economic impact.

The full-time staff starts planning the next year’s week the minute the non-stop action ends each June. Since the small planned picnic 30 years ago Pride Week has grown by leaps and bounds says Grant Ramsay, media contact for Pride Toronto. The event is now international with people flowing into Toronto from all over the world.

“The work with all of the communities, not just the queer community is one of the most positive changes with Pride Week. We now can offer tourist packages that help the tourism in Toronto which is new. Also working with the government is a very positive change. Government officials are now a part of the week which in the past didn’t happen. That is very positive,” Ramsay told Digital Journal.

This year’s International Grand Marshal will be 33-years-old and transgender, Victor Mukasa. Mukasa is from Africa and has played an important role in the African Trans movement At a LGBTI event in 2007 in Nairobi he initiated the Nairobi Trans Declaration 2007. In 2008 he conducted the first Trans strategic workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, which brought together trans activists from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

Mukasa took the Ugandan Government to court in 2006 after his home was raided, documents relating to his human rights work in Uganda were confiscated and his Kenyan friend was arrested. The case was ruled in his and his friend’s favor last December.

“Pride Toronto has become a huge, diverse and multicultural event with great entertainment that draws people from far and wide,” said Tracey Sandilands, Executive Director Pride Toronto. “With over 50% of Torontonians not born in Canada and over 100 languages spoken, Pride Toronto looks forward to continuing it’s growth and outreach into these communities.”

Pride Week is for everyone, families included. There are special areas set up just for children. Mr. Ramsay said that it is absolutely a family event. There is something for every age group.

I, myself have taken my youngest son to the event and can attest that he enjoyed the children’s area in past years. There were craft activities and just plan fun.Some of the special features of this year’s Pride Week include Deborah Cox, Divine Brown, The Cliks, and a live in concert of 80s icons ABC, Wang Chung, Heaven 17 and Cutting Crew performing on Sunday June 28.There have been nine video artists commissioned to produce video for this year’s theme “Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.”

Grant Ramsay of Pride Toronto told Digital Journal that the theme each year comes from the community. There is a call for the community to come up with a theme. The suggestions are then taken to a community meeting and voted on.Pride Toronto is the not-for-profit organization that hosts Pride Week. The purpose of Pride Week is to to celebrate the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto’s LGBTTIQQ2S communities (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited).

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