While there are many celebrations throughout the year, Toronto’s pride parade for me is perhaps the most special of them all.  I invited many to join us for INspired Media, though quite a few said that the weather was a deterring factor.  For myself, however, I would not miss the parade for the world.  I managed to get a group of four friends; small, but mighty!  We were determined to march, rain or shine, and celebrate this awesome occasion to the fullest.


For any of us that live our lives as part of this community, and for those of us that work as activists and advocates, our society can seem like an isolated place at times.  We have all seen progress, but we also encounter the good, the bad, and the ugly amongst those who we look to for support.  We are still not where we want to be, especially in relation to those experiencing bullying in high school, and with the many challenges of trans and gender-variant people whom the majority of the ruling federal government has so harshly neglected in recent years.

This is why I feel that it is so important that we attend Pride, and make it as big of a celebration as possible.  The pride parade is perhaps the one day of the year where we can actually witness how far we’ve come, and see first-hand all of those who will be behind us as we move move forward in tackling the issues of today and tomorrow. For all of the disappointment, discouragement, and questioning of the future that we feel at times, somehow the parade has a way to re-energize us, and remind us why we don’t give up.

It’s not merely fanfare, loud music and dancing, but a statement that tells everyone that hundreds of thousands of us will gather in one place at one time to show our nation and the world that we will not stand for discrimination, and will celebrate the vast spectrum of diversity that strengthens the vitality of our society.

Certain critics have recently questioned why we still need a pride parade in 2015. One only needs to glance at the international situation we currently reside within.  With a one-hundred (yes, one-hundred) year ban on pride parades in Moscow, such a celebration in a major city like Toronto is as crucial now as it ever was.  As efforts take force in nations such as Russia, Zimbabwe, and Bahrain (just to name a few) to draft discriminatory legislation that incites new levels of violence towards LGBTQ individuals, we must set an example on the international stage as a beacon of light and hope for those who have been failed fundamentally by the governing regimes of their states.  This idea of change through visibility is not ground-breaking nor a new concept either.  Early advocates of same-sex rights, such as Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in the nineteenth century, argued that invisibility was perhaps the greatest obstacle to changing public opinion.  For Ulrichs, self-disclosure and openness was a means of emancipation, and an empowering force; one that has definitely taken many generations to come into fruition, but in our time has the power and momentum to change the world.

Having marched in the parade every year since 2011, this was also the first year that I have witnessed a Mayor in attendance, which was definitely a positive.  We have finally left behind the negativity of the Ford years for a new era of enthusiastic endorsement under John Tory.  While the prime minister was once again not in attendance, his absence was seemingly quickly forgotten and eclipsed by virtually all other prominent political leaders across the spectrum showing their support; federal party leaders such as Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau, and Elizabeth May were cheered on by crowds, along with premiere Kathleen Wynne, provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and to the surprise of many, PC leader Patrick Brown, leading a recently established LGBTory delegation.

The rain definitely didn’t break or dampen our spirits, and we had a most memorable parade.  We would do it again in a heartbeat.  With this said however, if there is a similar forecast next year; I may bring along a sweater or jacket.



About the Author

Casey Robertson is a genderqueer human rights activist, musician ,composer, and graduate student researching musicology and cultural theory. In recent years he has been involved with the committees of LGBTQA projects such as the Durham Pride Prom, Allies for Equality, and Queerstock Canada. He also served as a member of the board of directors for PFLAG Durham Region from 2012-2014, where he was a member of the peer2peer support team and a facilitator for monthly sharing evenings. Casey currently resides in the Church-Wellesley Village of Toronto and enjoys spending his free time scoring independent film projects and playing with his band Liberty Street, while on the constant search to discover new artists of all expressive forms. Follow Casey on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at CaseyRobertson.net