Pride Toronto has announced the organization and individuals who have been selected to receive the prestigious titles of Honoured Group, Honoured Grand Marshal, Honoured Guest, Trans Ambassador and Honoured Youth.​The honourees were selected in recognition of their leadership and achievements in the LGBTQ+ community.

They were chosen based on their contribution to fighting discrimination, equality and abuse locally, nationally, and internationally. The honourees will be prominently featured in the Pride Parade. 2018 Honoured Group:

Casey House

Casey House is Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS. As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, Casey House is proud to be the honoured group for Pride 2018. Casey House is passionate about smashing stigma and breaking down barriers in support of their clients. It provides holistic health care, including inpatient, day health care and community programming. It remains one of the few places where people with HIV/AIDS can seek care without judgment, and the belief that a client’s humanity should be more visible than their disease is at the forefront of everything it does. After three decades of ground-breaking work to treat everyone with respect and dignity, Casey House is more than a place that saves lives; it is a place that speaks out against stigma, shows unending compassion, and empowers clients to get better.

2018 Honoured Grand Marshal: Haran Vijayanathan

Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Winnipeg, Haran is an openly proud gay Tamil man who has been worked in the HIV and LGBTQ sector over the last 18 years. He has lived and worked in many communities across Ontario, and brings with him the lived experience to ensure a cultural sensitive lens is applied to address issues such as HIV, 2SLGBTTIQ+ community concerns, and diversity within these communities through his work as an
educator with Rainbow Health Ontario. He is the founder of My House: Rainbow Resources of York Region and the Executive Director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP). Haran is committed to ensuring that access to essential services is available to those who identify as 2SLGBTTIQ+ and others from traditionally marginalized communities. In his current leadership role, Haran has most recently been a critical thought leader in national media, addressing systemic racism, homophobia and classism as it relates to missing persons and families/friends of LGBTQ community impacted by the serial killings in Toronto.

2018 Trans Ambassador: Yasmeen Persad

As a Trans activist for the past 15 years, Toronto is lucky to have her. Yasmeen Persad is a trans woman from the
Caribbean who works at the 519 in the Education and Training Department as a facilitator delivering workshops on trans issues. As if that wasn’t enough, she also works at Women College Hospital as a Research Assistant on the Trans Women and HIV Research Initiative (TWIRI project).

Honoured Guest: Scott Jones

Scott Jones is a musician, educator, and activist from Nova Scotia, Canada. Scott earned a Bachelor of Music from Mount Allison University before deepening his training in choral conducting at the University of Manitoba. Inspired to break down social barriers through music and artistic expression, Scott launched VOX: A Choir for Social Change and Don’t Be Afraid, an anti-homophobia/transphobia campaign. He has travelled across Canada to
speak to students and faculty in universities, schools and community centres, and in 2014, Scott was awarded the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award for his advocacy. His recent work has taken him to South Africa, where he presented at the Pathways to Resilience Conference in Cape Town. Scott continues to explore choir as an agent for social change and is currently pursuing a PhD in music education at the University of Toronto. In 2018, Scott was the subject of “Love, Scott”, a feature length documentary by Laura Marie Wayne, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The film follows Scott’s recovery after a hateful act left him paralyzed and provides an intimate and visually evocative window into queer experience.

2018 Honoured Youth: Cho Chua

Cho Chua is an international undergraduate student attending the University of Toronto. She identifies as asexual, and enjoys serving the LGBTQ+ community both at UofT and across Toronto. She has created different kinds of programming events discussing LGBTQ+ issues, intercultural experiences, and more. She hopes to help build a more inclusive, positive space for all queer identifying individuals in Toronto.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.