7 Tips for Attending the Toronto Pride Parade
World Pride may be over in Toronto for this year – capped off by an actual rainbow if you can believe it – but that doesn’t mean I can’t help get you ready for next year. Pride Toronto is a massive annual event filled with music and parties celebrating LGBTTIQQ2SA* communities (though I’ll freely admit I don’t know what all those acronyms stand for – I got lost after LGBT). It combines parties with activism, education and history. Moreover I think it’s all about being proud of who you are, regardless of orientation or identity. The event always ends with a massive Sunday afternoon parade down Yonge Street. I happened to be in town this year and thought I’d check it out. If you decide to go in the future, here are some tips for having a great Pride parade.
Wear comfortable shoes
This is non-negotiable. I’m not sure if it’s like this every year but the 2014 World Pride Parade in Toronto felt like the longest parade in the world, clocking in at 5 frickin’ hours! Wear comfortable shoes. I was told Justin Trudeau would be there and after watching 3 hours of parade I kept thinking “Must be over soon. He’ll be the next float.”…for another 2 hours. It was ridiculous. My feet still hurt from the cute, no support flat sandals I was wearing.
I’d recommend at least a litre if it’s a hot day. Stores will be open along the parade route but if you managed to snag a prime spot along a railing you won’t want to leave to get water. If you don’t want water I’d recommend a cream soda slushie from 7-11. Because yum.
Sunscreen it up
Just like any outdoor event, if the sun is out, slather on that sunscreen. I now have an unfortunate purse strap tan/burn across my back. N00bie mistake.
Avoid the crazy intersections
It’s crazy busy near College or Wellsley and down near the Yonge & Dundas finish area. I watched near Gerrard St. in front of the Eaton Chelsea Hotel and found that the crowd wasn’t too dense, maybe 3 or 4 deep. As a bonus for this girl, Remington’s Men of Steel hung out by the door of their club in their skivvies. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight, a little eye candy never hurts. ;)
Be prepared to get wet
I had no idea but Super Soakers and water cannons are a big thing and I’d say anywhere from a third to half the groups had them shooting into the crowd. Don’t wear anything that you don’t want getting wet. You may even want to keep a few napkins or a little towel at hand to mop up your face after getting a shot in the face. On a hot day it can be really refreshing but only if you’re prepared. I still think the Stoli float should’ve had their guns filled with vodka. Who’s with me?
Pretty much everyone is there to have a good time and it’s more fun when you make new friends. I ended up getting chatty with a great group of guys from Columbus, OH. They were fun and made the parade more enjoyable, especially during those inevitable long breaks between floats. High fives abound and be sure to wish everyone you see a “Happy Pride!”
Check your inhibitions and judgments
Head’s up: you’re probably going to see some stuff that isn’t your cup of tea. You’re going to see naked people. A lot of ass. Some boobs. And more cock than I was expecting (I didn’t think there’d be any on display – silly me). If nudity wigs you out, just look away. You’ll see drag queens, ladyboys, leather and rubber. As many of the t-shirts and signs I saw said ‘Get over it’. Anything goes, both in the parade and in the spectators. Keep an open mind and you’ll have a good time. Canada is a wonderful country where people can be free to be whoever they are and that’s pretty awesome.
And don’t, by any means, think that you can’t go enjoy Pride just because you’re straight. Life is short and we’re all in this together. Plus, there are lots of hot boys. ;)