First, the Parade and all the partying around it. The Toronto street party is crazy! A long stretch of the street is closed, the bars clubs and restaurants are packed and so much fun, there's street food and vendors and all sorts of promos, a live stage or three, and more people than you could possibly imagine fitting in that space! It's bodies rubbing against bodies just trying to walk up and down that stretch of Church St! You have to be there to really take it all in (haha). Here's a huge change I noticed more and more apparent over the last few years. There are many, many, many more non-LGBT people, or let's say cis people, visiting the street party and having fun! Some people go there and party because it's super cool, others enjoy compliments and random selfies and makeouts not for a sexual reason but simply because everyone likes and attention and feeling free. Others are tourists who want to experience the fun and atmosphere of the party while they're in town. I even see more and more families checking out the street party with their kids ( more during the day and in the evening rather than late night). Now, here's the funny part. Cis people have always been invited and I truly mean that; it's just that not many have RSVP'd before haha. Toronto Pride celebrates an aspect of humanity that is finally becoming more accepted again as it has been during Ancient civilizations. Celebrating an aspect of humanity means celebrating humanity, so all humans are invited! Beyond interest in LGBT, if there is one major thing that also draws people to the party is the relief a person feels by stepping into and environment where people don't feel the pressure to conform. You get to do you, and that feels so refreshing because the only expectations of you that truly matter are your own.
beyond Pride, Toronto has changed in some other ways too.Normalizing many aspects of the LGBT community (especially the T part) has had ups and downs, but overall I'd say it's been a positive experience. While people still want to debate whether being trans or gay is biologically determined or not, people have realized over the last few years that both sides of the argument are on equal footing, and neither side can claim a higher ground in the debate- people can only stand on equal footing and stick with known facts, not moral superiority or feelings. We are realizing that neither one of the sides has answers to all the questions, and there are people in the middle who just want to focus on their own lives, live and let live. Everyone deserves equal respect as long as they're acting in a civilized manner; all of us know what civilized looks like so no need to explain. Talk about civilized, I think our local society has come to realize something very important. You just can't go and harass someone, verbally or physically, for being gay or trans. Nothing gives you superiority to do so and expect not to be punished to the full extent of the law. That's just a fact. However, on the flip side, we as a society are also starting to realize that not everything is harassment or a hate crime. Hey, if you're out with friends and you see someone dressed really weird and funny you may comment on it- make a joke that's funny but potentially rude too. It's not suddenly harassment or a hate crime just because the person in question is gay or trans; people comment and joke about what they see on a daily basis and that can only change in a dystopian police state that no one wants. Now, if that person hears what you're saying, they can tell you to go to hell or mind your own business or say you dress even shittier. If you don't have a clever comeback then, you either let them win that round, or you decide to joke more discretely next time. That's just the potential cost of making fun of other people, and guess what- it's all good! :) Anyone who wants to tell you it's not is in favor of infecting our entire society with the Peter Pan Syndrome and turning the land of opportunity and adventure into a nanny state- simple as that. Our True North cannot be strong and free if we are not.
There you have it, dearest readers- my two cents on a topic that's probably large enough for a book. I hope I picked good highlights for you. Have fun out there :)