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Pride needs to get creative

Pride needs to get creative

It is the largest family reunion in North America. An event that in one weekend draws the same number of people to downtown Toronto as the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede is expected to bring in over 10 days.

Even the CNE, Canada’s largest fair, attracts a measly 1.3 million people over 18 days. The annual exhibition would have to bring in more than 20 million people in that time just to match Toronto Pride’s Sunday haul.

There are few events the size and scale of Toronto Pride anywhere in the world, never mind in our small country. There are arguably none anywhere near as fun.

And this year, in its 32nd installment and after several years of drama and maladministration, it went off without a hitch (well, unless you count newlyweds Carter Etherington and Breken Elwood, who tied the knot during this year’s parade).

Both Pride Toronto and City of Toronto staff, including city police, should be congratulated for this successful event. Unlike some officials, the police seem to have finally recognized what a good thing Pride is for Toronto — for city coffers, but more importantly as a way to bring our exceptionally diverse and multicultural city together for a great big queer blowout.

There were welcome reports that police relaxed rules around public drinking, and I saw more than one on-duty officer having much more fun than his or her job would typically entail.

It is ironic that members of our city’s Pride board flew to London following this year’s festival to study how that city deals with hosting WorldPride. The global gay gathering there was coming apart at the seams as Toronto’s celebration (and demonstration) was being executed here with what looked like ease.

In retrospect, the folks organizing WorldPride London should probably have boarded a plane to Toronto to see how it’s done. Either way, I’m sure Pride Toronto’s contingent took the baton in London confident that they are ready to bring the best WorldPride to Toronto in 2014.

When they arrive home, the Pride Toronto team should take time to reflect on what they did right and what they could improve to make Pride even better in the years to come.

Thankfully, Toronto now has a Pride board that is introspective and listens to the community. Looking back on the suggestions put forward by the community advisory panel (CAP) in February 2011, it is obvious Pride Toronto was not simply paying lip service when it accepted and embraced the group’s 133 recommendations.

It has worked to heal rifts with the trans community and with Torontonians of colour. It has de-corporatized the festival and reintroduced a much-needed spirit of activism. It has outsourced parts of the event to community groups, including allowing The 519 to run what is perhaps Pride’s most successful beer garden. It has also dealt, well ahead of schedule, with what CAP chair Brent Hawkes in 2011 called Pride Toronto’s “biggest challenge” — its finances.

In a short time the organization has gone from deeply indebted to comfortably back in the black. Going forward, however, Pride Toronto’s biggest challenge remains financial. Now that its board has shown it can be parsimonious, it’s time to wean Pride off the City of Toronto’s fairweather teat.

It is no longer acceptable that disruptive groups like Kulanu and B’nai Brith (and their crony supporters at city hall and the Toronto Sun) can threaten this massive, diverse, 32-year-old celebration and protest simply because they don’t agree with the legitimate message of some participants. I may not agree with Kulanu’s message — hell, I don’t agree with the messages delivered by many parade participants — but I should not be allowed to undermine Pride and call for it to be defunded for that reason. The same rule should apply to Kulanu and any other group that would destabilize Pride for political purposes.

Pride Toronto needs to get creative and ensure similar nonsense does not upset future planning, especially ahead of WorldPride. For if there is one thing that is as certain as Pride’s massive and growing participation and the huge sums of money it brings into our city, it is the existence of homophobic politicians who will foolishly spurn our party because they continue to be blinded by their own ignorance and prejudice.

To these pancake flippers, Pride must be able to say, Stuff it — we don’t care and we don’t need you. Until we can do that, North America’s best Pride will remain at risk.
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Comments

Hard Work
A lot of credit has to go to the hundreds of volunteers who make Pride happen every year. Pride really is a community effort and it's heartening to see the current staff and Board try and listen to the diverse voices in the community over the past year. Pride's always going to need some public or private money to operate, but as long as it stays true to its core values and is accessible to all community groups, the event should continue to be successful.
Yes
I also believe that we need to break ties with the City of Toronto in regards to funding... they're too capricious and, as Danny says, fairweather. As far as QUAIA goes... as another poster remarked, this is a very small group of people, whose tactics don't seem to win them many new supporters, so what's the big deal? It just doesn't seem worth the aggro. Oh, and the poster who suggested some cool installations next year would be wonderful.
The Big Smoke
Toronto Queen I've heard various reasons for the nick name Big Smoke for Toronto, the one that seems most likely to me originates in the later 19th and early 20th century when prosperous cities were depicted by showing large numbers of factory smoke stacks belching smoke into the sky. Check out postcards from that period of any big prosperous city and that's what you'll see in a lot of them. The Big Smoke was considered to be a compliment to Toronto at that time. Later on when pollution started becoming an issue its connotations weren't so positive and was also claimed to mean, "all smoke, no substance". Many different cities have been called the Big Smoke including London, England and Hamilton, Ontario and many others. Nowadays its skyscrapers that have replaced smokestacks as symbols of a prosperous city. Back in the day calling Toronto the Big Smoke would've been the same as calling it world class today, though it came to have negative connotations over time. I've also heard the claim that since Toronto's prevailing winds are from the west that's why the east end of the old city of Toronto had more low income areas than the west end where the air was fresher since the smoke was being blown to the east. Toronto may be a very young city but it still has history.
QuAIA Parade - of its own
Why doesn't Queers Against Israeli Apartheid hold its own Parade along the model of Dyke Parade--

Why do they have to piggy back and spoil the main Pride Parade on Sunday like a thorn in the side of the celebration? --

Could it be that no one would come -- and they know it?
you're embarrassing yourself with that silly term
As a thrid generation born and bred Torontonian, I have long wondered where in the name of cringe did this silly term "The Big Smoke" come from? I never heard anyone use it when I was a child and my parents had never heard of it (born and bred in High Park and Bathurst and Eglinton). None of my few friends and relatives who were born here had ever heard of it. Where did it come from. My theory is that is comes from small town rural Ontario as a slight and those who some here continue to use it thereby revealing their non-Toronto roots. Please, stop using this idiotic, hicksville, cringe-making, "Timmy"-tarded term. Call us Hoggtown or Shitsville. But the smoke shit is plain embarrassing -- to those who use it!!!
PU SU
Put up or shut up !!!, Toronto Ont lacks a sense of humour. Which is why I'm not afraid to publish my real name. Its a pity so many anonymous commentators are insecure and have nothing of value to offer the forum boards.
Put up or shut up !!!
How much money is Michael F. Pare willing to contribute to support Pride if commercial sponsors are refused their contributions? He would love to have TD Bank Pride renamed Michael F. Pare Pride and Michael F. Pare Dyke March... Put up or shut up !!! Sour, dour, boring, jealous grapes !!!
Rename Pride Parades, more cash in bank
With world Pride 2012 a financial embarrassment. Pride Toronto should rename main parade. TD Bank Pride Parade (Since they sponsor just about everything anyway) The Bud Light Dyke Parade and Trans Parade well you have your pick of Sponsors - Winners Trans March has a nice ring to it. Start next be ready for 2014. I am sure these sponsor would love to pony up more money.
Creative Pride
Enough w/ the QuAIA nonsense already!! The editorial is called "Pride Needs To Get Creative". I'll say!! Church Street was VISUALLY DEAD from one end to the other. It looked identical to last year'e event. Same booths; same configuration; same lack of spark and excitement. I fail to understand how a community - supposedly loaded w/ artsy-types and multi-media sophistos - could lay out an event as lame-looking, drab and festive-free as this one. Temporary eye-catching installations placed at strategic points in and around Ground Zero needn't cost a bundle. Politics are great - it's what Pride is about - but it's also a time to party, to celebrate. It's our Mardi Gras, our CNE Midway, our Canada's Wonderland. C'mon all you creative queers - Let's jazz it up real good next year!
Over-It
I used to be against the QuAIA for creating discord in the LGBT community. But now I realize that the blame-game doesn't go anywhere. So the QuAIA are 20 people who make some media noise and then Kulanu makes noise back at them... Both groups are irrelevant actors in Middle East politics. They are both one of the many tiny groups that make up the sum of LGBT groups in Toronto and the thousands of of LGBT who are not members of any group. They have no power to make laws nor to change social ideologies. They don't use weapons. They don't cause death or maiming as religious groups do in other countries. As a matter of fact, they report being victims of attacks with bottles in the parade. If we ignore them, they will be yelling only to themselves. End of story...

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