Hundreds of thousands of people attended Sunday’s Pride Parade in downtown Toronto, marking the return of in-person festivities to the annual LGBTQ celebration.
The first in-person Toronto Pride Parade since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic headed south to Yonge Street before landing at Yonge-Dundas Square.
“The excitement, the buildup, it’s finally here,” Sherwin Modest, executive director of Pride Toronto, said on Sunday. “We are really excited to be delivering one of the biggest prides Toronto has ever seen.”
“Pride is more than just a celebration. Pride is a protest. It’s a protest to send a message that 2SLGBTQ members around the world who are still not free to be themselves.”
Modest said organizers expected 1.8 to 1.9 million people to attend Sunday’s event and celebration.
According to Pride Toronto’s Economic Impact Report to the City of Toronto, the last Toronto Pride Parade in 2019 had approximately 1.7 million attendees.
The parade began at 2 p.m. Other Pride events included a concert along Church Street and a queer skateboarding jam at Nathan Phillips Square.
look | The organizers of Toronto’s first Pride Parade talk about that event in 1972:
The return of the in-person celebration was extra special for those attending their first Pride Parade.
William Slag came from Quebec City, Ky. To part ways with her boyfriend, just after coming out last year.
,[Coming out] Changed my life radically, being myself, I’m 100 percent gay and I’m proud of it.”
The 66-year-old said he felt “intimidated” his entire life, but now that after coming out and attending his first Pride, he is feeling free.
“I can say that I love myself, and before that I can’t,” said Slag. “It’s unbelievable to feel.”
This was Anna Guierguis’s first Pride Parade when she had just moved to Toronto. He said that this has given him the confidence to come out.
“There’s so much love and inclusion in Toronto, you feel safe to come out and be who you are,” Guirgis said.
Modest said that for the first time in Pride Toronto’s history, the parade did not feature gas-powered vehicles or single-use plastics in an effort to make it as eco-friendly as possible.
Ahead of the weekend, organizers said the festival was working with private security firms to conduct checks at designated locations.
Modest had said that people entering designated places would be checked for weapons through security sticks and metal detectors throughout the weekend to ensure attendees could celebrate without fear.
Organizers said the additional measures were necessary given the alleged increase in anti-LGBTQ incidents this month.