Three years ago I experienced my first Toronto Pride. I had just moved to my Parkdale Palace and enjoyed checking out the parade downtown but mostly adventured through all of the parties which took place in the West End (favorites include Business Womens Special and Big Primpin).
Last year I moved to The Village, home to Toronto’s best gay bars. For Pride round two I checked the parade out one more time (nothing had changed much other than a void in our Mayoral support) and since I was living right in the heart of the action I had a chance to sort of live and breath the energy that booms all day and night off Church Street. This year for my 3rd installment I felt like I was finally ready to showcase a well seasoned adventure for the must see’s and do’s for North America’s most colourful Queer Party.
I’ve realized people have a lot of misconceptions about Pride. Some think Pride is just a loud and colourful parade while others chalk it up as a weekend Church Street circuit party. In fact (and I’m hoping to prove this to you this year) Toronto Pride is a month long celebration which offers a whole lot more than just sun drenched circuit parties and Yonge Street Trojan Condom and TD Bank gogo dancing floats. Pride features historical retrospectives on the community, stand up comedy, theatre, dance, kick off parties, fundraisers and a wee flag raising at city hall. Toronto is a proud Queer loving city and I was enthused to showcase as many events as I could possibly fit into my schedule.
My Pride drinks this year were provided by Blackfly from London Ontario who offer up cocktails in a bottle with a promise of less sweet (calorie savers), natural juices (no additives or fake colour) and 7% alcohol (hooray)! Not to mention the bottles when lined up sort of look like a rainbow! Flavours include Tequila Margarita, Citrus Vodka, Cranberry Vodka and Long Island Iced Tea.
I can see Buddies in Bad Times Theater, the cities famous Queer Arts space from the balcony of my apartment. It is the largest and longest running queer theater in the world and has been sitting on Alexander Street in the heart of The Village since 1994. While Buddies is primarily a theatre company, they also run a valuable youth program, have artists residences, operate a community event space and turn into a notoriously fun bar on weekends. My Pride focus this year was to showcase the diverse entertainment offered by Buddies as well as highlight some of my favorite community events and unique club nights. I hope everyone enjoyed Pride, it’s Gay Christmas after all!
My 2012 Pride Schedule in order of appearance:
Strip Spelling Bee by Chat Perdu Productions at Buddies
The game is played a lot like strip poker, but it’s a spelling bee, and it’s played in front of a live audience of hooters, hollerers, and hecklers who want to see some smart skin! A hilarious and sexy night for exhibitionists and voyeurs alike.
Comedy Girl hosted by Dawn Whitwell at Buddies
Toronto’s top female comedians come together in a celebration of funny, queer women who have made laughter their revolution. Featuring Zoe Whitall, Carolyn Taylor, Allyson Taylor, Heather Gold, Andrya Duff, Lindy Zucker, Ashley Moffatt and Mariko Tamaki.
Free Jane by The Cabaret Company at Buddies
Everyone’s favourite beauty queen rebel, Jane (aka Sky Gilbert), is back with the notorious Free Jane – featuring a reading of Hope Thompson’s new queer comedy Trouble in Apartment 9.
Fire(crotch) Sale with Shawn Hitchins at Buddies
Cabaret sensation Shawn Hitchins gives one final, farewell performance. Everything must go and all songs are final. Featuring new laughs and refurbished material from his hit one-man shows, with many a special guest.
Pride Toronto Launch Party at Courtyard Mariott
Pride Toronto had its festival launch party on Friday June 22nd. The event featured half naked TD Bank and Trojan Condom models as well as pulled pork sandwiches and poutine (yes please). My friends and I sipped on wine while watching several local Queer bands entertain the audience. Notable politicians spoke to showcase their support: Kristyn Wong-Tam City Councillor for Toronto’s Ward 27, The Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale-High Park. This years International Grand Marshall, Goran Miletic was also introduced for his important work battling intense discrimination and violence towards LGBTTIQQ2SA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited and Allies) people in South Eastern Europe.
Airship by Femmes du Feu at Buddies
Aerial dance company Femmes du Feu invites you into a sexy steampunk circus world, filled with electrifying feats, otherworldly music, and high-flying acrobatics.
Starry Night at The 519
The 519 offered up beats by DJ Alejandro followed by Big Band music in the park. Volunteers spent the evening showcasing some lovely treats from Fabarnak.
The Monstrous Ball by Ecce Homo Theater at Buddies
Join Ecce Homo for a night of performance art, fashion, and music inspired by Lady Gaga. Hosted by Fay Slift, and featuring a re-creation of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece performed by Tyson James, photo booth by max + gna, and Kimberly Persona performing live as Mother Monster herself, followed by a full facility club night with DJ Miss Margot. Share an intimate moment with Nina Arsenault as she performs Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present throughout the evening.
Bitch Salad Gives Back hosted by Andrew Johnston at Buddies
Bitch Salad unites the country’s fiercest female comedians for one unforgiving night of laughter. Partial proceeds go to support the AIDS Committee of Toronto and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Pride edition featuring Gavin Crawford, Christina Walkinshaw, Emma Hunter, Julia Hladkowicz and The Cheeto Girls. Special guest from Ru Paul’s Drag Race Shangela Laquifa Wadley.
Grapefruit at Fly Nightclub with DJ Aural
Choosing Top 40 over house, the H&M-clad 20-somethings at this pop party groove to ’80s, ’90s and current hits—expect Soft Cell sandwiched between Beyoncé and Madonna.
Homo Night in Canada by Glam Glam at Buddies
Created in 2000 by The B-Girlz, the annual Homo Night in Canada show has become a must see tradition of Pride weekend in Toronto showcasing some of North America’s best queer comics. The 2012 lineup includes Kristen Becker, Marco Bernardi, Linda Ellis, Paul Hutcheson, Ian Lynch, Richard Ryder, David Tomlinson, Dawn Whitwell and the Queer Comedy Collective. The evening will be hosted by the infamous B-Girlz. This year is a special one as it will feature a reunion of the original B-Girlz line up (Hard Kora, Barbie-Q and Conchita) who have not performed together in nearly a decade!
PitBull at The Phoenix
Pitbull is back to give you another amazing experience at the Phoenix Nightclub. Over 1,500 muscle bears (and their admirers) will be there to enjoy the hottest GoGo dancers and most talented DJ’s Toronto has to offer.
Buddies After Hours at Buddies
We are wide open the final Saturday night of Pride with DJ K-tel spinning top 40 club hits and retro faves in the Chamber and DJ Triple-X spinning his eclectic mix in Tallulah’s Cabaret.
Vazaleen at Wrong Bar
The spirit of Will Munro was remembered at his iconic Vazaleen Shame Party. Vazaleen’s frequency has been downgraded from once a month to once in a blue moon, so expect a much-needed release of energy at this queer-indie-arty-punk-crowd fave.
Chillaxation at Hanlans Point
On the holiday Monday I zoomed over to Toronto Island on the ferry. I plopped myself at Hanlans point for a few hours in the afternoon. This clothing optional beach is a popular gay hangout. The beach was full of sun drenched bodies, sagging tits and dicks were the norm.
Magic Mike at Carleton Cinemas
“A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.” Coincidence this film came out the weekend of Pride? I think not!