Camp Ho-Ba-Chee store window, Warkworth, Ontario (pop 700).
Arranging a set of Fiestaware dinner plates to correspond with the colours of the rainbow flag may seem a small touch, a very subtle nod to World Pride happening 100 miles or so to the east of this small rural community of 700 souls. But in the window of a littel store deep in farm country, those plates make a statement. The gays are here.
It’s a progressive conservative federal riding alright, but its sleepy main street shows signs of modernity. Hence the rainbow Fiestaware in the trendy little home décor store window. And hence the chalkboard sign “Happy World Pride” besides a rainbow beach towel and rainbow umbrella in the nostalgia store just a few buildings up.
I live in a community which, while still retaining its farming roots, has in recent years seen an influx of city folk seeking a quieter, gentler way of life. Gays and lesbians have been prominent in the influx, smart ones too, and made their mark on village life by livening up the main street with a number of savvy gay-owned retail stores aimed mostly at day-trippers. So a gay sensibility is evident here, and there is talk of gay issues in the coffee shop and gay politics over in the local diner. None of this is the least bit covert, Gay and lesbian folks here are proud of being gay and lesbian. And if you’re poz? No big deal either
This isn’t nirvana, just a community like many others where the LGBT community has chosen not to hide but rather participate fully and openly in village life, with zero negative consequences. That this level of acceptance isn’t available everywhere isn’t lost on those who live here.
Our home is two miles away but we also wave the flag. Our three dogs - Dudley, Dougall and new addition Ruby, all of whose sexual orientation is indeterminate, all dressed for pride this year.
The dogs were dropped off at the kennels the morning we left early for last Sunday's World Pride parade in Toronto. Two hours later the pastoral hills of Northumberland County had given way to the concrete jungle that is downtown Toronto. It was a hot and sunny day but with a light breeze, perfect to be out and about.
PositiveLite.com has acrredited media status which means we have access to the parade route unhindered by barriers, along with all the other press photographers. We were staked out at Yonge and Carlton, a great place to watch the parade head on.
The parade? Well I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Forget that it went on and on - and on. Seven hours’ worth in fact. Three hundred floats. Twelve thousand marchers. A crowd approaching two million. That’s a lot of pride.
Forget too that there wasa heavy commercial presence. They pay the bills after all, - all those sequins and feathers don’t come cheap - and the corporate floats were in any event heavily outnumbered by the community groups, the activists, the LGBT this and that, the politicos, the nudies, and the drag queens. And to be frank, at least to this observer, despite the organizers best efforts, the politics and meaning of an international celebration of pride almost seemed irrelevant that afternoon. It was just a sea of joy, not just in the faces of those participating – you’ll get a sense of that below - but in the crowd. We were all so damned proud to be a part of this, of being there. And of Toronto for pulling it all off so winningly.
(Some may differ in this assessment: here's an example of a contrary view.)
Only at the end of the day did I realize that my neuropathy-riddled feet were almost raw, my shirt was soaking and I was about ready to drop.
So back to the country we went, tired beyond belief but oh so proud to be gay. And isn't that what it's all about?Enjoy the pics!
All photos by Bob Leahy