Here’s a question. Which of these two will be the most testosterone-fuelled, machismo-heavy event? The Pride Parade in Toronto with its leather daddies in heat, muscle-bound gym rats, bodybuilders in Speedos, many more acres of naked flesh - or Nanookville’s (pop 700) Rodeo?*
Answer: Go where the cowboys are real. The Nanookville Western Weekend, a stop on the rodeo circuit that tours Ontario and Quebec each summer, is huge and it's HOT. I’ll be taking photos of this particular brand of hotness on Saturday and bringing them to PositiveLite.com later that week.
Now you may think from the photos I’ve posted below from previous years that my focus is errrmmmm - below the belt. Not entirely true, because I also religiously photograph those events which make up the rodeo proper – the bull-riding, calf-roping, steer-wrestling et al. They are, after all, a lot of fun and primo photo op material to boot. Even more fun, in fact as I know how to wrangle my way behind the scenes, where the cowboys hang-out between events, all in the interests of art, you know.
But it is a fact that nobody wears a pair of jeans quite like a cowboy. Here’s the proof . .
Now do you see why I do the rodeo thing each and every year?
The following day I’ll be in Toronto for the Pride Parade, another photo op of gargantuan proportions. Meirion and I will do Church Street before staking out THE best spot to photograph the parade, and we’ll get there early. I’m not telling you the location. Let’s just say there is always a gaggle of serious photographers with big lenses at this spot who know they are on to a good thing.
I don’t know how this year’s parade will pan out though. Since the G20 fiasco, relations between the GLBT community and the Gestapo police have been strained. Chief Blair was given a rough time at the 519 Community Centre this past week. I gather he’s not walking in the parade for the first time in five years. I don’t blame him. No point in stirring things up more than they already are.
But there will undoubtedly be a sizeable police presence. They’ve had a contingent of (gay/lesbian?) police officers take part in the parade every year too, not to mentions scores of policemen lining the parade route that could perhaps be a catalyst for some nastiness. But I’m betting that things will go smoothly – or at least as smoothly as possible in a year when GLBT/police relations are just one of the sticky challenges facing Pride organizers. (And no, I won’t be drawn in to the QuAIA debate here.)
I’m expecting to see at least a temporary truce in the divisions in our community this Sunday. Pride is always political but miraculously, Pride always turns in to a feel-good affair. The power of those warm and fuzzies, combined with a sunny day and a sarsaparilla or two can’t be over-estimated. Having said that, things might get a little awkward here and there. I don’t expect, for instance, to see so many scenes like the ones I’ve photographed in past years, and posted below.
Polls say that the majority (65%) of Toronto residents approve of the way G20 policing was handled. I’m firmly with the other 35%. We are, I suspect, just not ready to forgive our police that readily. But for one day at least we can perhaps forget our divisions, and celebrate the wonderful thing that is our community, before resuming the demand for G20 accountability and a full public enquiry later.
Anyway, here are some scenes from brighter and less complicated times.
In any event, Happy Pride everyone!
* For new readers, I use Nanookville as a synonym for the community I now call home. It’s actually Warkworth, Ontario, about 150 kilometres miles north-east of Toronto.