Torontonians welcome return of in-person Pride celebrations after 2-year hiatus

·2 min read
It's the first year of in-person Pride celebrations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Talia Ricci/CBC - image credit)
It's the first year of in-person Pride celebrations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Talia Ricci/CBC - image credit)

Torontonians on Saturday welcomed the return of in-person Pride celebrations after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 4 also marked the launch of Pride month at Stackt Market in downtown Toronto.

General manager of food and beverages Alejandro Andaluz says Stackt Market hopes to "bring communities together" so people can "feel at home" and celebrate Pride.

"It's been almost over two years that we haven't been able to gather people together and our goal here at Stackt is to bring everybody together," Andaluz told CBC News.

"It doesn't matter whether you're young, older, have a family — the idea is to have a safe space to come in," he said. "We really work together to create a space that's inviting for anybody to walk in right off the street and feel right at home."

Andaluz says they want everybody to enjoy Pride and feel like they're a part of Toronto.

Talia Ricci/CBC
Talia Ricci/CBC

On June 1, Mayor John Tory, members of the city council and representatives from Pride Toronto raised the Progress Pride flag at city hall to proclaim Pride month in Toronto. The flag was also raised at all civic centres.

The city says "Pride Month brings Torontonians together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of Toronto's two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, questioning, communities."

According to Andaluz, Stackt Market is also gearing up for a block party on June 18 with DJs, dancing and drag queens.

Meanwhile, Pride is also in full swing at the Rogers Centre. Michelle Seniuk, vice-president of fan experience and  concessions for Toronto Blue Jays, says there's happiness all around with the return of in-person Pride celebrations.

"The last time we were able to host a Pride night in-person was 2019, so last night we had our kick-off to Pride weekend and today is our second day and we're just thrilled to be here celebrating Pride," Seniuk said.

"At Rogers Center here and for the Blue Jays, it's so important that we have an inclusive experience for everyone. And it's important to us, for everyone to feel safe and welcome at our ballpark."

Talia Ricci/CBC
Talia Ricci/CBC

Included in the many events to mark Pride Month, The 519 — a city organization dedicated to advocacy for the inclusion of LGBTQ communities — will be holding its greenspace festival from June 23 to 26.

Stacy Kelly, director of philanthropy, says the festival is the largest fundraising event for The 519.

"Everything that you do at the festival to have a great time over four days, the money goes to support The 519 so that we can offer the dozens and dozens of programs and services that we do for free," Kelly said.

"We can only do that if we have fundraising support."

The 2022 Toronto Pride parade will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 26.

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