5 must-see attractions at Toronto's WorldPride celebration
Pride for All Tastes
This year's WorldPride has something for every shade of the LGBQT rainbow, with so many special events that you might need a glossary to figure out what all the terms mean.
Bear nights. Boylesque shows. Roller derbies. Speedo parties. Bollywood disco. Beaver karaoke. There's simply too much to take in all at once.
And that diversity extends to the parade schedule. The Pride Parade is one of the main events at Pride, but it's not the only march to keep an eye on. The Trans March is scheduled for Friday, June 27, followed by the Dyke March on Saturday and ending in the main Parade on Sunday.
WorldPride Human Rights Conference
While LGBTQ community members and allies enjoy the freedom to celebrate Pride on Toronto's streets, researchers and activists will gather at the University of Toronto to discuss the human rights issues that homosexuals still face around the world. Topics at the WorldPride Human Rights Conference will include Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws, the status of sex workers, violence against LGBQT people and the movement to create more inclusive school environments for homosexual children.
Ugandan LGBQT activist Frank Mugisha, Russian journalist Masha Gessen and Cuban sex educator Mariel Castro Espin will be among the speakers at the event that runs from June 25 to 27.
Rockin' the Rainbow
As WorldPride descends on Toronto, the iconic rainbow flag is spreading throughout the city – and even beyond.
WorldPride is a source of political pride, too, and the Toronto festivities are attracting some big names from every level of Canadian government. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the first openly gay premier elected in Canada, helped kick off the 10-day festivities by taking part in raising the Pride flag at Toronto's city hall on Friday.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto's only openly gay city councillor, was also at the flag-raising, as was Pride flag designer Gilbert Baker, who came up with the rainbow pattern in 1978.
"It really far surpassed my dreams," Gilbert said on Friday. "It's a phenomena. It's around the world. It's incredible."
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he plans to be at the Pride Parade, riding on the Liberal float with Kathleen Wynne.
And while Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is missing this year's festivities as he finishes a stint in rehab, 2014 mayoral candidate Olivia Chow is embracing the event.
Melissa Etheridge and Deborah Cox kicked off Pride's formidable list of musical performances that includes some big Canadian names, including Carly Ray Jepsen and Calgary-born twins Tegan and Sara.
To go along with all the musical acts, Toronto's resident LGBQT-friendly theatre Buddies in Bad Times has a full schedule of Pride-themed programming this month. From stripteases to plays to photography exhibitions to dance parties, Buddies is going all-out for this year's world-class event.
Elsewhere, watch for the live Madonna documentary re-creation TRUTH/DARE: A Satire, or catch one of the many drag shows, including Starry Night, which will include the final four contestants from the latest season of the reality show RuPaul's Drag Race.