Today marks the first day of Toronto Pride Month.
However, first, a little history:
On May 30, 2014 President Barack Obama issued a proclamation to "eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists" and declared June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month), in honor of the 45th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.
Although June had been celebrated as LGBT Pride Month in an unofficial capacity for many years in the United States, this declaration by the White House in 2014 was yet another step in the direction towards equal rights for LGBT people across America, eventually leading to the legalization of same-sex marriage the following year.
2016, however, has become Canada's year, and today marks the beginning of the nation's first ever Pride Month in Toronto, which kicked off Tuesday at City Hall as the rainbow flag was ceremoniously raised, under the watchful eye of Mayor John Tory.
Toronto has played host to Pride Week for the past 25 years, but openly gay Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced earlier this year via Twitter that the event would be expanded to incorporate the month of June:
And 2016 is proving to be a year of firsts for Toronto Pride, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be marching in the parade this year, becoming the first sitting Canadian leader to do so.
However, with 25 years of successful Pride Weeks, there are dissenting voices from even within the community, questioning why the city, and by extension the nation, must be subjected to 33 days of LGBT focused Pride celebrations and media coverage.
Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy, a out gay woman who has been happily married to her wife for seven years, pointed out that:
"...isn’t it enough to show one’s “pride” over 10 days? In my view, the message gets diluted over 33 days. Pride Week (or the 10 days) has run successfully for 25 years. Why change it now?"
However, in a world where Australian politicians continue to use same-sex marriage as an election issue, where North Carolina based trans people are battling against the horrific HB2 'bathroom bill', and where Japanese school students who identify as LGBT remain largely unprotected from both their peers and their teachers, it's safe to say that any form of Pride, whether it be a week or a month, from a country which is widely respected on a global scale, will have more impact than those living within Canada may realize.
Of course, we are little biased, as we are beyond excited to be a part of Toronto Pride this year, supplying all forms of homo-graphic apparel to the masses:
However, it's important to remember that the purpose of LGBT Pride month is to recognize not only the historical impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had, beginning most significantly with the Stonewall riots in New York, but to also continue spreading awareness in a world where some people are not so lucky to have been born in a city as progressive as Toronto.
HAPPY PRIDE MONTH EVERYONE!