Thank you for taking an interest in coming to Toronto Pride – Unified! . It will be a great honour to have you visit our humble city!
Here, for your amusement, are a few tips you should consider while enjoying our little fete:
First of all, know that there are two: the Dyke March on Satuday and the Pride March on Sunday. Currently the Pride committee is petitioning humanity to create a new day, “Smunday”, to put the Bisexual, Transgendered, Transexual and People Who I Left Out Parade on that day (until further notice) – Happy Unity, Everyone!
If you’re not lucky enough to get a Yonge Street perch on one of the many store rooftops, then you should consider arriving at least 45 minutes to an hour before the parade starts. Bring lots of water. And elbow pads. Other non-homosexual tourists consider it their right to get to the parade route 5 minutes before it starts and shove their kids in front of you, after you’ve been waiting the hour. Be firm: you were there first and don’t need to be the “polite Canadian” at this point.
Don’t forget to hydrate. If you faint, you will lose your spot. Or fall into the arms of a date. Up to you. Waterguns, once a fashion must on the parade route, are on the way out. Unless the Conservative party decides to place clueless reps in the parade again this year.
Half way through the parade, the crowds lessen for some reason (“Hey the beer garden must be kind of empty right about now…”) and you can relax for the rest of the show.
Afraid of crowds? Avoid at all costs the half block between Maitland and Alexander on Church Street on both Saturday and Sunday. Right in front of Woodys and the city owned parking lot converted into a beer garden, is a small strip of road that is un-supervised for crowd control. Yearly this strip of street providing access to north and south stages manages to clog hard with aimless gays, camera obsessed Asians and incomprehensible dick heads who insist on bringing strollers/bikes/carts into the fray. You can avoid it by using the back alleys just east and west of Church. Love crowds? Dive in! You’ll get into that particular beer garden at noon and will probably not be able to leave until Sunday 11pm. Or later. Or until they scoop the passed out drunks off you a la Soylent Green.
Best bet for shopping/drinking/entertainment and not getting crushed would be the Wellesley Street Beer Garden. Mel C is headlining on Saturday and MADO is performing at 5pm on Sunday. Don’t discount the South Stage (by Maple Leaf Gardens) either – Kids on TV are there at 3pm. Expect “Drag Times” to set these people back a bit, but lately the organizers have been pretty punctual.
The laws governing the purchasing of beer at one of these events are as bizarre as the lesbian poetry performers you’ll be subjected to by the north stage. Purchase a ticket, take the ticket to the untrained, sweaty volunteer who is sick of seeing drunk people (I kid! I kid because I love) and they will hand you a plastic cup of lukewarm beer. So English! Best to buy the maximum 2 at a time to avoid lines. Beer gardens, despite the lines and crowds are always the best way to meet someone. The combination of beer, sun and dancing always manages to combine people in a fun way.
Be forewarned that every Pride has been marred in the past by the Ontario Licensing Board in the form of bizarre charges laid on bars that might or might not have violated laws like over crowding, over service or over fun. Lines will be long to get in as that every establishment is frightened of having these gestapo order everyone out of a bar for a headcount. It cuts into sales, you know. While air conditioned, I doubt you will find fun people. Bars usually hold the old regulars, phobic of crowds and meeting new people, like you would at beer gardens. Try to hit them all on Friday night and you have a satisfying cross section of them all.
Avoid at all costs eating in ANY restaurants on Church Street. O’Gradys will fuck you without lube and shove you out the door without a kiss. It’s pretty much like that for all the restaurants: set menu, price hikes, forced tip, small portions, get the fuck out of the way for the next guy. Best to eat off the street (Daybreak at Church and Carlton, Chew Chews at Carlton and Sherbourne, for cheap and cheerful) or just eat a smog dog – plenty of vendours down Wellesley or up by the 519 Community Centre. I repeat: DO NOT EAT AT ANY RESTAURANTS ON CHURCH.
I warned you.
Don’t ask me. I don’t go out anymore. Go to the Beef Ball if you want leather/bear/overtly macho. Any other kind of gays you might be hunting can be found at all the other $75-$100 ticket events. Check out the over-the-top graphical posters on the street. All parties will provide sufficient amount of bump (!) and grind for your clubbing needs. Personally, I will be staying on the street, finding a perch and watching people go by. It’s the best way to see it all and save some money. But I’m old, judgemental and don’t drink.
Toronto gays and lesbians are some of the most attractive people in Toronto, yet are not the most open individuals out there. After a few drinks, sure, they’re as loose as Tila Tequila in a Turkish prison. But if you make eye contact and signal your intention that you’d like to sex up one of these elusive homosexuals, you might scare them off. See, most Torontonian homosexuals during Pride develop the “bus stop” syndrome. Meaning, in the throngs of tourists that come into the city, they might see you and might find you hot, but they’re waiting for the next one along who may be hotter than you. Know that Toronto gays and lesbians are still mired in their fear of sex, not like Montreal or New York. You need to go slow and steady. And have beer at the ready.
I hope you have a great time during Pride!