Friday at the Toronto City Hall the rainbow flag was raised and a 10 day-long celebration of diversity and inclusion (and an expected 2 million visitors) began - WorldPride 2014 Toronto!
There's so much to say about this event... Nathan Phillips Square, where the opening took place, was full of people of all races, all genders, all orientations, all family configurations. Everybody gathered there, everybody walked towards there, in complete safety, no matter how queer or gay or butch or straight or fancy or ordinary anybody looked. This is no small feat for a society.
The Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, the first openly gay head of government in Canada, was there, with her wife, saying how in a 42 city tour not once had she been challenged for being a lesbian. Saying how she plans to make Ontario even more tolerant, more inclusive. Reminding everybody that there are still schools where LGBTQ children don't feel safe, and that she will work to make schools safe places too. Having this kind of speech, from this kind of government officer, about these subjects... This is no small feat for a society.
When numerous countries still discriminate against, prosecute or even kill LGBTQ people, and even considering that Canada still has some way to go, Toronto is indeed one beacon - amongst precious few - for those societies that aspire for respect and inclusion of their citizens regardless of gender and orientation, and I feel incredibly grateful for the privilege of enjoying this for the past 5 years.
I'm getting just a tad serious, so let's not forget - this is a CELEBRATION! And, given how conservative Toronto can be expense-wise, we were stunned to see everything that went into this ceremony, including numerous artists, like Deborah Cox, one of Canada's top R&B artists:
And Melissa Etheridge, famous American rock singer-songwriter and iconic gay and lesbian activist, whose simple message (in songs and words) was come out, get up, and stand up for your rights:
And, finally, a beautiful fireworks and laser display with great music to boot, like "I was born this way" and, of course, "Over the Rainbow", which touched quite a few hearts.
Let's be grateful, let's be proud, and let's paaarty!