Monday, June 28, 2004

Toronto Gay Pride Parade

Most exciting moment today at the Toronto Pride Parade: While waiting outside the Wellesley St subway station for my friend. There were 3 police officers four yards away from me keeping an eye on the area.

A guy walked past me. I saw him coming, because he was gingery, freckley, quite cute and sexy for thirty-something. His chest was bare. He was walking along the pavement just like the other people heading this way and that way. I suddenly noticed he was stark naked, and attractively so. The cops also saw him and said nothing. Other people saw him and said nothing and barely even blinked. Nobody gawked, or pointed. He didn't even have to streak. After he passed by, the cops joked "well, let's just pretend we didn't see anything... did you see anything?".

He was the only one who dared do it, that I saw all afternoon. It was a naturist/nudist's dream, and a damn sexy thing to do!

It was a sunny day, and warm enough. The parade followed a route south on Yonge Street, which is a bit narrow, and was barricaded so that you could not join it or dance with it. The barricades were crowded with 80% straights. The parade was very patchy with long gaps in some places, but a few very nice floats (the best ones were Carnival inspired)

Sadly, it seems to have become a victim of its own success, like the Notting Hill carnival in London. It is a minority event that has been turned into a tourist attraction, and lost a lot of its orgiastic, hedonistic, ecstatic, rebellious revelry, that made gay so different from being straight.

What was good though, was the street festival that occurred on Church Street and in about four of the little green-space parks in the neighbourhood. There were sound stages and some dancing, and the whole street scene and people watching was fun, for a city like Toronto, where downtown is frequently dead quiet. The Toronto gay scene was originally centered around the Yonge and Wellesley intersections, because Yonge Street was a sleazy seedy strip in the Seventies, and the Wellesley vicinity was the gay section. Since then, the gay scene has almost entirely shifted over to Church Street, where all the bars and cafes are nowadays.

There has been a gay community centre at 519 Church Street for a long time, and behind it is Cawthra Park ,which holds Toronto's Aids memorial, with names of many of the people who died from 1982 onwards.

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