Hundreds of thousands of people celebrate the return of the Toronto Pride Parade to the streets of downtown

The streets of downtown Toronto were awash with color, music and smiles on Sunday as the city’s Pride Parade returned for the first time in two years.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Yonge Street on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the parade’s return after it was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. The procession started at 2 p.m. at the corner of Bloor and Church streets.

Colorful floats – loud music to energize the crowd – dancers, drag queens and other walkers waving rainbow flags and carrying signs about love and acceptance slowly made their way through the course and headed to Yonge-Dundas Square, where the parade culminated.

Among those marching were a group that had never participated in a Pride parade until Sunday, community organizations, unions, emergency services, sports teams and dignitaries. Dr. Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, widely known as Lady Phyll, was the International Grand Marshal of the parade.

One of the dignitaries in the parade was Toronto Mayor John Tory, who marched with other members of city council.

He said it was good that city events like Pride were back after a long hiatus.

“It’s so good at a time when rights are diminished elsewhere in the world that we can celebrate the fact that we have made such progress. We have a lot to do. But, I think we are happy to respect the to each other and kissing,” Tory said. “And so I think that’s pride.”

Tory was also with her granddaughter Isabel who was part of the LGBTQ+ community. Earlier, the two attended a Pride breakfast hosted by PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

“It’s so important that children and adults, everyone in Toronto, feel that they can be who they are, and that they can celebrate who they are, and that we celebrate them. And that’s the very essence of what Toronto is. And we “I have to keep it that way. So I was proud to have Isabel with me today,” Tory said.

CP24 spoke to dozens of people at the parade, many of whom were taking part in a Pride Parade for the first time, and all were happy to see him back and that everyone was having a good time. Some of them came from other countries, including the United States, Israel and Nicaragua.

“I’ve never been around so many queer people at once. And it makes me feel really at home and stuff. So I’m enjoying it a lot,” said one reveler, who moved to Toronto from the UK United. “It feels like a big old family.”

When a viewer was asked what pride means to them, they said it’s about accepting and expressing who you are and not worrying about what other people think.

“It’s nice to know that it’s not just you and a few friends and it’s nice that there are even straight people, allies who are all supporting you because throughout your day, obviously , there will be people who won’t, so it’s nice to see everyone celebrating it,” he said.

Pride Toronto said it expects around 1.8 million on Sunday.

Ahead of the weekend, organizers said the festival was working with private security companies to carry out checks at designated spaces.

They say the additional measures are necessary given the reported increase in anti-LGBTQ incidents this month.

– With files from Beatrice Vaisman, Shanelle Kaul and The Canadian Press

David H. Henry