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Toronto Pride Draws Crowd of One Million

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 30, 2008

This past weekend's Toronto Pride parade drew a huge crowd estimated at one million, reported news sources.

The Post Chronicle cited The Toronto Sun's reportage in a June 30 that reported on the size of the crowd and the fact that the parade was a peaceful event despite its immense size.

Another notable feature of Toronto Pride, which celebrated its 28th year with the June 29 event, drew more than a large and appreciative crowd of GLBT participants and onlookers, along with appreciative and curious straight onlookers: about 18 Canadian servicemembers marched in the parade, and Canadian police had set up recruitment posts along the parade route.

As has become a tradition in many Pride celebrations, local and national political figures also showed up to march in the parade. (No one from the Conservative party deigned to be seen in the throng of marchers, however.)

And in a gesture the recognizes the plight of gays in hostile countries, and the refugee seekers who flee such dire straits, the parade was marshaled by a Jamaican refugee, Gareth Henry, who claims to have made his way to Canada after having experienced his home country's notoriously anti-gay attitude first hand, in the form of police intimidation.

The official inclusion of gay Canadian military personnel was a new development, and much celebrated in the media. Last week, EDGE reported that 17 Canadian servicemembers would participate, including naval officer Lt. Stephen Churm, who has served openly as a gay man since 2001.

Canada's military began to accept openly gay troops in 1992, according to a June 30 article from Toronto, and in 2003, when gay marriage took effect in some Canadian provinces, the military extended marriage equality to its members, though the first marriage between Candian servicemembers of the same gender was not celebrated until marriage equality became a matter of national law in 2005.

The event also drew a number of American couples, who traveled to Canada to enjoy the show and celebrate their own nuptials by getting married in Canada.

To date, only two states in the United States recognize marriage equality. Mass. became the first state to do so in 2004; earlier this month, Calif. followed suit.

The state of New York does not offer marriage equality, but officially made it policy last month to recognize same-gender marriages performed elsewhere.

Toronto's economy benefited to the tune of $100 million from this year's Pride, reported Toronto

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.