The queer cabaret, drag queens on Queen and eight other things to see and do at Pride
The 10 best places to let your freak flag fly this weekend
Toronto’s staple Pride event
1Church Street will host a colourful slew of festival-goers, performers, community groups, drag kings and queens, and local dignitaries for the annual Pride Parade. This summer’s celebrations will end differently than in years past: the finale will honour the victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur with a mourning procession and black attire. Attendees are invited by organizers to wear black to signify the trauma that the community has experienced over the past year. Sunday, June 24. Bloor Street and Church Street to Yonge-Dundas Square.
One of the world’s largest Trans Marches
2Educator and activist Yasmeen Persad leads this year’s Trans March down Church Street, joining hundreds of participants and performers spanning the gender-identity spectrum as they participate in one of the largest trans marches in the world. This year, the organizers invite trans women of colour and people with different abilities to lead the march as an important reminder of Pride’s political mission. Friday, June 22. Church Street at Hayden Street.
A visit from RuPaul A-lister Aja
3Promising fierce outfits, tight tucks, big hair, and bigger moves, the Drag Ball at Yonge-Dundas Square is Pride’s premiere event for drag enthusiasts. The neon extravaganza gets an A-list appearance from RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Aja—the lip-sync assassin with Brooklyn sass—followed by performances from some of the city’s most eye-popping kings and queens and music from Australian DJ Kitty Glitter. Saturday, June 23. Yonge-Dundas Square.
A LGBT art exhibit
4This year’s Pride exhibition at Urban Gallery features Jeffrey Mason’s humorous “politi-cats” portraits, Hank Blondeau’s whimsical mixed-media canvases, Jean Fode’s textured collage work, and Vanessa Storoniak’s abstract geometric paintings. Each local artist explores a different aspect of their LGBTQ+ experience while examining the politics of Pride. Until Saturday, June 30. Urban Gallery.
A queer-friendly cabaret
5Toronto-based soul and R&B veteran Witch Prophet headlines a bill of performance art, spoken word, and music from across North America at this bisexual, pansexual, and polysexual performance. Other artists include San Francisco-based feminist performer Melissa Koziebrocki, Toronto drag performer Heath V. Salazar and spoken word artist Audrey Lane Cockett. Saturday, June 23. Buddies in Bad Times Pride Stage.
A Pride street market
6the annual Church-Wellesley Pride Market will be peddling everything from high-tech dildos to vegan snacks. The three-day street festival also includes performances and talks put on by local community groups. Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24. Church and Wellesley Village.
A drag show on Queen West
7Queen West is the backdrop for this outdoor drag show featuring some of Toronto’s best-known queens, including Sofonda Cox, Dyna Thirst, Donnarama, and Robyn DeCraddle, with music by DJ David James. This year’s show is in support of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Saturday, June 23. Queen Street West and Denison Avenue.
A Japanese film series
8Catch master filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s 1999’s Taboo (June 23, 3 p.m.), which looks at queerness in the Samurai era, along with other films exploring LGBT issues in Japan during the Pride Film Series, put on by The Japan Foundation. To July 16. Japan Foundation.
A Trans playground
9The Alexander Street Parkette will be transformed into a non-cisgender playground featuring music by punk rock group Camp Girls, a runway show by the non-binary underwear brand NEWFRDM, plus spoken-word performances by storyteller Dora Ng, comedian Chantel Marostica, musician, model and disability advocate Rachel Romu, and award-winning Anishinaabe/Métis poet Gwen Benaway. Sunday, June 24. Buddies in Bad Times Pride Stage.
A run through the Church and Wellesley Villiage
10Now in its 23rd year, the annual 5K run (or 3K walk) is Pride Month’s largest fundraising event—all proceeds will go to Women’s College Hospital Transition-Related Surgery Compassionate Fund, the Canadian Lesbian Gay Archives’ Digital Hub Project, the LGBT Youth Line’s LGBT Youth Connect and the Pride and Remembrance Foundation. Saturday, June 23. Church and Wellesley.