Thousands took to Church Street on Saturday to celebrate Pride, returning after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.
The Church-Wellesley Village was a sea of colour, jam-packed with people from all walks of life out to enjoy the festivities.
Organizers said they expected to showcase more than 300 2SLGBTQ+ artists and 25 community curators across six signature events. The Dyke Rally and March kicked off Saturday’s celebration at 1 p.m. The Pride Parade is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.
Hundreds of vendors lined the streets. Among them were businesses looking to recover from the revenue-strapped pandemic. Others were services crucial in the queer community.
Sarah Midnight, a local business owner based in the area, said the return of Pride is proving to be the boost she and her store needed.
“Last night was already amazing, so I am sure the rest of the weekend is going to be amazing money-wise as well,” she told Global News. “Thank goodness, after the pandemic we need a good boost!”
For two years, Pride Toronto, one of the city’s signature summer events, was cancelled with Church Street quiet through the summer.
The lifting of most public health measures relating to COVID-19 has allowed the festival to return in full-swing.
“After two long years, we are beyond excited to bring together – in person – the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto and beyond to celebrate the 2022 Pride Festival, Grant Gonzales and Yuri Hernandez, Pride Toronto board co-chairs, said in a statement.
Love was in the air, the length of Church Street. People held hands as they walked in the scorching heat. The atmosphere was lively, filled with smiles, music, dancing and food.
Stephanie Lindsay, one of thousands celebrating, came out in 2016 but 2022 was their first Pride experience.
“I feel very empowered,” they said. “My first time in public was very scary.”
There were people from all walks of life at the event, including many who travelled from far away to enjoy it.
“Just be yourself and have fun,” one person, who had travelled with a friend from North Bay, Ont., remarked.