As we all know, June was Pride month and before we get further into July, I want to share some of the fantastic Pride events I was part of thanks to York’s student club TBLGAY, the York Federation of Students (YFS), the YFS Access Centre and the Art Gallery of York University, who partnered together for a series of Pride events leading up to the Toronto Pride Parade on June 25.
Keele Campus Flag Drop
On June 20, the annual Pride flag drop happened at the Student Centre. Students and faculty gathered around a stage to hear from guests and coordinators such as Roshni Raveenthiran, the Vice-President, Equity for the York Federation of Students, Maiesha Zarin, from TBLGAY, Suzanne Carte, Assistant Curator for the Art Gallery of York University, and Kat Kahnert-Wolchak and Aerilyn Medina from the YFS Access Centre. While the guests spoke, they were accompanied by interpreter Christopher Desloges.
Roshni Raveenthiran, the Vice-President, Equity for the York Federation of Students, speaks alongside an interpreter as a group of students and faculty prepare to watch the Pride flag drop.
Students and faculty from the Access Centre, YFS, TBLGAY and the Art Gallery of York University standing in front of the Student Centre stairs for a group picture.
Summer Jam Pride BBQ
A few hours after the Pride flag drop on June 20, there was a BBQ held at the Catalpa Court behind the Student Centre. The Pride BBQ provided chips, burgers, hotdogs, freezies and beverages for free to all students. In addition, they also hosted outdoor games such as a giant game of “Up 4 It”, which is basically a bigger version of Connect Four, and the members of YFS and TBLGAY provided a cool playlist of music to go along with the fun!
The Summer Jam Pride BBQ setup with food and beverages provided for free to students.
York Pride Reception
On June 21, the York Pride Reception occurred on the second floor of the Kaneff Tower. A pancake and fruit breakfast for students and staff was provided. Maiesha Zarin, Suzanne Carte, Chris Chapman, Assistant Professor from the School of Social Work and Brandon Cheong, President of the Glendon College Student Union addressed the crowd, sharing stories and encouragement. When the guests finished their speeches, everyone was invited to have a piece of rainbow cake!
Chris Chapman shares a personal story during the York Pride Reception.
Pride Parade: Behind the Scenes
On Sunday, June 25, I had one of the best days ever being in the Toronto Pride Parade! I have never been surrounded by so much happiness, love and pride during an event before. Let me start off with a quick throwback. In 2015, I went to my first ever Pride Parade. From beginning to end, the entire experience was incredibly positive and exhilarating to watch. This year, I was IN the Pride Parade. During York Pride Reception on June 21, Suzanne Carte, the Assistant Curator for the Art Gallery here at York, assured me I could be in the Pride Parade. My eyes lit up and my adrenaline went through the roof. I called all my close friends and told them the news!
A few days later, it was Sunday and it was officially Pride Parade Day! The parade travelled down Yonge Street from Bloor to Dundas Square. I began my day by meeting with the entire We Are Nature team. It was definitely awe-inspiring to see such energy radiating from the faces of each volunteer and float participant.
This year, the banner was created by Lido Pimienta, an Indigenous-Colombian interdisciplinary artist-curator and musician based in Toronto. Taking inspiration from the original Pride rainbow flag, this year’s float includes glowing, luminous colors, flowers sprouting from palms of hands and life being born. As you can see below, Lido’s creatures bloom from the earth and are celebrated through nature. That is why our land is full of magic and we must do our best to respect it.
(Note: this is a rephrased version of the AGYU press release)
The YFS Pride Parade float banner created by Lido Pimienta.
As soon as it hit 2 pm, it was time to roll out! Roshni Raveenthiran made sure to remind us of the rules to follow when it comes to the float. Roshni also thanked the team for doing a wonderful job on the float and wished everyone a great time. On the float, people were dancing, cheering and showing off their pride!
Yonge-Dundas Square as seen from atop the YFS float in the Toronto Pride Parade.
One of the most memorable moments I had was seeing a friendly couple look at our float, and then seeing them hug and smile at each other. LOVE IS LOVE. Happy Pride!