The International Grand Master this year Goran Miletic was happy to be part of Toronto's Pride event. The Belgrade activist is working in Western Balkan countries to defend people's civil and political rights. Pride events in his homeland are often banned or when they do take place participants face being stoned or beaten without law enforcement stepping in to protect them.
Some young men visiting from Montreal said that while their city has a larger area of gay clubs their parade is not nearly as big or as well attended as the one in Toronto. They said they enjoyed the freedom and celebration spirit that they saw during the weekend.
Some in the crowd were capturing the action on their iPads so that those in nations where Pride Parades are banned could see how it can be. One of those was filming the parade for their friends in Russia who had never seen a Pride Parade.
Toronto's City Council and several political leaders joined in the march through the downtown proudly enjoying the freedoms that are allowed in Canada and more importantly in Toronto. While Mayor Rob Ford was not part of the crowd this year there was little mention of his absence. Last year several people carried Ford masks, this year only a few bothered. What was mentioned several times was the fact that Ontario now has a Transgender law that protects those who in the past were excluded from basic civil rights. Another change for the better this year is that all students in the province can take part in Straight/Gay alliances if they want to.
The Pride Parade is a celebration of how far the LGBT community has come and a protest for those who have not yet been able to be free to be who they really are.