I lived in Toronto for 20 years and never went to Pride. For some reason I figured it didn't apply to me, that I would not be part of that community and it would make no sense to be there. That and I hate crowds.
This year, as a runner, I finally crossed another race off my bucket list. The Pride and Remembrance Run is part of Pride Weekend, and I figured that I could at least go, run, show my support and head home.
I was lucky to be part of the team for Fife House. They provide secure, supportive, affordable housing to people living with HIV/AIDS in the GTA, and are one of the beneficiaries of the 5k run.
I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never been part of Pride weekend, and this was bigger than usual because it was World Pride so even more people were participating in the week long celebration.
Once again it was a dark o'clock trip, the GO Train into Toronto at 7am, wearing a tutu, a sparkle skirt, and enough accessories to make the world glitter. Nobody flinched as I added more accessories to my already awesome outfit.
I arrived in Toronto hours before the 10am race start, and wandered around at Church and Wesley.
I was so amused by the rainbows everywhere, from inside the TTC station to the TD Bank. The people I saw walking around were happy but had the look of folks that perhaps had yet to go to bed....which explained why the coffee shops had lines of folks smiling and ordering huge cups of coffee.
I remember why I loved living in Toronto, the ease of getting around, the fact that nobody looks sideways at you when you've got a tutu on, that you can find almost anything you want, day or night.
I had time to kill, so I wandered around drinking coffee, taking photos and being thrilled by how wonderful the entire village looked. What's amazing is that mere hours later this entire street was jammed packed with people.
I met up with Cory and the team from Fife House and we got ready to run. One of the team, Sam, had yet to sleep from the parties the night before, and he was charged with handing out the Fife House sweatbands (the blue one in the centre of the photo below). I figured I'd help him out so he could go get a nap before the next round of parties.
It was so fun to go through the crowd, handing the wristbands out and chatting with total strangers. Really made me feel like a part of the event. It's amazing who you run into at a race, and for the second time this year I saw this woman at one. This time I could not resist snapping a selfie with her.
Yep, Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario (and our first openly gay one too). She's also one heck of a fast runner.
Before I knew it we were ready to start running, under a huge cloud of rainbow confetti.
The course went down Wesley street to Queen's Park Circle and then made TWO laps of that. Yep, another case of me not looking at the race route and being surprised when the volunteers said 'around you go again'. I was having such a great time. I brought my music but never even bothered to turn it on, it was way more fun to chat, high five the volunteers and enjoy the entire fun time. There were photographers on the course too, can't wait to see how the snaps turn out.
Everyone running seemed to be having fun. There wasn't any of the 'on your left' screaming or people being all about them. There were costumes, and cheering and the volunteers were banging thundersticks and having a great time.
I finished in a huge crowd....
AND made the news! CBC News Toronto has a great shot of me crossing the finish line about :20 seconds into the intro of the night's newscast.
After the race I spent some time posing for fun photos
This was the finish line party area. The best food I've EVER had post-race. Yogurt, cake, pizza, tons of water. It looked like a festival, families and face painting and everyone hanging out.
Then I hit the Lucky Charms booth and had some fun (and got some cereal), posing with their #LuckyToBe posters.
On one of my many treks up and down Church street, I ran into a David's Tea lady toting a huge bunch of stuff on her way back to the store. Figured since I was going that way I'd lend a hand. As a thanks she bought me a tea! It was a great treat on a hot day. I've never had one before, and I'm sure glad there's a David's Tea in Limeridge mall so I can get more.
There was a Smart Car parked on Church and I could not resist posing when they said it was okay if I stood on the seats!
By far my very favourie photo is this one. The confetti left in the street after the race was so pretty, I could not resist lying in it and tossing it in the air while a (tall) volunteer took my photo.
While speaking to Cory I found out that Fife House and Over the Rainbow had joined forces to create the #PrideCodeTO shirt. It took me another 2k of walking up and down the street to find (and buy) one. It's on the left.
This was easily one of the best running experiences that I've ever had. Everyone, from the Premier of Ontario to the folks at the water stations was having a great time. I felt more at home in my tutu at this race than any other. There were hugs and high fives and people cheering for strangers. I felt totally at home in a place where I was the minority yet totally accepted with no question.