Pride Month begins with 1,000-square-foot art installation at city hall

The Rainbow and Trans flags will rise at Toronto city hall Friday, marking the official start of Toronto’s third annual Pride Month, themed ‘35 Years of AIDS Activism.’

Toronto’s 3rd annual Pride Month runs from June 1 to 24

Twelve of these banners, featuring the LGBT community, will make up a massive art installation at the city hall rotunda beginning June 1. (Adam Zivo)

The Rainbow and Trans flags will rise at Toronto city hall Friday, marking the official start of Toronto's third annual Pride Month, themed '35 Years of AIDS Activism.'

The ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m., when Mayor John Tory makes the official proclamation. 

The executive director of Pride Toronto, Olivia Nuamah, says she's "pretty psyched" for the month ahead.

"We are trying to … celebrate and look at AIDS service organizations that have been the pillar of the LGBTQ+ community for 30 years and so that's really exciting," she said.

This year's festival features expanded programming, involves more communities and cultures and highlights more local art, Nuamah added.

Olivia Nuamah, executive director of Pride TO, says this year's festival will include more communities, cultures and art. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

"Pride Month is an opportunity to highlight what every community within our acronym of LGBTQ+ experiences and it allows us to also be as visible as possibly can be, " she said. 

'Love Lives In This City'

Some of that talent will be on display at City Hall Friday, when the group LoveisLoveisLove — a Canadian LGBTQ+ arts campaign — reveals a massive art installation.

They'll unveil 12 banners featuring LGBTQ+ people, many from last year's Pride event, which will cover more than 1,000 square feet.

The banners will stay up at the rotunda until the end of the month. (Adam Zivo)

 "I think that public art, especially in spaces that don't always see LGBT content, can be a remarkable asset for building social progress," said Adam Zivo, executive director of the campaign.

"Prejudice is ultimately rooted in ignorance. If you hate someone who's gay or who's queer or who's trans … you might have this bizarre image of them in your head, but what I'm trying to do is demonstrate that we're just human beings."

The location of the installation is also purposeful, he said.

"We can do installations like this in the village and that's great, but the people who are there are likely already signed on to gay rights," Zivo said.

"There's never been an LGBTQ+ art installation of this type at the rotunda to this scale."

Following the campaign, the banners will be dismantled and distributed to parts of the city where LGBT visibility may be lacking.

LoveisLoveisLove will be at Pride Toronto this year and are asking everyone to drop by their booth with a partner or friend to be photographed interpreting the theme "love is love".

What's new at Pride 2018

The banners at city hall are one of many new features added to this year's event.

Fairs and markets will now be held as far as Church Street and Dundas Street East, whereas events in previous years tended to stop around Carlton Street.

And not only the location is changing.

"We used to have our parties on parking lots," Nuamah said. "Now a lot of parking lots are becoming condos and so one of the sort of new aspects of the festival is that there's going to be many more stages on the street. We are taking the festival back to the street if you like."

There will be 14 additional blocks of programming, including a wellness zone, art zone and environmental zone.

A man holds a flag on a hockey stick during the Pride parade in Toronto on June 25, 2017. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

It's also expected Pride Toronto will become the first street festival in the city where participants can leave bars and patios with their alcoholic beverage; however, Nuamah said approval for the "drinks to go" plan is still pending.

Artists Brandy and Kehlani will be the headliners at the festival's closing weekend concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square, along with Toronto artist, Kapri.

38th annual Pride Parade

Pride's annual parade is scheduled to go ahead at 2 p.m. on June 24, following the Dyke March on June 23 and the Trans March on June 22.

This year, organizers will also hold  a march at the end of the Pride Parade as a tribute to lost members of the community as well as those who continue to feel unsafe, in the wake of the Bruce McArthur serial murder investigation.

At the end of this summer's Pride Parade, the community is asked to wear black and march in silence to remember those who were killed. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The march is part of Pride Toronto's Until We're Safe campaign launched earlier this month.

 "It's still a celebration, it's still important that we continually show that we're both a visible and proud community, and do that in the face of, at the moment, a very difficult political climate in the community," Nuamah said.

"The Bruce McArthur situation has definitely contributed to that sense of refocusing on the things that matter most to the community and that is equity and that is social justice and its human rights."


Taylor Simmons

Associate Producer, CBC Calgary

Taylor Simmons is a multi-platform journalist who's spent time in newsrooms across Canada, including in St. John's, Toronto and Calgary.