Toronto

Pride Toronto picks '+' sign as theme for 2017 Pride Month

The "+" sign makes reference to the diversity of people and voices at the event, as well as their hope to add new perspectives.

'We want to look forward:' Pride Toronto's new executive director Olivia Nuamah

The press release from Pride Toronto announcing the theme of '+' said they're using the sign to honour 'the fact that Pride is a community of many.' (CBC)

Toronto Pride organizers released the theme for their annual month-long festival Thursday morning, opting to use the "+" sign to represent their hopes for the celebrations beginning June 1.

The "+" sign makes reference to the diversity of people and voices at the event, as well as their hope to add new perspectives.

"It reflects where we are at now. Absolutely that includes what we've been through over the last year, but it's also future looking," executive director of Pride Toronto Olivia Nuamah told Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Thursday.

Olivia Nuamah became executive director of Pride Toronto in February following the resignation of former executive director Mathieu Chantelois, who, amid swirling controversy, stepped down in August 2016. (Pride Toronto)

"It says that we want to be open and we want to look forward, that we have had the conversations we need to have, we've translated those conversations into how we are planning our festival and now we are moving on," she said.

The symbol will also be the focus of marketing and promotions for the month, including themes like "+Politics," "+OurHistory" and "+TheFuture" — umbrellas under which they hope to start discussions.

Pride Toronto organizers will be hosting meetings prior to the event's kickoff to find out what the symbol means to those involved.

"I don't know what people are going to have to say," Nuamah said. "As an organization what we're trying to do is say we are going to listen to what you have to say. In doing that, the plus symbol, we hope, makes more space for people to say what they would like."

The theme of addition may seem out of step with the organization's move to subtract Toronto Police from their annual parade.

Mathieu Chantelois signs a list of demands from the Black Lives Matters movement as they stage a sit-in at the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday, July 3, 2016. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Last year, former executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a list of demands from Black Lives Matter after they briefly halted the festivities, effectively starting the campaign to remove police floats and kiosks from the 2017 event.

Chief Mark Saunders announced in February Toronto Police would not participate in this year's Pride parade but would continue to provide security for the event.

"They are able to march as allies," Nuamah said. "What we are talking about in the future is what that representation is going to look like more formally...but right now, we would argue...they are supporting us in the planning and the delivery of the festival. They are as much a plus now as they ever were."

Police officers from Hamilton walk in the 2016 Pride parade. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

As for the participation of Black Lives Matter, Nuamah said they can and will take part in the event as per usual.

Members of Black Lives Matter Toronto, who were part of the parade as honoured guests, held up the marching for about 30 minutes. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

"We are a queer festival, and the tradition of our festival has been one that is pushed against. We are here and we are this big not because we were given permission to be, but because we fought for it," she said. 

"What happened last year is just yet another typical example of the way the queer community brings social and political issues to the floor, and we as an organization are committed to not shying away from them."

Pride Month 2017 begins June 1, with a weekend festival closing off the events running from Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25.

About the Author

Taylor Simmons

Associate Producer, CBC Toronto

Taylor Simmons works in all areas of the CBC Toronto newsroom, from writing for the website to producing TV and radio stories. Taylor grew up in Mississauga, Ont. and studied journalism at Western University. You can reach her at taylor.simmons@cbc.ca.

With files from Metro Morning