Pride organizers have backed down from a like-it-or-lump-it ultimatum after 19 queer youth groups freaked about their floats in Sunday's big parade being plastered with Rogers ads. As it stands, the youth contingent can proudly march ad-free.
"For years the community has said Pride has to be less corporate, but Pride gets more and more corporate," says Ryan G. Hinds, who led the Rogers protest.
Adds Gabriela Rodriguez, a member of the Pride Youth Committee, which along with the Toronto Youth Cabinet and Limpfist fought Pride's Rogers ultimatum,"Pride has always been a celebration and a protest, and having that kind of corporate sponsorship really cheapens it."
Pride executive director Fatima Amarshi denies Pride is becoming more of a cash grab, despite the fact that individuals are being asked for $25 and groups a $50 donation to march in the parade. She blames that on increased city cleanup fees.
"We were simply asked to consider the possibility to see if we could secure [Rogers], but nothing at all was agreed upon or signed, and when we were asked to not pursue it any longer we didn't," she says.
Amarshi adds that Pride Toronto fully supports young people. "Our mandate is to increase the visibility of youth in Pride, and in the parade in particular."
Still, Hinds feels like he's being made out to be the bad guy by Pride Toronto for making an issue out of the Rogers sponsorship.
"We're feeling collective and personal pride this year. No matter how much Pride Toronto wants to take that away, they can't."