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Beauty in our History – Desi Attire with Mango Lassi

Pride Toronto aims to celebrate and educate with even bigger virtual festival

(This story is sponsored by Pride Toronto.)

Pride Toronto is right around the corner and people are buzzing with excitement as they anticipate its events that celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Beginning in June, the month-long festival will showcase more than 150 2SLGBTQ+ artists, 14 party collectives and seven community committee programs.

Everyone is invited to participate in the virtual events and star-studded parade that will highlight community, education and celebration. Plus, the two energetic festival weekends from June 18 to 20 and June 25 to 27 can’t be missed.

The first-ever winner of Canada’s Drag Race, Priyanka (the drag superstar alter-ego of Mark Suknanan) will be hosting the parade on June 27 at 2 pm. While another Toronto queen and contestant from Canada’s Drag Race, Tynomi Banks will be bringing a powerful and lively performance at the Closing Ceremony event: Revolution on June 27 at 3:30 pm.

Other headliners include Juno-nominated contemporary artist Storry, Toronto-based R&B duo TRP.P (pronounced “trippy”), goth-pop singer Allie X and many more. Iskwe, (short for waseskwan iskwew, meaning “blue sky woman”) a Juno-nominated artist for Best Indigenous Music Album of the Year in 2018 will also be performing.

The full festival lineup can be found at PrideToronto.com/PrideGuide.

“This year’s festival lineup really showcases the diversity of programming that Pride Toronto offers across the community,” says Amber Moyle, the Director of Sponsorship and Strategy at Pride Toronto.

“It celebrates the conversations that the 2SLGBTQ+ community would like to have, which includes seniors in Pride, body positivity, human rights movements, anti-Black racism initiatives and Indigenous solidarity. These are very important to the members of our community so we want to make sure they’re included in our programming.”

Here are five highlights from this year’s programming.

leZlie lee kam human rights panelist

Human Rights Panels

Human Rights Panels are an essential part of Pride Toronto’s programming, which is why the festival is hosting several events that will spark meaningful dialogue.

On Wednesday, June 16 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, folks can virtually attend Black Solidarity: A Transnational Conversation On Unity And Decolonization. This event explores themes of Black North-South solidarity in relation to advocacy and panelists will discuss the dynamics of human rights solidarity. Hollywood Jade, the host of Pride Toronto’s Black Queer and Trans excellence podcast, will be moderating the thought-provoking event. Please register in advance at PrideToronto.com/PrideGuide.

dyke pride 1989

Dyke Pride

“I am most looking forward to the Dyke March, which I once coordinated when I first began working at Pride Toronto” says Moyle. “There are so many important statements made in the march and the performers’ energy also gets me super excited. I always feel like I am a part of it.”

The online installation of Dyke Pride welcomes all self-identified Dykes, Trans Dykes, non-binary Dykes and any other Dykes to participate in an online grassroots political demonstration with critical mass. It will feature several performers, speakers and community activists on Saturday June 26 at 1 pm.

mango d'licious queer shoppingn channel

Queer Shopping Channel

Another highly anticipated three-part series featured in this year’s festival is the Queer Shopping Channel. On June 7, 14 and 21, you can watch host Mango D’Licious unbox various products created by local 2SLGBTQ+ makers on Pride Toronto’s YouTube and Instagram account. All items will be available for purchase through Pride Toronto’s Online StreetFair. Artists have had a particularly difficult time navigating the changes brought by the pandemic so this is a great way to show your support.

lavender goes virtual saturday june 19

Virtual Parties Galore

For those looking for a good virtual party, programs like Yes Yes Y’all (June 25), F*ck Shit Up! A Trans and Non- Binary Cabaret (June 25), Lavender (June 19), Strapped (June 19) Pride Live (June 19 and 26) and Yohomo (June 26) will do the trick.

“I know that everyone has Zoom exhaustion but I do think that there’s something that will appeal to everyone enough to make them punch in those numbers and tune-in to an event,” says Moyle.

Family Pride

On June 20, 2SLGBTQ+ families and children can celebrate their uniqueness through Family Pride, a jam-packed hour of online entertainment.

While members of the nonprofit organization look forward to the festival each year, their work extends far beyond.

“Pride Toronto has also launched a new initiative this year called the Creative Studio & Artist Residency Program, which supports artists in the community,” says Moyle.

“We’ve transformed our office space into a multifunctional tech studio so that artists are able to use the space for free once restrictions are lifted. This initiative will be permanent, it’s not just pandemic-specific. We want to help artists make the transition during this challenging time.”

The Pride Toronto office has DJ and video equipment, event space, green screens, cameras, boardroom tables and much more, available to artists enrolled in the program. Artists can apply and register through an online portal.

Browse all of the online programming at prideguide.online/calendar and watch the virtual Pride Parade on Sunday June 27 at 2 p.m. at pridetoronto.com/watch.

Help support Pride Toronto, a nonprofit organization with a mission to bring people together by donating here. You can also text “GIVE” to 647-362-8701 to make a donation and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Standard carrier rates apply.


How Michelle Burrows is increasing digital accessibility and improving client-facing tools at 2Keys and Interac Corp.

(This story is sponsored by Interac Corp.)

It started back in tenth grade – when it was time for course selection, Michelle Burrows enrolled in computer science as it was an easy course and sure-fire “A.” But after problem solving and design piqued their interest, Burrows continued taking computer science throughout the rest of high school and into postsecondary.

During their first year at Carleton University in Ottawa, Burrows was given the opportunity to participate in a research internship within the Carleton Computer Security Lab (CCSL). After exploring the realm of computer and Internet security, Burrows landed an exciting job at 2Keys Corporation.

Ottawa-based 2Keys, a national leader in cyber security and digital identity, was acquired by Interac Corp. in 2019. Since the companies merged, Burrows has been working on increasing digital accessibility and improving client-facing tools, along with creating an inclusive work environment. This includes implementing a policy and standards for client solutions and including an accessibility focus during design, development, and testing stages of product integration.

“Being part of the Diversity and Inclusion Council at both 2Keys and Interac has been really rewarding and there’s a lot we want to do,” says Burrows. “I have so many ideas that I want to do all at once but maturing our policies and providing different types of training for employees is the starting point.”

As a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Burrows has learned firsthand that not all workplaces are inclusive and diverse, especially when it comes to the male-dominated tech industry.

“I’ve definitely walked into some offices for interviews and immediately thought, ‘Oh, I don’t fit in here’ because of the conservative atmosphere,” they say.

“Any time I walk in and see a super homogenous picture, it’s never a picture that looks like me and it’s off-putting. It’s definitely affected where I choose to work and where I have ended up.”

Burrows suggests trusting your gut when it comes to finding a work environment that values individual differences.

“It’s so important to work for an organization where you feel comfortable. It takes so much less energy to exist somewhere if you’re able to relax. Plus, you’ll have more energy to put into your work or take with you at the end of the day.” they say.

The ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives at 2Keys and Interac Corp. don’t stop with the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“We recently held mandatory anti-racism training and we are looking into how we can expand trainings further,” says Burrows.

Since 2019, Interac Corp. has been taking the necessary steps to create a progressive and comfortable workplace by partnering with Diversio. The people intelligence program tracks, measures and improves diversity and inclusion.

Interac’s efforts to foster inclusion increased in 2020, against the backdrop of the systemic racism in relation to the pandemic and tragic racial injustices covered by the media. Through employee polls, open forums, policy refinement, community involvement and education, Interac was making some serious changes.

The Canadian company launched its Equity and Empowerment Initiative to combat anti-Black racism, which involved investing in community partners that serve marginalized communities. Several programs that celebrate the team’s diversity and educate employees were also implemented.

Interac Corp. raised money for United Way and its agencies, providing financial support to Toronto’s marginalized groups and communities greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Since June 2020, the Diversity and Inclusion Council had held six open forums, allowing employees to speak about their life experiences with discrimination. These forums helped develop future educational programming and policy changes to ensure that all employees at Interac feel appreciated.

The company also implemented mandatory unconscious bias and anti-racism training for all employees. This provided team members with the knowledge and tools required to remove racism or other forms of oppression from the workplace. It also helped employees learn behaviours that can make them better allies to those within marginalized groups.

Because of these impactful efforts, Interac Corp. was officially certified by Diversio for their commitment to building a more inclusive workplace in in April 2021.

“I’ve had people come up to me and ask to join the council after running a brainstorming session,” says Burrows. “This was just from listening to people discuss ideas but it’s led them to realize that they didn’t know much about it. Seeing people become interested in creating an inclusive office is really rewarding.”

While an inclusive workplace policy will help support and meet the needs of employees, it’s imperative that everyone at the company attends the training events with an open-mind.

“Always try to be as open as you can, safely,” says Burrows. “You might be surprised as to who opens up to you in return.”

To learn more about life at Interac, visit https://www.interac.ca/en/content-category/inside-interac/

Interested in working at Interac Corp.? Click here to apply.


At Interac, we celebrate diversity and believe bringing our authentic selves to work drives the best results and allows us to learn from one another.

We are a diverse group of people and are committed to creating an environment for diversity of thought and experience, where unique ideas, perspectives and voices are not only welcomed, but encouraged.

This year, we are reminded that we all play a role in standing up against injustice. We all play a role in fighting racism and discrimination so we can contribute to a safer and fairer future for all Canadians. Although Pride Month may look different this year, the message it sends has never been more important.

This month, we are featuring the stories of people within the Interac family who are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. This is your opportunity to hear their stories and learn how we can all be better allies.

Interac Up Close

Peter Seney

Interac Up Close

David Luque


Inside Interac: Our Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

Interac embarked upon an ambitious Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiative to create an environment for diversity of thought and experience, where unique ideas, perspectives and voices are not only welcomed, but encouraged.

The Interac D&I Program recognizes eight dimensions of demographic and cognitive diversity, which are implemented through eight types of initiatives designed to embrace diversity as a strength, promote fair treatment, equal access to opportunities and organizational flexibility.

Executive champions representing the broader Interac team formed the Diversity & Inclusion Council. Feedback from an anonymous survey helped us better understand our strengths, opportunities and the perceptions of diversity and inclusion at Interac. These results also determined the first year of programming.


Pride 2021 Artist Statements

Brian jiang

With the recent surge in violence and racism towards the Asian community across North America, I was driven to create art pieces that highlights the queer Asian folks of Toronto. The Asian community in North America have historically and currently is “othered”, dehumanized, and fetishized. This discrimination is rampant even within the queer community, where folks face multiplicative struggles due to their intersectional identities. The two pieces I have created focus on the community’s past, present and future within Toronto, acknowledging their existence, activism, and vibrancy.

Eric Kostiuk Williams

The first piece, a tribute to the late drag performer Michelle Ross, illustrates her decades-long career through a showcase of several local venues she was known to perform at. The venues — some still operational, others long since shuttered — have been plucked from their respective moments in time and rearranged into a fantastical landscape.

Jenelle Lewis

In this illustration I’m re-introducing and re-imaging what a shared space like this could look like in a post covid future. Many people (and disproportionately people of colour), have lost their jobs and are looking for a sense of community. After a year of lockdown many people just cannot afford to gather in spaces that require a fee anymore. These funds are now allocated to paying rent and feeding families only. A space like this is crucial to rebuilding life and communities post covid. This is a futuristic view into what a space like this could look like if we demand it from the city. What a unique experience the queer community of the 80s and 90s got to have, and hopefully myself, and future queers get to encounter and bask in.

Mitch Duncan

The piece I have created for Pride Toronto’s 40th anniversary is a love letter to the past and present of Toronto’s queer community. There is so much important history in this city and I wanted to encapsulate some people and places that helped shape this community and keep the us progressing forward. I wanted to portray those who have fought for us and those who make our community a brighter place by being a part of it. As someone who has only been around for a portion of Toronto’s queer history, I felt it was important to include pivotal events from before my time such as the protests following the bathhouse raids and events I was actually there for such as the 2016 BLM protest.

Vivian rosas

Looking back at Toronto’s Queer and Trans History for inspiration, I was roused by the “kiss-in” staged in the 1970s in downtown Toronto by The Body Politic collective as a response to two gay activists getting arrested for kissing each other. The images of gay men kissing were and still are radical. As someone who strives to give voice to underrepresented folks in my work, I feel like what’s more empowering than envisioning what a “kiss-in” would look like now in all the many shades and spectrum of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto. We are who we are, and we kiss who we want to, so why not show that off with pride?

Roza Nozari

I wanted to illustrate the ways in which two-spirit, queer and trans people of colour have been here in Toronto, historically – and the ways in which they are (re)claiming and transforming spaces today in profoundly meaningful ways. I was inspired by the QTBIPOC-centered (re)mappings of Toronto, done by Rio Rodriguez and Amandeep Kaur Panag, and the editors and contributors of “Marvellous Grounds.” I was inspired by people like Mx. Wolverine, illustrated in the Glad Day image, who uses drag to tell political stories of Indigenous resistance, resilience and joy.


Creative Studio & Artist Residency Program

The Pride Toronto Creative Studio & Artist Residency Program was developed to address the continuously growing gap in safe and affordable Queer & Trans creative spaces after speaking first hand with 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

The Creative Studio space is an accessible venue, located near an accessible transit stop, and includes accessible gender-neutral washrooms. Access will be made available to registered 2SLGBTQ+ community artists and community organizations at no charge.

The creative studio includes bookable desks, meeting rooms, board rooms, training facilities, and access to a multi-functional production studio complete with cameras, video equipment, green screens, turntables, and mixers, projectors, and speakers.

As a bookable event space, access to a kitchenette, with a full-size fridge, sink, and dishwasher is also available. Alcohol is permitted for events with your own Special Occasion Permit.


Pride 2021 Featured Events

Including over 70 individual events showcasing more than 130 2SLGBTQ+ artists, 14 party collectives, and seven community committee programs. The full month of programming will begin on June 1, concluding with two Festival Weekends on June 18-19-20 and June 25-26-27.

Centred around community, education, and of course, celebration; Scroll through the full Festival lineup online at PrideToronto.com/PrideGuide to find events important to you.

2Spirit Pride

Friday June 18, 2021
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT

A celebration of 2Spirit peoples and their incredible contributions to the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Join us for a celebration by and for 2Spirit community members.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Sober Pride

Saturday June 19, 2021
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

Sober and Proud! Join us as we celebrate milestones in sobriety, honor our community and create safer space for sober 2SLGBTQ+ community members. There is beauty in sobriety!

via ZOOM

BI+ Pride

Saturday June 19, 2021
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT

Biphoria! A Celebration of Beautiful Attractions” is an hour-long virtual event in  celebration of our beautiful bi+ community.  Join us for an eclectic mix of performances as we toast to everyone who “likes the wine, not the label”.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Senior Pride

Sunday June 20, 2021
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

A chance to celebrate all self-identified Seniors, in a virtual setting where we can pay homage to the many years of commemorating the 2SLGBTQ+ Community and provide a space to reflect on the specific concerns, victories, and characteristics of 2SLGBTQ+ Seniors in Toronto.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Family Pride

Sunday June 20, 2021
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT

Celebrate the strength and uniqueness of 2SLGBTQ+ families and children. We are honoured to be bringing our community families together for 21 years! Although we cannot gather like we are used to in the school playground, join us online for a fun-packed hour of online entertainment.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Trans Pride

Friday June 25, 2021
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT

Please enjoy Toronto’s Trans Rally and March, a welcoming space for all Trans people, non-binary people, friends of, and allies who rally and march together. In a typical year, Trans women of colour and people with different abilities are encouraged to lead the march and set the pace for all however, this year, in light of Covid-19, we are celebrating in a virtual space for an hour of speakers and performers and community engagement.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Dyke Pride

Saturday June 26, 2021
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

The Toronto Dyke March welcomes all self-identified Dykes, Trans Dykes, non-binary Dykes and any other Dyke to join us virtually and hosts an online grassroots political demonstration with critical mass. The Toronto Dyke March has been a landmark of Pride Month for many years and will remain as resilient as ever with a host of performers, speakers, and community activists.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Pride Parade

Sunday June 27, 2021
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT

It’s been 40 years of Pride in Toronto! Our digital parade will be a one hour production honoring our history, highlighting key Toronto talent and foster community.

PrideToronto.com/watch

Flag Raising

Celebrate the strength and uniqueness of 2SLGBTQ+ families and children. We are honoured to be bringing our community families together for 21 years! Although we cannot gather like we are used to in the school playground, join us online for a fun-packed hour of online entertainment.

Tuesday June 1, 2021 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

Beauty in our history

A celebration of the history of our varying and diverse communities. Learn about American Sign Language, traditional South Asian attire and the significance of cultural hairstyles in this 4 part series.


Tuesday June 1, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Tuesday June 8, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Tuesday June 15, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Tuesday June 22, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Wellness Wednesdays

Let’s take a few minutes to check in; Have you been moving your body? Do you know how to meditate and get centred? Join us on Wellness Wednesdays for your weekly self-care checkpoint.


Wednesday June 2, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Wednesday June 9, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Wednesday June 16, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Wednesday June 23, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Queer Shopping Channel

An unboxing of various items available in our online vendor market. Watch Mango D’Licious reveal products and support our local 2SLGBTQ+ makers!

Monday June 7, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Monday June 14, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Monday June 21, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Sex Talk

Your weekly dose of sexual health info sessions from an intersectional lens, where 2SLGBT2Q+ sex and relationship therapists from varying communities dive in to all things sex.

Thursday June 3, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Thursday June 10, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Thursday June 17, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Thursday June 24, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Sipz and Snacks

Feeling thirsty? Well get your cocktail (or mocktail) kit ready! Each week a new 2SLGBTQ+ mixologist or chef will walk you through a delicious drink and snack pairing.

Friday June 4, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Friday June 11, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Friday June 18, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Friday June 25, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT

Human Rights Panels

The Human Rights Panels are a crucial part of Pride Toronto’s annual programming allowing participants the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue. Join us this year for a series of conversations.

Wednesday June 2, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

Wednesday June 9, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

Wednesday June 16, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

Wednesday June 23, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

Blockorama 23: Black is Love

Blackness Yes! has a 23-year history organizing Blockorama, the largest and longest-running stage at Pride Toronto’s annual festival. Blockorama has a vibrant history that celebrates local Black performers and spotlights a focus on Black Love, self-care, harm reduction, and community. Join your favourite blocko DJ’s, drag, ballroom and musical performers at Blockorama: Black is Love.

Closed Captioning will be available for this event. ASL Interpreters can be booked by contacting office@pridetoronto.com a minimum of five (5) days prior to the event. Pride Toronto thanks the TD Ready Commitment for their support in presenting ASL Interpretation for Pride 2021

Curated by: Blackness Yes! Featuring: Nicolette Brown, Karim Olen Ash, Phil Atioh, DJ Nik Red, DJ Pogi, Rosie Monday, Jada Hudson, DJ Carma, Stolen Land, Jay Light, DJ Craig Dominic, Visual Artist: Karimah Zakia Issa

Sunday June 27th, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Tune in HERE

Find out more

Presented by BudLight Seltzer

Contests

Brockton Haunt Contest

In proud partnership with Pride Toronto & Interac Corp.