In 1969, during the final weekend in June, drag queens and queer street kids rioted at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Stonewall riots marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement that has transformed the oppression of the LGTTIQQ2SA community into pride.
Pride Toronto has been in existence in various forms since the late 1970’s and annually since 1981. In the early 1970’s there were Gay Days picnics that were held at Hanlon's Point, moving later to Cawthra Park, with ceremonies on the steps of the 519 community centre, and Pride Toronto's first-ever beer garden.
In 1981, police raided various bathhouses that motivated gays and queers and their supporters to organize a major demonstration held at Yonge Street and Wellesley on the day that followed. This event raised public awareness of queer issues. In 1984 for the first time Church Street was closed and people danced in the street. Pride Toronto's first Pride Committee was created in 1986, and in 1987 sexual orientation was included in the Human Rights Code. Momentum continued to build and in 1991 the City Council proclaimed Pride Day for the first time and 80,000 people celebrated.
June 29th 1996 the first Dyke March met at the 519 Community Centre. Toronto Dyke March founders Lesha Van Bij and Lisa Hayes work with a handful of volunteers to organize a successful Dyke March with 5,000 participants. The Dyke March is now a year round engagement, a beacon to Dykes and Trans people everywhere and an affirmation that Dykes and Trans are a valued and welcomed part of communities and our greater society. Since 1996 the Dyke March continues to raise awareness of Dyke and Trans' visibility in the queer community, and the Dyke March has become a tradition in most cities across North America.
Pride Through the Decades
Pride Toronto thanks the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA <> )for their assistance in the research of this information.
The CLGA is the second largest lesbian & gay archives in the world. Two-thousand square feet of space contain the stories of the individuals and organizations of the Canadian lesbian & gay community, and records of events that have shaped our past, and our future.
Founded in 1973, the archives are an important research centre for writers, students, film-makers, artists and the general public, with information on lesbians and gay men in Canada, their ideas, lifestyles, cultures and politics. For information, contact them at:
Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA)
PO Box 639, Stn A
P (416) 777-2755