Toronto Gay Pride 1981

I attended one of the first Gay Pride celebrations in Toronto.

U of T

The ‘parade’ was held on the running track at U of T campus in downtown Toronto. People gathered in the centre of the track and at some point those that came to watch spread out to the perimeter, and those in the parade walked around the track two to three times.

In attendance there were no more than 200 people, including those in the parade, those that came to watch, and the half dozen police that lurked on the outskirts to ‘keep the peace’.


Of the participants, there were no ‘sponsors’ or floats, only individuals and various groups, a few with hand-made banners. I remember the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as well as PFLAG being there.

It was my first exposure to PFLAG. I was so moved by the concept of supportive family and friends of GBLT people, who were not GBLT persons themselves. It brought more than one tear to my eye.

This was a protest. There was no sanction by the city. The police were there not there to ‘serve and protect’. All felt their disdain and distance. Concerns of arrests were discussed among all.

Afterwards, several people dispersed, but some lingered and shared picnic fare.


Overall it was a quiet, peaceful, empowering and poignant affair that I am so grateful to have experienced and will always cherish.

One thought on “Toronto Gay Pride 1981

  1. Fabulous!!!! I remember maybe a year or two before ’81 a tiny, motley group marching along yonge street- no crowds, no cops, no organization just a wee celebration of solidarity we’ve come so far!
    Happy Pride

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