Members of LGBTQ community eager for return of in-person Pride Toronto celebration

Volunteers with Pride Toronto carry a large rainbow flag during the Pride Parade in Toronto, Sunday, June 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Lahodynskyj

Members of the LGBTQ community say they are eager to celebrate the in-person return of Pride Toronto's upcoming festival weekend after two years of COVID-19 cancellations.

Organizers say this year's parade will be one of the largest they have ever held, featuring more than 300 registered organizations and 35,000 expected marchers, as attendees look to celebrate the LGBTQ community together again.

But amid the jubilation there are also safety concerns, and Pride Toronto says it will be working with private security firms to ensure attendees can celebrate without fear.

Executive director Sherwin Modeste says the organization has seen an increase in attacks on people and groups doing LGBTQ advocacy.

Kelly Spencer, owner of Indigo Lounge Wellness Centre in Tillsonburg, Ont., says she received a threatening and homophobic letter earlier this month and Pride flags outside her business were burned, slashed and soiled.

Advocacy group The 519 says anti-LGBTQ sentiments and attacks are nothing new, but community members are looking forward to supporting and celebrating each other during festival weekend happening June 24 to 26.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June, 22, 2022.