My first Pride was 1985 – I remember it being pretty sparse and grass roots _ don’t remember the March but I remember John Greyson wearing John Scott’s Fuck Mary Brown’s dress – there was that funky combination of activism and queer performance happening.
1986 – I remember doing the march and then hanging in the beer garden. It was pissing rain but the march and the show had to go on. By show I mean presence -it was raining men as well as cats and dogs. The epidemic was getting worse and worse – so damn the heavens.
1987 – I remember the corporate-ness of it all beginning to seep in. I remember getting pissed with my friends Dean (RIP) and Jeannie in what I think was Robert’s because we didn’t want to go in the Molson’s beer gardens because Molson’s distributed Coors who were still verboten in the gay bars not to mention dyke-friendly establishments. Observations were made that anger was eroded, despite the escalation of the plague et cetera.
1991 – I remember being with friends who didn’t want to march because of a loved one’s recent death. I remember wanting to march because of the overwhelming velocity and propensity of HIV-AIDS-related deaths as well as the lives of those defying the odds. I also remember every fucking float broadcasting Gypsy Woman, by Crystal Waters. La-di-di-la-di-da. Same tune as that from the theme of Jeopardy and not dissimilar to Three Blind Mice.
1993 – Very intense year. Worst for AIDS-related deaths. I remember that one would watch the parade and then suddenly join in. Ah, there he is! Omigod…that person is not only still alive but looking great! Fantastic. There wasn’t yet the barrier between performer and audience necessary to make spectacle.
1997 – Watched parade from my friend Robert’s roof on Yonge Street with a usual gang. The parade was now spectacle. You were either marching or watching – no sudden conversions. I think 1997 was the first year of The Dyke March, or was it 1996? Then over to Church Street and then over to Alexander Street Park – alternative or whatever that means. But safe and friendly enough.
2001 – marched for first time in years, on a float loosely associated with Artists’ pride. Some called it the YYZ Float but I’m not sure about that. I remember wearing blonde wig once given to me by Suzy Richter of the Nancy Sinatras, a wig which I had tried to cut into a Warhol wig but badly. I guess I saw myself as Warhol – watching while walking.
2004 – a pattern began to define my personal calendar. Skip the parade, head over to Buddies and Alexander Park, have a few pints, say a few hellos, and then slip away. Not always to the same destination, but slip away.
2010 – I was sick as a dog and I marched with the Artists Against Censorship. Our contingent made posters and then marched in front of QuAIA. We were not QuAIA, but it all got confused. This was a march and it was political.
The difference seemed to get lost. But whatever.
2011 – I remember the alternative march – queers for social justice. This was a week prior to the big parade and it was intense and funky. AIDS Action Now, QuAIA, individuals who could take or leave the big parade and tempering Olympics etc.
2012 – The alternative queer march was very intense as it was at night-time and it took over the streets. It wasn’t just a picnic with a bunch of friends.