Toronto streets presents Cirque so Gay
What better way to celebrate Toronto’s pride month than to celebrate at what’s been deemed “The Gayest Circus in Town”; Circus So Gay.
The Circus is The Village’s 3rd annual pre-Pride festival a weekend event, which took place June 25 and 26 at Church and Wellesley. The celebration was packed with activities, which included a magician’s show, face painting, contortionists, acrobats, contests and drag performances.
Cirques goers got to stride with pride during the Annual High Heel Strut competition, in which 10 contestants braved the challenge of racing in heels along the road. The contest was the first of it’s kind for the festival and participants raised more than $3,000 for Toronto People With Aids Foundation (PWA).
David Morris is a volunteer for PWA, he came in second place while stylishly racing in a red gown and high heels during the High Heel Strut competition. He raised $250.00 in donations for PWA.
Morris has been attending the festival for many years and said he was impressed with this year's turnout.
“This year has been bigger than ever. It’s full everywhere, there are activities going on all over the place. There is great energy and a lot of enthusiasm.”
According to Stephanie McCracken one of the event coordinators, that hasn’t always been the case. McCracken says that over the years, local retailers would often close shop and residents would usually go away during pride festivities.
“During pride events, businesses didn’t get a chance to showcase themselves some of the residents and businesses would go away during pride. But it’s something local for the community that’s here.”
She says to combat some of the challenges the festival only consisted of non-profit vendors, enticing local businesses and bars to remain open. The festival also included more family friendly engagement by creating circus themes and kid-friendly activities and entertainment.
McCracken says these efforts have been a success in engaging members of the local community.
“More of the residents have participated in this year's event. Many say they’ve never come out before,” she says.
A tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting was visibly displayed on the sidewalk, filled with flowers, candles and the names of victims. McCracken says that although she had some concerns about safety she didn’t feel the need to increase security at this year's event.
“I met with the police, but we didn’t feel like we needed the extra security. We’re not dangerous people,” she says.