Despite warm temperatures and several hours of delay, Humber’s LGBTQ community experienced triumph on the streets of Toronto this past summer.
More than 75 Humber students and staff sporting “We are Proud” t-shirts marched in the WorldPride parade on June 29, which stretched the length of Yonge Street between Bloor and Dundas Streets.
Although Humber hasn’t participated as a group in Pride in more than a decade, WorldPride was a key motivating factor in planning the march.
“It helped us focus our efforts to be able to get there and get something organized… more so than if it was just another year of regular Toronto Pride,” said co-chair of Humber’s Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee, Thomas Silcox-Childs.
The journey initially began with the sale of pink cupcakes to pay for a 70-person marching permit, said Silcox-Childs.
“We don’t have a base budget,” he said.
Humber’s participation also caught the attention of individuals off campus.
“We had people signing up to march that were future students, that hadn’t even come to Humber yet,” he said. “They would say, ‘Hey, I’ll be coming to program X in the fall, saw your website and really want to march with you, can I?’ And I said, ‘Yes! You are represented here.’”
Humber’s participation also proved to be significant for those more reluctant to publicly showcase their support.
“I had faculty who have been working here for decades, who have an alter-ego that other people don’t know about, that felt represented,” Silcox-Childs said. “They pulled me aside and said how much it meant to them to see this kind of activity taking place.”
With Pride Week being a widely celebrated festivity here in Toronto, some may lose sight of its significance.
For Culinary Management student Alexander Fung-Chung, however, Pride isn’t something that can be taken for granted.
“On that same day, (Jamaica) had the first anti-gay march in response to WorldPride. I was shocked because I never thought it was that bad back home,” he said.
“I thought it was getting better,” Fung-Chung said.
Others are more watchful of what Pride has become since its inception.
“I feel like it’s become so commercialized, and maybe isn’t what it once was,” said Mark Sadowski, 22, a University of Toronto student. “Pride has become this corporate thing now with some marches here and there for a few groups.”
Looking forward, Silcox-Childs is hopeful it won’t take another decade for Humber to partake in Pride festivities, as he said the rewards are entirely worth the effort.
“It’s not the minutes and the meetings, or the information tables or the pamphlets that we hand out,” he said. “It’s the personal connections when what we’ve done to be visible and proud makes a difference in someone’s life.”