Gay Pride Toronto: A Lifestyle Commodified?
I'm currently visiting Toronto, and I went to check out the Gay
Pride parade. Since it's a work-day for me, certain site issues (some
of which you may have noticed) kept me from seeing most of the parade
itself, but I was able to experience most of the rest of the event. One
thing that struck me right away was how friendly everyone was. We're
talking thousands upon thousands of people choking up the streets, yet
no pushing or shoving or fighting or anything like that, even with
booze and hot sun added into the equation.
Then next thing I
noticed was how heavily infiltrated the event was by corporate
messages. Things like mobile phone service, banking and the like don't
have an inherently gay slant (my own relationship with my bank is
strictly platonic: neither gay nor hetero), and indeed should be blind
to a user's sexual orientation anyway. I got the impression that all of
Canada's major corporations were "gay for a day". Getting a bunch of
seriously muscular dudes to paint themselves with logos, though, was a
giant leap forward in terms of image risk, though, which I had never
seen before. My girlfriend noticed that all the business booths were
staffed by conventionally-attractive men of different ages and
ethnicities, and wondered aloud if if they were actually gay or just
hired(or asked) for participation in the event-- that didn't actually
occur to me.
Having said all that, everyone seemed to be having a
great time, and the queues for the various event areas were rather
daunting. The balconies and patios of local bars were overflowing with
revelers, and music was everywhere.
As the festival closed and
the cleaning crews moved in, I was left with two impressions: the
message of Gay Pride may be getting diluted by so much corporate
presence, and I had best gear up my gym workouts...