A virtual flag-raising ceremony took place on June 1, 2021 that featured Mayor John Tory, Councillor Kristyn-Wong Tam and representatives from Pride Toronto.

On June 1, the City of Toronto raised the Rainbow flag and Transgender flag on the courtesy flagpole at City Hall to proclaim Pride Month. Raising the Rainbow flag, Transgender flag and proclaiming Pride Month in Toronto brings Torontonians together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of Toronto’s Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, communities (2SLGBTQ+).

The City recognizes that this is a challenging time for many in the community, and while people cannot physically come together, Torontonians can and should continue to reach out and connect to support each other and share these important moments.

The City is committed to addressing the unique challenges facing 2SLGBTQ+ communities to build a more inclusive and equitable city. The City recognizes that 2SLGBTQ+ communities are comprised of some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in our city and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the mental/physical health and financial well-being of many across these communities, particularly trans people as well as Black, Indigenous and racialized members of the 2SLGBTQ+ communities, as a result of their intersectional identities.

The City of Toronto Rainbow and Transgender flag raising ceremony was pre-recorded for this year’s virtual flag raising.
The Rainbow and Transgender flags will be lowered to half-mast following the ceremony in memory of the 215 children whose remains were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation territory, and the thousands of children who never returned from residential schools.

John Tory Mayor of Toronto - Proclamation

Pride Month

June 2021

WHEREAS thirty years ago, in 1991, Pride Day was first proclaimed by the City of Toronto. Today, as we begin to mark June as Pride Month, we recognize the entire 2SLGBTQ+ community in the largest celebration of Pride in North America.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Pride in Toronto, which was founded in 1981 as a grassroots collection of organizers, activists, and advocates in Toronto’s Queer community who banded together to demonstrate against the infamous bathhouse raids. As we reflect on that history, it is important that we recognize what progress has been made while also acknowledging that we still have much more work left to do.

Pride Month is a time to show support to the 2SLGBTQ+ community by participating in programming throughout the month. For the second year, due to COVID-19, Pride will be going virtual. A range of events focusing on community, education, and celebration will be offered throughout the month online. As we begin to recover from the pandemic, we look forward to the day where we can come together to celebrate Pride in person.

The City of Toronto recognizes the 2SLGBTQ+ community for the contributions they have made to the cultural fabric of our city and is committed to making Toronto a place free from violence or discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and where everyone is valued.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim June 2021 as “Pride Month” in the City of Toronto.

Mois de la fierté

Juin 2021

ATTENDU QUE, il y a trente ans, en 1991, la Journée de la fierté a été proclamée pour la première fois par la Ville de Toronto. Aujourd’hui, en ce début du mois de juin, qui est le Mois de la fierté, nous reconnaissons toute la communauté 2SLGBTQ+ à l’occasion de la plus grande célébration de la fierté en Amérique du Nord.

Cette année, nous fêtons également le 40e anniversaire de Pride Toronto, qui a été fondée en 1981 en tant que rassemblement populaire d’organisateurs, d’activistes et de défenseurs de la communauté queer qui se sont réunis pour manifester contre les tristement célèbres descentes dans les bains publics. En réfléchissant à l’histoire, il est essentiel que nous reconnaissons les progrès qui ont été réalisés, tout en admettant qu’il nous reste encore beaucoup à faire.

Le Mois de la fierté est l’occasion d’apporter soutien à la communauté 2SLGBTQ+ en participant aux programmes organisés tout au long du mois. À cause de la COVID-19, Pride Toronto sera célébrée virtuellement pour la deuxième année de suite. De divers événements axés sur la communauté, l’éducation et la célébration seront proposés au cours du mois. Pendant que nous commençons à nous remettre de la pandémie, nous attendons avec impatience le jour où nous pourrons nous réunir pour fêter Pride Toronto en personne.

La Ville de Toronto reconnait les contributions de la communauté 2SLGBTQ+, qui enrichissent le tissu culturel de notre ville, et s’engage à rendre Toronto une ville sans violence, sans discrimination fondée sur l’identité de genre ou l’orientation sexuelle et où chacun est valorisé.

POUR CES MOTIFS, au nom du conseil municipal de Toronto, je, le maire John Tory, par la présente proclame que le « Mois de la fierté » se tiendra en juin 2021 dans la ville de Toronto.

It is important to recognize that 2SLGBTQ+ people have existed throughout human history and across all cultures. European and Christian colonization of many parts of the world imposed their views onto the peoples they colonized. This included prescribing strict heterosexual and male-female gender standards. As is the case with many non-mainstream groups in society, 2SLGBTQ+ people are often singled out and persecuted.

The North American 2SLGBTQ+ rights movement that shapes modern understanding of 2SLGBTQ+ people was part of many social justice movements that pushed back against power structures starting in the middle of the 20th century.

The practical and symbolic social justice milestones shared below illustrate the correcting of wrongs, not the giving of extra rights. As an example, Canadians over 50 years old lived during a time where police could arrest, jail, and convict an adult for their private behaviors within their own homes.

While progress has been made, 2SLGBTQ+ people still face a great deal of inequity and exclusion today in Canada and around the world.

Major Milestones within 2SLGBTQ+ communities in Toronto

1971 – Toronto’s first “Gay Day Picnic” was held at Hanlan’s Point Beach on the Toronto Islands on August 1 and was organized by a group of gay and lesbian activists.

1981 – Four bathhouses in Toronto are raided by the Toronto Police Service in Operation Soap. The event is now considered one of the crucial turning points in Toronto, and Canadian, 2SLGBTQ2+ history, as it led to demonstrations, protests and community activism. The protest march is generally recognized as the first Toronto Pride event.

1991 – Toronto City Council officially proclaimed Pride Day (part of anti-discriminatory measures).  Kyle Rae is elected as the first openly gay member of Toronto City Council.

1992 – Rainbow Flag is first raised on the courtesy flagpole and Pride Week is proclaimed and presented as part of the ceremony to Pride Toronto.

1995 – Barbara Hall becomes the first Toronto Mayor to march in Pride Parade

2000 – Women’s Bathhouse Raid: an all-female Pussy Palace party held at Club Toronto in September was raided by six male police officers.

2003 – The City of Toronto adopts a new Vision Statement on Access, Equity and Diversity that reads in part “…the City will create an environment of equality in the government and in the community for all people regardless of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, disability, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, same sex partnership, age, marital status, family status, immigrant status, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, religious affiliation, level of literacy, language and/or socio-economic status.”

2005 – On the 25th anniversary of Toronto’s Pride Week, Bill Blair becomes the first Toronto Chief of Police to participate in the parade.

2010 – Kristyn Wong-Tam is elected as the first openly lesbian and racialized member of Toronto City Council.

2014 – The City of Toronto hosts World Pride in June (making Toronto the first City in North America to host World Pride). The Rainbow Flag flies at Toronto City Hall to protest anti-gay laws in Russia in relation to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

2015 – Toronto hosts the first ever Pride House at a Pan American Games event.

2016 – Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issues an official statement of regret for the Operation Soap raids of 1981. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in Toronto’s Pride parade, becoming the first PM of Canada to attend a Pride event. The Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter stages a sit-in as the honoured group of the parade, demanding more funding to events for racialized people at Pride, and removal of police presence as participants in future Pride festivals in Toronto.

2017 – Toronto Police Service raised the Rainbow Flag over its headquarters.

2019 – Toronto City Council approves the formation of an 2SLGBTQ+ Council Advisory Body.

Major Milestones within the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Canada

1969 – Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act (received Royal Assent on June 27).

1987 – Sexual orientation is included in the Ontario Human Rights Code as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

2003 – Ontario’s Court of Appeal rules that the Canadian law on traditional marriage is unconstitutional. Ontario becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to do so and becomes the first city in North America to perform same-sex marriages.

2005 – Canada legalizes same-sex marriage.

2012 – Ontario includes gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

2016 – Canada includes gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

2017 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers a formal apology in the House of Commons to 2SLGBTQ+ people affected by Canadian policies between 1950 and 1990 including civil servants, military members and criminalized Canadians who endured discrimination and injustice based on their sexual orientation.

Federal Government (Parliament Hill)

The Rainbow Flag was first raised on a temporary flagpole on Parliament Hill June 1, 2016.

2017 – The Pride Flag was again raised on June 14, 2017 to mark the passage of Bill C 16 by the Senate. In addition, the Transgender Flag and the Canada Rainbow 150 flag were also raised.

2018 – Flag Raising Ceremony for Pride Month on June 20, 2018 on the Front Lawn Parliament Hill with the Prime Minister.

Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Queen’s Park)

2014 – The Rainbow Flag is first flown as an exceptional case. The Rainbow Flag also flew during the Sochi Olympic games in February of that same year (the subject of a special motion in the House).

2015 – In 2015, the House approved a motion which added the Rainbow Flag to the list of approved flags – making it an annual event. As per this motion the Rainbow Flag is flown for the duration of Pride week.

2016 – The Transgender Flag was fist flown in November 2016, to mark Transgender Day of Awareness.

2017 – The Rainbow Flag, with the Transgender Flag underneath it, was flown during pride week. This is the only time on which 2 flags were flown from the same pole. Staff initially denied the request as it runs counter to accepted flag protocol but were overruled by the 3 political parties. The Transgender flag was also flown in November 2017.

Show Support

Hang a flag in your window.

Show Love

Check in with 2SLGBTQ+ folks in your lives and each other.

Have Fun

Join Pride Toronto’s virtual festival!
Save the dates

  • Trans Pride and Dyke Pride  – June 25 and 26
  • Virtual Pride Parade – June 27 at 2 p.m.

Get Involved

2SLGBTQ+ issues don’t go away after Pride Month is over. Turn a monthly tradition into year-round activism. Stay informed about key 2SLGBTQ+ Awareness dates, participate and give back to your community. There are many ways to volunteer through organizations such as The 519.

1. Reflect on yourself

  • We all develop values, beliefs and attitudes throughout our lives.
  • Be aware of your own personal biases.
  • Understand where your ideas about 2SLGBTQ+ people come from.

2. Speak up

  • Stereotypical comments can lead to discrimination towards 2SLGBTQ+ people.
  • Do your part to combat gender and sexual stereotypes.
  • Make it known that homophobic and transphobic jokes and teasing are offensive and unacceptable.

3. Use inclusive language

  • Language has the power to validate and acknowledge identities, but also to deny them.
  • Respect the language people use when speaking of themselves and of their relationships (e.g. “Husband”/”Spouse”/”Partner”/etc.)
  • If unsure, always use inclusive and gender neutral language (without assuming gender or sexual orientation).

4. Ask for pronouns

  • Gender can be very important to a person’s sense of self.
  • “Misgendering” (incorrectly gendering) someone can cause them to feel disrespected and alienated.
  • Always ask for pronouns to prevent emotional distress and to set an example of respect.
  • Do not assume you know someone’s gender by how they look or sound.
  • When asking someone for their pronouns, it can help if you share your own (e.g. the City’s email signature standard permits the inclusion of pronouns in signatures).
  • You are invited explore The 519 resources: Gender-Specific and Gender-Neutral Pronouns and Starting Conversations.

5. Respect self-identification

  • Gender identity can be deeply personal; it is not something to be questioned nor is it up for discussion.
  • Respect the terminology a person uses to describe their identity.

6. Being an “Ally” is about our actions

  • “Ally” isn’t a name we can call ourselves; it’s about our actions and how we show up for 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
  • Be there to support 2SLGBTQ+ communities when celebrating their success as well as during vulnerable times.
  • Do your research; it is much easier to work towards improving 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion when you are aware of the relevant Pride history.