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OUT Adventures Pride around the world

Pride around the world

Every year spring marks the beginning of pride season or at least preparation for pride. Gay men and women around the world wake from winter's slumber and hit the gym or the treadmill to get into tip top shape for pride. Get ready as shirts will fly when these international celebrations begin.

But before we look at various pride festivals around the world - just how did these celebrations get started?

Answer: In the 1950s and 1960s the only safe places for gays and lesbians to gather were underground gay bars. In the 1960s the police would often raid these bars and arrest the patrons. At the time, it was common all over the United States for police to raid gay and lesbian bars. While they were purportedly looking for liquor law or other violations, patrons were often arrested and dragged off to jail with no legitimate charges. The names of those arrested were often published in the local newspapers and many of those people were fired from their jobs as a result.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 the patrons of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York decided they were not going to put up with the police raiding their bars. When the police arrived the patrons fought back and that event has gone down in history as the Stonewall Riots.


After the Stonewall riots, gays and lesbians in New York City faced gender, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. On June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities; today Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots.

Pride is now a time of celebration and a time of activism. It is a time to remember the brothers and sisters we have lost to AIDS and to look forward to a future free of this disease. It is a time to remember Stonewall and it is a time to continue the fight for equal rights including the right for same sex marriage. Above all, it is a time for celebration!

The following is a list of gay pride history and celebrations from around the world.

Toronto Pride:

Pride Toronto has been in existence in various forms since the late 1970’s and annually since 1981. In the early 1970’s there were Gay Days picnics that were held at Hanlon's Point, moving later to Cawthra Park, with ceremonies on the steps of the 519 community centre, and Pride Toronto's first-ever beer garden.

In 1981, police raided various bathhouses that motivated gays and queers and their supporters to organize a major demonstration held at Yonge Street and Wellesley on the day that followed. This event raised public awareness of queer issues. In 1984 for the first time Church Street was closed and people danced in the street. Pride Toronto's first Pride Committee was created in 1986, and in 1987 sexual orientation was included in the Human Rights Code. The momentum built up and in 1991 the City Council proclaimed Pride Day for the first time and 80,000 people celebrated.


June 29th 1996 the first Dyke March met at the 519 Community Centre. Toronto Dyke March founders Lesha Van Bij and Lisa Hayes work with a handful of volunteers to organize a successful Dyke March with 5,000 participants. The Dyke March is now a year round engagement, a beacon to Dykes and Trans people everywhere and a signal that Dykes and Trans are needed, valued and welcomed. Since 1996 the Dyke March continues o raise awareness of Dyke and Trans' visibility in the queer community, and the Dyke March has become a tradition in most cities across North America.

New York City Pride:

The Gay Pride March “NYC Pride March” is an annual March more commonly referred to as the Parade, traversing southward down Fifth Avenue and ending at Greenwich Village. The March passes by the site of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. The March has been and will continued to be called a March not a Parade until there is full equality for the LGBTQ community.


The March, PrideFest (the festival) and the Dance on the Pier are the main events of Pride Week in New York City Gay Pride Week. Since 1984, Heritage of Pride (HOP) has been the producer and organizer of Pride Events in New York City. These events are organized for and on behalf of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and groups, and all others who support the struggle for the liberation of these communities.


In the spirit of Stonewall, Heritage of Pride welcomes the participation of all, regardless of age, creed, gender, gender identification, HIV status, national origin, physical, mental or developmental ability, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Sao Paulo Pride:

Brazil is well, just so sexy!! The Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade (in Portuguese Parada do Orgulho GLBT de São Paulo) first started in 1997 and gathered a small crowd of 2000. In 2007, organizers said that the event gathered nearly 3.5 million people but these numbers have not been confirmed.


Capetown Pride:

South Africa is a country not to be missed. Cape Town's Pride Festival began in 2001 and then merged the following year with another local gay event. After the 2002 festival the decision was made to revert back to its original identity, and as part of the implementation of a long term strategy the 2003 festival was postponed to February 2004 in an effort to attract gay tourism to the festival and the city. The months of February and March are traditionally the period during which Cape Town sees the greatest income from tourism, and this move proved successful.


Sydney Mardis Gras:

The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is an annual gay pride parade and festival for the LGBT community in Sydney, Australia, and claims to be the largest such event in the world. The parade features individual entrants in colourful costumes, gatherings of local and inter-state community group members, and elaborate floats representing a topical theme or political message.


The parade and dance party attracts many international and domestic tourists, providing a significant economic boost to Sydney each year. The celebrations emerged during the early 1980s after arrests were made during pro-gay rights protests that began in 1978. Despite its name, it is not held on Mardi Gras (Shorve Tuesday) or indeed, on a Tuesday at all.


Have a safe and happy pride!!