Sixteen Candles: U of T’s Pride Pub Coming of Age

a picture of a lit candle being held during a vigil
candles at the Toronto vigil for Orlando victims
June is Pride Month and regardless of how each one of us identify, it is a month that we all should be proud of. A month where we can rally together and celebrate diversity, equality, inclusivity, and freedom from discrimination. This year is an especially important one. Just a week ago, the LGBTQ+ community was shaken to the core due to a mass shooting in Orlando at Pulse Night Club, which claimed the lives of 49 people and left 53 others injured. The scale of this hate crime is the largest of its kind and one that has sent ripples across the world and throughout the LGBTQ+ community. In response to such a tragedy, LGBTQ+ communities in solidarity have stood defiantly, reclaiming the original intent of Pride Month: to fearlessly push back against violent discrimination by loudly celebrating diversity and being more visible, because everyone has the right to love and be loved without being afraid. I know that my past posts haven’t opened with such a serious tone, but I needed to clarify the importance of U of T’s Sweet 16 Pride Pub. Not only has U of T held these pride pubs for 16 years, but for 16 years U of T has and continues to commit to creating an environment of equality and safety for as long as people experience discrimination. In saying this, I’d like to commend the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office for the marvelous job they do of organizing this event. Now for those of you who didn’t make it out to Pride Pub on Friday, here is a play by play of what I got up to! Giant Jenga The Equity Movement, Move U and Camp U of T set up a giant game of Jenga.  I was a little intimidated to step in and play. I mean, it seemed to always be occupied by large groups of people, so its popularity was definitely quite high, but I did get in there! Right in the middle of some groups game when they weren’t looking, I silently crept in and moved one block from the bottom and put it on top. I may have contributed to the following picture:
picture of giant jenga blocks toppled over
I didn't do it, I swear
Button Making: It was really nice to meet a cool group of people while being creative. I must admit, me and a fellow conspirator may have hogged the good glue stick because my version of button making is highly competitive. Here’s my finished product:
a picture of a button with a flock of seagulls on it
a flock of seagulls!
Information Fair So much information in such little time! I got to speak with some amazing people at the “Gaymers” booth and am looking forward to defeating them all in a round of Catan (IRL, I’ll probably end up with a monopoly on wool and nothing else 🙁 ). I also spent some time speaking with the folks from the Inside Out Film Festival and also getting information on PrEP.
a picture of an information booth
so much of information
Barbecue The hotdogs, the burgers, the slaw!  Everything was delicious! The best part? The prices were student friendly and extremely affordable! I’ll spare you all the mouth-watering details of the condiments I used and the beverages I purchased to wash it all down.
a picture of a man flipping burgers on a barbecue
Entertainment The people who attended Pride Pub were fortunate enough to get to watch the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance perform. This show was fantastic, especially for someone like myself who was born with two left feet. These guys killed it and I’m sad that I didn’t take any pictures of it. I was too involved in the experience of watching them dance, that for the first time in my life, I forgot about my phone! Music Now I did end up leaving before I was subjected to dancing. But I did get a chance to listen to the music by the fantastic DJ Cozmic Cat. She always has exemplary sets and even though I didn’t get to go ham on the dancefloor, my spirit was there with her! I’m sure the other DJ’s did not disappoint! ORLANDO Banner The last thing I wanted to mention was the Orlando Banner. It took me a couple of days to sort through my emotions and figure out what I wanted to write, but I did it. Furthermore, the messages written by all the contributors were inspiring and beautiful.
a picture of a tribute banner to Orlando mass shooting victims
inspiring and reflective thoughts for Orlando
To end this post, I wanted to share with you something one of the organizers said to me when I asked her about safe spaces. She said that safe spaces shouldn’t be limited to safety alone, it should also be a space where someone is celebrated, appreciated and encouraged to be exactly who they are. And that, friends, is exactly what Pride Pub was and hopefully will continue to be!  

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