If my family weren’t such a long series of flights away and I could teleport to work and back every day, Toronto would be my idea of heaven. During June – Pride month – the entire city sprouts rainbow flags like a measles epidemic in an unvaccinated population. Although not everybody, enough of the general population is supportive and inclusive that there is joy in the air, the whole month. Sydney and Perth get close to this feeling, on the day of the Pride Parade, but it is quickly engulfed by routine of the city. Inclusivity awareness posters are plastered onto hospital elevator walls. Large shops on Bloor St have rainbow-branded window displays and signage. A giant rainbow flag flies on one of the major chain buildings on Bloor St, next to the Canadian flag and the company’s corporate flag. It’s not a freak-show either. Church St has had street party setup all week, and all weekend has held the same outdoor free events that we’d stumbled into last year. Even the public transport has rainbow branded weekly and special event passes. The Police’s Twitter logo has gone rainbow coloured.
I was on call Friday night. It was a steady shift but relaxed. I left on time. Dan had been out all evening, enjoying the endless parade of abs on rollerblades. I don’t think I had time to shower when I got home before Dan rushed us out the door to join Rob & Adam at a friend’s apartment overlooking a carpark street party. Their friend had had enough of the weekend of noise that Pride brought and had gone camping. We stayed a while, until the singer, a little white smudge on the stage bouncing around, sang her popular hit, “Call Me Maybe”. We then went downstairs, to the corner of Church and Wellesley and met Pete & Royden’s friend, Nate, and his friend. Nate is also Australian and talks loudly in an Aussie drawl. Canadians love it. We piled into the Ginger on Church St for late night noodles. The place was crawling with hungry people. It was noisy. We inhaled our noodles. Well, Nate talked so much he took twice as long. We all had big days planned for Saturday and called it a night.
I tried to sleep in on Saturday but it didn’t happen. With last week’s overseas travel (it’s only been a week!) and a few late nights on call I’ve got a little run-down and I cursed the post nasal drip that woke me up yesterday, cough reflex elicited each time a tiny drop of mucous fell out of my nasopharynx. I took a nighttime cold & flu tablet and fell asleep for a few hours, waking up to find Daniel doing the washing and all those boring household chores that I would have loved to have helped to do if I hadn’t looked so peaceful sleeping when he quietly checked on me and slid close the door. I fell asleep again.
At Ur & Israel’s Pre Pride Pool Party last weekend we’d met Richy and Ian, and had hit it off. They invited us to their place yesterday for lunch, before the T-Dance (I don’t know what the T stands for) at Yonge-Dundas Square. They’d had friends fly in from New York and other friends that we soon met. Their place was a 20 minute walk from ours, South West in Cabbagetown (I saw no cabbages or community vegetable plots). They’d set up a generous cheese platter, and a table with three types of quiche, fresh bread rolls, a kale salad (bleh!), chicken skewers… We weren’t hungry by the time we left for the dance party. I think I only had one cup each of the French martini and cosmo cocktails they’d made but they must have been pretty strong because I quickly flushed, had people ask if I was sunburnt, then found myself in the centre of the kitchen with a can of coconut cream in hand, asking Ian where they kept their onions because I felt like making a curry. Terry, we’d arrived at the same time as Terry and his partner, Russel, stood next to me laughing, “I love it! This is usually me!” After a quick oration to the room about how to make Aussie hamburgers with the tin of beetroot I’d also found, and a fried egg, I found myself a bottle of water for the road.
We caught a streetcar back along Dundas St to the dance party – the outdoor square was barricaded by rainbow hessian. The fountains were on but it wasn’t so hot that I felt like getting wet. I’d bought new swim trunks at H&M earlier in the morning just in case. We arrived with the Smiths but they ran off to dance in the sun and we, from Australia where sun=melanoma and having recently been burnt in the Galápagos, went to stand under a marquee. The others soon arrived; Ur & Israel had detoured into the Eaton Centre to buy a cap. We bought drink tokens – more water and a vodka mixed drink. We then found a counter where small shot-sized vodka and cranberries were being offered. I couldn’t see why. An outdoor Pride dance party is where I’d sell a limited range of pre-mixed drinks at a premium price and watch the cash registers fill up. It must have been a sponsored or subsidised marketing thing (we were soon covered in Stoli branded tags). Rob & Adam eventually arrived but nobody went to go dance; the music didn’t really motivate it. We were enjoying the sunny afternoon. The queues for the portable toilets (why were there no portable urinals? It’s far more efficient at a gay dance party to have a handful of toilet cubicles and several urinals) got longer and longer, and soon snaked its way across the square. By the time I got out of the toilet I considered I’d have to queue up to get to the front of the queue for next time. This killed the party for me, plus Dan wanted to sit down, so we left.
Ur & Izz had been invited to a UoT campus house party, at a friend of a friend’s and we tagged along, the friends of friends of friends. There were chairs. We sat down. I chatted to Stevie, a finance industry woman with two cats who was friends with the hosts. We sat under a tree, at one stage feeling the gentle sprinkle of what must have been a sprinkler from the fence behind us, fall onto our shoulders. It was a perfect summer evening. Until the man in the pink shirt gawking at the tree above us pointed and said, “You’d better move! That squirrel is peeing on you!” I have now been peed on by a squirrel in a tree at Pride on campus in the University of Toronto. Put that on your bucket list. Interesting conversation was also to be had in line for the toilet. The woman in front of me wore a blue dress, and had deep blue nail polish on her toes, and light blue on her fingers. The rainbow coloured flowers on the sideboard (the petals were dyed red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) were leaching the dye back down their stems into the water only in the red vase. Why? The man behind me said something about putting a copper coin into the vase, which Woman in Blue agreed with. Hamburgers were made (delicious!) and rainbow-coloured jelly shots were being served when we said our goodbyes.
We had planned to go home to shower, and get changed for the evening (it was only 21:00) – we knew people going to four different events in the area – but by 22:00 we were both showered and extremely comfortable and supine in bed, the softness of our pillows a stronger incentive to call it a night than the steady thump of music from Church St against the glass of our windows. I woke up at 01:00 and considered getting up and going out but Dan grunted that he wanted to sleep so we did.