World Pride 2014 opened in Toronto with a bang
The world’s various media outlets were invited to a soirée at the Toronto Hilton, where World Pride Toronto kicked off Friday, June 20.
Several dignitaries from all walks of life along with Kevin Beaulieu, this year’s International Grand Marshal Anna Rekhviashvili, gave impassioned opening speeches about this representation and its meaning to not only the Pride community as a whole, but for Toronto to host it as well.
After the opening ceremonies were complete, everyone headed over to a bustling Nathan Philips Square where Toronto mayoral hopefuls Olivia Chow and John Tory were seen fraternizing and celebrating Pride’s opening night festivities, among the thousands of others also in attendance.
The ceremony got underway with host Deb Pearce addressing crowd with a few jokes and a teaser about Ellen DeGeneres. She then introduced Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam who then proceeded give the Pride Toronto Committee co-chairs the proclamation which she then read out for all to hear.
Pearce re-emerges and introduces the first performance of the night the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto Choir with Gavin Hope who sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Pearce then introduced World Pride co-founders who delivered a keynote speech.
Then Canada first openly elected gay, and female Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne took the stage with her wife, Jane Rounthwaite by her side, and gave a heartfelt speech.The First Nations also gave a blessing before singing Canada’s national anthem in a mixture of First Nations dialects.
Once that subsided, Pearce came out and introduced the first musical guest of the evening, Steve Grand, who was then followed by Grammy nominated, Juno award winning R&B songstress Deborah Cox. Cox’s performance was as stunning as the black and silver full length dress she came out in.
After some witty banter from Pearce, she then asked the crowd to help her take a selfie and referenced it to the one that Ellen DeGeneres did at the Oscars that crashed Twitter briefly.After that she proclaimed that she was as “giddy as a school girl” and couldn’t believe she was lucky enough to be introducing the next artist “ladies and gentlemen I give you Melissa Etheridge.”
Etheridge took to the stage, and before she could get started rocking out, her wife emerged on stage with cellphone in hand which Etheridge took and then proceeded to introduce her wife to the crowd of 12,000-plus in attendance. Etheridge plugged her guitar in and rocked out for 45 minutes before stopping to ask the crowd if they minded if she brought out a friend of hers to help perform a tune for them. That friend was none other than Juno Award winner Serena Ryder.
Halfway during her last song, she took off her guitar grabbed some drumsticks and had a go on the skins. Etheridge is a pretty multi-talented musician, to say the least.Then she threw the sticks into the crowd, picked her guitar back up, and finished the song. She thanked the crowd for their support, mentioned her new album coming out soon, and then wished everyone a happy World Pride.
As the lights went out on her stage fireworks captured the crowd’s attention and held it for the next 8-10 minutes.
Thus World Pride Toronto 2014 has lift-off.
Story by Tee Onek and photos by Ftfphotography