June is LGBTQ+ pride month in most of North America. The annual pride parades set to take place in the coming weeks commemorate the Stonewall Riots, during which queer people in New York, led by Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour, fought back against discriminatory and violent policing.
Gay villages from Provincetown to the Castro will come to life in celebration of the predecessors who made possible our current, more tolerant society and in recognition of the work that still needs to be done and those who make sacrifices every day for change.
In Canada, popular opinion holds that Montreal is the city to spend pride. The Gay Village to the east of the downtown is one of the oldest, largest, and more storied on the continent. It has for decades been the urban centre of queer culture and resistance.
Rue Ste-Catherine, the neighbourhood's central thoroughfare, explodes with colour for Montreal pride (which is actually in August). This year, revellers will once again take to the street in a demonstration of presence and persistence beneath, for the last time, the beloved "18 Shades of Gay" art installation.
The queer community and its space in the Village are thriving. That's why it will be a surprise to many to learn that, somehow, Toronto has been ranked a better city to celebrate Pride this year.
HomeToGo, "the world's largest vacation rental search engine," has just released its list of "The 50 Best Pride Festivals to Visit in 2019," with some perhaps unexpected results.
Toronto and Montreal have been ranked the #1 and #2 spots in Canada, respectively — #16 and #20 in the world. Calgary and Vancouver fall in 35th and 42nd place internationally.
The two top Canadian cities are in league with Baltimore (#18), Birmingham, UK (#21), and, in a surprisingly low positions, San Francisco (#14).
To compile this ranking, HomeToGo considered several critieria, including: "excellent travel connections, a growing Pride festival, vibrant LGBTQ+ nightlife, LGBTQ+ friendly laws, and affordable accommodation."
Montreal received a lower grade than Toronto in almost every category, outperforming the largest city in Canada in only LGBTQ+ nightlife and affordable accommodation.
Montrealers should still be proud to be included in the top 20 cities in the world to celebrate pride. The #1 spot in the world went in São Paulo, Brazil, followed by Mexico City, Madrid, New York, and Paris.
Montreal has something else to be proud of, too. According to HomeToGo, "Vancouver and Montreal were the first Canadian cities to host an official Pride march in 1979." So though Toronto may have taken the top spot in Canada, remember that Montreal can claim this milestone.
Stay tuned for more news about Pride Month!