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by James K
Toronto Pride Parade
"Honourable mention by Judges for Best Community Float"
Marriage March - June 30th 2002
"Hundreds of thousands
will watch the couple recreate their January, 2001 ceremony on an ivy and latice-covered
float at Sunday's Gay Pride Parade."
need your help in paying for this event!
It began in a discussion between friends. Joe and I noted that the issue of equal marriage had not been represented by an advocacy group at last year's Toronto parade. We suggested that we should march with supporters in this year's parade. Douglas Elliott suggested that we think big - why not enter a float into the parade? John Crisp, with experience from past parades, agreed and volunteered to find a team to make it happen. Bruce Walker, also present in the same conversation, offered to manage a trust account to help pay for the project. Before long a team was assembled
We wanted a positive and highly visible (over 750,000 people saw the parade, not including media coverage) entry that shows the diversity of interest and support for an end to marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.
Introduction of Core Team Members
Bourassa & Joe Varnell - communications, finances
An outdoor garden wedding with Kevin Bourassa & Joe Varnell and Anne & Elaine Vautour (representing the married couples) standing at one end of the float with a "vicar"(Greg Lawrence, spouse of Douglas Elliott, in costume). Five guests were with the couples, seated in chairs at first, but soon, they were on their feet dancing to the great mustic
Thanks to all our donors, volunteers, participants, supporters and friends involved in this effort! We look forward to returning again next year.
Bourassa and Joe Varnell
We had the marvelous opportunity of following the Equal Marriage float at Toronto's Pride all along the parade route on Sunday in Toronto. We were not on the float but about 20 feet after it in the ideal position to observe what happened.
Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell organised this float as a kind of garden marriage scene, peopled by a collection of interesting guests (Anne and Elaine Vautour, Doug Elliott, Gail Donnelly and Barb McDowall, Marc Hall, Joanna Radbord, Joe and Kevin, a priest played by Doug's better half and a scattering of others). To complement the visual scene, they also had a sound track which was a mix of low key dance beat music, overdubbed with TV sound bites and interview snippets about equal marriage.The whole was nice to look at and easy to listen to. (We have never heard an "tailored information" sound track at a Pride before and it was quite effective, as well as original in concept). And, from where we were situated, we could see and hear the crowd's reaction to the float very well.
During the 2 hours and 30 minutes of the parade, the reaction from the gays and lesbians in the audience (an audience10 deep on either side of the parade, all along the route) was pretty consistent. As the float approached, some people got it right away (there was a sign on the front of the truck saying "Just Married") and they started cheering and applauding. As the float rolled slowly in front of them, the response from the audience members grew into a noisy racket of cheers, clapping, yelling, crying out ("bravos" etc.). This noisy endorsement continued after the float had passed until it was out of earshot.
It has often been said that the gay and lesbian community is not all that enthusiastic about the marriage issue (said generally by individuals who are not interested in the question or who think it is not a priority). Frankly, we are now convinced that the Toronto gays and lesbians who attend Pride are, in fact, very interested in winning this battle----the kind of enthusiasm coming out of the crowd was too vibrant to miss. They loved it, they support it, and they want us to win this one. (Every time Kevin and Joe kissed, often in fact, they went wild.) Perhaps even more interesting was the reaction of the heterosexual people in the crowd---frankly, though not quite as demonstrative as the homosexual people, it was very enthusiastic too. We were impressed by the public's reaction and delighted to be there to witness it.
We would like to thank Joe and Kevin publicly for doing this neat bit of showmanship for all of us and for constructing this very interesting "opinion poll" which demonstrated (to us at least) that the community is ready and waiting for us to win. Also, we had a ball at the Parade and enjoyed it enormously. It is always fun to be associated with success and, on Sunday, we were there!
Hendricks and René LeBoeuf
was such a pleasure for Gail and I to finally meet the two amazing men from Quebec!
And to have you part of the Toronto celebration was to say the least a wonderful
bonus! We really feel that amazing sense of solidarity that we have created over
this past year around equal marriage. Once again, thanks for being with us and
for sharing what you both observed along the parade route. It really gives us
a full perspective. We, too, were overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response
from the crowd as we went along.
See you next year in Montreal for Pride!
It was absolutely amazing to feel such overwhelming support for the cause and to celebrate equality. Thanks so much to Kevin and Joe for organizing such a gorgeous, hip float. You could market the CD equal marriage dance mix - very groovy!
Radbord (Lawyer in Ontario civil marriage case)
for joining us, Michael and Rene. You made it more than just a local issue and
you looked smashing in your sparkly vests and hats. I had a blast, even though
I thought I would be seated sedately for the parade on the float and ended up
dancing most of the time with 17 year old Marc Hall (I am not 17 and my feet know
it!). Marc was also warmly received by the crowd. Young people were especially
emotional in their response to him. Marc told me that he had a great time at this
his first Pride Parade anywhere. It was a thrill to be with you all.
Thank you for inviting me to be on your float. It was a real honour being in tha parade with you guyz. When you invited me I was soooo excited, you have no idea. I had a great time and so did Liz and Ray. It was my first Pride and it was soo amazing.
Please consider helping us cover our expenses. Many hours of volunteer time has kept our budget low, but we still need your assistance. Join us on our journey for equality.
$2625 Total Donations to Equal Marriage Pride trust account:
can be made payable to a trust account: