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Canada Mapped

Where to party for Pride

How do Pride celebrations vary in size worldwide?
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Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith, June 25, 2013 11:14:56 PM

Over forty years after the riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn marked the beginning of a widespread gay and lesbian liberation movement in North America, queers and trans people around the world mark the occasion by partaking in Pride festivals, most of them held in late June. Today’s Pride is a mixture of activism and celebration, with street parties and concerts scheduled around vigils and ceremonies, with longstanding traditions like Dyke Marches and Pride Parades attracting a critical mass of attendants. While some argue that recent festivals have lost the political edge of their precedents, with corporate sponsorship frequently taking the lead over grassroots productions, Pride still reminds us of the incredible changes in LGBTQ civil rights and acceptance that we have witnessed over the last half-century. This week’s map takes a look at the largest Pride celebrations around the globe.

Canada’s biggest Pride celebrations take place in Toronto and Montréal, and have proven to be massive tourism draws for these two cities. As same-sex marriage was first legalized in Canada just over a decade ago, many couples flocked to Toronto to tie the knot around Pride time. In 2009, Toronto was selected as the host city for 2014 World Pride celebrations, which will undoubtedly make next year’s edition the biggest and most internationally diverse. Montréal’s Divers/Cité and Fierté festivals run one after the other in the middle of the summer, with a wide range of programming that includes the world’s largest drag queen event.

The crown for the world’s biggest Pride goes to the city of São Paulo, Brazil, where upwards of 4 million people took to the streets in 2011. (The neighbouring metropolis of Rio de Janeiro holds a pretty massive annual celebration too.) It would make sense that Brazil knows how to celebrate Pride as their citizens are hardwired for lavish partying, one only need look as far as the revelry of Carnival to see this.

Over in Europe, festivities are a little more internationally coordinated, with the yearly Europride, acting as the continental epicentre of celebrations. The peak attendance of most of the cities we have data for are from when the various cities hosted Europride – and Madrid comes out on top with their impressive 2007 turnout of 2.5 million.

Given that USA has dragged its heels when it comes to same-sex rights, it is not surprising that America doesn’t register that many data points on this map. San Francisco – long a bastion of diversity and progressive attitudes – weighs in with 1.2 million attendees for their 2011 Pride, rivalling Toronto’s strongest showing.

We were not able to track down much in the way of attendance figures for other global cities. Tel Aviv is our lone Middle East data point and Sydney is leading the charge for celebrating diversity in Australia.

The exponential growth of Pride celebrations in the West is encouraging, but many cities and entire regions around the world have a long way to go in terms of accepting diversity – all the more reason to celebrate the freedom we enjoy in Canada. Happy Pride!

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Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith

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