Drag queens to help Pride celebrate 50th anniversary of LGBT movement

Pride Toronto is a month away, but we already know some of the big headliners for the celebration that’s expected to draw about three million people to the city.

The organization announced Tuesday that Brooke Lynn Hytes, the first Canadian drag queen to make it on the hit TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race, is one of the top celebrities that will take the stage at this year’s Pride. Another big name is 90s R&B star Mya.

The theme this June is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, where violent demonstrations broke out after police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwhich Village, in 1969.

“That was the birth of the LGBTQ+ movement,” said Olivia Nuamah, Pride’s executive director. “It was started by a trans woman of colour named Marsha P. Johnson.”

More Canadian talent than ever

To mark the anniversary, Pride is focusing on bringing the party to the streets. It’s also inviting a lot of drag queens and putting an emphasis on Canadian talent.

“We have really pushed to ensure that LGBTQ+ artists that are Canadian in particular can use this Pride as an opportunity to enhance their visibility,” said Nuamah.

Heroine, a drag queen in Toronto, says the rising popularity of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race has led to an evolution in stage performers.

Party starts in June

“The look of drag queens in Toronto has completely changed, the aesthetic has changed. It’s interesting, it’s a very diverse community that we now have in Toronto,” said Heroine.

In total, more than 200 artists and singers will be performing throughout the month of June.

This will also be the second year where Toronto police will not be marching in uniform in the parade.

Nuamah says both she and Chief Mark Saunders are committed to mending the relationship between the gay community and the Toronto Police Service.

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