Pride History

Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.
© Jearld Moldenhauer/

June marks Pride Month, a time to celebrate the diversity of 2SLGBTQI+ communities while acknowledging their history and its roots in activism, the hardships they have endured, and the progress that has been made. 

The very first Pride March was held on June 28, 1970, one year after the Stonewall Uprising. A famous night in queer history when patrons of the Stonewall Inn, led by trans women and women of colour, such as Martha P. Johnson, Zazu Nova, and Silvia Rivera fought back against a discriminatory police raid. Although there are events that pre-date Stonewall, this riot is often mentioned as the inciting incident that subsequently kicked off the LGBTQ+ rights movement. 

As we enter the month of July, which is Disability Pride month, we wanted to create this two-part Pride series that will look into the history of Pride and Disability Pride both in Canada and across the world, the activists of the past and present who work to incite equality in all spaces and the notion of queer representation in mainstream media.

Pride Toronto 2014
Image by: Scott Corman

History of Pride in Canada

To understand the history of Pride month worldwide, it is important to understand the rich history that Canada plays in celebrating Pride. On May 14, 1969, Canada decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. A few years later, we would see the first Gay Rights Protest in 1971. This brought out about 100 people from Toronto to Montreal as they protested at Parliament Hill and presented a petition to the government with a list of ten demands for equal rights and protections. We then saw the emergence of Pride Week in 1973 that would transform into the Pride Week that we know today. This week of celebration would take place in almost every major Canadian city and the surrounding regions. This celebration however, did not come without any tribulations as there were and still are many instances of hate and injustice that the community faces, like the Montreal raids of 1977. Since that time people have started to learn this history and fight towards equality for all.

About the Writer

Jules Sherwood is a queer, nonbinary performer, writer, and artist. She will be sharing her thoughts and insights throughout Pride month 2021. She is so excited to be working as a writer/researcher for the QSummit Campaign! LGBTQ+ stories and history are very important to her as a member of the community and believes they should be more widely visible. When first entering the LGBTQ+ community (and even sometimes now) she felt overwhelmed by the amount of history and culture. She didn’t know where to start or where to look to find more information, even the basics. Jules’ goal, as a part of this campaign, is to make this kind of information more accessible AND more visible! You can follow her @jules.m.sherwood.

This article was edited by Meagan Mabilangan