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Biggest Gay Pride Celebration in Toronto

Toronto's 27th annual celebration climaxed Sunday with a vibrant Pride Parade.Thousands of people lined downtown Toronto's streets Sunday afternoon to enjoy the city's Pride Parade, Canada's largest gay pride celebration.

The parade is Pride Week's signature event and is known internationally for its elaborate costumes and floats.It was the culmination of a week honoring diverse sexual and gender identities, histories and cultures.

The parade followed a four-block route along the streets of Torontos bustling downtown gaybourhood.

Music, marchers and dancers flowed through the crowded downtown core, embodying the festival's 2007 theme -- "unstoppable"

It included floats and marching groups representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual service and support networks, gay-friendly businesses and several faith and ethnic groups. There were brightly costumed drag queens, stilt walkers and scantily-dressed dancers.

About 500,000 people from all over spent the day watching a rainbow of 150 floats and bands go by and snapping pictures.

There was a free zone, for those watching the parade, on Wellesley between Church and Yonge, attracted parade-goers who didn't want to be surrounded by alcohol or other substances.

Those marching threw flyers, buttons, candy, and condoms into the crowd, while some even passed out copies of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the spectators.

It was in 1987 that the first gay pride started. The mayor then refused to take part in the celebration. Today there is a marked rise in the approval of homosexuality.

JC Lavigne, who has been married to his partner Jorge Velasquez for a year-and-a-half, said he thought the parade had attracted many people from the gay and mainstream communities.

Its very important to encourage our community and to support our rights, to make sure we keep them, especially with the present Conservatives in power, Lavigne said.

Several politicians also joined in the march, including Toronto Mayor David Miller, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory and Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff.

Approximately 20 per cent of the funding for the 2007 festival came from government grants, 32 per cent came from corporate sponsorship, and 49 per cent came from fundraising.

This week long celebration also saw many same sex weddings. The celebration draws approximately one million people, and generates almost $100 million for the region.


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