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July 2, 2014
Posted in: Update
Raising our Pride

Well!  That was beyond our wildest expectations.

Throughout June, Toronto PFLAG was inundated with worthy invitations and opportunities.  From companies wanting us to help them launch their own Pride celebrations, to schools wanting to focus on diversity, to churches wanting to celebrate Pride through interfaith gatherings, to theatrical and musical shows.

Toronto Pride has to be congratulated for putting it all together and for pulling it off.  They have set a very high standard for others to follow.

Toronto PFLAG also set a new standard for June.  We kicked off the month with the Big Four bowling tournament where we were the beneficiaries.  Bowlers from Deloittes, KPMG, Ernst & Young and PWC raised over $7,000 for us.  We cannot thank them enough for their generosity.

Irene Miller and I spent a day with the staff and students of Bala Elementary School.  We saw heartwarming performances and heard some of the best questions from students ever. The visit was unforgettable.

Vice President Marla Green and I participated in “Redefining the Family”, a day- long symposium put on by the Ontario Public Service at Ryerson and webcast across Ontario. A few days later, Marla and I went to Sapient Micro to help kick off their very first Pride week. Sapient later sent us a generous donation and immediately set about tweeting #raisethepride (see below).

That same week Marla and I added board member Michael Ain, my daughter Amy O’Reilly and Oakwood Collegiate Vice Principal Tripta Uberoi at BMO for a special presentation.  BMO has been a great partner with Toronto PFLAG sponsoring both our new website and our poster campaign.  At this event, BMO pledged another $10,000 to support our work in schools.

Next, Toronto PFLAG participated in the first ever Interfaith Fair at Metropolitan United Church.  It was a lovely afternoon of spiritual programming and talented performers.  Lots of visitors stopped by the Toronto PFLAG table.

Once again Pepsico asked us to help them launch their Pride week, which we did in partnership with Matt Petersen from Pride at Work.  Pride at Work has done some terrific research, which we will work into our own presentations.  Mount Sinai invited us to their Pride Launch and this time we were next to ACAS. In addition to sharing our story with Mount Sinai employees we learned all about the services ACAS offers the Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto.

Finally, just before Pride weekend, I did my first live Twitter event with Toronto Police Services’ Victim Services staff on the subject of coming out.  It was fantastic.

All that was just the lead up to Pride weekend where we had record crowds at our booth and Brunch and stood and marched for a record number of hours and blocks.

June is when we call on all of our volunteers to help out.  You came out in record numbers and we cannot thank you enough.  It was great to see familiar faces and meet new ones too.  Turns out the nicest people have LGBTQ kids and siblings!

Happy World Pride.

#raisetheprideIn late May, Toronto PFLAG was approached by three young men who work for JWT advertising.  Earlier in the year, they had heard about the higher incidence of suicide in LGBTQ youth and wondered if there was some way they could use their creative skills to call attention to homophobia.

The result was #RaisethePride: a rainbow flag that was controlled by tweets from around the world. A computer tracked certain words and phrases that were both homophobic and positive.  So, for example, “fag” lowered the flag and “pride” raised it.

The flag itself was on an 18-foot flagpole atop the Churchmouse Restaurant in the Village.

The creators asked Toronto PFLAG to sponsor the project and together we launched it and promoted it on TV and in the papers.  It was a great way to draw attention to the scourge of homophobic slang and a fun way to battle it.  Saying something positive or tweeting #RaisethePride would make the flag go up.

Away from the Village, an animation of the flag on www/raisethepride.ca tracked the flag in real time and showed the tweet that was controlling the flag.  It was mesmerizing.

Thank you again to Santiago, Braeden and Patrick for all your hard work in making this project such a success.


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