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U of T students, faculty, staff celebrate Pride 2006: Gay superheroes to march in parade

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They're the Fearless Q (for Queer) Force; the students, faculty and staff who will be marching down Yonge Street on Sunday, June 25, decked out like superheroes as a way to build on this year’s Pride Toronto theme of Fearless.

Pride is an important cultural and political festival for U of T with students, staff, faculty and alumni being formally involved with the city's festivities since 1999. Again this year, U of T is sponsoring Fruitloopz, an event that focuses on queer youth arts, and Blocko-rama, a community event dedicated to black and Caribbean queer community members.

As well, Professor Greg Downey of medicine will be one of the special guests appearing with Mayor David Miller at Pride Toronto’s gala and awards celebration on Tuesday, June 20, along with Minister of Health George Smitherman, Glen Murray, a former Massey College visiting scholar, and Irshad Manji, a former Hart House writer-in-residence.

“U of T’s involvement in the Pride march and overall Pride festivities is an opportunity to create visibility,” said Professor David Rayside of the Centre for Sexual Diversities Studies who will be one of numerous faculty members marching behind the U of T banner. “It’s an important opportunity for the university to display its commitment to inclusiveness as well as announcing to the off-campus community that this large university at the heart of a large metropolitan area is committed to diversity. And for our new faculty it clearly is one of the many illustrations of what kind of a city Toronto is, what is celebrated here and what is – at least symbolically — included in the city’s presentation of itself.”

For younger students, he added, it is often their first experience of a major downtown city event focusing on sexual minorities. “Remember that most public and high schools are still not friendly to queer kids and so Pride can have a special significance for students.”“Pride is a moment in the year when there is recognition of who we are,” said Jude Tate, co-ordinator for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer resources and programs, “living openly, celebrating our histories and cultures and coming together as a community.” To kick off the U of T Pride festivities, the annual Pride pub will take place at Hart House on Thursday, June 22, starting at 5:30 p.m. A Pride table dispensing water soluble tattoos and Q-Force buttons and other goodies will be set up by volunteers in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood on Pride day. U of T parade marchers are asked to gather at Rosedale Valley Road at 1:30 p.m. on June 25.

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