No summer in Toronto is complete without a Pride parade. Having lived in and around the Toronto area most of my life, I had watched a few parades, even gone to some of the street parties and events, but never did I have the opportunity to walk amongst the floats and experience the energy inside the gated parade path. Being a new student in the Ryerson MBA program, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the student community promoting diversity in my city and at my school.
At about 6 weeks into the program I wasn’t sure if I would know anyone else with the Ryerson float, but then, when what was supposed to be a cool, drizzly day turned into a sunny, hot afternoon, I realised that it didn’t matter. Two other students from my program arrived, as well as swathes of enthusiastic undergrads to whom we looked for fashion tips as they demonstrated how to snip our t-shirts in just the right way. We also added Mardi Gras beads (of course!) to complete the look. The energy started to pick up around us as stereos started blasting beats, passengers boarded floats, and us marchers readied ourselves for the 2 km trek down Yonge street.
As we were walking down the parade path it took a while to absorb the atmosphere of the crowd: A couple nudists here, a topless woman there, a scantily clad but amazing and tireless dancer twirling alongside the float. Yet the initial shock of it all quickly faded and was replaced by acceptance, excitement and good vibrations. Music, dancing…lots of dancing, handing out fans to grateful onlookers, high fives, water gun fights, helpful volunteers distributing water, smiles and a sense of community are the things I take away from my short experience as a Pride participant.
The fans we were handing out had the words “pride in your Ryerson MBA” printed on the front; a clever slogan for the occasion I thought. But in retrospect, this is more than just a slogan. I’m proud to have made the decision to invest in my education and my future, and I’m proud to have chosen Ryerson, a university where diversity and acceptance is supported through participation in events like Pride.
It still surprises me that even the odd protester was out that day, begrudgingly and sarcastically distributing flyers. I don’t understand how someone can’t see the message of Pride. Being proud of who you are and being tolerant and accepting of others is part of being Canadian. We should all be proud of our uniqueness and proud to live in a country where we welcome diversity and Pride gives us a reason to celebrate this diversity! It was a great day, with great people, and I hope this annual celebration continues for a long time…now I just need to learn some new dance moves for next year…Happy Pride!
Nicole Karolyi is currently a Ryerson MBA student and ESL teacher who grew up in Newmarket Ontario and graduated from The University of Guelph’s Arts and Science program. Nicole has played an active part of promoting volunteerism, and youth engagement in her community and takes every opportunity to travel and gain new experiences.