By Bryen Dunn
Pride Toronto promises to be the biggest to date with seven full stages of programming ranging from DJs to drag artists. Performers will be hitting some of the main stages, including Lady Miss Kier, Bif Naked, Die Mannequin, DJ Larry Tee, and 80’s heartthrob Corey Hart, who will be performing live for the first time in over a decade.
Nearly one million attendees will flock to the streets in various forms of dress and undress to celebrate acceptance and diversity of the LGBT community. The Friday Trans March and Saturday Dyke March bring out the event’s activist angle, while the Sunday Pride Parade is a four hour long showcase spectacle that winds its way through several miles of downtown streets. Attendees can also enjoy the Street Fair lined with arts, craft, and food vendors, as well as community groups.
Pride Toronto is one of the premiere free outdoor events in Canada, and one of the largest Pride festivals in the world. It has been in existence in various forms since the late 1970s, and annually since 1981. This year the festival takes place between June 22 and July 1. Toronto was also chosen to host World Pride in 2014, the first time this event will be happening outside of Europe.
Corey Hart’s performance at Pride Toronto is his first on stage appearance in over 10 years here in Canada. I had a chance to chat with him about his music, life, and his appearance at Pride. The connection between the gays and the straight man were revealed, as he divulged some of his past.
Growing up in Montreal, Quebec the youngest of five, his oldest brother by 20 years was naturally placed in the surrogate father role, as his parents had split up when he was young. Steve taunted him for being a sensitive artist type and called him a “little faggot” among other names, according to Corey.
“These derisive comments hurt me a lot as a kid growing up as I did not have another family male mentor. I was painfully shy and although I was not ambiguous of my sexual orientation whatsoever, these experiences did leave a mark on me. This is all very personal. I have never discussed in public before”, he explained.
‘Truth Will Set U Free’ was written specifically for three people that Hart was very close with, and says the song always had gay undertones. After contact from DJ 1 Love from Kingston, Ontario who requested permission to use the song for his own mix, a new version is being released with at least one line revised. ´dream a place …where there´s no more crying…where there´s no more hiding…no cruel maligning, shepards star surviving´, in reference to Matthew Shepard’s death in 1998 which had an effect on Hart. “I wanted to add an entire new section that summarized my vision”, he explains.
“There are injustices committed on a daily basis motivated by prejudice and hate, but Matthew´s story truly resonated with me”, he confides. The single is being released by Warner Music, and Hart is also performing at other Pride festivals with 1 Love. Two affirmed straight men will be giving it all they got on Saturday June 30th at 8:15PM on the Labatt’s South Stage. The question remains – will he play “Sunglasses at Night”? Most likely, as well as others during his 30 minute set. As to whether ‘Truth Will Set U Free’ becomes a gay rights statement, that is yet to be heard.
Make sure to head to Toronto’s streets over the Canada Day long weekend to enjoy the biggest Pride celebration yet. Keep your sunglasses on Corey Hart, and check in with Pride Toronto to find out about all the other fabulou-city happening.