U of T holds flag-raising ceremonies across its three campuses to mark start of Pride Month

(photos by Nick Iwanyshyn, Don Campbell and XiaoXiao)
(photos by Nick Iwanyshyn, Don Campbell and XiaoXiao)

Flags have been raised across the University of Toronto’s three campuses to mark the start of Pride month.

At the St. George campus, the Progress Pride flag was hoisted above Varsity Stadium during an event hosted by the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) and the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office.

Gretchen Kerr, dean of KPE, welcomed guests at the event and noted that June is also the start of National Indigenous History Month – a reminder that fighting for 2SLGBTQ+ rights also means fighting for an end to all forms of oppression. “I’m old enough to remember the Toronto bathhouse raids in 1981 and the violence exerted against the 2SLGBTQ+ community. We’ve made progress since then, but we can’t take our feet off the gas pedal,” Kerr said.

"Raising the Progress Pride flag today at U of T is essentially important as we mark Pride within the context of our ongoing efforts to address many systems of oppression, discrimination, and harassment," said Jodie Glean-Mitchell, U of T's executive director of equity, diversity and inclusion. 

"Pride Month is a time to celebrate the contributions that 2SLGBTQ+ people and communities have made – and continue to make  –  across the University. It is a time to educate ourselves on the past and present lived experience of queer and trans people. Most importantly it's a time to push back, a time for resistance... There is purpose in us being here. We have work to do. But we can only do it together."

At U of T Scarborough, the More Colour, More Pride and Trans Pride flags were raised to mark the beginning of Pride Month.

“Each of us will choose to mark this day in different ways,” said Cherilyn Scobie Edwards, senior director of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office (EDIO) at U of T Scarborough. 

Edwards noted that not everyone has the privilege of being able to celebrate Pride. “It is my hope that today we continue to note that the struggle for freedom and acceptance has not ended and that the fight for true freedom continues,” she said.

Left: U of T Scarborough community members gather to mark the start of Pride Month. Right: Cherilyn Scobie Edwards, senior director of equity, diversity and inclusion, delivers remarks (photos by Don Campbell)

Professor Linda Johnston, acting vice-president of U of T and principal of U of T Scarborough, and Diana Pearson, equity, diversity and inclusion coordinator with the EDIO, also offered remarks.

The ceremony was followed by a courtyard celebration in front of the Arts and Administration Building featuring snow cones, a Pride balloon display, interactive floral mural and a welcome table set up by the Positive Space Committee.

Pride flags were also raised at U of T Mississauga last week.

The Progress Pride flag is raised at U of T Mississauga (photos by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Back at Varsity Stadium, Jasmine Lew, a kinesiology major and track-and-field athlete who was nominated by their peers as the 2SLGBTQ+ community impact honouree, said the raising of the Progress Pride flag is a deeply meaningful moment. “Let us celebrate the progress we have made while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead,” said Lew, “and let us recommit ourselves to building safe and brave spaces that empowers us to love who we love and live authentically.”

Wrapping up the event, Terry Gardiner, KPE’s director of equity, diversity and inclusion, said the raising of the Pride flag represents “a rallying call for all of us, as a community, to continue to work together to bring to life our vision of truly inclusive societies for everyone, everywhere.”