- Jun 27, 2022
A group of 97 Ivey students who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ or allies were among those marching in the first in-person Toronto Pride Parade since 2019.
Carrying a rainbow-coloured banner emblazoned with the Ivey logo and the words, The Future is Inclusive, the group received cheers of support from the audience, including Ivey alumni, in the massive crowds lining downtown Toronto.
It was an exhilarating experience for Akarsh Thodupunuri, an Ivey MSc student who participated and was part of the team that organized the Ivey contingent. Born in India, Thodupunuri shared on social media that he’s grateful to be proudly out in a country that doesn’t criminalize 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
“This year marks, not only my coming out year, but also a grand debut to the long-standing tradition of the Pride Parade. Even in my wildest dreams, I had never imagined leading the Ivey Business School's contingent,” said Thodupunuri. “I am a strong, brown, gay man. Every single time I said it in the parade, I felt so much better. The diversity within our cohorts and in the city of Toronto made me realize that I can be my happiest by being my most authentic self.”
A safe and supportive environment
Fellow MSc student, Malisa Huda, said she had never felt safer or more included, all while having fun.
Prior to the event, the students had fun together donning rainbow face paint and bright colourful clothing. Afterward, they explored other events from Pride Toronto, which organizes the parade, such as an Art Zone, Food Zone, and Street Fair.
It was a strong show of spirit and support, says Kelly Liu, an HBA ’23 candidate who is Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the HBA Association (HBAA). The HBAA collaborated with the HBA Ivey Pride Club and the MSc Association (MScA) to organize the group and Liu said she was amazed by the turnout, despite the rain, and the students’ spirits were high.
“It’s great to see student organizations shining a larger importance on the queer community, and increasing visibility around their hardships and triumphs by gathering the Ivey community to attend the Pride Parade together,” she said. “The goal is for this to become an annual tradition, and for the entire 2SLGBTQ+ community at Ivey to feel more empowered and supported throughout their time at Ivey.”
The full group at the Pride Parade (above)
An extra special experience
Although many of the students had not attended an in-person Pride Parade before, those who had said the 2022 one was an extra special experience to march with Ivey students and see students across programs unite.
“I’ve previously been to a parade, around three years ago, and watched it in Toronto,” said Dawn Zhou, an MSc student. “This time, it was completely different to be participating in the march, especially alongside my classmates. As an ally to advocate for my friends, I was happy to be there to support them.”
Celebration and advocacy combine
Advocacy is one of the goals of the Pride Parade and Liu said the students learned how to demonstrate their support to the 2SLGBTQ+ community in a respectful way before attending the parade. Liu said educational sessions and material were also available to inform attendees of the significance and impact of Pride Toronto’s mission, which is focused on having the 2SLGBTQ+ community be accepted, respected, and celebrated.
“Although this event was focused around fun and celebration, there is a lot of important and overlooked meaning behind the event,” said Liu.
The Toronto Pride Parade is Canada’s largest Pride celebration and is part of Pride Month 2022, which is dedicated to the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the LGBTQ2+ movement.
Thank you to the organizing team members
- Kelly Liu (HBAA);
- Akarsh Thodupunuri and Marium Vahed (MScA); and,
- Cole Aristone and Sophia Noguera (Ivey Pride Club).
More student quotes about the Pride Parade
My most meaningful moment from the Pride Parade was talking to someone who mentioned that it was their first time attending the parade because they've only recently started to embrace their sexuality.”
– Justin Del Negro, HBA student
It was really fun attending the Pride Parade with my classmates and my friends. I’ve never attended a parade before so this was a really bright, colourful, and exciting experience! A highlight of the experience was getting ready and grabbing food with my friends.”
– Susan Tran, HBA student
This was a great day spent reconnecting with my classmates and the Ivey community. It was especially meaningful as we all came together to show our support and celebrate the queer community. A highlight was leading cheers and chants with the megaphone.”
– Dawn Zhou, MSc student
I really appreciated the parade kits that we got, which included lots of goodies to get in the spirit of the parade.”
– Malisa Huda, MSc student
The idea of picturing a unison of the diverse programs at Ivey coming together to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has always been in my mind. We often get so busy with our curriculum that we sometimes missed opportunities to volunteer for a good cause in unison. Throughout the parade, we coloured each other up and were showered by infinite love and support from the audience, some of them were Ivey alumni, too.”
– Akarsh Thodupunuri, MSc student
View more photos from the parade below
(all photos by Geoff Robins)
Arms raised in support
Photo op with Jagmeet Singh