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FLASHBACK: Toronto’s First “Gay Day Picnic” Was Held (AUGUST 1, 1971)

August 1, 1971: Today in LGBTQ+ history…

Toronto’s first “Gay Day Picnic” was held on the beach at Hanlan’s Point on Sunday, August 1.

In the summer of 1971, a group of gay and lesbian activists organized Toronto’s first Gay Day picnic at Hanlan’s Point Beach on the Toronto Islands. It was a groundbreaking event organized by Toronto Gay Action, the Community Homophile Association of Toronto and the University of Toronto Homophile Association, with around 300 people from neighbouring cities as far away as New York City and Detroit attending to show their support.

Of course, the small picnic decorated with rainbow flags, banners and balloons was minuscule by comparison to today’s giant multi-million dollar event, but that afternoon was the beginning of something much larger. It was the first display of gay and lesbian solidarity. The following summer, Toronto’s first Pride Week was commemorated.

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