Pride Toronto said Friday that they will organize a “Virtual Pride Month,” including an online parade in place of the massive celebration that usually takes over Toronto’s streets in June.

“We are excited to announce that Pride Toronto will continue with June Pride celebrations in a new, creative, and unique way that ensures the safety of residents and proper physical distancing,” the organization said in a statement Friday.

While there will be no in-person gathering, the city will still raise the Rainbow and Transgender Pride flags at city hall for Pride Month. People are being encouraged to watch a live stream of the event on June 1, or to raise flags from their own balconies or windows.

Pride flag

Pride Toronto is also promising a month of online programming in June that will include DJs, performers, drag artists, singers, dancers and online parties.

Organizers say the virtual festival will be “our best representation of what you would have experienced on our physical footprint.”

“We’ve looked at a couple of different platforms. We’re definitely leveraging some of the things that we’ve seen work really well,” Pride Toronto’s Amber Moyle told CP24 in an interview.

“We’ve partnered with Club Quarantine for our June 1 launch event. They’re currently using Zoom platforms, but we’re going to be leveraging a number of different opportunities and partners to make sure we get the word out to everybody.

Traditionally the Toronto Pride Parade draws hundreds of thousands of people to line Toronto’s streets for the massive celebration – a gathering made impossible this year because of physical distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, organizers say this year’s online Pride Parade – to be held at 2 p.m. on June 28 – will capture the same spirit.

Toronto Pride

“Celebrating Pride has always been a protest of resilience and that shouldn’t change,” the Pride Toronto statement reads. “The queer and trans community will continue to trail-blaze and connect our community with innovative and exciting ideas. COVID-19 won’t stop us from continuing to create space for everyone to express who they truly are.”

Moyle said there will also be interactive opportunities for people to participate in the online parade from home.

“The parade day will offer the opportunity for folks to still register and participate as a marching contingent, as well as hopefully include a couple of items like decorating your home or at a certain countdown time, yelling across the city ‘Happy Pride’ all together,” Moyle said.

The city announced last month that the physical parade would be cancelled, along with permits for all other mass gatherings in the city through the end of June.

City officials have also mulled further cancellations for major events through the summer and beyond.