It’s easy to fall in love with Toronto in the month of June; the air warms up, we get to hang up our winter wetsuits, and the events and festivals of the summer burst onto the scene, bringing everyone out of the house after a long winter. The city comes alive. More notably, shopfronts put out their rainbow flags, LGBTQIA+ events stretch out beyond the confines of Church Street, and Bay Street becomes Gay Street. As LGBTQIA+ leaders in our community, we want to make sure our Toronto surf and sport culture is able to be a part of the conversation now and beyond the month of June.
Being a gay owned and operated business in the world of surf is still a rarity, and our unique intersection of surf and Pride is something that we want to highlight and share with you. In the first of our four-part Pride series this month, we are maintaining our commitment to the Queer community by sharing stories and resources from within our circles: a list of reads, films and voices that have deeply impacted our lives, our business, and our perspective, and we hope you take these stories with you in your journey — whether that be in the world of surf, sport, activism or family life — and to continue having these conversations beyond Pride month.
As we continue to educate ourselves and evolve, we have revised our branding and replaced our ever present storefront Pride flag with the newly updated Progress Pride flag, (pictured below), and while there are many flags and many groups across the spectrum we want to focus on the Progress flag since we are committed to our process of learning and unlearning, and will continuously evolve with our community. To pay homage to this progress we wanted to give a brief timeline of the rainbow flag and break down its symbolism and significance in 2022.
1978 Original Pride flag’s six colours and their meanings:
Yellow: New Ideas
2017 – Present: Updated colours and their meanings:
Black and Brown: Represent the BIPOC community who have long been left out of the Queer narrative despite being the driving force behind the movement. This part also represents the people living with or who have passed from HIV/AIDS and to give space for the stigma that still exists around the disease.
White, Blue, and Pink: Represent Trans Folks. The blue and pink represent the traditional use of these colours to signify ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, and white to represent those who are gender fluid or do not identify with either.
Yellow and Purple Circle: Represent Intersex folks, another group largerly underrepresented in the Queer discourse who are still fighting for bodily autonomy today. With the design taken from the 2013 iteration of the Intersex flag, the colours yellow and purple are used to oppose the traditional gendered colour binary of pink and blue, and the circle represents being whole and unbroken, and the right we all have to make our own decisions about our bodies.
The revisions from the last several years are intentionally placed adjacent to the horizontal lines of the original flag in an arrow shape, to represent the necessary shift in meaning and focus of the Pride flag from the original six colours to the issues faced by the groups represented on the left, and to show that much progress is still needed in our collective fight for equality.
In light of progress and evolution, the following list showcases 10 of our top LGBTQIA+ resources to share with our community to support our collective commitment to learning, educating, and allyship.
The story of our very own, Antonio Lennert, who grew up as a young boy struggling with identity and self-acceptance in southern Brazil. His unique journey through life led him here to Toronto, Canada, where he opened the surf shop we know and love, 500 kilometres from the nearest ocean coast. An inspiration for all of us, the film shows us perseverance and discusses the political climate in Brazil and the LGBTQIA+ adversities still being faced in the country.
Out in the Line-up follows the journey of two gay surfers determined to uncover why homosexuality is so hidden in the world of surfing. As they embark on their adventure across Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, California and the Galapagos Islands, they meet people from all walks of life, hearing stories of fear, self-doubt, and isolation, but also those of hope, empowerment, and perseverance, hoping to bring surfing back to its roots: a foundation built on freedom, open-mindedness and the love of water.
An inspirational collection of letters dedicated to Trans women everywhere; written by authors, scientists, actors, activists, politicians, athletes and models, these women share the lessons they learned on their journey to womanhood, celebrate their achievements, and offer advice for the next generation from make-up and dating to fighting transphobia and dysphoria. To My Trans Sisters celebrates the diversity of the trans experience and empowers the next generation to become who they truly are.
Both a visual guide and detailed documentation of Queer history in Canada, Out North provides a fascinating exploration of personal experiences and significant historical moments of Canadian Queer communities as told through the ArQuives, the largest independent LGBTQIA+ archive in the world.
Seeing Gender is a must-read investigation into one of the most important conversations of our time: how we see, express, and understand the complexities of gender. Author and artist Iris Gottlieb touches on science, sociology, history and her own personal experience to help bring clarity and colour into the sometimes confusing process of navigating one’s own personal identity.
This handy little book of Pride is an ode to the most influential and bad-ass queer icons of the 21st century: from Virginia Woolf to Harvey Milk to Laverne Cox and more, Pocket Queer Wisdom is a great educational resource emphasizing the impact of queer subculture on what we know of as pop culture today.
In the male-dominated 1980s world of surfing, a group of renegade surfers took the scene head-on to fight for equality and a seat at the table. Featuring surfing legends Lisa Andersen, Frieda Zamba, Jodie Cooper, Pauline Menczer, Layne Beachley, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha and more, Girls Can’t Surf traces the recent history of sexism in surfing and the fight for change.
The Stonewall uprising of 1969 was the most significant event in the gay liberation movement and the catalyst for what we know as the Pride movement today. The Stonewall Reader is an anthology of personal stories, diaries, literature and articles from the years leading up to and following the Stonewall riots. The book also highlights underrepresented figures from the movement, such as Lee Brewster and Ernestine Eckstine.
Activist and spoken-word poet Alok Vaid Menon takes us into their beautiful linguistic mind, challenging us to see gender for what it truly is, not a mutually exclusive binary but a creative form of self expression. Taking from their own experience as a gender nonconforming artist, they invite us to reimagine how we experience and see gender, and to live as colourfully and boldly as we please.
Through this powerful and heartwarming true story, young readers will follow the history of the Gay Pride Flag, from its San Francisco beginnings in 1978 with activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker, to its role and impact in today’s world. An essential bookshelf feature for every household with a little one.
Words by Isabella Heeney
Joining our crew after 6 months of living and surfing in Ecuador, Isabella — or Isi as she’s known around the shop —is bringing her passion for journalism and storytelling to our team. A Toronto-born outdoor enthusiast, she’s settling here for a while to see how her Ocean-surfing skills fare on the Lakes, and when she’s not at the shop you can usually find her biking on Toronto Island. Find her on Instagram.