Pride at Wonderland

Now you can attend Gay Day -- as a closet case

Now Scooby Doo need never know you’re gay – unless you decide to tell him. And nor will anyone else at the annual queer event at Canada’s Wonderland.

“People didn’t like being branded and I think they’re right in a way,” says promoter Richard Monteague. “I don’t think a person’s sexual preference is anyone’s business.”

In the past, wristbands identified Gay Day At Wonderland participants to get them into special shows. But because of complaints that the brightly coloured bands were outing people, they’re being replaced for next month’s Sat, Aug 7 outing.

One possible alternative is a hand stamp, with a little extra something so that homos can be distinguished upon close examination.

Another option requires that participants keep their ticket stub, so that they can flash it to get into gay events, and then tuck it back into their pockets.

The wristbands aren’t all that’s changed.

Even the old name, Gay Day, is gone. The AIDS Committee Of Toronto (ACT) and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi Youth Line – who benefited from the proceeds of the first Gay Day three years ago – claim that they own the rights to it.

And Monteague says they can keep it. Rather than squabble, he’s chosen to begin his run with a clean slate and a new name: Gay Fest ’99.

“It’s a vicious little cycle,” says Moneague of the old feud over an event he estimates will generate more than $37,500 for charity this time around.

(Promoter Richard Silver did the work last year, ousting ACT and the youth line, giving the cash to other groups.)

This year, when no one stepped forward to take it on, Wonderland officials offered it to Monteague. He’s confident that if either group had wanted it back, they would’ve grabbed it.

Now that it’s his baby, Monteague has decided that the proceeds should go to province-wide services that have suffered under the Mike Harris cuts.

“Why should everything go to Toronto?” he asks. “There’s a lot of communities like Sudbury or North Bay that don’t have the means to raise money themselves.”

But since the youth line takes calls from across Ontario – and has lost all provincial funding – staff say they should’ve been first in line.

“I’m disappointed on many levels,” says youth line services coordinator Pina Grosso.

Of the $32 admission cost (down from the regular park fee of $44), $5 will benefit the Ontario AIDS Network. From that, $2 from every ticket will be donated directly to the local AIDS chapter that sells it.

ACT has chosen not to carry the tickets.

Any money left over will be given to a breast cancer research agency that’s not yet been chosen.


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Culture, Toronto

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