Queer couples from around the world made history at Casa Loma on Thursday in what is believed to be the biggest LGBTQ marriage ceremony ever held in North America. Couples of all ages and backgrounds took part in Grand Pride Wedding at the century-old castle, including some from countries where gay marriage remains illegal, such as Ghana, Taiwan, and Australia.
On the grounds of Toronto’s majestic Casa Loma, the red-carpet ceremony began almost like a bad joke: A priest, a rabbi, a Sikh, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a self-avowed “tree-hugger” walk into a tent. The result is the largest same-sex wedding in North America’s history.
Those were just half of the faiths and cultures represented by the 12 presiding wedding officiants, who also included a First Nations representative and a non-devotional secularist.
But a joke this wasn’t, as chief officiant Rev. John Joseph Mastandrea reminded those gathered of the violence and intolerance still directed at LGBTQ communities around the world.
His voice caught as he described his decision to wear a rainbow-coloured robe to the ceremony. “Today, I wear it in solidarity with the places in the world that cannot get married,” he told the hundreds inside the tent and the many hundreds more gathered outside.