TORONTO In celebration of the gay-rights-minded WorldPride Festival in Toronto June 20 to 29, law firm McCarthy Tétrault hosted its own “Big Gay Party” on June 26. The event was held to celebrate not only what “pride” means to the firm, but also to acknowledge it being named one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers by Canada's Top 100 Employers.
“Law firms are often slow to embrace change and are generally risk-averse,“ said Kirsten Thompson, counsel and diversity committee lead. “The Big Gay Party provided an opportunity to celebrate what mattered, and to do so in a way that let our clients know we understood their business, their social commitments, and their people. A Bay Street law firm marking Pride at all is a big deal; that we held an event called a 'Big Gay Party' is a bigger deal. We wanted our party to be a strong statement of support and of joy.”
Held at Malaparte, the high-spirited event drew some 300 guests. Upon arrival, each partygoer was given a name tag that bore the name of a person in a famous L.G.B.T. couple. Guests then participated in an ice-breaking scavenger hunt to find their “other halves” among the members of the crowd. There was also an educational component.
“At the Big Gay Party, we had an opportunity to provide Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits in a way that was unique and entertaining,“ Thompson said. Guests' name badges had six rainbow-hued boxes on them. Scattered tables had corresponding colors, and if a guest answered a correct question at one station, a box on the name badge with the corresponding color would get a hole punched through it. “If they collected all six [hole punches], guests would earn one CPD credit focused on human rights.” Thompson said.
There were also activities for those just looking to mingle and dance. Disco balls glittered over a small dance floor, and a DJ spun hits from the likes of Madonna and Whitney Houston. Fake grass covered one area of the rooftop, and a barbeque station slinging sliders, tacos, and coleslaw added to the backyard vibe. Two photo booth setups let guests pose in front of a large rainbow-hued flag or in a flowery wedding scene. The evening ended on a sweet note, when guests were invited to cut into a large, rainbow-colored wedding cake.