To say Toronto is GLBT-friendly is an understatement. That it embraces diversity more fully than most other centers of its size is closer to the mark. In 2003 Toronto became the first city in North America to legalize same-sex marriage. Just over a year later, an Ontario Court also recognized the first legal same-sex divorce, as if to remind us that marriage can be hard work, whatever your orientation!
Toronto's LGBT Pride festival is one of the largest in the world. On Parade day, the streets around Church and Wellesley swell with over a million happy homosexuals and their friends and families. If Pride is your bag, be sure to book accommodations well in advance as beds fill fast. At other times of the year, the Church St strip of the Village draws everyone from biker bears to lipstick lesbians to its modest smattering of sunny patios, pubs, cafes and restaurants for much promenading and people-watching. After dark it's all about the dancing: whether cabaret or drag, thumping top-40 and R & B or queer alterna-punk, late-night revelers spill onto the streets, especially on weekends.
Other gay-friendly neighborhoods include the Annex, Kensington, Queen West, Cabbagetown and Leslieville (aka 'Lesbianville'). Gay nightlife venues are abundant and although men's bars and clubs vastly outnumber lesbian venues, Toronto is also home to drag kings, women-only bathhouse nights and lesbian reading series.
Toronto is a great place to be gay or to explore your sexuality. Head to the Daily Xtra (www.dailyxtra.com) internet magazine for the latest scoop on LGBT issues in the Village. There are also plenty of fantastic free community resources and support groups available:
The 519 For over 35 years, the 519 has been the hub of the LGBTQ community in Toronto, providing a variety of programs, services and support, from counseling to free anonymous HIV testing. Drop by and say hello!
Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013, the CLGA maintains an archive of anything of potential interest to LGBTQ research in Canada – the largest of its kind in the world. Check out the exhibition schedule for its 2nd-floor gallery online, or just drop in.
Hassle Free Clinic Provides anonymous free HIV (by appointment only) and STI testing, and reproductive- and sexual-health services.
Queer West (www.queerwest.org) For those who appreciate things a little less mainstream. Check out the website for info on west Toronto’s LGBT scene, the Toronto Queer Arts Festival, Queer West Film Festival and the Smash Words Festival.