Queer West - Serving West Toronto, Ontario



October to December 2010 - News Archive

Queer West Community Network

OUTeXpressions enewspaper

OUTEXPRESSIONS newspaper is a not for profit publication of Gay West Community Network Inc. (Masthead) Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. We have been bringing news & event listings to readers since 1995. OUTexpressions, is one of Gay Toronto's leading media publications, with the hottest happenings in the coolest places. We are not an exclusive gay publication. Queerwest.org family of websites receives 40,000 hits a day, from within Canada and abroad. Queer West is consistently ranked #1 (Page One) in Bing and Google, for most search returns. Outexpressions on Twitter Thank you for your interest in QueerWest.org For Event Submissions, Email: outexpressions@gmail.com 416-879-7954

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Queer West Arts Festival Call Out for Entertainers for August 2011

Outexpressions: Wednesday December 1, 2010 Toronto ON. Think you’ve got what it takes to thrill the masses in Queer Toronto? Or maybe you’ve got a favourite local band or DJ you would like to recommend? Either way, The Queer West Arts Collective (Festival Entertainment Committee) is interested in what may have to offer us? We will NOT be paying for your travel costs, accommodations or extra equipment you may need.

Queer West Arts Collective (Festival Entertainment) is looking for a good mix of upbeat acts that will have broad appeal to the diverse segments of our community.

We are doing our part to make the festival successful. Over the Winter / Spring months from December to May. A 5 member Gen-Y arts collective grant writing team, will be busy writing grant applications; seeking local, corporate sponsorship and private donations to fund the festival.

Performers and DJs will be asked to submit descriptions of their acts, website URLs, or other promotional materials (pictures, pdfs, videos etc.) to be considered by the four-member committee. The committee will select performers based on type of act, performance quality and audience appeal. Deadline to apply to be a entertainer or DJ in Queer West Arts and Culture Festival is July 15, 2011.

Confirmations will be made in April, May & June, late application in July (ASAP) (May, June and July we will be nailing down and fine tuning :: Event dates, venues and performance schedules.

TheFestival will run From Monday August 8 to Sunday August 14th, 2011

Queer West Arts Festival has expanded its marketing and outreach efforts with the goal of increasing attendance and corporate sponsorships for the 11-year-old event.

Send Entertainers details to Queer West Arts and Culture Festival, Write or call 416-879-7954 queerwestartsfestival@gmail.com

Step out of the ordinary and do it in the Queer West Village

If you queer it, they will come

Toronto November 12, 2010. By Keil Longboat, 3rd year Undergraduate, Ryerson University School of Journalism. A majestic brownstone towers above the rest of the buildings on the strip, and on the steps of the historic Gladstone Hotel sits Michel F. Paré, waiting to begin a bicycle tour through Queer West Village—Toronto’s new and burgeoning queer entity. Skies are clear on this particularly beautiful Friday in early October. It’s sunny and 23 degrees and perfect for showcasing this new gay village, taking form as an alternative to the Church-Wellesley Village.

Queer West is two things: a neighbourhood and an organization serving the West end arts community. From a grassroots movement to a thriving new queer community, it paints a picture of Queer as possessing substance—creative, talented and meaningful. But the independent organization is only in its second year of operating, facing some uphill challenges, and the village itself is still being established in terms of identity and visibility. Being the underdog and antithesis to Church Street, it remains to be seen if it can hold its own, and if success is forthcoming.

The journey on wheels starts off from The Gladstone (1249 Queen W), a hot spot and an unofficial epicentre of the neighbourhood. Pedals are kicked into gear and Paré, acting as tour guide and local historian, leads the way out west. Paré is very knowledgeable about the village and its history. He is very much the expert—matter-of-fact and passionate.

Heading along Queen Street West into Parkdale, he stops at Rhino Bar and Grill (1249 Queen St. W.), just after Dufferin Street. Rhino, and other favourite haunts within the vicinity, make this a stomping ground for local queers. If you find yourself in this particular area on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, the place is booming. Indeed, queers are on the influx in the neighbourhood. The west end is flourishing and increasingly feeling like a safer space, because it is a queering space. But that was not always the case. “Ten years ago,” Paré says, “there was nothing in the area, then gradually people began to come out here.”

Paré started the organization in 2000 to serve this growing niche community in the west end. The group developed and went through some name changes, and in 2008, it was incorporated as a not for profit organization, thereafter to be known as Queer West. “When we incorporated, we decided that we didn’t want to be like a 519 city-run community centre. We wanted to be more devoted to the arts community,” Paré says. The group caters to the arts community through performance arts events, workshops and the Queer West Arts Festival. Like the organization, it evolved from its beginnings in 2001 and was renamed, officially becoming Queer West Fest in 2006. Now, Queer West Fest is really making a name for itself, seeing its most successful run this summer. “This festival was the best festival we’ve ever held,” Paré says. Even National Post acclaimed the maturing festival in an editorial as an “arguably more substantive event” than Pride. Most substantive, the whole festival was put on by community sponsorship.

What makes Queer West different is that it’s not a tourist destination centre like Church Street, but more a connect-the-dots network of queer businesses, venues and popular hangouts that together make up Toronto’s second largest queer neighborhood. Because the neighborhood is a system of connectivity, queers in the community are reliant each other to know where to gather. “There’s no central place, every place holds its own events,” Paré says. “The community knits together by spreading the word.” It’s about social networking in the living world.

Kick starting the pedals back up, Paré cycles on west along Queen Street. There is an appeal and allure to the neighbourhood, that keep people coming back, and settling down. “I think the reason people come to this area is cheap rents and it’s kind of bohemian,” Paré says. The rents are in fact cheap, generally, going for as little as $450-$600, depending where and how you look. The area is filled with older houses, and according to Paré, a lot of younger people under 30 seem to like moving into the rooming houses. Rooms are more in abundance than apartment complexes in Queer West, and can easily be found on online classifieds like Viewit.ca.

Those houses can be spotted down side streets, mixed in with all the charm of Queen Street West as it rushes by on bike. The town-house feel of the old brick storefronts, fruits, vegetables and flowers set up outside markets, enflamed leaves falling from trees that line the streets. Streetcars drag by. It really feels like a different part of town; things seem less hustled. The most noticeable difference: you can spot the gays and lesbians amongst the families. Queers mixed in with children, parents pushing baby strollers, and old men sitting and nonchalantly watching them all go by.

The boundaries of Queer West are not designated officially, but mainly border College Street south to King Street, and Spadina Avenue west to Roncesvalles. Businesses have adapted, learning to cater to the increasing queer clientele. There are now 6 queer-owned businesses established in the community, but are not exclusively gay places. Business owners prefer to keep their doors open to everyone. So there are about 70 “queer-friendly” businesses that welcome all.

After Lansdowne Avenue, the tour leaves Queen Street, turning right and heading north up Sorauren Ave. At Mitzi’s Café (100 Soraurin Avenue), one of the six queer-owned places, two stylish gay boys, whose outfits seem to coordinate, sit together outside. A tan guy runs by with a tight body and even tighter, tiny shorts. It’s kind of odd to see queer people outside of the Church-Wellesley Village. They seem out of their element here, but that is increasingly no longer the case. Continuing North up the West most perimeter of Queer West, a right turn is made at Dundas Street, now heading East into Brockton Village.

Paré pulls up to the curb and locks up his wheels at NACO Gallery Cafe (1665 Dundas St. W.), another one of the six queer-owned operations. Inside, owner Julian Calleros talks about the attitude of welcoming everyone. Unlike the Church Street scene, here he has observed queer families moving in, and seeing their children. “There is no feeling of being uncomfortable,” he says, “It’s not ‘I’m hanging out with the breeders,’ or ‘I’m hanging out with the gays.’ It’s ‘I’m hanging out with the community.’”

A few places over from NACO’s, continuing East, Paré again pulls over, this time for West Side Stories Video (1499 Dundas St. W.) just before Dufferin. Co-owner Tanya White echoes that there is more inclusivity and diversity. “You feel it, you see it when you’re walking around this area,” she says. “There is more happening and more events for (queer) women in this area.” On the way to the video store, sure enough, sitting outside a café were a few women, who were safe to assume were lesbians. A rare sight in gay male-centric Church Street, but does more lesbians really make it more inclusive?

Nedal Sul a Toronto video producer,, who once lived in the Church Street neighbourhood, and who also experienced the Queer West scene, has a flipside view. “I felt like it was a subculture of some sort, that was not interested in having anyone else who resembled anything close to Church Street,” Sul says. “It wasn’t all bad…but overall I felt there was another type of cliquey-ness.” Paré is aware of this. “There’s some people downtown that get the idea that we’re exclusive, and that we have no interest in downtown,” Paré says. “I don’t look on it like that.” He says when starting Queer West, he tried to involve the traditional village, to work as community partners. “But they wouldn’t go for it,” he says. “It’s business, they’re are kind of proprietary. We don’t exist.” The bike tour comes to a finish, and Paré cycles on his own way.

Five days later, full circle back to Rhino’s, a Queer West board of director’s meeting takes place. Of the items on the agenda is Queer West Fest and difficulties organizing it and securing funding. Overall, Queer West has a long road ahead in establishing itself as an up-and-comer, with an uncertain future being so low on the totem pole. Jaclyn Isen, treasurer, says she would like to see increased volunteerism from the community to help put on events. According to Isen, with community cultivation and everyone putting energy forth, Queer West slowly does grow and visibility gains. “I’ve seen a really exciting and fast evolution of it in the one year I’ve been involved,” Isen says, “so I think there is absolutely a lot of promise to see it grow more.”

For now, Queer West is sticking to its bohemian roots (the meeting is at the back of a bar, after all). But Paré hopes to get Queer West out of the bars and onto the streets. After the meeting is adjourned, the members disperse out onto the street.

And at that moment, on a Wednesday night in mid-October, two leather daddies walk by in full-on black gear, holding hands, looking like they just stepped out of the Black Eagle off of Church Street—but this Parkdale, in Queen West. Wherever Queer West is headed into the next decade, Paré’s vision seems to be manifesting.

If you queer it, they will come. And the queers have.

Pride Toronto Community Advisory Panel holding public meetings

Outexpressions November 5, 2012 - A public meetings will be held at: The 519 Church Street Community Centre, (Thursday). December 2, from 7pm to 9 pm; Gladstone Hotel (Saturday). December 4, 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm; Bennett Lecture Hall, Flavelle House, University of Toronto Faculty of Law (Monday) December 6, 7 pm to 9 pm and the Trans - Pride: Community Advisory Forum, The 519 Church Street Community Centre, (Thursday) December 9 from 7 pm to 9 pm.

The Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is composed of 9 people: Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes CM, Chair, Angela Robertson, Michael Went, Nichola Ward, Andre Goh, Douglas Elliot, Lorraine Weinrib, Kavita Joshi and Raja Khouri. PRIDE Toronto has asked CAP to consult with the communities and recommend back to PRIDE ways to move forward in a variety of issues.

Targeted Consultations with as many interested groups as possible. If your group would like engage in a consultation please email the panel here: Info@CommunityAdvisoryPanel.ca Online Survey is being developed with detailed questions on various issues. The link to the survey will be live shortly. The Panel is looking forward to receiving your input and creative ideas for moving forward.

Queer West Arts and Culture Centre Board of Directors, are not participating in the Pride committee consultations, it has nothing to do with us. We have our ten day queer arts festival.

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