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Tourism Toronto | Gay Villages - Queer West


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WHO WE ARE - OUTexpressions is an online paper, owned by Gay West Community Network Inc. (Queer West) Who Produces the Annual Queer West Film Festival. As a courtesy to our festival friends and supporters, we list a few community events and have provided some community resources since 2001. OUTexpressions, has now become one of Toronto's leading Gay and Lesbian 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. (Masthead) Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. Thank you for your interest in QueerWest.org Submissions and Questions: queerwestinfo@gmail.com

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There is one thing you'll notice very quickly in Toronto: the gay culture is everywhere. The notion of a single "gay neighborhood" in the city is largely outdated. "We are not like Toronto's traditional 'gay' village with all the sort of conservative and essentialist ideas that go with that. The Queer West Village is about queer practises, and being, not about identity and some fixed notion. We are open, younger, non-traditional, about possibilities and opportunities for connection and collusion, not something to to be confused with Church Street." ~ Author C. Nash, BrockU.

While Church-Wellesley Village is the center point of the LGBTQ activity, establishments belonging to homosexual or who welcome them with pleasure exist throughout the city - especially in the West End, where the "Queer West Village "as Tourism Toronto now calls it gently, quickly gained a reputation as an alternative to the panorama of Church Street. There are now 11 gay and lesbian owned businesses, bars, cafes galleries and restaurants in queer west central Toronto Ontario. A phenomenal growth for gay owned venues, in the last ten years.

Gathered around Queen Street West, between Trinity Bellwoods Park and Roncesvalles Avenue, the Queer West is the cousin of the Gay Village but younger, funkier and more connected. You will not find bars "exclusively gay" but rather several places and events that attract a wide mix of people, gay to straight open-minded, and all kinds between these two. Queer West, you risk offending someone by more musical tastes as your sexual preferences.

There are other queer neighbourhoods in Toronto besides Queer West. Church & Wellesley: The heart of the city's main gay village in downtown Toronto. (Subway: Wellesley or College) The Danforth also known as Greektown: A trendy area with lots of gay and lesbian residents as well as gay-owned businesses. (Subway: Broadview, Chester or Pape) College Street: Little Italy around Clinton has a decided gay/artsy flair. (Streetcar: College) and Leslieville: Gay boys and girls in search of affordable homes and starving artists being, well, starving artists are transforming this gritty neighbourhood with great restaurants and quirky shops. (Streetcar: Queen east) Church St village by , Mitchell Thompson, a second-year journalism RyersonU student on Jan 21, 2016 - Their village or ours? (link correction)

An interesting magazine post appeared on Friday August 21, 2015 on AFTERELLEN praising other queer neighbourhoods in Toronto besides Church St gay village, - Natasha Negovanlis’s Guide to Toronto for Gay Women - You can read it here and make your own judgement. http://bit.ly/1NAKwMb

New York Times deems Toronto No. 7 of 52 top tourist destinations to visit in 2016. It singles out the public art, green spaces, bike paths and promenades of Queen’s Quay on Lake Ontario and the former industrial area known as The Junction, and cites the convenience of the new Union Station to Pearson Airport express train

In his book There Goes the Gayborhood? Author Amin Ghaziani said: “Neighbourhoods often move, reform and migrate, he says. Toronto’s “Queer West” and Vancouver’s Commercial Drive are two such examples. Many young queer people may want to live in a gay area, but they settle where they can afford the rents, even if that means congregating in — and queering — new neighbourhoods. Ghaziani further theorizes that these gay-friendly neighbourhoods could eventually become full-fledged gay neighbourhoods in their own right. If the old gaybourhood was an island, these new models are archipelagos. These new villages may eventually supersede the older ones, or they may all coexist.´

The best queer dance parties are no longer on Church St. Started in 2009, Toronto's Yes Yes Y'all dance parties have become legendary in the west end of the city, promoting inclusivity for all, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, and drawing local and international artists and DJs. Toronto's Most Popular Queer Hip Hop and Dancehall Party.

On The Escalating Demise Of old Gayborhoods - The UK Guardian January 13, 2016 examines a topic Demise Of old Gayborhoods

Toronto Tourism calls the west end of the city - Queer West Village

The Official Website of Toronto Tourism is now calling the west central part of Toronto the Queer West Village and the east end as the gay East Village, Under the sub-heading Toronto's diversity/queerwest. "There’s one thing you’ll notice pretty quickly about Toronto: queer culture is everywhere. The notion of there being a single “gaybourhood” in the city is so last century. While the Church-Wellesley Village remains the focal point of LGBTQ activity, queer-owned and queer-friendly establishments can be found all over the city – especially in the west end, where the affectionately named “Queer West Village” has quickly been gaining a reputation as an alternative to the Church Street scene." (Toronto Tourism)

Bryen Dunn a travel writer and sometimes DJ, has lived in Parkdale for close to 24 years, and he chose the neighbourhood for a reason. "It's not ghettoized," says Dunn, sipping coffee at the Easy Restaurant, a bright diner on Queen St. W. near Roncesvalles. "That's the big thing - it's not exclusively gay. Church St. can feel so limited."

More commercial and huge tracts of condo gentrification is happening between 1001 Ossignton and 1214 Dufferin on West Queen Street West (Beaconsfield Village). The bigger galleries like MOCCA have moved to Bockton Village. That part of the famous artists neighbourhood will disappear in ten years for less for the hipsters, as the epicentre of gay culture moves West to (old Brockton Village also know as, Little Portugal) New enclaves are starting West in the Junction.

Apartment Hunting, In Queer West Toronto rents (Shared accommodations) are cheaper (Rooms $450+) Bachelors ($575 - $1145) one bedroom Apartments ( $645 - $2200) for the 20 / 30 somethings living, work and playing in the west village, lots of parks for cruising, to swap spit and bug spray. A lot of younger people are now using VIEWIT looking for new digs (Pictures, locations, amenities and price ranges) http://www.viewit.ca/ Zone T4 for west village neighbourhood

West Queen West

There is always something to Ossington, if you do not mind the crowd. Sip your favorite drink while listening to the choice of the DJ in the first room. Or join the back room where special shows will give that can be comedy nights, improvisational theater, film projection, poetic readings, sales of works of art and other monthly events.

Different atmosphere, The Beaver Cafe 1192 Queen St W., (Which I have heard recently is now up for sale), which features dances on a different theme each night Of the week. In addition, every Monday held the Drag Industry Night, which chooses the Drag King or Queen. For more attractions drag-style, but in a Latin atmosphere, head north to Little Italy where El Convento Rico 750 College Stree is renowned for its performances of sulphurous Latin drag queens over the weekend.

Looking for something different? This can be a musical at the Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave, or a live rock concert at the Bovine Sex Club. 542 Queen St W, And when hunger overcomes you, there is no shortage of great restaurants, bistros and cafes where making your choice, offering cuisines from all over the world.

Trinity-Bellwoods

The Queer West Toronto has been home to an underground queer scene since the 1970's. Long before Vazaleen was started by late artist Will Munro as queer monthly event in Kensignton Market; The Body Politic Collective a pioneering gay lib rag born in 1971, came to live not in a gay ghetto on Church St. but an artists' enclave on Queen Street West.www.rbebout.com/divas/dcarole.htm (In 1975, the Body Politic created its own owner, the Pink Triangle Press, forerunner of Xtra Gay and Lesbian Newspaper.) Dark raves, electro-sexual, queercore, goths, punks, hard rock, metal, and fetish nights are held at the Neu+ral 349A College St., Bovine Sex Club 542 Queen St.W., Nocturne (formerly Savage Garden) is Toronto’s oldest goth nightclub, 550 Queen St. W. and the Dance Cave 529 Bloor St. W. El Convento Rico 750 College Street was created 21 years ago as a humble, very underground club catering to gays, lesbians and trans people. Once as popular as La Cage aux Folles but now only appeals to straight couples from the 905 area outside Toronto

(Public transit: subway to Osgoode station. The shopping strip is about 5 km (3 miles) long but the 501 Queen streetcar runs the whole length. A TTC day pass is handy for hopping on and off streetcars.)

Music or cinema? Poetry or prose? Minimalism and modernism? The art scene Queer West is so vibrant and diverse that you'll have trouble choosing. Bursting with creativity, the area hosts some of the most avant-garde of the city venues of exhibitions, shows and festivals.

The Queer West Village has the largest concentration of art galleries in Toronto, including Twist Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Come and see the works of emerging artists or confirmed in sumptuous light filled spaces. There's the likes of Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1086 Queen West), MOCCA Gallery (952 Queen West) which is moving to 158 Sterling Road in Fall of 2015.

"I feel far more welcome and visible on the Queer West scene. I find that Queer West holds an attitude that’s quite the opposite to Church St’s — it encourages queers to come as they are, without fear of having to fit in with the crowd. Probably as a result the west-end scene is a lot more racially mixed and there’s more room to express yourself both as ethnic and lesbian." said Parul Pandya, a Toronto Writer raised within a Hindu tradition.

The West Queen West strip (sometimes called “Queen West Queer”) suddenly exploded with the arrival the ever-so-funky venue/hotel The Drake (1150 Queen W). The boutique concept rooms have been featured in magazines, on television and most recently on international flights.

The hip and happening migrate here nightly to be seen or to catch the hottest acts in the city. A cluster of other equally trendy venues soon opened in the vicinity, including The Beaconsfield (1154 Queen W),and the gay-owned Beaver Cafe (1192 Queen W) originally owned Megan Whiten, who sold it to the late Will Munro and his friend Lynn MacNeil (Lee's Palace manager) in 2006, they turned it into a nightclub and restaurant by day.

West Queen West is rapidly changing - As In come the condos, out go the clubs

picture brockton village toronto

Brockton Neighbourhood: Little Portugal

Dundas West (Globe and Mail Oct 2, 2015), one of the hottest streets in the city and slowly gentrifying.

In 2010, the Dundas West BIA (Brockton) received funding from the CIty of Toronto Economic Development department to undertake an Urban Design Study for the area. The study was carried out by local firm and can be seen online Here

Brockton is one of the fastest growing queer neighourhoods in Gay Toronto. The above photo was taken June 9, 2015 at the third annual Dundas West Street Festival, in the old Toronto village of Brockton. Located Between Ossington and Lansdowne, drawing 50 thousand visitors to eat, shop, and take in a variety of street entertainment. The event was marked by a rise of makeshift patios in front of many businesses that don't normorally enjoy and outdoor space, which allowed thirsty festival-goers to take a load off and enjoy a beverage or two in the sun.

Toronto gay community is constantly moving. Richard Florida at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management has consistently shown that higher concentrations of gay people are linked with economic prosperity, innovation and creativity within a region.. A new renaissance has started in old Brockton Village a romantic peaceful neighbourhood, also know as Little Portugal (Along Dundas W between Lansdowne Ave and Gladstone Avenue) as it becomes a vibrant alternative community with recently developed mix of galleries, cafés, restaurants and boutiques to serve an increasingly visible queer clientele. A cadre of Yuppies are buying up the row houses from 1887, in the neighbourhood, while prices are still cheap. Old -school Portuguese families, Chinese or South Asian immigrants, or some of an ever-growing proportion of artists and young professionals looking for value or the ‘next’ hip ‘hood. Also see West Queen West’s comment about the slow emergence of a “Queer West Village.” (Demographics)

Getting around the village; (Public transit: westbound 505 Dundas streetcar from St. Patrick or Dundas station, 63 Ossington bus south from Ossington subway, or 29 Dufferin bus south from Dufferin subway)

Brockton was a genuine village before it was annexed by Toronto in 1884. At the intersection of Dundas West and Brock Avenue, the former Brockton Town Hall still stands (as a Scotiabank branch, naturally 1616 Dundas ast. W. ). Way off in the distance, the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto are visable. A 15 minute bicycle ride to Yonge and Dundas on a good day.

Queer West Arts Collective live / work offices are located in Brockton Village (Toronto Ward 18) at the crossroads of Dufferin & Dundas W. As well as the home to the gay and lesbian newspaper, OUTeXpressions.

The residents show their pride by hosting, celebration of arts, community and everything local happens first weekend in June Dundas West Fest.. followed by the Toronto Queer West Film Festival every August

Three bars in the North end of Brockton, along Bloor Street W. (Between Lansdowne and Dovercourt) are attracting their share of queer clientele and entertainment. The Neon Bar, (647) 748-6366 · 1226 Bloor St W,, the gay owned Steady Cafe, 1051 Bloor St W, Toronto ON M6H 1M Phone: (416) 536-4162 http://thesteadycafe.com/ and The Baseline Music Bar, 865 Bloor Street W Toronto, (at Ossington) (416) 732-7513

Salsicharia Pavao (Deli) 1435 Dundas St W is a fixture in Little Portugal and a longtime Toronto source for imported Portuguese groceries and freshly prepared meats. Review by BlogTO

Has popularity of the neighbourhood caught the eye of real estate developers? There's huge new terraced 8-storey mixed-use black monolith, with 90 residential rental units at the corner of Sheridan and 1544 Dundas Street West, which now dominates the stretch between Dufferin and Lansdowne Avenue. When developers move into an arts community, artists move out, this happened at Queen and Dufferin, which is now a jungle of ugly condos. .Hard to say what the wind will blow into the neighbourhood. Other than Edenshaw building, things have been fairily quiet for the last five years

The nice thing about Brockton Village is the absence of drunken whooping, booming bass, honking taxis, and piles of puke one finds on the sidewalks in Parkdale There are a few small place to dance cheek to cheek; Bambi's The Garrison, and Bar 1602, Restaurant life on Dundas West Members of the Brockton Triangle Neighbours (Group) on Facebook seem happy with village life, with no complaints.

Many new art galleries are springing up weeds along Dundas W. There's Wil Kucey, LE Gallery, 1183 Dundas W east of Dufferin. Milk Glass Company & Gallery, 1247 Dundas St. W. http://milkglassco.tumblr.com/ Hosts regular queer events as does Fountain Enterprise, 1261 Dundas St W (416).262- 4986. Owned by Maggy Perry) No web site http://www.blogto.com//fountain nestled in Dundas St W & Dovercourt. The Fountain is more of a gallery with a liquor license, than a bar with local art on its walls

Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, 1450 Dundas east of Dufferin Street and the art store Art Metropole at 1490 Dundas W.. Ms. Bradley, a former curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, was drawn to the Dundas and Dufferin area three years ago for similar reasons. "I could see what was going on, down on Queen Street, where the rents were doubling and tripling, driving the galleries out. ... When I saw this space, I just thought it was in the right zone." said Bradley West end clothing stores continue to move north from Queen Street.

Bambi’s, 1265 Dundas St. W.(Dundas and Dovercourt,) 647.351.1100 Owner DJ Mikey Apples, has been a fixture on the Queen West Queer scene for years and Bambi's has been packed since opening as a result. Also at this location beneath is Mr. Flamingo Restaurant. http://www.mrflamingo.ca Bambi's not your usual dive. Starts jumping at midnight http://www.blogto.com/bars/bambis-bar-toronto

The Magwood Vintage Shop with a careful selection of vintage apparel. Magwood’s racks are filled with sophisticated, ladylike separates — many from the ’40s and ’50 Magwood 1418 Dundas St. W., 416-818-3975,

The best gay friendly store in the village is Sun Milk Convenience Store 1547 Dundas Street West South east corner of Sheridan Avenue, 416-531-8580 Owner Silvia Jung, has all of your weekly needs from bread and milk to sewing your ripped pants to a dry cleaning business. A popular item among her gay clients are Colt Sweet Cigarillos. Opened around 10 am to 11pm https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000263259652

The only BATHHOUSE outside of Church Street is located in Queer West Village (Better know as The Tubs) Central Spa (Bathhouse) -The cleanest bathhouse in the city,populated by mostly older gay men and some curious closet cases from the portuguese neighbourhood, out for a quicky) 1610 Dundas St. West 2nd Floor at Brock Ave, two blocks west of Dufferin northside. 416. 588.6191. 15 rooms, 60 lockers (noon-3am, 7 days/wk), regular room: $15, locker: $10 .www.centralspa.ca

Ecuador born artist José Ortega co-founded Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, with Jose Nieves. Over the years, Lula has hosted Latin jazz and salsa performers, as well as rock, blues, chamber, Brazilian and African musicians, and alternative musicians like Metric and Feist. Dundas West in 2002, was a low-rent zone of bakeries, car garages, sheet metal and plumbing suppliers and a rash of Portuguese sports bars. "Then ago, the area had this ugly-duckling vibe," Ortega said. "But ... it felt more authentic, more real, a working-class neighbourhood where artists and bakers and construction workers and store owners come and do their work."

With the opening of the Alison Smith Gallery, 1410 Dundas Street West, was the latest sign of the once-homely neighbourhood's transformation. Grain, Curd & Bean, 1414 Dundas Street, a high-end cheese shop, specializes in three things: bread, cheese and coffee. More specialty store than cafe, this new spot does have some stools by the front window, but, generally, it's more of a take out spot than somewhere to meet-up, surf WiFi or otherwise pass the time.

The design shop of Lubo Brezina who hail's from Bratislava, Slovakia (1659 Dundas St W) creates furniture from recycled and reclaimed wood.And everywhere artists in Bockton Village, are inhabiting little bits of cheap space, as their studios and lofts in other parts of town, are turned into condos.

The Common 1071 College Street, two blocks west of Dufferin southside. 416.546.7789 Free Internet (WiFi) - A hidden gem. Unlike other cafes in Queer West, that discouage loitering over one latte, this place dosen't mind. It attracts a fairly artsy crowd of LGBT friends, where everyone seems to know everyone else, many of whom sip lattes while designing web sites on their Macbooks. Wonderful spot for cruising, if you come alone. Age group is roughly 20s to mid 40's, the odd local senior citzen, drops in now and again. Damn good London Fog and the Cappuccinos are top notch as well, plus they also use organic milk oh did I mention they have a tea, from Silk Road. Not Wheelchair Accessible though. Cash only. 10 new stores and restaurants on Dundas West (Blog TO Hannah Jack / May 31, 2015)

Other places to explore

Queer West Toronto, Ontario boasts some of the most beautiful parkland and nature trails in the city. High Park is Toronto's largest greenspace and a beautiful park, with a pond (Grenadier Pond), a small zoo, and an outdoor stage which houses an annual summer Shakespeare production called "Dream in High Park." Celebrate our annual Cherry Blossom Festival with a visit to High Park and participate in the centuries old Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami, roughly translated as “cherry blossom flower viewing”. The spectacular flowering of the Sakura (Japanese flowering cherry) trees is not to be missed – plan on spending at least an hour wandering under the blossoms and appreciating the beauty of High Park in the spring

(Public Transit: 506 College streetcars from downtown, Takes you right into the Park. You can come another way via 501 Queen streetcars have a stop at the south end of the park, by Grenadier Pond; from downtown make sure you board a westbound streetcar with a destination sign of "Long Branch" or "Humber" and get off at Colborne Lodge Drive.)

The best vintage clothing stores are in Queer West Toronto - brimming with unique finds, some dating back to the late 1800s. From high-end and designer to cheap-and-cheerful rock tees and poly frocks, the variety is almost endless. Parkdale, Ossington, Kensington Market, and Dundas West (Brockton Village) are the major epicenters. Visitors from all over the world come to shop for Vintage clothing .

There's lots of Festivals going on in the Queer West Toronto during the summer; Caribbean Carnival (August 1st weekend), Queer West Arts Festival (early August) Toronto African Dance Festival (mid august); Beer Festival (Fort York first weekend in August) and Canadian National Exhibition late August early September) .

Great Places to stay for weary travellers

Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St W, 416 531 5042, 19 rooms. Chosen by Travel and Leisure Magazine is one of the world's top 500 hotels in 2006. Rates from $179.00 to $289.00 for individually artist designed rooms. Choose based on your mood swings at check-in time. thedrakehotel.ca

The Old Mill Inn & Spa, 21 Old Mill Road, 416 236 2641. In 1793 the Kings Mill - the forerunner to Today's Old Mill - was built in order to process lumber for the first homes in Toronto. Rates from $219.00 to $659.00 depending on season. A classic addition to the historic Old Mill Restaurant, Meeting and Conference facility. On the banks of the Humber River. Right on the Bloor Subway line. This exclusive Boutique Inn incorporates, 59 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, together with a pampering Spa. oldmilltoronto.com

Toronto Townhouse - 384 Clinton Street. Toll Free in North America (except Toronto) 1.877.500.0466  Local & outside north America 416.323.8898    Gay friendly. Proud winners of a Toronto Tourism Award in 1999 and 2000. Your Hosts: Frank & Tan. Email us at host@earlplacebnb-toronto.com This is one of two Townhouses we own, and located in The Annex neighbourhood.Queer West Toronto, Ontario.

Howard Johnson Inn Toronto Downtown West in Parkdale 14 Roncesvalles Avenue and west Queen west, Each morning, wake up to free Rise & Dine continental breakfast and a free newspaper. Our pet-friendly hotel features free Wi-Fi Internet access in all rooms. Kids 17 and under stay free with an adult. Rates from $74.00 to $169.00 depending on season. A five-minute walk to Sunnyside Beach at Lake Ontario, and includes breakfast In the heart of the Queer West Village Toronto, Ontario. Phone: 1-416-532-9900 Fax: 1-416-532-9440

At the end of the summer, the Queen West Art Crawl met again the artistic community area for three days of exhibition and events that highlight local artists. And the arrival of autumn heralds the return of Nuit Blanche, in October, which sees Queen West turn into outdoor haven of contemporary art.

With a lively artistic life uninhibited nightlife and an open atmosphere at all, it is not surprising that the Queer West Village has become the privileged place of the LGBTQ community in Toronto.

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