WorldPride 2014 Toronto

  • Festival June 20 – 29
  • Parade Sunday, June 29
  • Dyke March Saturday, June 28
  • Trans* Pride Friday, June 27
  • Official


Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara, Deborah Cox & Martha Wash Take Centre Stage

Headlining the opening ceremonies in Nathan Phillips Square (June 20) is ground-breaking and Grammy Award winning powerhouse, Melissa Etheridge, and home town favourite, Deborah Cox, in a co-production with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the City of Toronto. k.d. Lang takes the stage at the WorldPride Awards Gala (June 25) in support of Camp fYrefly.Hundreds of artists perform over 10 full days, including: “The Original Weather Girl”, Martha Wash (Forecast? “It’s Raining Men!”); Hercules and Love Affair, Crystal Waters, Neon Hitch, and Chely Wright.

Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara, Deborah Cox & Martha Wash Take Centre Stage

WorldPride 2014 is happening in Toronto. And what better place to celebrate than in a city with one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the world? Join us as we become the first North American city ever to host this ultimate celebration of Pride.

With support from major arts and culture institutions from across Toronto, WorldPride 2014 offers films, photography, drag artists, comedy, and exciting and fresh youth entertainment from Fruit Loopz and Black Queer Youth. Families are invited to celebrate their Pride at The Chuch Street Public School featuring, children’s performers, activities and more in a family-friendly zone. View the WorldPride 2014 schedule.

More Toronto Pride

Attracting over a million attendees every year, Toronto Pride Week is one of the biggest Pride festivals in the world. How big? So big that a single week can’t even contain it. Bursting with enough energy to power a city, Pride “Week” is a 10-day long celebration of queer culture that attracts people of all ages, ethnicities, and sexual identities. Gay, straight, bi, Thai – Pride is all about celebrating diversity.

Every summer in late June, Toronto’s historic Gay Village becomes a pedestrian-only party zone filled with fist-pumping music, bustling crowds, vibrant costumes, and of course plenty of cute guys and gals. With so much eye candy out and about, the summer sun isn’t the only thing that will be making you hot.

Many bars are open until 4am or later so you can keep the party going all night long. Or, if you prefer to keep things more low-key, there’s no shortage of queer-friendly lounges, restaurants, and open spaces to mix and mingle with other people in a comfortable environment. You can even bring your family along to the kid-friendly zone at Family Pride.

The 10 days of revelry culminate in the annual Toronto Pride parade – the largest and most anticipated event of its kind in Canada. One part celebration and one part demonstration, the parade recognizes activists at home and abroad who continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community. Every year, it is led by two grand marshals (one local and one international) who are chosen for their unflinching dedication to human rights, often in the face of persecution.

*Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum which includes but is not limited to those community members who identify as transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender independent, non-binary, third gender, two-spirit, and bigender.



WorldPride Human Rights Conference

The WorldPride Human Rights Conference (June 25 – 27) brings together activists, artists, educators, journalists, students and policy-makers in a global conversation about human rights issues affecting queer people around the world.

See the WorldPride Human Rights Conference schedule of events.



Top 10 Pride Events

Your quick guide to Pride! From Queer West to the Dyke March to the Village Streetfair, here are 10 can’t miss Pride events across the city that will make your WorldPride unforgettable.

Top 10 Pride Events

  1. The Village Streetfair

    Church Street is the epicenter of Toronto’s Gay Village and the main place to be during Pride Week. Every year, the street is shut down for an entire weekend of fun and festivity. Connect with local LGBTQ organizations, drop in at one of the many beverage gardens and bars, enjoy live performances and music, and sample a diverse selection of food.

  2. Pride in Queer West

    Pride in Queer West: Toronto Pride Week isn’t limited to the Village. Over in the aptly named Queer West neighbourhood, you can have a gay ole time at a number of queer-themed events and activities. Dance until the wee hours of the morning at Bovine Sex Club or The Beaver.

  3. DJ Central

    While winding your way through the Village Streetfair, drop by the central stage at Church Street and Maitland for three full days of divas, DJs, and dancers. Previously featured big names include MC Flipside and Sydney Blu.

  4. Trans* Pride March

    Whether you identify as trans* or are a cisgender ally, the Trans* Pride March offers a safe environment for all. Help raise awareness of trans-related topics and foster an atmosphere of inclusion and positivity by lending your voice to Trans* Pride.

  5. Dyke March

    Founded in 1996 to raise awareness regarding lesbian and trans* visibility in the queer community, the Dyke March has become a tradition not only in Toronto, but in cities across North America. March with your head held high to show that all members of the LGBTQ community are valued and accepted.

  6. Family Pride

    Pride is about embracing people from every walk of life, including moms and dads. Celebrate Pride with your little ones at the kid-friendly zone organized by the Family Pride Committee. Crafts and games, face-painting, live entertainment – it’s fun for the whole family!

  7. Clean, Sober & Proud

    If drinking and partying isn’t your scene, you may feel at home at the Clean, Sober & Proud space at Paul Kane Parkette, a substance-free zone that features live performances, holistic services, and confidential recovery meetings. The space is a great place to relax away from the non-stop (and sometimes overwhelming) energy of Church Street.

  8. Cawthra Square Park

    Cawthra Square Park, located right beside the 519 Community Centre, is a large, tree-lined space that is host to some of Pride Week’s most anticipated events. Drop by Lipstick Jungle before heading to the Dyke March, and close off the week at the Disco, Disco dance party. Events at Cawthra Square Park are free to enter, and all proceeds from beverage sales go directly to support the efforts of the 519 Community Centre.

  9. Annual Pride and Remembrance Run

    Held every year on the Saturday morning before the big Parade, the Pride and Remembrance Run has raised more than $900,000 for over a dozen LGBTQ Charities to date. Help give back by participating in the run, or stand by the sidelines to cheer the runners on.

  10. Pride Parade

    This is the big one. If you see nothing else during Pride Week, be sure to make your way down to Yonge Street for the annual Pride Parade. Complete with colourful floats, elaborate costumes, infectious music, and a healthy dose of bare skin, the Parade is a spectacle not to be missed.



What Pride Means To Us: WorldPride 2014 Toronto (+ Video Playlist)

This international ten-day celebration of global LGBTTIQQ2SA communities will be the first WorldPride ever held in North America, and the fourth such festival in the world.

To prepare for this one-of-a-kind event, we asked trailblazers like Kyle Rae and Laverne Cox — plus the Pride Toronto staff and volunteers on the ground — what WorldPride means to them. Listen to their stories and find out for yourself why Torontonians are so proud to be hosting WP14TO this June.


WorldPride 2014 on Twitter

WorldPride 2014 on Facebook


Q & A: Meet Carter & Breken

We sat down with Carter and Breken Elwood-Etherington, the winners of our 2012 contest for a wedding at Toronto Pride, to hear their thoughts about marriage, each other, and the experience of being wed in Toronto.

Q & A: Meet Carter & Breken

Q: How did the two of you meet?

A: Carter: We met at a party hosted by a mutual friend. The funny thing is we bonded over how we were each through with relationships and love, having both recently gotten out of relationships that ended badly.

So it was this weird situation where we were both saying we never wanted to date again, but there was a definite chemistry between us.

Over a month passed before I broke down and got Breken’s email address.  We were both traveling a lot for our jobs at the time so there was this period where we just sent emails back and forth, which was really sweet. It felt like we were courting and gave us a period to just get to know one another. It was exciting, without pressure.

Q: When did you decide to get married, and who proposed to whom?

A: Carter: Well, that is kind of a funny story. When we were both back in the same city, we agreed to meet face to face again and have a proper date. So we started with coffee and that went really well, and so we moved on to drinks and that went even better, and so we decided to have dinner.

Sitting at the table across from each other, I said to Breken, “You know someday I am going to marry you.”  Breken literally burst out laughing; it was hilarious. It was just this feeling I had when I looked into his eyes. I knew he was the one.

Q: What made you decide to enter Tourism Toronto’s contest for a wedding at Toronto Pride?

A: Breken: We were walking back from dinner with friends and we saw this huge cake in the middle of 8th Avenue. We were all curious and walked over to see what was going on.  Our friends encouraged and prodded us, and I said, “I’m game if you are” and Carter replied, “You know we are going to win.” So up on top of the cake we went.

It was a really fun experience and totally memorable. That picture is still one of our favorites. Joy still felt today.

Q: What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?

A: Carter: It helps to be best friends and truly like the other person. Breken once said to me when we were dating: “You annoy me less than anyone else I know.”  Which if you think about it is a really good thing to say about someone you’re spending the rest of your life with.

That and I think having things you enjoy doing together, as well as things you do alone or with your own friends, is important. So many people tend to lose their identities in relationships; we continue to work hard to try and make sure we both have time to pursue individual interests – it keeps us interesting. Neither of us wants to be the other but we appreciate what we both give and what we are together. We try and continue to learn from the other, and it is not always easy, but the payoff is good.

Q: Breken, what’s your favourite thing about Carter?

A: Breken: My favorite thing about Carter is grease fires. I know that sounds bizarre, but I love it when something crazy happens and disrupts his plan for perfectness.  He is amazing at most everything he does and then something human will happen, like he’ll forget he put something on the stove or will wash something that should be dry cleaned.  He gets upset, he feels so deeply. He not only lives life, he feels life every day.

Carter is very connected to his feelings and because of that he is very kind.  He has this compassion and thoughtfulness toward life and others.  It is unbelievable how he takes the pain of the world in and then gives it back as kindness. He is always striving to make things better for others and it sincerely gives him joy.  Who does that every day?

Q: Carter, what’s your favourite thing about Breken?

A: Carter: Breken is fiercely loyal, the most dedicated, hardworking, devoted person I have ever known, and I love him deeply for that.  If you are ever in trouble or need support, you want Breken on your team.  He is a force to be reckoned with and I adore that about him, as do all his friends, his family. Breken is the one who would stand beside you and fight the dragon or whatever issue you might face.  His strength, loyalty, and courage are a continual inspiration to me.  I adore him.

Q: What was it like for you when your home state of New York passed the Marriage Equality Act?

A: Breken: Frankly, when we were growing up or coming out as gay it was something we never imagined, to get married – that was never going to happen.  In the past five years we have seen such amazing advancements in marriage equality it is head spinning – in a good way!

We are so thankful to Governor Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee; he signed it into law, but she was an amazing influence.  New York is at the forefront in leading the country to what is the tipping point of equality. It meant so much to come back to our home state from our marriage in Canada and know that the amazing experience we had was recognized by our state and now our nation.

Q: Do you think we will see even more U.S. states following in New York’s (and Canada’s) footsteps in the near future?

A: Carter: It is inevitable, it will happen. We are on the side of justice – what can be so scary about committing to the person you love? There is only the fear and hate of the past.  We are living in a new day and we are both so happy to have been able to share our commitment in such a public way.

The day after DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was struck down we saw one of our wedding photos posted as the headline on the Huffington Post that said “the most amazing love.”  It is so true; nothing is more amazing than to be married to the person who you are literally willing to die for.  If we scare you or our commitment is threatening then all we can say is sorry, there is more recognized love in the world.  If you disagree, you might want to rethink what truly matters in life.

Q: How did it feel to have a million people cheer you on as you got married at Toronto Pride?

A: Breken: Nothing could have prepared us for that day.  Foremost we had supporters like the Windsor Arms Hotel (who treated us like celebrities – many of the staff we are still in contact with), Air Canada who flew us first class to Toronto, and Tourism Toronto who were like a second family to us – celebrating with us, they were as happy as we were to get married. Those partners who came together to make a very special moment in our lives happen is something we will always be grateful for.

Again we say thank you for making a dream come true and being our heroes.  The people in the parade, truly ineradicable – like the biggest hug and joy you could ever know.  To have more than a million people cheering you on, while celebrating and seeing this amazing person standing before you that you are committing your life to … well, it still brings tears (and all to the soundtrack of Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love”).

A: Carter: Also, the fact that our friends flew to Toronto to join us at the parade and were there with us – not a person in our wedding party could believe the love, celebration, and joy they felt from Toronto.  One of the most amazing experiences and we are so thankful. You think of having 100 friends, but never one million plus.

We have the pictures of the wedding and the parade as a screen saver on our computer and it continues to play snapshots of that day.  It is just something that you never get tired of seeing – joy!

Q: What do you like best about Toronto?

A: Breken: We both loved Toronto prior to getting married there. It was an easy fit for us, it felt like home.  Toronto is this amazing blend of New York, Chicago, Montreal, and San Francisco.  It is an amazing city of diversity and beauty – great shopping, parks, food, and good living – a café society with brains.  We both agree we would love to live in Toronto if the opportunity presented itself.

Q: Would you recommend that other gay and lesbian couples get married in Toronto?

A: Carter: Without a doubt. Just last week I was talking to friends in Texas and they were looking for a “destination wedding” and we said Toronto! What is not to love about the city? The amazing equality laws the country has had in place for more than 10 years, the hospitality – the place is perfection.  We highly recommend the Windsor Arms Hotel; nothing can be more amazing than the care they give to every guest.

We hope to celebrate one of our wedding anniversaries in Toronto. We want to come back to live or just celebrate and recall that very special day when the city came together. It was Canada Day and Pride … and our wedding day. JOY!

God bless Toronto and thank you!



Citywide Pride Events

Although the epicentre of Toronto’s LGBTQ Pride is at Church and Wellesley Streets, part of Toronto’s charm is its overall queer-friendliness. This year, programming that supports the community and Pride celebrations will extend well beyond the normal festival dates and footprint. So be sure to check out these fabulous events too!

Citywide Pride Events

If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway – An Evening of Love Duets (Saturday, June 14)

Rufus Wainwright teams up with Grammy and Tony-winning music director Stephen Oremus to redefine dozens of the most beloved gems in the Great American Songbook, all love songs from Broadway musicals, performed exclusively by men to men. Starring Rufus Wainwright performing with David Byrne, Boy George, Josh Groban, Brennan Hall, Glen Hansard, Ezra Koenig, Steven Page and Andrew Rannells.

A presentation of Luminato Festival. Saturday, June 14th at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts.

Learn more and get tickets at

Inside Out LGBT Film Festival (May 22 to June 1)

Taking place over 11 days in May, the festival draws crowds of close to 35,000 to screenings, artist talks, panel discussions, installations and parties that highlight more than 200 films and videos from Canada and around the world.

More about Inside Out LGBT Film Festival.

Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario (June 18 to September 7)

This exhibit features a group of artists whose work documents, questions and extends the practice of drag, often now seen as conceptual performance art. Guest curated by Sophie Hackett, the exhibition explores the artists’ sometimes playful views on fashioning identity through images, building on a range of sources from Claude Cahun to LIFE magazine to television soap operas. Featuring historical and contemporary works by Canadian and international artists it draws from the AGO photography collection and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, as well as select loans from private collections.

Learn more at

What It Means to be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility at the Ryerson Image Centre (June 18 to August 24)

This exhibit focuses on how photographs — press images and snapshots, in particular — have helped to coalesce a sense of common experience and connection within gay communities. Drawing from Ryerson University’s Black Star Collection and from prominent institutional holdings worldwide, the exhibition will allow viewers to see how the medium has historically been used (and misused) to make queer people visible, collectively and individually. The exhibition is presented by TD Bank Group. Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Learn more about What It Means to be Seen at

Pride Walk: Discovering Toronto’s LGBTQ Heritage (June 20 – 27)

Join archivists and historians from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) on a walk through Toronto’s queer past and follow the footsteps of activists who struggled to find a public space that they could call their own.

Dates, times and registration information available at

Youth Solidarity Exhibition at the AGO (Opens June 22)

On view at the AGO between June 22 and Nov. 15, 2014, the Youth Solidarity Exhibition will inspire Canadians to work together to promote safe, inclusive and healthy communities for Two-Spirited and LGBTTIQQ youth throughout the country.

Visit for more information.

My Big Fab Gay Garden Wedding at Toronto Botanical Gardens (Wednesday, June 25)

Toronto Botanical Garden will host a free mass wedding ceremony, for all LGBTQ love-birds planning to renew their vows or make their commitment official. The ceremony will take place in Toronto Botanical Garden’s newest outdoor ceremony space, “The Perennial Border” that flaunts the rainbow colours of nature.  Open invitation to all friends, families and well-wishers. Admission is free, however it will be a ticketed event. Tickets will be released mid-May.

For tickets and more information, please visit

Celebration of Love: A Grand Pride Wedding at Casa Loma (Thursday, June 26)

On June 26, 2014, the City of Toronto, Casa Loma, Tourism Toronto and Egale are inviting LGBTQ couples to make their commitments official. We are proud to welcome WorldPride to Toronto and even more proud to host the biggest international LGBTQ wedding in history. After the ceremony, couples and their guests celebrate together by enjoying live entertainment and dancing away the evening! Over 100 couples will be joining us to celebrate this historic event. This is not only an elegant wedding, it is a message to the world… marriage is a right, not a privilege. You belong here.

Learn more at

I Do at the Carlu (Friday, June 27)

On Friday, June 27th, join Toronto’s chicest gentlemen for a spectacular evening with cocktails and performance of Marina Antoinette.

For more information, please visit

RuPaul’s Drag Race Celebrity Cruise by Rainbow High Vacations & Mariposa Cruises (Friday, June 27)

Cruise & mingle with the stars, complimentary drinks & hors d’oeuvres. White party dress code. Only 500 tickets available!

Visit for tickets and information.

ROM Friday Night Live – ROM Proud (Friday, June 27)

The ROM and World Pride 2014 Toronto partner for an evening of revelry in honour of World Pride 2014.

Advance tickets are available on-line, as well as at the door. Admission is $12 and $10 for students. Online tickets are complimentary for ROM Members, Young Patrons Circle and Royal Patrons Circle members.

For more information, visit and join the conversation on twitter: @ROMToronto #FNLROM!

Campfires: The Queer Baroque of Léopold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu and Richard Milette at the Gardiner Museum (Until September 1)

Camp Fires reveals the concept of “Camp” in the work of three important Francophone Canadian ceramic artists: Léopold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu and Richard Milette. Camp Fires is an often sensual encounter of these artists’ powerful body of work, one that addresses subversive ideas about queer identity through clay.

Curated by Robin Metcalfe. Major Partner Event: WorlPride 2014

Visit for information.



Toronto’s Gay Village

We sat down for a Q&A with David Wootton, former General Manager for the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area, to hear his thoughts about the present and future state of Toronto’s premier Gay Village.

Toronto’s Gay Village

Q: Tell us a bit about Business Improvement Area for the Church-Wellesley Village.

A: The Business Improvement Area for the Church-Wellesley Village presently consists of about 121 members, meaning 121 business properties or services, that are all under the geographical designation of this BIA. Our BIA runs from north of Wood Street to south of Gloucester, straight up the corridor on Church Street, and just about as wide as the service roads that run parallel to Church Street. It’s a small BIA but busy because of the destination we are, and also because of our presence in downtown Toronto.

Q: What is the goal of the BIA?

A: The goal of the BIA is to provide visibility and promotion of the businesses and services that are located here. The property owners are charged an extra tax to become part of the BIA, which the city matches, and the property owners in turn charge their BIA membership to their tenants. So the amount of money that you contribute to the BIA depends a lot upon the size of your property.

Downtown Yonge has a large BIA with large buildings and large properties; therefore their BIA levy is higher. Our properties mostly consist of small mom and pop shops, so it’s a smaller BIA with a smaller budget. But we operate very efficiently within that budget.

Q: Do you live in the Village yourself?

A: Yes, I live in the south end of the Village in a co-op around Wood Street.

Q: How long have you been living in the Village?

A: I moved into the co-op just about a year after I moved to Toronto, so that would be 20 years this year. I locked in there on a great deal, and it’s a great place to live.

Q: What would you say is your favourite thing about living in Toronto?

A: I like the diversity of Toronto. I like the fact that after 20 years I can discover places that I’ve never seen before. I’m a walker so I love to walk anywhere downtown. But the thing I really like about Toronto is the opportunities that are available at my doorstep living downtown.

Q: Do you have any favourite hangouts in the Village?

A: I frequent some of the coffee shops on a regular basis. I don’t really go out a lot in the evenings anymore. I have a partner now and he has different hours. I try to get out at least when friends decide to go. But I don’t want to just be focused in this one area. I try to suggest, let’s go to Queen East, let’s go down to the lakeshore, because we live in this wonderful city and I came here to enjoy it. The Village is great, but I want to make sure I see the other parts of the city as well. Which is why I applaud the other gay villages in Toronto – it’s great.

Q: How would you say that LGBTQ culture and acceptance has spread beyond the Village and across the city?

A: I think it’s spread as it’s spreading nationally and internationally, as it needs to evolve. The coming out process has escalated so much in the last 10, 15, 20 years, it’s making it so much easier for people to have visible identity. I think it’s a good thing. We have many Asian villages and communities in Toronto, so why would we not have more than one LGBTQ Village?

Q: What are some of the challenges facing the Village today?

A: It’s hard now with high property taxes because small business can’t just drop in and open that boutique or that retro cleaning shop in the Village, since the rent is so high. And that’s happening all over – London, New York, Toronto. Even in the smaller communities, the small queer spaces are gone because they’re usually in central, cultural areas downtown and they can’t compete.

So part of our project, our campaign behind “I Love my Village,” is to really grab the gay community and say, “This is a Gay Village for you, this is where you can have your rainbows and have your visibility and have your events and be a political space. But we must keep it that way by supporting those businesses that have been supporting us.” Because a large operation could open up here very easily, and there would be no guarantee they would put a flag in the window, no guarantee they would participate. So myself as a resident here and as a gay man, I feel I owe that back. It’s all evolution; I don’t think we’re dying, just transforming – metamorphosing.

Q: How have you seen the Village change during your time at the BIA?

A: We worked really hard on the first Board I started with at the BIA to establish better visibility for our members. We tried to reconnect with the members so that they knew they were part of a bigger picture and that we needed their participation. We also created more of an aesthetic to the community and reached out to establish new partnerships, such as with the rainbow gateway markers.

The gay community is really only looking to see change, that we’re making effort to create more of a presence. So we’ve been successful at that. We added Christmas lights every year. We invested into pursuing the gateway markers at a high level. Meanwhile we got WorldPride 2014. There were a lot of things that came into our favour, and now as a BIA we’re getting a lot of assistance from our Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, as well as some great partnerships that we’ve become part of, such as The 519 and PrideHouse Toronto. And that in itself has put some weight behind us.

But I would say that the biggest change has been the change in visibility and the presence of the membership. Because that’s our priority. Our priority is the membership.

Q: How would you say that Toronto’s level of acceptance and diversity compares with other cities that you’ve been to?

A: I would say we’re leading that, to a certain degree. Because (a) The Pan Am 2015 is aiming to be one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive sports events ever, and (b) Kristyn Wong-Tam is working hard on trying to position Toronto as the most LGBTQ-positive city in the world. Meanwhile we [the Village] are trying to hold our own as the premier LGBTQ community of Toronto while supporting our sister communities east and west. So I think we’re leading that way.

Granted, I haven’t been to a lot of cities. But I hear over and over again from people that visit our Village that we have a presence, and I think it’s because we’re bookend – small and tight. There’s a little oomph in there.

Q: Let’s say I’m a first time visitor to the Village. Where would you recommend that I go?

A: I’d recommend that you go to The 519 Community Centre. First and foremost because it serves a great purpose here and there are a lot of really nice people who can help you in any capacity. And it has a lot of information on the Village.

I’d also recommend that you check out some of the local restaurants, because you can get lots of information from the service staff. I can’t give any specific recommendations for bars because that’s your choice and they’re only open certain hours. But I’d definitely advocate going into a public place and getting support and answers to your questions there.

Q: What do you see as the role of the Village in modern-day Toronto?

A: The role of the Village is to leave a legacy to the city of Toronto. Historically it’s where we [the LGBTQ community] came from – a testament to what we’ve accomplished and the kind of community we’ve developed into. It’s also a place of beginnings. I think we’re playing a greater part now that we’re expanding our realm, so to speak. Before, we were kind of a little ghetto. We were accepted and visited by the very few who felt comfortable here. Now you see people of all sorts of backgrounds, ages, and demographics coming in feeling very comfortable.

I can’t speak for the Board because I would need the Board here to make those comments. But I would feel comfortable in saying that the Board sees our visibility going well beyond just the LGBTQ market now. The Village has to be welcoming to the seniors and children that pass through our street, the gay people and the straight people – it has to work for all of them because we serve all those people as a BIA.

Q: Do you feel any discrimination as a gay man in Toronto?

A: No, I don’t feel any discrimination at all. I grew up in London where there was no visibility, so it was very tough at the time. I wasn’t able to fully come out until I came here for a post-graduate degree at 28 – and this was here. So again, it was the relevancy of the Village being the place where I could connect all these feelings to. Places like this don’t exist in smaller communities.

I’m 50 now so I’d like to live the next 50 years of my life – or at least 30 of them – being accepting of myself and kinder to myself, and not being so preoccupied. Being gay is a big part of who I am, but it’s only one part.

Q: How do you see acceptance of the LGBTQ community changing in the years to come?

A: I see more acceptance and understanding coming from within the LGBTQ community in the years to come. I hope to see us crossing barriers where gay men don’t necessarily have a specific attitude of the lesbian community. Or that we have a better understanding and acceptance of the trans community. I really feel that the changes are mostly going to come from within our own community.

Also, there’s a new generation of folks coming out now who have bypassed all that shame in high school, which a lot of people in my generation have carried forward into adulthood. As a result, we’re seeing richer individuals who will start their gay lives earlier and stronger and prouder. And that in itself will create a different attitude.

Q: How do you see the Village changing in the years to come?

A: I would say that we will serve a greater population, yet maintain our historical and queer aesthetic. We need to draw and serve the LGBTQ community, while also creating awareness for a larger community that’s not necessarily of the same background.

I love that the Village has its established community – our local staples – but I believe that it’s more than that, and that our community has to grow outside. The Village can be the heart of the LGBTQ community and a destination for tourism, and it can flourish for the businesses here on that aspect. But the days of it being gay male-oriented only are gone. I mean think about it, we now have women in the Black Eagle!

Of course, there’s still a problem with lack of representation of women and other groups in the community. But it’s a matter of believing in things to come and that change will happen. And I think we as a community have proven that over the last 30 years, how much we can change.



Timeline: Gay Rights in Toronto


The Stonewall riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village spawn the modern gay rights movement. Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts for consenting adults over 21.


Toronto’s first Gay Day Picnic is held at Hanlan’s Point. “We Demand,” Canada’s first gay public protest, occurs in Ottawa.

Timeline of Gay Rights in Toronto


Coming Out, Canada’s first television series about LGBT issues, is aired by Maclean-Hunter’s cable community channel in Toronto.


The American Psychiatric Association declares that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.


The Lesbian Organization of Toronto is formed.


Canada lifts an immigration ban on homosexual men.


The Canadian Human Rights Commission recommends in its annual report that “sexual orientation” be added to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Buddies in Bad Times, Canada’s oldest surviving queer theatre company, is founded in Toronto.


Four bathhouses are raided by the Toronto Police Service in Operation Soap, spawning protests that are now recognized as the first Toronto Pride event. George Hislop becomes the first openly gay person to run for Toronto City Council.


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the “right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination” but does not explicitly protect sexual orientation.


Pink Triangle Press launches the local LGBT newspaper Xtra! in Toronto.


Toronto’s first Pride Committee is formed. Sexual orientation is included in Ontario’s Human Rights Code.


The United Church of Canada becomes the first church in the country to allow the ordination of gays and lesbians.


The City of Toronto officially proclaims Pride Day for the first time. Kyle Rae is elected the first openly gay member of the Toronto City Council.


Canada lifts a ban on homosexuals in the Canadian Forces.


Egan v. Canada rules that freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation be a protected human right.


The Toronto District School Board launches the Triangle Program, Canada’s first alternative high school program for at-risk LGBT youth. Bill C33 receives Royal Assent, formally adding sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act as a prohibited grounds of discrimination.


George Smitherman becomes Ontario’s first openly gay MPP.


PrideVision (now OUTtv) is launched by Headline Media, becoming the first LGBT-specific television channel in Canada and the second in the world.


Ontario begins marrying same-sex couples.


The Civil Marriage Act is passed, making Canada the fourth country in the world to officially sanction gay marriage at the national level. On the 25th anniversary of Toronto’s first Pride event, Bill Blair becomes the first chief of police in the city’s history to participate in the parade.


103.9 Proud FM, Canada’s first-ever LGBT radio station and the first in the world operated by a commercial broadcaster, is launched in Toronto.


Premier Kathleen Wynne becomes Canada’s first openly-gay first minister.


Toronto hosts WorldPride.



Restaurants & Dining

Most restaurants in the city are LGBTQ-friendly – many proudly so. If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a list of 15 of the most popular queer-owned and queer-friendly restaurants that will have you coming back for more.

Restaurants & Dining


Right in the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village, Byzantium has a chic, stylish décor and relaxed atmosphere. Its extensive martini list and diverse menu (including such unique dishes as kangaroo and ostrich) make it a great place for either a romantic date or a casual meal. Byzantium has received numerous awards from Now Magazine and Xtra Magazine, including Toronto’s Best Martini and Best Romantic Restaurant.

  • Location: 499 Church St (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 5:30pm – 11pm (Mon-Sun)
  • Cuisine: International
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Trendy
  • Price range: $31 – $60
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes


One part restaurant and one part social enterprise initiative, Fabarnak offers a range of culinary dishes prepared and served by members of the LGBTQ community who face barriers to employment. More than 60% of the food is locally grown and produced, so you can feel good about what you’re eating while also feeling good about helping at-risk community members. Fabarnak is owned and operated by the 519 Community Centre.

  • Location: 519 Church St (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 11am – 3:30pm (Mon-Fri), 5:30pm – 8:30pm (Fri), 9am – 4:30pm (Sat)
  • Cuisine: International
  • Alcohol: No
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Café California

A popular watering hole in the Church-Wellesley Village, Café California has been a fixture of the LGBTQ community for more than 20 years. See and be seen while sipping martinis and sampling delicious Mediterranean dishes in either the stylish dining room or sunny patio.

  • Location: 538 Church St (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 11:30am – 10:30pm (Sun-Thurs), 11:30am – 11:30pm (Fri-Sat)
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Sambucas on Church

Sambucas on Church is renowned for having some of the best Italian food around, made from the finest and freshest ingredients. Fresh pasta, sumptuous seafood, authentic Italian pizza – pair any dish with a bottle of wine for a truly magical meal.

  • Location: 489 Church Street (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon-Fri), 11am – 12am (Sat-Sun)
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Guu Izakaya

In the mood for Japanese? Check out Guu Izakaya in the Village for tapas-style Japanese food with a modern take. The loud, energetic staff and unique pairings of dishes make this an eating experience like no other. Guu Izakaya is an ideal choice for couples looking for a unique night out.

  • Location: 398 Church Street (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 5pm – 11:30pm (Mon-Fri), 4pm – 11:30pm (Sat-Sun)
  • Cuisine: Japanese, Tapas
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Trendy
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Lola’s Kitchen

A commitment to local and independent suppliers, as well as an abundance of vegetarian and vegan dishes, make Lola’s Kitchen a favourite amongst environment- and health-conscious individuals. Meatless options include the kale Caesar salad and vegan tacos, while the more carnivorously inclined might enjoy the pulled pork sandwich or lamb burger.

  • Location: 634 Church Street (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon-Fri), 11am – 9pm (Thurs-Fri), 10am to 4pm & 5pm to 10pm (Sat), 10am to 3pm (Sun)
  • Cuisine: International, Vegetarian/Vegan Options
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Trendy
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible:No

Hair of the Dog

Hair of the Dog is an upscale but unpretentious neighbourhood pub that boasts one of the best patios in the city. Drop by for brunch on the weekends or for a hearty dinner before hitting the clubs on Church Street for a night of dancing.

  • Location: 425 Church Street (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 11:30am – 12am (Mon-Wed), 11:30am – 2am (Thurs-Fri), 10:30am – 2am (Sat-Sun)
  • Cuisine: American/Pub Food
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No

Church Street Diner

A mainstay in the Village, the Church Street Diner attracts crowds throughout the day for its home-style meals and friendly service. On weekend mornings, you’ll often spot people attempting to recover from the previous night’s festivities by chowing down on bacon & eggs and coffee.

  • Location: 504 Church Street (Church-Wellesley Village)
  • Hours: 8am – 4pm (Mon-Tues), 8am – 10pm (Thurs-Fri), 9am – 10pm (Sat), 9am – 4pm (Sun)
  • Cuisine: American
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No

The Wine Bar

Looking for a romantic night out with your significant other? You may want to try The Wine Bar a few blocks south of the Church-Wellesley Village. The Wine Bar prepares local and naturally-raised food served tapas-style, making it perfect for sharing with someone special.

  • Location: 9 Church Street (St Lawrence Market)
  • Hours: 4pm – 12am (Mon-Sun)
  • Cuisine: European, Tapas
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Romantic, Upscale
  • Price Range: $31 – $60
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No


With dishes like Asian fish & chips and lemongrass braised beef shank topped with Thai basil, Supermarket‘s menu is a fusion of East-meets-West. Located right near two of Toronto’s most famous ethnic enclaves – Chinatown and Kensington Market – the restaurant attracts a diverse crowd of both queer and queer-friendly young professionals. Supermarket features plenty of vegetarian and tapas-style menu options and is a great place to bring a group of friends.

  • Location: 268 Augusta Avenue (Kensington Market)
  • Hours: 10pm – 3am (Fri-Sat)
  • Cuisine: Asian Fusion
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range:$11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No

Bar Italia

For the best Italian food in the city, make your way to Little Italy where Bar Italia is always a happening spot. A popular hangout for gay men, the combination bar/restaurant features a delicious menu of traditional Italian favourites like Fetuccine Bolognese and Pollo Parmigiana, and a wine list worth bragging about.

  • Location: 582 College Street (Little Italy)
  • Hours: 11am – 1am (Mon-Thurs), 11am – 2am (Fri), 10am – 2am (Sat), 10am – 1am (Sun)
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Sneaky Dee’s

Sneaky Dee’s is practically a Toronto institution. Part concert hall, part clothing store, and part Mexican-style restaurant – with a graffiti-grunge décor – it has to be experienced to be believed. The kitchen is located on the lower level and boasts some of the best nachos in the city.

  • Location: 750 College Street (Little Italy)
  • Hours: 11am – 3am (Mon), 11am – 4am (Tues-Wed), 11am – 4:30am (Thurs-Fri), 9am – 3am (Sat-Sun)
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No

Southern Accent

In the mood for something hot? Add a little spice to your life at Southern Accent. The Cajun/Creole inspired restaurant is located in a Victorian townhouse in Toronto’s Mirvish Village, and features Southern favourites like jambalaya and Bourbon Street Chicken. The sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans await in this flamboyant, inclusive environment.

  • Location: 595 Markham Street (Mirvish Village)
  • Hours: 5pm – 1am (Tues-Sun)
  • Cuisine: Cajun/Creole
  • Alcohol: Yes
  • Atmosphere: Casual, Intimate
  • Price Range: $11 – $30
  • Wheelchair Accessible: No