Beyond Pride:
Celebrate LGBTQ+ Culture in Toronto All Year Round

Yes, Toronto throws the biggest Pride party in Canada, but the celebrations don’t stop come July 1. The city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ culture is active all year.

More than a million locals and visitors take to the streets every year in June to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture at Toronto’s Pride, and that glorious energy resonates all year round. Take part in all the events and activities that embrace arts and culture, sports and recreation, creativity and community in different hot spots across the city, no matter when you’re visiting.

Here are a few ideas for the to-do list.

Toronto Pride Parade

HIT THE VILLAGE

Gay or straight, you can’t visit Toronto and not pop into the Gay Village, anchored at Church Street and Wellesley Street East. Toronto Gay Village Architecture This gaybourhood is more than just alive and kicking, it’s jumping and thumping with a few great casual restaurants like Hair of the Dog and Smith, and iconic watering holes like Woody’s, drag haven Crews and Tangos, the leather-forward Black Eagle and the gentlemen’s members club Flash on Church.
Dancing in Toronto Gay Village [sft6-line]

EXPLORE QUEER WEST

Outside the Village, Queen Street West – from Trinity Bellwoods Park west to Roncesvalles Avenue – is also known as Queer West. In addition to a ton of restaurants and bars-in-the-wall along Queen, Ossington Street and Dundas Street West, the Beaver Café is the area’s hotspot for local DJs, comedy nights, drag shows and burlesque. And up on College Street, the legendary El Convento Rico is still standing as Toronto’s longest-running Latin drag bar, opening in 1992. [sft6-line]

WATCH A FILM

The annual Inside Out Film and Video Festival each May is a chance for audiences to see films created by and about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of all ages, races and abilities. A series of screenings is also scheduled throughout the year in Toronto with a touring program hitting smaller cities in Southern Ontario. In September, movie fans line up in droves for the Toronto International Film Festival, which includes more than a dozen queer-centric films in its varied lineup each year. Past gems have included award-winning titles such as Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight. [pic-cap caption="Call Me By Your Name"]Scene from Call Me By Your Name
Dancing in the Zone at Crews and Tango

CATCH A DRAG SHOW

The hair is big, the heels are high, the music is loud and the makeup is… well, also loud. New York’s celebrity drag queens have nothing on Toronto’s talented group of gorgeous and funny drag performers. Savour the high drama and low blows of the seasoned pros and the stars of tomorrow at various clubs and bars across town most every night of the week. Check out the listings at bars such as Woody’s, Crews & Tangos and the Beaver. Drag brunches at the Gladstone Hotel, Glad Day book shop and The Drink café bar hit the G-spot.

Find out who’s performing where tonight at TorontoDrag.com.

Toronto Drag Show at Club Kat
Photo by Connie Tsang

GET SPORTY

Muddy York RFC is Toronto’s gay rugby league, with exhibition matches during the summer, including The Beaver Bowl tournament over Labour Day weekend. Riverdale and Rotators is the largest gay curling league in the world if your stay encompasses an extended winter visit. Gay sports fans in the know gather around the big screens at the all-inclusive Striker Sports Bar to watch baseball, hockey, tennis, boxing, race car driving and more – yes, the figure skating will be on without you having to ask. The bar also helps increase awareness for gay sports events.

SEE A PLAY

Having premiered almost 1,000 new works for the stage for more than one million people with its year-round program, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is the biggest and longest-running LGBTQ+ theatre company in the world. Founded in 1978, it is dedicated to championing queer theatrical expression and it holds absolutely nothing back – ever. The Rhubarb Festival over 10 days in February is an audience favourite, a melting pot of theatre, dance, music and performance art. Conveniently and happily, the theatre is attached to Tallulah’s, a club/cabaret that sets its own stage for events and shows.
Photo by Connie Tsang

GO TO CHURCH

We’re not talking Church Street this time, but actual, honest-to-God church. LGBTQ-positive faith groups and places of worship are plentiful throughout town. The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto’s Out & Proud Program lists open and accepting congregations at Jewish synagogues both uptown and down, Unitarian congregations in Toronto and Etobicoke, more than a dozen United churches, four Anglican churches, five Buddhist temples and a number of non-specific and independent spiritual communities. The city’s commitment to the freedom of religious expression and the acceptance of difference is both moving and inspirational.

When Toronto says, “all are welcome,” we mean it.

About the Author

Fun at parties, light on loafers, veteran international travel writer and photographer Doug Wallace can be found beside buffet tables, on massage tables and table-hopping around the world. Visit TravelRight.Today to make every holiday minute count.

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.

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