Toronto’s Gay Village is a tiny, long-running enclave of queerness, freedom, security and acceptance in Toronto. Bounded (approximately) by Gerrard Street, Yonge Street, Charles Street and Jarvis Street, this 146 acre Village is home to dozens of bars, restaurants, an LGBT-friendly community centre, AIDS memorials, the yearly Pride Parade and so much more. And it’s a place that my wife Kelly and I call home.
As early as 1810, this land is tied to gay life. A large portion of the area was owned by Alexander Wood, a notorious gay man who was sent home from the “colony” for his scandalous behaviour involving young army men and penises.
Now, it’s a thriving haven of queerness where people who don’t live here like to say it’s full of middle aged gay white guys. But, as someone who lives here, I can assure you it’s as diverse as any part of Toronto is: every sexuality, every gender, every race and every body type is accepted here, as long as you are friendly, polite and tolerant. From ancient gay men to heterosexual hipsters with babies to questioning homeless youth to f*cked-up meth addicts looking to score. They are here.
It’s our home. It keeps us humble, thankful and happy, and who could ask for more than that from their tiny village?
And what does that mean? Well, two weekends ago some guy on some kind of drug stood on the street corner and took good pants off. And on. And off and on and off and finally on again.
Just the other evening, while we had dinner in a restaurant patio, an angry woman with mental wellness issues was screaming at the top of her lungs at passersby. She spotted us and smiled and asked for money while apologizing for bothering us. A couple of toonies later, although she was still angry (she REALLY did not like the green-haired woman on the dress) she immediately stopped yelling at people and eventually headed on her way (I think it was because we were respectful and friendly, even striking up a 30-second conversation with her).
That’s just a little slice of life in Toronto’s Gay Village.