Toronto, the largest city in Canada, rivals cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as a major destination for international LGBTQ+ travelers, and its annual Pride celebrations are second to none. Over five million residents call Toronto home, including the largest LGBTQ+ population in Canada.
Church-Wellesley Village, the original gay village, is an urban destination with the largest percentage of LGBTQ+-owned and welcoming businesses in Canada. Home to renowned LGBTQ+ bars and clubs, bookstores, saunas, cafes, restaurants, and community organizations, Church-Wellesley is home base for many, and often the first stop for LGBTQ+ visitors setting out to explore the city. It is also home base for Toronto’s extensive Pride celebrations, now known as Pride Month, taking place June 1 – 30, 2023, including the Pride Festival, June 23-25, 2023, with the Pride Parade taking place on June 25, 2023.
The West Queen West Art & Design District, known locally as the Queer West Village, is Toronto’s second neighbourhood of interest to the LGBTQ+ community. Home to broadcasters, gay-welcoming bars, restaurants, shops, cafes, design houses and galleries galore, Queer West Village is welcoming to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
Queer East Toronto, which includes Leslieville, The Beaches and Greektown, are also becoming popular areas for LGBTQ+ Torontonians. Somewhat more laid-back than the Church Wellesley Village, these LGBTQ+ welcoming neighbourhoods offer a wide range of restaurants, pubs, shopping and nightlife.
Toronto Queer Film Festival: “Established in 2016, the Toronto Queer Media & Arts Centre (TQFF) is a collectively-run, artist-run, nonprofit organization located in Toronto, Ontario. TQFF was formed to provide community art exhibition space for experimental, contemporary, and/or social justice themed film and video art by queer filmmakers.” Visit their website for additional festival information.
Canada’s largest LGBTQ+ Centre, The 519, is located at 519 Church Street in the Church-Wellesley Village. This registered charity is an agency of the City of Toronto and works in partnership with community businesses and sponsors, to provide a broad range services, programs and meeting spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. For example, in cooperation with the city of Toronto, The 519 and Homes First Society is opening its first dedicated shelter for 2SLGBTQ+ adults to provide temporary housing to 2SLGBTQ+ refugees with a focus on trans women, as outlined in a November 2022 news release by the city.
Another valuable Toronto-based resource is The ArQuives, Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives, which launched an online database that will allow the public to search their diverse collection of records. They also offer tours of their Jared Sessions House where they provide their public programs, as well as walking tours of Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ historical neighbourhoods.