If you just moved to Toronto and are looking for a safe space to meet new people and spend time with friends while being openly queer, it can be quite intimidating at first. Whether you are looking for a replacement for your hometown LGBTQ+ communal space or are finally living independently and newly out, the big city has plenty to offer. Here are a few places you can start!
- Glad Day Bookshop
Located in the heart of Church and Wellesley a.k.a. The Gay Village, Glad Day Bookshop boasts the title of the first queer-focused Canadian bookstore and the oldest queer bookstore worldwide. Opened in 1970, this bookshop offers LGBTQ+ novels that highlight all voices of the community, including trans authors and queer Black stories. Glad Day also operates as a coffee shop, restaurant and bar, making it the perfect place to grab a drink and a pastry with your friends. They are also known for hosting author conversations, book signings and drag brunches. Keep your eye out for new events posted on their Instagram page!
- Crews & Tangos
Another classic in The Village is Crews & Tangos! Toronto’s number one drag bar, Crews & Tangos is a great place to let loose on the weekend. Whether you’re attending a Toronto-famous drag show downstairs at Crews or dancing your heart out on the dance floor upstairs at Tangos, this place is a must-go for any queer Torontonian. Drag shows––which run Wednesday to Sunday, feature some of Toronto’s best queens and are oftentimes where Canada’s Drag Race stars get their start. In fact, Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka will be returning to the bar on Oct.18 as Crews & Tangos’ resident queen for a mini-concert! Since moving to Toronto, I have been to Crews & Tangos multiple times, and each time, I’ve felt an overwhelmingly warm welcome and a sense of community from both the queens and the audience! Check out their Eventbrite page for tickets to upcoming shows!
- Storm Crow Manor
A friendly place for nerds and geeks alike, Storm Crow Manor is one of my favourite restaurants in The Village. Featuring themed rooms, theatrical drinks and a large menu with options for everyone, Storm Crow Manor is a great spot to grab some delicious food with your friends or attend a D&D party (Dungeons and Dragons). The staff is always super friendly and welcoming and the crowd is vibrant and fun. If you’re looking for a fun dining experience in a welcoming queer-friendly space, check out their menu, here!
- Lavender Menace Cocktail Bar
This east-end gem offers up cool cocktails and delicious comfort food, all wrapped up in a retro lesbian-owned bar! Lavender Menace welcomes all to enjoy a drink from their unique menu and enjoy a free space for “self-expression, respect, LGBTQ+ history, music, and yes, even a few books.” Pop in on Sundays between 11 AM and 3:30 PM to enjoy food off of the special brunch menu, available here!
- The 519
The 519 is a city agency and government charity that caters to all members of the LGBTQ+ community which works to promote “inclusion, understanding and respect.” They offer everything from counselling services to queer parenting resources and are dedicated to providing a space for queer people to thrive. If this sounds like something you are interested in, you can join or volunteer, here!