Spotlight on Gay Toronto 2008

Made famous by Showtime’s Queer as Folk, Toronto has one of the strongest gay & lesbian communities in all of Canada. The first, Church Street, between Gloucester and Carlton Streets, has some of the most famous gay bars and establishments including Woody’s & Sailor, Zelda’s and Priape. Additional gay neighborhoods developing in Toronto include the College/Parliament area and College West.

In terms of business, including finance, tourism and advertising, Toronto is one of the primary business centers of Canada with an incredibly diverse population from all over the world. Toronto also has a very mixed community in terms of age, with a large population of young people attracted to the region’s universities including the University of Toronto adjacent to Church Street.

Toronto has taken some strong steps in marketing itself to the GLBT community, including hosting the IGLTA Convention in 2009. Tourism Toronto is also making outreach in marketing to the gay & lesbian community. With gay marriage now legal in Toronto and the entire province of Ontario, many of these campaigns have focused not only on some of the arts & entertainment aspects of the city, but also some of the newly-developed gay wedding and marriage services now offered in Toronto.

Popular bars and clubs include Woody’s & Sailor, one of the true anchors of Church Street, Fly, Crews & Tango, The Barn and Stable, Byz Bar and Bar 501. Of course, let’s not forget Remingtons, the local strip club that is famous the world over for their beautiful erotic dancers from all over Canada. For a mix of night club, dance bar and entertainment space, there’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, one of the more enjoyable venues year round.

In terms of restaurants, Zelda’s has become a regular fixture on Church Street, sporting the most festive and entertaining dining environments in the neighborhood. There’s always some theme or show going on at Zelda’s! Other restaurants and cafés have been opening up on Church St. lately, including those with a pub environment, Thai restaurants and the more traditional Café California, right next door to Zelda’s. On the east side of Church Street, we have Fire (part of Fly), Byzantium and Il Fornello.

In the print media, Toronto has two major publications, the Xtra! And Fab. Xtra! has been part of Toronto’s gay & lesbian community since 1971. Founded as Pink Triangle Press, they now have offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, publishing the larger newspaper format publications Capital Xtra, Xtra and Xtra West. Fab Magazine, launching more than ten years ago onto the Toronto publishing scene, focuses more on the local club scene and entertainment and sports a glossy cover in a magazine-sized format.

Two other publications with a presence in Toronto include About Magazine, covering Western New York and Southern Ontario, and Outlooks Magazine, covering Canada coast-to-coast.

In terms of gay tourism publications, Toronto has the local Toronto Gay FunMap, providing both an advertiser-supported, detailed gay map of Toronto and coupons for local gay/gay-friendly businesses in the Toronto area.

On the Internet, several web sites stand out. is one of the best regional web portals serving the gay & lesbian community online. Primarily editorial in nature, this site also has a strong gay business directory as well., although covering all of Canada, has a strong Toronto section featuring both a gay business directory and online personals, allowing gay men to meet each other online.

One of the first gay & lesbian television stations in North America to launch was Out TV, featuring a wide variety of gay content. In addition, ProudFM is a recent GLBT radio station launch, celebrating their 1st year of operation in 2008.

In business, Toronto is interesting in that it is covered by a variety of gay business associations. Starting with the Church Wellesley Village BIA, a network of shops, restaurants and bars on Church Street, Toronto also has The Fraternity Professional Social Club, offering professional gay men monthly meetings with guest speakers, discount movie and theatre nights, entrepreneur activities and community social events. At the province level, there’s the Ontario Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, bringing together the entire province’s GLBT business community with networking events and professional development opportunities. Lastly, at the national level, there’s the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), based in Toronto. Working together with the Ontario Gay Chamber and other gay & lesbian chambers throughout Canada, the CGLCC is more of a broad-based coalition, focusing on some of the bigger picture issues that can help all of the Canadian gay & lesbian chambers from Vancouver to Montreal.

An incredible network considering most regions are fortunate to have just one gay & lesbian business association!

Toronto, as an advertising center for Canada, also has a local gay & lesbian focused advertising and marketing agency, Wilde Marketing. Focusing on helping corporate clients reach the gay & lesbian community, Wilde Marketing has grown over the past few years and sports a healthy client roster.

Larger corporations with a history of strong diversity initiatives for their gay & lesbian employees include TD Bank and CIBC Bank, to name a few.

In the world of events, Toronto has some of the largest gay events in North America. Inside Out is the local Toronto gay & lesbian film festival, held annually. Toronto Pride is by far one of the largest and most dynamic pride festivals celebrations found in the US and Canada, attracting close to 1 million revelers from around the world. Other smaller events include Folsom Street North, a more recent event for Toronto’s leather and fetish community, and the infamous Mr. Leatherman Toronto Competition.

In terms of both business meetings and business travel, there are three properties in the Church Street area that stand out. One of the more intimate places to both stay and hold a smaller, pleasant reception and indoor presentation is the Gloucester Square Inn. Featuring not only high-speed Internet access, this property has a wonderful reception area and an indoor meeting space designed for business environments. In addition, the local Courtyard by Marriott and Delta Chelsea hotels offer excellent accommodations, spacious meeting rooms and are centrally located with easy access.

Lastly, Toronto has a variety of gay & lesbian community services including the People With AIDS Foundation, the Gay West Community Network Centre, the 519 Church Street Community Centre, and the Casey House, an AIDS hospice.










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