Music thrums as rainbow-clad revelers dance down Yonge St and bubbles fill the summer sky…. This is Toronto’s Pride Parade – a flamboyant, anything-goes celebration enjoyed by visitors from around the world.
But you don’t have to party to experience the many delights of Toronto’s gay scene. From food and bars to romance, culture and more, you’ll find plenty of ways to relax and be yourself. As the largest city in Canada and one of the most diverse, Toronto is the perfect place to be here and queer.
The village at the heart of Toronto’s LGBTQ community spans most of Church St, and surrounding area, between Bloor St and Dundas St. It features a wide array of queer-themed and -owned restaurants, bars, clubs and shops.
It’s the village off the village! Toronto’s Queer West is full of queer-owned and -friendly places to eat, dance and explore, but with a younger vibe than its downtown counterpart. You’ll find this happening neighbourhood in the area of Queen St West and Ossington Ave.
Want to catch a show? Check out the Entertainment District along King St W and you’ll find the best of stage, film and music at houses like Royal Alexandra Theatre, TIFF Bell Lightbox and Roy Thomson Hall. Or stay near the village and experience Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, the world’s biggest and longest-running queer theatre company.
All of the above things can be enjoyed most of the year, but one of the best times to be queer in Toronto is during June’s three-week Pride Toronto festival. Key events in a packed calendar of entertainment, parties and discussions are the Trans March and Dyke March which lead up to the final Sunday’s Street Parade and party.
To start your Pride Month early, attend Inside Out, Canada’s largest LGBTQ film festival, in late May.
Hanlan’s Point Beach is just a short ferry ride to Toronto Island and features a breathtaking view of the downtown skyline. A popular hangout for gay men and women, this expansive beach includes a clothing-optional area.
In the east end, Woodbine Beach and Beaches Park sit beside each other and teem with summer sun lovers of all sexualities. Take a walk or bike down the 3-km boardwalk, or head up to the trendy Leslieville district for some shopping and a bite to eat.
The 519 Centre has supported Toronto’s LGBTQ citizens for decades. Visitors are welcome to drop by the Church St facility for information, workshops, discussions, meditation sessions and more.
For a full list of LGBTQ attractions and travel ideas, check out Tourism Toronto’s website.