Toronto, the largest city in Canada, rivals cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco as a major destination for international LGBTQ2+ travelers, and its annual Pride celebrations are among the best in the world. Over five million residents call Toronto home, including the largest LGBTQ2+ population in Canada.
Also home to a thriving film and TV industry, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) attracts A-list Hollywood stars, and is highly regarded in the entertainment world. Further attention focused on the city in 2017, with the announcement that Meghan Markle, Toronto-based star of the hit TV series SUITS, was engaged to be married to Britain’s Prince Harry in May, 2018.
Host to a multitude of other international and LGBTQ2+ events, Toronto was the city of choice for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Global Convention in 2009, WorldPride in 2014, and the Pan Am Games in 2015. IGLTA will return to Toronto once again in May 2018, for their 35th annual Global Convention (see next page for details).
Church-Wellesley Village, the original gay village, is an urban destination with the largest percentage of LGBTQ2+-owned and welcoming businesses in Canada. Home to renowned LGBTQ2+ bars and clubs, bookstores, saunas, cafes, restaurants, and community organizations, Church-Wellesley is home base for many, and often the first stop for LGBTQ2+ 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 – 24, 2018.
The West Queen West Art & Design District, known locally as the Queer West Village, is Toronto’s second neighbourhood of interest to the LGBTQ2+ 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. The Gay West Community Network Inc., also known as “Queer West”, organizes the annual Queer West Film Festival, Toronto Queer Arts and Culture Festival (Queer West Fest) and Smash Words Festival. They also produce OUTexpressions, an online publication with listings of some of the hottest events and places in town.
Queer East Toronto, which includes Leslieville, The Beaches and Greektown, are also becoming popular areas for LGBTQ2+ Torontonians. Somewhat more laid-back than the Church Wellesley Village, these LGBTQ2+ welcoming neighbourhoods offer a wide range of restaurants, pubs, shopping and nightife.
Canada’s largest LGBTQ2+ 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 LGBTQ2+ community.