U of T ft. LGBT+: Happy Pride To You All, and To All A Good Pride!!
Hello and welcome, Wolfpack, to our bi-weekly orientation blog! I apologize for being a few days late with this one. In honour of the rapidly approaching culmination of Toronto’s first ever Pride month (yes, tears are being shed as I type this… RIP PRIDE 2K16, YOU WERE GOOD TO ME), this post is going to focus on the U of T LGBTQ+ student experience, on campus and in the greater 6ix. We will be shouting out groups, events, and spots on campus geared towards LGBTQ+ students, as well as doing some urban exploration nearby, particularly in the Church and Wellesley village. We’re going to start off outside campus today, and work our way back home to Woodsworth. Here we go!
pictured: very excited Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto Pride 2015
THE 6IX AT LARGE
The Church and Wellesley Village (often shortened to just “the village” or “the gay village”) is an LGBTQ+ occupied neighbourhood (gaybourhood? I’m sorry, I’ll see myself out. OUT! Someone stop me) just a few intersections from U of T.
pictured: rainbow map of Church and Wellesley
Lest this article inflate to an inconsumable size, we won’t review every single cool little LGBTQ+ establishment on the rainbow-tinted streets of Church and Wellesley, suffice it to say there’s something for everyone– no matter if you’re into book stores or night clubs or tiny shops where a cheese expert can guide you through cheese-related purchases. I’m not kidding.
Specifically, I’d like to point you in the direction of some personal favourites.
The 519 Community Centre is (fun fact!) the first place I ever saw famous drag queen and personal deity Jinkx Monsoon perform. It’s not entirely relevant to the rest of the article but I would like to confirm all rumours: she’s a goddess.
pictured: a precious cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure
The 519 Community Centre is involved in a staggering number of programs, services, workshops, and more. They offer education and training services, community support for refugees and newcomers to Canada, LGBTQ+ youth housing support, trans-specific resources of all shapes and sizes, addiction support, mature LGBTQ+ programs, and much much more. I mean, so much more. We’re talking clubs for books and games of Go and drag shows and choir.
Click here to read more, because I seriously can’t cover it all in one paragraph.
Fly 2.0 is a large night club located in the aforementioned village, with two floors providing apt space to hang out in a lounge setting or aggressively kill it (read as: watch me embarrass myself) on the dancefloor. Fly 2.0, to me, has always been a bit of a wormhole– we strut in coolly before midnight, half expecting to make it home before the trains close, show off our best impression of “person in dire need of medical attention” on the dancefloor in front of a group of improbably beautiful queer strangers, and by the time we’re standing in coat check to grab our things it’s 5 in the morning. I will never understand how Fly manages to make jumping around in heels for at least 4 hours painless. Also, some fun Toronto trivia for you: this is where all the club scenes from Queer as Folk were filmed!
You don’t need to wonder for too long about the magic of Fly, though– they’re going to be hosting us for our Club Night! Fly 2.0 is a wonderful (and conveniently large) venue with a fun atmosphere and roots in the LGBTQ+ community. And if the thought of being in a club you’ve never visited in downtown Toronto at night gives you the heebie jeebies, DON’T WORRY. We’ve completely booked it out for the evening (plus security from our friends at Fly) to ensure only Wolfpack gets in. Bag checks will be taking place, most if not all of OEC will be in attendance, and so will a very high volume of extremely capable leaders. It’s going to be a fun, safe night (and if dance parties just aren’t your thing, we’ve also got DIY crafts in Kruger hall you can drop in and out of at your leisure).
CREWS AND TANGOS
Crews and Tangos is the #1 drag bar of choice for students and otherwise in the heart of the village. Crews and Tangos maintains a safe and welcoming environment where you can sit down and hang out or get up and dance (again, this should be translated to “watch me embarrass myself, only with slightly more Cher in the background”). Drag queens lipsync, DJs spin, and angels weep as the collective group bops along to dance songs new and old.
The last time some members of the Wolfpack and I went to Crews, I shattered one glass, two friends got into a very spirited argument over exactly how legendary Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-mo-tion album was (as it turns out, extremely legendary), and three drag queens did a group number to “If You Wanna Be My Lover” by The Spice Girls wherein the 90s LIVED ONCE MORE. We had to get McDonalds at 3am to recuperate.
Seriously, if you’re 19, check Crews and Tangos out. They do Halloween events, Drag Race events, and an annual Miss Crews and Tangos Pageant.
pictured: Crews and Tangos, love of my life and site of my rekindled Cher phase
I made a promise to myself that this article wouldn’t expand to “inconsumable size” so I’m going to cut off my extensive descriptions of LGBTQ+ spaces here. However, I can’t resist shouting just a few more spots and resources, so you can click on each of these names to learn more about…
OKAY I’m done. But seriously, just wander around Church and Wellesley for awhile– you’ll find something you love!
It’s fitting that LGBTOUT claims our first spot here, as they are the oldest LGBTQ+ student group in Canada– founded in 1969! LGBTOUT does the work of all the gods and goddesses in Olympus, putting on countless events throughout the school year like the Queer Ball and Homohop, geared towards building inter-college community between LGBTQ+ students of U of T.
Perhaps one of the best known resources provided by LGBTOUT is the Drop In Centre (DIC). In their words, “The DIC is a resource space offering peer (not professional) support to students in crisis or simply in need of friendly, informative, non-judgemental and sex-positive support. It also exists as an avenue for education. Our aim is not only to inform our communities, but to make an impression upon the public at large and connect with other marginalized groups. We have resources and can provide a dizzying selection of FREE condoms & etc. to students as required; facilitate training workshops and special events.”
The DIC is located at 70 St George Street, and at least two of your OEC volunteer there once a week– drop by sometime, or sign up to volunteer yourself! I’ve seen everything from serious discussions on living without gender and the intersection of race and sexuality to a complete re-working of a total stranger’s Tinder profile (there was a 200% increase in emojis, and it was all thanks to me).
Big hand to LGBTOUT for their continued work uniting LGBTQ+ students– their group has been active longer than most of us have been alive!
pictured: literal big hand
WOODSWORTH INCLUSIVE (WINC)
Colloquially known as WINC, Woodsworth Inclusive is Woodsworth’s driving equity committee and club of the year 2015/16, boasting events such as 1 Girl 5 Queers and the always successful Macarons and Mimosas. Side note about Macarons and Mimosas– it takes place during an unoccupied slot an evening of orientation week, and for many, it’s the first foray into the wide community of LGBTQ+ students at U of T. Please do attend!
If you want to get involved, exact details of the bi-election will be announced on the Facebook page shortly, and even if you’re not interested in an executive position, the events are always a ton of fun, hosted and attended by extremely entertaining characters (members of OEC/orientation leaders included!). Oh, and if you happen to already live near Toronto, you can catch WINC marching with the UTSU in the 2016 Pride Parade!
While WiNC will always occupy the largest cavity of my heart, other colleges also have their own awesome equity committees who put on some extremely cool events (and occasionally, we all collaborate!) Groups mainly advertise events to their specific college, but generally students from all over are welcome!
This one is less Wolfpack-affiliated and more straight-up-adorable. LGBT Dance is a non-profit salsa and hip hop group offering affordable, relaxed, and fun gender-neutral classes and events. Classes take place in the Multi-Faith Centre, and teach for varying levels of expertise. Check out their website for more information!
THE SEXUAL AND GENDER DIVERSITY OFFICE
The U of T SGDO is a well-respected office that provides education, programs, resources, and advocacy on LGBTQ+ issues. They are involved in a metric ton of annual events and campaigns– like the Washroom Inclusivity Project and U of T Pride Pub! They are also an excellent resource should a student need LGBTQ+ related counselling, or experience homophobic or transphobic discrimination on campus. Make sure to check out all the stuff they do here!
Before we close out today, we wanted to address the horrific shooting in Orlando. We’d like to share with you all the statement released by WINC executive in the day following the attack.
To incoming LGBTQ+ students: We understand that events like these may contribute to some trepidation in joining a large, unfamiliar city and being involved in the LGBTQ+ community. We want you to know that Orientation Exec has your back. WINC has your back. The Wolfpack has your back. The world can be a scary place, but we are doing everything we can to make your orientation experience– and your university experience as a whole– safe, fun, and comfortable. If ever you need anything, you have a vast community of LGBTQ+ students and allies to fall back on who can’t WAIT to meet you at orientation 2016!
ORIENTATION REGISTRATION OPENS THIS FRIDAY JULY FIRST!!! WHO’S EXCITED?
That’s all for this week, Wolfpack! Thank you for reading this instalment of our bi-weekly orientation blog!
On July 10th, our love for U of T is going to get downright nerdy– we’ll see you then!
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @woodsworthfrosh to keep up with us as we reveal important dates regarding orientation, drop hints about what we’re up to, and count down the days (literally) to orientation! You can also like us on our Facebook page— Woodsworth Frosh 2016.
WOODY WOODY WOODY!