United in Difference
West end prepares for 12th annual Queer Arts and Culture Festival
Just when you thought Toronto’s best queer summer festivals were all over for another year, organizers are revving up preparations ahead of the Toronto Queer Arts and Culture Festival's 12th year.
The festival runs from Aug 10 to 18; events will be held at various venues along Queen and Dundas streets in the west end.
This year’s festival theme is United in Difference. Organizers hope the festival will raise awareness about queer issues in the city.
New this year is a community fair and artist craft show, and the festival’s social-change forum, Youth Unconference, is being reintroduced. This year also marks the first time the festival will venture into the Church Wellesley Village.
The event is funded by local businesses and does not receive any government money.
Organizers say last year’s festival brought in approximately 15,000 attendees, most in the 16 to 28 age range.
Jola Sobolak, owner of Good Catch General Store on Queen St, has supported the festival in the past by hosting queer youth film festivals in the store’s backyard. “It helps us strengthen the youth in their self-identity, both in personal ways and their artistic career,” Sobolak says.
A one-day event when it began in 2001, the festival has expanded to take place over nine days. “This year will be the largest yet,” says Matthew Drobnich, festival vice-president and secretary. “We are teaming up with great people who are offering their service and talents.”
Friday, Aug 10 at 9pm
The festival will commence with a gala opening-night party at 1602 Dundas St W. Locals call this joint The Bar with No Name, while its owners prefer to give it a new name each night. On Aug 10, the bar will be called Le Steamée.
Saturday, Aug 11 at 11am
The Rhino restaurant, at 1249 Queen St W, will host a mix-and-mingle community fair and craft show. Community groups and vendors will be present. Table fee is $10.
Sunday, Aug 12 at 7pm
The Press Club, at 850 Dundas St W, is hosting the Smash Words Festival. The event showcases queer poetry and cabaret. Cover is $5.
Monday, Aug 13 at 7pm
Attendees can check out a historical tour of the Queer West Village by bicycle. This event will cover the queer and local histories of neighbouring areas. Those wishing to participate can meet at the front of the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W.
Tuesday, Aug 14 at 6pm
The 519 Community Centre, at 519 Church St, will host the Shout Youth Unconference. Past events have focused on discussing important issues facing the queer community. This year’s topic is A New Look at Young, Queer and Homeless out on the Streets in Toronto.”
Wednesday, Aug 15 at 7pm
Queer Eyes and Queer Ears is an art gallery tour in which cyclists ride from gallery to gallery – five in total – with 30-minute stops at each. Participants can expect to meet art curators and artists. Those wishing to join should arrive at Trinity Bellwoods Park, at the Queen St W and Strachan Ave gate at 7pm.
Thursday, Aug 16
The Authors Unconference Party at Glad Day Bookshop, at 598A Yonge St, offers attendees plenty of chances to check out local talent. Visitors can sit in on a panel discussion featuring new authors and special guests at 2pm, 4pm and 8pm.
Friday, Aug 17 at 8pm
The Alterna-Queer Music Night kicks off the weekend. Held at The Sister, at 1554 Queen St W, the event showcases alternative queer artists in support of the underground music scene. There is a $5 cover fee.
Saturday, Aug 18
The Queer West LGBT Film Festival will cap off the week. Organizers expect the event to represent the diversity of the queer community. 7:30pm at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, at 12 Alexander St. Cover is $5.