All the Gays of the world are set to descend upon Toronto for World Pride later this week. If you are like me, this news makes you want to escape the city but fret not, there are still plenty of ‘gay’ things to do in Toronto besides hit the beer gardens in the village. Besides, whats more gay than skipping the parade to go shoe shopping? So put on your cheeky Pride T Shirt and spread the word outside the village.
Note if you are looking for a World Pride Guide that tells you all that is happening – go to the official one not the unofficial one this pretentious west end boy made. This one is just about cocktails, brunches, shopping and other shit to do outside the village.
SHOPPING Toronto is quickly becoming a mecca of menswear options, so if you are ready to journey outside the village or Bloor street and Holt Renfrew or Harry Rosen, here is the rundown on my local favourites:
Philip Sparks is a local designer known for great classic menswear and classic brogues; Nomad has the best selection of Comme des Garcons in the city; Hudson Bay ,The White Space,Queen is the place to go for APC, Sandro, The Kooples, Filippa K, AMI, Patrik Ervell, Band of Outsiders, and 3.1 Phillip Lim. Jonathan& Olivia is where I go for Alexander Wang or ACNE studio. Gravity Pope stocks shoes, shoes and more shoes – most are good some are bad. dutil has the best selection of jeans, if they don’t have it you don’t need it Sydney’s is my hands down favourite store in Toronto – where else can you get that much Marni or Jil Sander? Their in house brand of denim is pretty sick too. And of course, when in Toronto you have to hit up one of the Drake General Stores
Yes, these are all West end stores, where else would you expect a Westend boy to shop? And besides it’s the good shit.
BRUNCHING Gays love to brunch, it’s in our genes. Personally, I prefer Dim Sum.
Union | 72 Ossington Ave The Swiss Train Ride might be the dumbest name I have ever heard for a Croque Madame but that Madame is might damn fine. Best I have had in years.
LaCubana | 329 Roncesvalles Technically my favourites are on the lunch menu but fuck you, it’s amazing. Order the Conch Frituras and the Pressed Cuban Sandwhich.
School | 70 Fraser Ave Standouts here at the SBC Benni and the Eggs’n’Spuds. The sconces are always a safe bet.
Lady Marmalade | 898 Queen St East I love the Cheddar and Spinach Waffles and the Huevos Rancheritos but the AM Poutine and Crepe Croque Monsieur are also good.
Skip all of the above and just go for Dim Sum at the Crown Princess (1033 Bay st). Yes, diehard Dim Sum fans will tell you that you can’t get good Dim Sum in the downtown core. Fuck that I am not traveling that far on a Sunday Morning. Go to Crown Princess and if you can’t be bothered to leave your house order in Dim Sum from Kowloon.
Lady Grey Sour | Northwood | 815 Bloor W | $12 Lady Grey Sour, with earl grey infused rye, lemonade syrup, lemon and bitters. The drink is refreshing, crisp, and dangerously easy to drink. The added touch of ground pepper as a garnish balanced the citrus and added some warmth. If you’re not in Rye, get bartender Ana Wolkowski to make you one of her other specialties – they are all good.
Manhattan | Cocktail Bar | 923 Dundas W | $16 I love a good Manhattan and this one tops the list in Toronto for me. 3 oz and made with house made bitters. How cannot you not love a bar that’s personal mantra is about a hatred of the blandness of Vodka. If you prefer Vodka, don’t drink here and quite frankly, don’t talk to me.
Caesar | Drake Hotel | 1150 Queen W | $12 If you are entertaining friends from the South, you should make sure they try a Canadian classic – the Caesar. My favourite is their version with tequila and cilantro but they also make a great classic Caesar.
The Lew Feild | Geraldine | 1564 Queen W | $18 This is a great spin on a mint julep – made with Absinthe, Fig Syrup, Fresh Mint, Bitters and served over crushed ice. Yum
We Choose Yer Own Adventure | Bar Isabel | 797 College st | $15 This is just a fancy way of telling you that the bartender can make you anything you like just by telling him the flavours you like but trust me it will be amazing. Also try the Hopeless Mermaid or Rittenhouse Sazerac.
Dark + Stormy | Rhum Corner | 926 Dundas St W | $9 A great classic version with Ginger Beer.
Soho House Pride Kick-Off Party | SOHO House | June 22 5pm
No one does pretentious Gay Elite better than SOHO, not to be missed. If you’re not a member make friends with a member quickly. The exclusive kick-off party offers a welcome cocktail from Grey Goose and DJ sets by Phil V (Fit, Big Primpin’), Kris Steeves (Fit, Her) and Aural (Pop Machine).
A Club Called Rhonda | The Drake Hotel | June 26 10pm | $10
After stops in NYC, Paris, Tokyo and Miami, A Club Called Rhonda returns to Toronto for a polysexual party celebrating sex and self-expression. From 10pm until late, all three floors of the Drake Hotel will be taken over for a dance-y extravaganza of house, disco and electro.
FIT Primpin | 99 Sudbury | June 27 9:30pm | $20-25
FIT meets Big Primpin for a West End Pride mash-up. Lots of room inside 99 Sudbury to groove with TS Madison, Tynomi Banks and Djs Max Mohenui, Blackcat, Phil V, Nino Brown and more! Some of the best dance moves you might see all week.
OTHER SHIT TO DO
Hedwig and The Angry Inch Sing A Long | TIFF Bell Lightbox | June 24 9:00pm If you have never seen this film, you can’t sit with us. Director-writer-star John Cameron Mitchell’s cult hit about a transgendered German rock star is a certified queer classic. For this presentation, director-writer-star John Cameron Mitchell and some special guests join the audience for this raucous sing-along.
Hustler White by Bruce LaBruce | TIFF Bell Lightbox | June 26 9:00pm | $12.50 LaBruce’s satirical portrait of the hustling life in L.A. was loosely inspired by Billy Wilder’s classic Sunset Boulevard. This is Bruce LaBruce at his best; he will be there to introduce the film. And yes that is Gay Icon, former Madonna Boy Toy, Tony Ward as the hustler.
Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint | AGO | On Now | Matthew Barney is brilliant. There I said it, so go see it. DRAWING RESTRAINT (1987-present) is a significant and long-term project for Barney, in which he proposes art-making as parallel to athletic training: the development of form occurs through resistance. You can also check out Francis Bacon and Henry Moore while you are there.
Pride By Design| Shangri-La Toronto | June 25 6:30pm | $175 Part Cabaret, part Art Auction, all Fashion. And it’s a great fundraiser.
HOW TO MAKE SURE IT ALL HAPPENS I am a huge techie and rely on my iphone to get around town. Make sure you have these apps downloaded for a fun Pride.
Toronto Bikes Let’s you know where the closet docking station is located so you can pick up your bike and more importantly if there are bikes available there.
Open Table so you can book your TO restaurants and skip the line up.
The LCBO app is perfect if you are not a local – find out the closet place to buy supplies and which locations are still open.