Showcasing the best of Toronto’s queer west end

Friday October 3, 2014.

The west end of the city, primarily the Queen St. W. strip from Ossington to Dufferin and along Dundas West, has gone through a massive facelift in recent years. This rapid rejuvenation has often been attributed to the re-opening of the Drake Hotel in 2004, but before the Drake put Queen W. on the map, there was a burgeoning arts community flourishing.

Dozens of galleries scattered amongst deteriorating storefronts, sandwiched between appliance retailers and pawnshops, created a new bohemia. Weekly queer parties were a regular occurrence in the warehouses and lofts within this once affordable neighbourhood.

Out of this scene in 2000 sprung a vibrant queer culture with a younger mixed crowd seeking something different, a group not hung up on their, or anyone else’s, sexuality. The area has adapted to the rising queer presence  now known  affectionately as The Queer West Village or to some Queer West Toronto

Toronto is already one of the queerest cities in the universe. And, while long known for having one of the biggest and most successful Pride celebrations in the world, a new smaller grassroots community festival aims to showcase an alternative side to queer culture in the city. Toronto Queer Arts Festival (Queer West Fest) official events took place this year from Thursday August 7 to Sunday August 10th. The festival welcomed some additional affiliated events, earlier in the week.

Queer West Fest showcases the best of west end queer culture by taking over various establishments, some queer operated and the others queer positive. One event was held in the Church St gay village.

Queer West is currently seeking funding from several financial  institutions and other foundations. We at Toronto Queer arts and Culture Festival wish to expand our annual film festival from an evening screening to a three day event. Each year we receive hundreds of entries that we have to refuse because of time constraints. Increasing the event will allow us to showcase the very best of emerging LGBTQ filmmakers both locally and internationally. It would allow greater engagement, between both artists and the community and would allow us to include networking events, artist workshops and panel discussions with film directors.

"The funding were seeking for film festival; $1400 for venue fee, $300 for brochure printing and another $300 for printers and banners (rounded up) taking a total sponsorship amount of $2000. We're hoping three of the eight doors, we are knocking on, give us $2000 each, the balance could possibly be used,  for a better arts festival, which currently receives no funding,  other than a song and prayer.."

"We will keep our supporters and stakeholders informed,  as we progress towards holding a better festival in 2015."  said Michel F. Paré, member of Queer West Board of Directors.