Today’s question: would I want to
travel/live/be seen in Ottawa’s gay village? The competition is tough:
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have set the bar high.
Before I answer, a quick glance at queer-owned and -operated businesses and events that
must be located in the Village:
Shopping: Wilde’s and After Stonewall
are landmarks. Props to Stroked Ego,
where I bought a cool tie clip for my bro. Anything a sex shop can do, Venus
Envy can do better. Plus, gay-friendly sex shops, comic shop and other.
Bars and clubs: other than Centretown
Pub at Somerset and Bank, all the clubs are located outside the Village.
Restaurants and cafés: The Buzz has
great food and drink; it’s intimate and the décor gives it a Greenwich
Village feel. Apart from chain cafés, not much else queer is cooking up.
Saunas/spas/gyms: there are a few, but
none in the Village. Is it too much to ask for someone to bring sexy back
Hotels: with the closing of the lovely
Inn on Somerset, there are no queer-owned hotels in town.
Events: the Pride parade is a must,
though not much is happening on a regular basis in the Village.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to call the
six blocks on Bank St between Nepean and James the Village. I even call it
home. The murals give it a definite charm, and my answer to the above question
is yes . . . but:
It needs a stronger presence, not just for
queer Ottawans but also for gay travel (and dollars) to reach it. Am I the only
one who thinks the old Blockbuster location should have been a queer hangout
and not – absolutely not – Sleep
Country? Ironic, like the Village is trying to tell us something. Wait, I think
I hear it: wake up, people! Get off your comfortable mattresses and go play, eat
and shop in your Village.
A gay flag, Sleep Country
and me . . .
I say let’s get together, come out
after hours and build a strong and vibrant Village that reflects the unique
qualities of our community. What say you?