Toronto
2 min

Chatting up the guys at the corner

Squeegee kids say they're here for the money

WINDSCREEN HYGIENE TECHNICIANS. "Big Crunchie" squeegees at Church and Wellesley. Credit: Mark Bogdanovic

Love ’em, fear ’em or hate ’em, squeegee kids seem to be here to stay. They’re everywhere – and that includes the corner of the gay mecca.

There are always a few car-cleaning kids at Church and Wellesley these days.

I identify myself to two guys in their mid-twenties as a freelance writer for the gay and lesbian newspaper. They get panicked looks on their faces when I say the words gay and lesbian.

They both assure me they are straight. Many times. They want no misunderstanding about the fact that they dig chicks.

Statistics claim that one in three street youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual or transgendered. So much for the theory that queer street youth would hang out in the ghetto because it’s safer.

The interview is continually interrupted as one or the other keeps running out into the intersection trying to make some money.

The guys are white and wear nondescript T-shirts and baggy jeans covered in a film of dirt. Clean-cut, sport fan kind of guys. They aren’t clean shaven, but they have regular coloured hair and sneakers.

“If you’re not queer, how come you guys like to work this corner?” I ask.

They guarantee again that they are not gay. They’ve worked all over the city, they assure. They say Church and Wellesley has lots of traffic, good money to be made. And that the gay men have a lot of money and don’t mind parting with it.

Also, it’s not a rough part of town and they do feel safe here.

One guy asks for a cigarette. They talk about the partying they did the night before, drinking tons of beers and doing acid.

“Man, am I hung over this morning,” he says. He says he sleeps in a park in the area.

I also wonder where the teenaged boy I’ve seen on the corner in the past has disappeared to. He was either transgendered or a young drag queen, taking the time to re-apply his foundation on the corner, resting his make-up bag on the mailbox. He looked dashing wearing a tight, black and silver sparkling shirt, his squeegee resting by his feet. But I haven’t seen him around for a long time.

A third man approaches us. He seems to be in his thirties, with long brown hair in a ponytail. He carries a squeegee.

“I don’t like doing this,” he tells me. “I don’t do it all the time. I only work when I have to.”