2 min

Clubbing with the boys

She followed her best friend to the big city

Jolene Conrad has been in Toronto since the beginning of May and already she’s just one of the boys.

“I’m more at ease with boys,” says Conrad. “They’re easy to talk to. There’s no ‘What if this turns into something.’ They’re always on the go and open to meet new people, but I find it hard to meet more girls.”

It wasn’t work, school or the pursuit of a dream that brought Conrad, 27, to the big city, but her best friend, a gay guy named Jeffery.

The two met at the Le Château in Halifax, where Jeffery worked and Conrad’s then-girlfriend frequently shopped.

“After we broke up, he and I kept in contact,” says Conrad. “He moved here two years ago and left me all alone.”

Conrad started visiting her best friend every month in February 2000. Then her roommate got a new job and moved out.

Conrad had been tossing around the idea of moving for a while. “That was a kick in the butt for me to get my ass in gear.”

Within one week, she moved to Toronto.

She’s an only child with what she calls very supportive parents. “They just want me to be happy. They want me to settle down, though.”

But she says she has a male friend who acts as an instant date for those large family gatherings, though they probably suspect.

“He’s a big flamer. They look at us and go, ‘They’re bouncing around way too much.'”

Though Conrad misses her friends and family back in Nova Scotia, she says she’s very happy here. Her only real problem is figuring out the transit system.

“People are more accepting here. You can walk down the street and hold hands and not get too many stares. There’s no confrontation.

“Everybody is so friendly. People want to get to know you.”

Conrad says she’s often mistaken for a guy. Even though she started wearing tighter tank tops, some still walk up to her with the wrong idea.

“I went to a straight bar with a girlfriend and her [straight] friends,” says Conrad. “They said, ‘She’d make such a cute boy.’ I take it as a compliment. Straight girls find it a bit annoying though.

“Guys are cool. They come up to me and say. ‘Oh, you’re cute anyway.'”

Conrad likes the fact that Toronto has such a big and diverse queer community. She usually hangs out with “her boys” and goes clubbing with them in predominantly male establishments; she also says she finds it difficult to meet women.

“I know women are here, I just can’t find them.”

When in women’s bars, Conrad is shy and doesn’t approach people.

She’s gotten a few gigs go-go dancing, but says she’s still trying to figure out what she was put on the planet to do.

“I have five years of post secondary education and I’m still tying to figure out what’s going to fulfill me in life.”

For the moment, Conrad says she’s fulfilled by new experiences, a new job and meeting new people.

“I’m a social butterfly. Even though I’m shy, once people get to know me I don’t shut up.”