As my friend James and I were leaving the village, inching our way through the crush of people on Halloween night, he remarked, “If I see another camera I’m going to puke.”
I couldn’t have agreed with him more.
It didn’t help that we were being stopped every few minutes by camera-wielding spectators wanting a picture of my friend. He was dressed as a flasher with an oversized lifelike dildo sticking out of his shorts. But he wasn’t the only person flashing the street that night. The other flashers’ weapons of choice were handheld digital cameras.
Organizers of future Church St Halloween parties should consider placing the traffic barricades further south on the street. That change would give people more room to move around and give costumed participants who tire of all the flashing a chance to escape the spotlight’s glare.
Halloween on Church St this year made me think of the cover story in this month’s issue of The Advocate. Titled ‘Halloween: Is the Party Over?’ it’s about how Halloween street parties in major American cities have become overrun with straight spectators.
“Halloween street parties have always been the perfect excuse for gays to show their creativity in an atmosphere free of judgment and scorn,” Will Doig writes. “It was our secret – until word got out and the mainstream decided to crash the party.”
Though Toronto certainly isn’t San Francisco or New York, I can certainly relate to the article’s descriptions of traditionally gay street celebrations that have become overpopulated with camera-toting gawkers.
I have no problem with people who want to watch the show but this year’s event had too high a ratio of spectators to participants.
Instead of being a place to socialize or cruise, the night seemed to be one big photo opportunity. Madonna’s call to “strike a pose” in her song Vogue never seemed so relevant as it did in the gaybourhood on Oct 31. That’s not to say there weren’t things to like about the event.
Halloween on Church St is a chance for the city’s queer population to be creative and to socialize. It’s one of the few annual events in the city, besides Pride, where you get a chance to see people you might never cross paths with the other 364 days of the year.
Last Wednesday marked the reopening of the Barn. It was the first time the Church St institution has opened its doors to the public since closing in 2005. Judging from the steady stream of people coming in around 10 pm a lot of people are happy to see the Barn return. Despite the huge crowd I did get a chance to chat with some familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in months.