The Homohop, a staple event for Toronto’s queer youth for decades, found itself without a home this month. The all-ages event, which is the primary source of funds for Lesbians Gays Bisexuals And Transgendered Of U Of T (LGBTOUT), has been cancelled until further notice after its venue Five nightclub pulled the plug just before its scheduled May 20 event.
At the beginning of May and with just two weeks before the regularly scheduled event, Homohop co-coordinator William Jackson says he was shocked to see an advertisement promoting a new event organized by a rival student group in its place.
The unexpected turn of events has become a focus for the on-going feud between the two student groups.
“After [seeing the ad] then calling Five and getting them to sit down with me… is when they told us that they were no longer going to have our event,” says Jackson.
In its place, Five is presenting Recess, an event for queer youth ages 16 and older organized by the newly formed U of T group Pink. Pink was organized as an alternative to LGBTOUT this past spring after a nasty debate over LGBTOUT’s political bent.
It’s a substitute the club says may increase revenue and get around a probable upcoming by-law that will prohibit anyone under 16 from attending all-ages parties.
“With the new legislation looking to make all-ages events 16-plus, we’re being proactive,” says Alex Koritiko, a manager at Five.
Koritiko maintains it wasn’t a snap decision for Five.
“Over the last three months we’ve been meeting with them,” Koritiko says. “It wasn’t a sudden decision. [We told LGBTOUT] if it doesn’t pick up, we’ll end it. We tried to make it viable.”
Jackson admits attendance at the Homohops had been down.
He says LGBTOUT was contacted by Five in April to discuss the possibility of restricting the event to youth 16 and older or having it become a 19-plus event, an option Jackson says he quickly dismissed.
“Our mandate is to provide a space for all ages. Doing plus 16 would no longer constitute a Homohop, it would be a plus 16 party. The logic we use at LGBTOUT is supportive of all-ages spaces,” says Jackson.
Pink representatives didn’t respond to an interview request by press time, but did post a fictitious Xtra interview transcript on-line on Five’s website (which was subsequently removed at Xtra’s request). In it, Pink cofounder Robert Kleinman states he’s unaware of the circumstances under which Five and LGBTOUT ended their partnership.
“This seems to be an issue between Five and LGBTOUT, which I don’t know enough about to comment.”
Kleinman, who organized the Homohops last year while he was LGBTOUT’s social coordinator, resigned in March, citing he found himself “more and more at odds with LGBTOUT’s values.”
The Homohop, which has been running for more than 30 years, moved to Five in 2001 after losing its venue on the U of T campus.
With the event on hold, LGBTOUT expects substantial financial losses.
“It was our sole source of revenue,” says Jackson. “We receive some money from the university every year but it [the Homohop] makes up the majority, like 90 percent of our revenue.”
So what’s next for the Homohop? Jackson says LGBTOUT will take some time to assess the future of the event and to find a new venue. He says he’s optimistic that the event will be back up and running by September at the latest. In the meantime, LGBTOUT has an all-ages outdoor party in the works for Pride weekend, as well as a campus event.