Xtra hosted the sold-out workshop “How do we get spaces for queer women in Toronto?” at Glad Day Bookshop on Nov 20. The store was packed with people eager to discuss the issues surrounding the lack of spaces for queer women in Toronto — a topic covered in our short doc.
Following a discussion with community members, the crowd heard from Ace Dillinger, DJ and promoter; Myst Milano, a DJ, rapper, producer, organizer with RUDE Collective and Raven’s Vision; Carmen Elle, lead singer of the band DIANA, manager of the now-defunct Less Bar and mental health advocate; and Tania Morano, a DJ, bar manager at Voglie, host and promoter of Toastr, and co-founder of GirlPlay Toronto.
Here are some of their revelations:
“People used to come out in droves, and I’ve been doing this for a long time so I think that back in the day, there was a different kind of thing that brought us together . . . there seems to be, more than ever, a divide in who goes where,” Tania Morano says. The DJ and promoter added that it’s important for those creating spaces to do so for as long as they’re truly enthusiastic about their work. “Anybody who feels passionately about creating moments for people — just do it. And make sure you do it passionately.”
“Keep trying, because I feel like trying is what we all kind of have to do. And believe in your community and know that there are people — even if you throw a party and four people show up, at least you tried. And those four people are four people that you can turn into eight, that can turn into 10, that can turn into 12.” DJ and promoter Ace Dillinger advised. “Feel comfortable in who you are and what you’re trying to promote and what you’re trying to do — and know that there are people behind you that want to see you succeed.”
“There’s a lot of like-minded people here — exchange contact information, incubate.” Singer and manager of the now-defunct Less Bar Carmen Elle encouraged folks to mingle at the event, emphasizing the importance of connecting to community. Elle also praised the Instagram platform. “I think there’s a lot of power to these virtual spaces that we can utilize more.”
“My biggest piece of advice would be to be strong in what you want and not give up on it because people aren’t listening to you — to not give up on it because people aren’t taking it seriously. I feel like as women, as queer people, as racialized people, as trans people, we have all these forces conspiring against us to make us feel inadequate. And it’s hard not to give in to it, but you really have to be vigilant in knowing that you’re worth what you want — and to get it by any means necessary.” DJ, rapper, producer and organizer Myst Milano shared. “Believe in yourself, because the world doesn’t believe in us.”