The Toronto Star raised a few eyebrows yesterday with an article titled “Exodus sees Church St. losing its gay village identity.”
Xtra’s already published a take-down over on the round-up blog, but there’s even more disturbing non-journalism in this story.
First, what “exodus” are they referring to? Zelda’s has relocated, sure. And so has This Ain’t The Rosedal Library (not that it was ever officially a gay business, but whatever). Other than that, the author points to the Alibi/Crews/Tangos shuttering, which is hardly an “exodus.” The bars in question haven’t moved anywhere. Are we seeing more gay bars over on Queen West and Queen East? Sort of, but not really, as the scene there is mostly mixed bars that have occasional gay nights and parties.
Then, to illustrate her point, the author talks to a handful of young women and trans people who complain that the Village has become irrelevant to them because it caters largely to gay men. This may be a valid point in that there’s a potentially underserved market for lesbians and transfolk who could take up residence in the Village, but it hardly points to an exodus. After all, when did the Village ever boast a large number of businesses catering to them? It can hardly be ‘less’ relevant if there was never a time when it was ‘more’ relevant. And isn’t complaining that the Village is too focussed on gay men like complaining that there aren’t enough Indian restaurants in Chinatown?
The whole point of the article is essentially to diminish the existence and power of a queer community and identity with clout in the city of Toronto, but it ignores the best ways of proving this: a) are the bars and clubs still packing in guests at night? and b) are the streets and businesses still bustling with gays during the day? The answer to both questions is yes. If anything, the big complaint I hear (and feel) is that gays (including lesbians and transfolk) want there to be more clubs and bars in the neighbourhood, so that there are more entertainment spaces overall.
And the reason there aren’t any new clubs — and why new lesbian and trans clubs won’t open any time soon — is that City Council has banned new club spaces opening north of Queen St. So the real villains of the story aren’t your local business, it’s your local councilman.
Why should we fight over a shrinking pie? Why not repeal the stupid law that throttling our community’s growth?