I don't go to gay bars often. I don't go to bars much at all, in fact, save for certain prearranged encounters and the like. I would, however, be remiss to deny the critical role that they have played in GLBT history, and in serving as venues for organizing the GLBT community. They're social challenges, to be sure, but by now I'm more than capable of meeting these challenges. Besides, there's abundant networking potential there. The problem is that three of the bars that I'm most familiar with--familiar being perhaps a euphemism--have closed down, perhaps for good. So, Friday night, I set up on a voyage of exploration north up Church Street, looking for new bars and new networking spots.
- The Black Eagle. I don't get leather. Yes, I own a leather jacket, but I bought it because it was cheap and it looks nice on me and is warm in winter. I don't object to the sexualization of leather and kindred wearable substances; I also can't emphasize with the connection process. Friendly crowd, mind.
- Woody's. The classic, the conventional, the mainstream. I ordered a Canadian Blue from a shirtless bartender, and drank it with alacrity. Woody's is known territory.
- Statler's Piano Lounge. I don't get Broadway songs sung over piano. I've nothing against the Broadway-and-piano lifestyle, but I don't understand it. Or, perhaps, I've not gotten to that point yet.
- Pegasus. The bartender was friendly when I confessed my ignorance of the fine points of alcoholic drinks, and made a rye and coke that I enjoyed. The attention that he paid was inversely proportional to the dozen customers scattered over this second-floor bar.
- lüb. jhubert may be pleased to know that, in Canada, u-with-an-umlaut is a marker of sophistication. So it is with lüb, a painfully trendy bar populated by my genetic and monetary superiors on Friday nights. Oxygen was expensive.
- Bar 501. There was something very dark, and mildly depressing, about this environment.
- Pizza Pizza. As I took a break for a slice of pizza, I remembered how I read in my Rough Guide to Canada that Church and Wellesley was the central intersection in Toronto's gay village, and being surprised when I got to this intersection to find surprisingly little on the ground.
- Fiddler's Green. I have no idea whether or not this Irish pub does double duty as a gay bar, though the guys doing Abba songs on the second-floor karaoke area might be a hint. At midnight, I drank my glass of Stella Artois (my thanks go out to the kind residents of Leuven) and sipped my chicken-and-vegetable soup even as hordes of Harry Potter fans were besieging Toronto-area bookstores. It's conveniently located just across Wellesley from the Wellesley TTC station.
My conclusion? There's Zippers or Hair of the Dog further south on Church Street, and there may be bars elsewhere that I have yet to explore. So far, Woody's and perhaps Fiddler's Green look like the most plausible choices. I'm still looking, mind.