– Press Reviews and releases 2008

Queer West Fest Toronto: June 13th to 22nd, 2008

Thursday May 29, 2008, Press Release by Bryen Dunn bryendunn.com:

Berlin has one, Copenhagen has one, and now Toronto has one. Queer West Fest is an event that showcases the best of alternative queer culture, taking place at various west end Toronto establishments from June 13th to the 22nd. “It’s an eye-opening experience for many people to see such diversity and acceptance”, said Chris Mitchell, Marketing, Publicity & Exhibitions Manager, Gladstone Hotel
The week is comprised of 10 days of programming, from musical performances and DJ dance parties, to Dirty Bingo and a community fair. Many known queer or queer-friendly establishments participate in the roster of events planned. Opening night, Friday the 13th, has Will Munro’s post-punk NOT T.O. at the Beaver Café. The following day is an afternoon Community Fair at the Drake Hotel with dozens of artists, vendors and organizations. The night then ramps up with a naughty evening of Dirty Bingo, for the first time on Queen Street West at the Friendly Bar. Sunday is the hugely-popular annual noon Pride Ride from Sunnyside to the Beaches.

The week continues with a human rights panel discussion, an independent film festival, a Socrates-style conversation café, and art exhibitions. Partnerships with the bear-influenced Fur Real Art Collective at Gallery 1313, and Leif Harmsen’s HOMODIGITAL Art Show at the Fountain Contemporary Gallery are other notable highlights of the week. The Fest concludes with Knotty Knights, an 80’s Dance Party at Lot 16 on Saturday, a Family Brunch at Mitzi’s Café on the Sunday afternoon and a phenomenal closing performance by Queerly Beloved, a 24-voice Men’s Chamber Choir at Emmanuel Howard Park United Church on Sunday evening.

The Gladstone Hotel plays host to three separate events, including the monthly social networking series Java Knights, the Queer Ears and Eyes exhibition, and Frydaze early evening matinee with performances and DJ’s. Wednesday’s continue to be queer despite the recent Hump Day Bump jump over to Wrongbar, adding yet another queer element to the burgeoning strip. “Queer Ears and Eyes” is supported by Pride Access and Diversity Grants, and spotlights an assortment of queer-identified musicians and artists with live performances and an art exhibition.

The Gay West Community Network Inc is proudly celebrating their recent incorporation in April. The Network is now comprised of a full slate of Board Members and several different committees for fundraising, programming, sponsorship, and media relations. The organization is a not-for-profit centre that produces performing arts festivals and outreach programming for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, questioning and two-spirited (queer community). Many self-directed events happen throughout the year including the Bike Club, Java Knights, Wilde Chats, and the newly formed Queer Peers. This new program aims to match queer youth with mentors for discussions on personal or career decisions.

Queer West Fest – Press Reviews 2008

Queer West forum focuses on gay rights

Parkdale-liberty The Villager Newspaper

BY JASON SAHLANI June 25, 2008 02:31 PM

Capping off this year’s Queer West Fest, a 10-day international queer festival in Parkdale or the new ‘Queer West Village’, was a forum and educational workshop on the state of human rights for the lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual and queer (LGTBQ) communities around the world.

Hosted by local organization Queer West Arts and Culture Centre with the support of ACT Toronto (AIDS Committee Toronto), the event was to premiere the documentary Until the Violence Stops (V-Day) but because of the dialogue generated by the speakers the group opted to continue their discussion instead.

“In Mexico, many people are assaulted and beaten based on what people interpret to be a lesbian or gay look,” said Carolina Gama, a member of Mujeres al Frente (Women in the Front Line), a support group for Latin American LBTIQ women and transgender persons from Mexico, Central and South America living in Toronto. “Just having short hair, loose clothes, not wearing makeup, anything not conforming to the female stereotype” would be a gay look.

Gama went on to detail the problems Latin American LGTBQ women face when claiming refugee status upon entering Canada.

“A common problem Mexican LGTBQ people face is being denied protection as a refugee because they can live in Mexico City without any aggression, so they are denied refugee status and told to go back even if they don’t live anywhere near the city,” said Gama. “Not every LGBTQ who is tortured, violated, beaten, raped is granted asylum in Canada.”

The second speaker, Andrea Siemens, has worked extensively with Amnesty International’s Refugee Network and Christian Peacemaker Teams overseas in Uganda and The West Bank and said the persecution some had to face could be found in almost all aspects of their society.

“A very widely read weekly tabloid in Uganda have at least three times published lists of 30 to 40 people that they identified to be gay or lesbian by name and at times dates of birth,” Siemens said. “These people would lose their jobs, their homes and have to deal with people who can be very aggressive.”

Siemens added she encountered a number of people overseas who hold the perception that the system in place to accommodate refugees or asylum seekers in Canada is easily accessible, but said in reality it can be difficult to secure status.

“Even with all the documented problems it’s still very difficult for someone from Uganda identified as queer to come to Canada and say ‘I’m facing persecution’ and be granted asylum,” Siemens said. “It’s hard to believe and it works on a case-to-case basis, but one of the issues that comes up is proving it.”

Moderating the event was Parkdale resident Michael F. Paré, a longtime queer rights activist and founder of Gay West, who allowed the dialogue to remain open but focusing on the issues.

Eventually the discussion turned to steps the LGBTQ communities in Toronto could take to help build a stronger support network for victims of human rights abuses.

“As more queer people come here and get active, then that will help bring more attention to problems and build stronger networks,” Siemens said.

Gama agreed.

“I have a lot of faith in people, I think we have to speak up, we must fight for our rights on a daily basis,” Gama said. visit queerwest.org.

Thursday June 19, 2008 Pride Issue NOW entertainment Weekly – Go West

You can’t just do Pride by installing yourself at the corner of Church and Wellesley any more. West Queen West is so gay, some people are calling it West Queer West, and there’s now a full-fledged Queer West Fest (queerwest.org) that’s heading to the finish line this weekend.

Look for the Frydaze Musical Madness event Friday (June 20, 7 to 10 pm) in the Gladstone Hotel’s Melody Bar (1214 Queen West), featuring People You Know, the Torrent and Boylesque.

Link: http://www.nowtoronto.com/guides/pride/2008/story.cfm?content=163636

HOT Toronto Magazine– Queer West Fest is the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender festival in the City of Toronto, before Pride week. The third annual Queer West Festival will be 10 days this year, from Friday June 13 – June 22, 2008. The main point of the festival is to show that there is a real and strong alternative to traditional Pride Festivals.

Pride Toronto week doesn’t officially kick-off till June 23rd. Why Wait? We’re Here. We’re Queer and We are Waiting for You!

Friday June 13 – -nehked.com [Nehked.com’s posts have been featured on numerous celebrity gossip websites and main-stream news sources, such as Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, and USA Today. About the Authors Biff and Twila are two cynical Canadians who have a penchant for procrastination. Not surprisingly they spend most of their office time commenting on the interesting and juicy lives of others.

Excerpt – This weekend in Toronto – “Queer Fest West – jumping ahead of the big pride bash later this month, the Drake and Gladstone crowd celebrate being gay AND hipsters. Events include an arts and crafts fair in Trinity Bellwoods, a Bear Fair and a kickoff party Friday at the Beaver (which I hear has amazing cupcakes from a line called ‘Frostitution’). Various times, locations and prices (many events free). ”



Calgary – Outlooks Magazine- June 2008 (Pride Issue)

By Doug Ross

The Third Annual Queer West Fest is a ten-day, non-profit, alternative festival, June 13- 22, for everybody with a queer perspective—regardless of gender or and vibrant is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for individuals, groups and organizations.Their goal is to foster individual empowerment, to sponsor relevant activities and to give everyone a better sense of the queer community spirit that’s thriving within Toronto’s west village neighbourhoods.YAHOO!

Some of their upcoming fest events include: Fur Real: Bears without Boundaries Art Show (exploring themes related to the bear community), Queer West Film Fest (only sixty seats available), Java Knights—Amnesty International Panel Discussion (the many controversies surrounding the Beijing Summer Olympics will definitely get airtime), the Dirty Bingo Fundraiser (proceeds are donated to the Gay West Community Network), Knotty Nights Dance Party, Toronto Pride Ride—as well as the promise of a big opening night “surprise” that directly correlates with the infamous Stonewall uprising that took place in 1969 in New York. And no it won’t be one of that riot’s drag queens or arresting officers! Another of the fest’s events that’s sure to please will be the performances of, Forte, the Men’s Chamber Choir that consists of two dozen incredibly talented members drawn from within the city.Although Forte isn’t exclusively gay in its membership, its repertoire or its outlook, you won’t be disappointed while listening to these amazingly gifted voices.

Originally published Fab Magazine Thursday June 12 – 2008 – Issue 348 by Bryen Dunn bryendunn.com

The queer and near the delights to be found in a more downhome Pride event in Queer West.

The west end of the city, primarily the Queen St. W. strip from Ossington to Dufferin, has gone through a massive facelift in recent years. This rapid rejuvenation has often been attributed to the opening of the Drake Hotel some five years back, but before the Drake put Queen W. on the map, there was a burgeoning arts community flourishing. Dozens of galleries scattered amongst deteriorating storefronts, sandwiched between appliance retailers and pawnshops, created a new bohemia. Weekly queer parties were a regular occurrence in the warehouses and lofts within this once affordable neighbourhood.

Out of this scene sprung a vibrant queer culture with a younger mixed crowd seeking something different, a group not hung up on their, or anyone else’s, sexuality. The area has adapted to the rising queer presence and Queen West is now affectionately known as Queer West.

Toronto is already one of the queerest cities in the universe. And, while long known for having one of the biggest and most successful Pride celebrations in the world, a new smaller grassroots community festival aims to showcase an alternative side to queer culture in the city. Queer West Fest takes place June 13 to 22, the week prior to the massive outdoor street party around the Church and Wellesley ghetto, with 10 days of eclectic programming.

Queer West Fest showcases the best of west end queer culture by taking over various establishments, some queer operated and the others queer positive.

Festival Guide 2008

Fri. June 13 – Opening night, on a normally unlucky but in this case celebratory day, Will Munro’s post-punk NOT T.O. explodes from the Beaver Cafe. DJ 4-Est The following day is an afternoon Community Fair at the www.thedrakehotel.ca with dozens of artists, vendors and organizations represented. “We may love club hopping around the city, but we come home to Queen West,” notes curator Mia Nielsen.

The night then ramps up with a naughty evening of Dirty Bingo at the Friendly Bar. Dirty Bingo was a regular staple at the Living Well Café before it met its demise a few years back. “It actually ended up being a positive thing for me,” says bingo-ball buster Shirley. She now gigs weekly at various bars throughout the city. Prizes range from bongs and dildos to bar tabs. Everyone hoping to win goes wild when she calls out her favourite number, O-69. www.shirleysdirtybingo.com

Sun. June 15 – The popular annual Pride bike ride from Sunnyside to the Beaches takes place at noon. Last year 25 cyclists rode the route decked out in boas and biker shorts. The summer weather is just starting to heat up and most riders take this as an opportunity to get a tan base, happily exposing lots of luscious skin. The ride is as much about cruising each other as it is cruising along the lakefront. If you fall into either of these categories, get ready to pedal your ass. http://www.queerwest.org/bikeclub.php

Tues. June 17 The gay-operated establishment the Gladstone Hotel plays host to a significant number of queer events throughout the year with its expansive mix of homo happenings. It would only seem fitting that Queer West Fest has three of its major events there starting with the monthly event Java Knights. Java Knights has been taking place the last Tuesday of every month for the past four years but the June edition (featuring a human rights panel discussion) actually falls one week earlier to align itself within the Queer West Fest schedule. Confirmed panelists include Carolina Gama (Mujeres a Frente) and William Payne who will be discussing homophobic and transphobic violence in the Colombian civil conflict. It’s another event that draws a very diverse mix of ages and genders, with the topics typically prompting freewheeling debates and discussions.

Wed. June 18 – Queer Ears and Eyes is a night of musical madness and visionary views. This midweek event spotlights live performances by GiraGira.gif and Vivek Shayra, in the Gladstone’s Melody Bar. A concurrent queer arts exhibition, in the more intimate Art Bar, features works by Chantelle Gobeil, Mick Fin, Philip Cairns and Michael F. Paré. An artist reception from 7-9pm with music by sexy sounds dispenser Fait Dormi will erupt into an all out dance party ’til 2am. Only Queer Ears and Eyes” was supported by Pride Access & Diversity Grant (Pride Week Grass Roots Project Grant) through Community One Foundation Following the art show was a night of musical madness with live performances by Vivek Shraya and GiraGira.Gif Band, followed by a closing queer dance party with DJ 4-Est | Gladstone Hotel 1214 Queen St. W, 9pm. www.gladstonehotel.com

The Queer West Film Fest, a truly independent film festival with both local and international filmmakers on the roster. The event takes place in the outdoor parking lot at the Good Catch General Store starting at dusk. Long time Inside-Out volunteer Forest Lightbody is in charge of programming and promises, “there will be some films not previously shown publicly in Toronto.”

Thurs. June 19 – Wilde Chats, a Socrates-style conversation held at Tinto’s Coffee House and lead by Gay West Community Network Inc founder, Michel F. Paré. “At my age I will continue to be the bridge builder, the one who can enable good things to occur as I have in past years. The one who uses life lessons to be compassionate in regards to others and to actually see ways in which I can bring about warmth and agreement,” he proclaims.

Fri. June 20 – Frydaze is an after-work every evening showcase taking place at the Gladstone Melody Bar with queer bands Plus Toronto’s first all-male burlesque troupe, Boylesque, guaranteeing sweaty fun. People You Know Trio www.myspace.com/peopleyouknowmusic – The trio fuses jazz, blues and rock vocals with funk and hip hop percussion to create a cocktail of strong lyrics with delicately powerful melodies and funky beats Torrent Trio www.myspace.com/thetorrentrocks – post-punk trio combining 80’s new wave, synth and guitar melodies – Gladstone Hotel 1214 Queen St. W, 7pm, www.gladstonehotel.com

Sat. June 21 – The closing weekend goes out banging with Knotty Knights, an ’80s dance party held at Lot 16. This was one of the more popular parties last year with the tiny bar filled with a frenzy of grinding bodies.

Sun. June 22 – Recover at the afternoon Family Brunch at queer owned Mitzi’s Sister and then catch a stunning evening performance of Queerly Beloved by Forte, the 24-voice gay men’s chamber choir, at Emmanuel Howard Park United Church. www.mitzissister.com

Ongoing The bear-influenced Fur Real Art Collective at Gallery 1313 Presents: “Fur Real: Bears Without Boundaries Art Show’.’ Gallery 1313. It included the works of Scottt McEwan, Freshdiscoporkergass, Mark Ciale, Alan Charlesworth, Bill Pusztai, madame Hair, John Roberts, Jesse Inkol, Charlie Hunter, Andrew Harwood, Geo Romolo and J.P. Kane held at 1313A Queen St. West www.g1313.org and local artist, and rampant nudist, Leif Harmsen’s HOMODIGITAL Art Show at the Fountain Contemporary Gallery are other notable highlights of the week.www.harmsen.net

All events are, in true D.I.Y. spirit, free or PWYC.
Thursday, June 05, 2008 Queer festivities bloom across the region – James Burrell / Toronto Xtra


The queer west crowd gets a head start on Pride with the Queer West Fest, running Fri, Jun 13 to 22. Events include a community fair and marketplace at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St W) on Jun 14 and the fourth-annual Pride Ride, a bicycle ride organized by the Gay West Bicycle Club. The 25-kilometre ride takes place Jun 15 at noon; riders will be meeting up on the north side of the Queensway, below Colborne Lodge Dr.

This year will also mark the first-annual Queer West Film and Video Fest on Jun 18. Hosted by Gay West board members Michel Paré and Nate Fuks, the one-night fest takes place at the Good Catch General Store (1556 Queen St W); doors open at 9pm with screenings beginning at 9:30pm.