Church street is still a bit of a dump. Due to clumsy revisions regarding permits at City Hall back in the '90's, neighbourhoods have a hard time getting any new licenses for dance floors. So where there used to be multiple clubs to dance in - a staple of gay life - heck, life itself - we're down to just a few. The neighbourhood building stock is largely owned by people not connected to the area, and largely piecemeal and unrenovated. Rents are sky-high, comparable to the posh, uppie-glitzy Yorkville area of the city, despite being nowhere near its available spaces in number or quality.
Still - maybe things will change. The crowds are huge, the mood wonderful, the joy contagious. It's hard getting used to this thing called liberation. When I grew up, you couldn't even be caught sneaking a glance at a fella's nether regions, and everyone - and I do mean everyone - who had the slightest homo tendencies were in the closet. Now this was a small town, but it was indicative of the times.
Now sportsmen and athletes, police and soldiers are our friends, and argue on our behalf and include us. We can get married, without a ruffle. Every day is essentially free of the fear of being an outsider, and not just the weekend as in days of yore when you made it off the street and got into a gay bar or a house party. I feel like an immigrant - an immigrant in time, who lives in a city called Toronto that just happens to bear the name of the old one, and look a lot like it did - except it's a new one. A new outlook, new structures, new laws, new attitudes. Except I've got thirty some-odd years in the old: of being on the outs, scavenging for info, transgressing, escaping, hunting, hurting. I can hardly get used to all this goodwill. It's zany.
On that note, as my 93 year old neighbour says: "When I was twenty-one, my father gave me some important life advice he said I should always remember."
"What was that?"
|Crowds in queue, waiting to get into the renovated Cawthra Square Park|
for joyful boozery, dancing, Bianca DelRio,
and an appearance by Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario.