It would be difficult to come by the words to describe how much I needed a vacation. My last semester in school has been difficult in so many ways. First, being an unpaid intern working 60 to 70 hours a week while still maintaining a weekend job, and trying my hardest to maintain the blog, was insane enough. Throw in a few other items that would have caused the strongest person to have a stress related meltdown, and voila! Bake in the oven at 450 for 14 weeks… you get the idea.
People were confused as to why I would go to Toronto, Canada for spring break instead of a place with a climate more like Orlando, ie tropical. But it was a nice, needed change of pace. And although I’ve seen Chihuahuas that shiver less than I did walking around that city, it was wonderful. Something we don’t get in the south is the comfort of entering a warm coffee shop from the single digit temperatures outside, snow falling across the city, with the wind from the great lake whipping through the buildings. We get wind. And we have lakes. We have coffee shops. That’s about all we have in common.
Toronto is one of the great cities of the world, an amazing mix of eclectic shops, amazing food, friendly people, and liberal attitudes toward homosexuality. The village, the big gay district in the city, is a great location filled with bars, cute boutiques, and the much needed coffee and tea shops. My host, a great friend who emailed me through this blog, told me the secret to signaling a hookup in the grocery store in the village. Apparently, you get a basket, place a single cucumber in, and walk around. If anyone visits, or lives there, and can back this up let me know.
But it’s the people of Toronto that make the city so incredible. Toronto is a busy place, and if you are downtown you’ll find the impeccably dressed business men and women wondering through the streets. In the other parts of the city you’ll find a more mellow and relaxed crowd- the skyscrapers and CN tower always looming in the background. A city of that scale and population you’d expect to be more like NYC- a bit rude and crass. Perhaps keeping with the Canadian embrace, Toronto isn’t so. It was obvious that I was not used to the cold, mostly because you could audibly here my bones vibrating, and merchants would apologize for the cold, assuring me that normally by the end of March, its beautiful out.
People there are also willing to have a bit of conversation with you. I managed to get more than my fair share of free stuff just by being friendly.
Then there was the treat of the Lesbian and Gay Archives. A blog reader, David, whom I’m extremely grateful for, extended the invite for a tour of this absolute treasure chest of LGBT history. Porn, pulp novels from the 40’s and 50’s, photos, posters, buttons, matchbooks, magazines, journals, books, games… the list goes on. The organization has such an impressive collection of history under its roof- things you might look at and throw away. But to a historian, to the LGBT community, the archives represents a culture coming out of the shadows of the closet and fighting just for basic recognition. It was inspiring to look at a few early photographs of the fight for equality in Toronto- and those amazing 70’s mustaches are always a treat. If you live in Toronto, or are visiting, take a look at their website and find their visiting hours. Its well worth a little trip into the village.
And I have to say once again, a huge thanks to David for arranging the tour and the wonderful gift. I will treasure it.