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Old 03-25-2013, 10:33 PM
 
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Just how friendly and hospitable are the people in Toronto compared to Vancouver? Is it easy to fit into social groups there as a new immigrant who can speak English decently?

I'm currently living in Vancouver but though people here are pretty chill and laidback, i have found it to be fairly difficult to meet people and integrate into social circles here.

Also, which one is more gay-friendly?

I'm Asian by the way.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Toronto
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In regards to which is more gay-friendly, I think both cities are equally gay-friendly. I don't know much about Vancouver's gay community so I can't give you details about it, but I do know a fair bit about Toronto's having lived here my whole life and seen it change tremendously over the last twenty years or so (keep in mind that I am not gay, so this is not coming from someone within the community).

In the 90's, much of Toronto's openly gay men lived in the downtown area, generally east of Yonge St. Church St. was (and still is, in a way) the heart of the gay community. It was Toronto's Castro Street, and many gay-owned businesses operated in the area, gay men openly held hands and showed physical affection in the street, and the famous "Steps" were a bustling spot where gay men from all over Canada (and the word) would go to meet other gay me, chat, mingle, etc. There were also many gay bars in the area that were the centre of a vibrant gay night-life scene. Many people credit the gay community with introducing the rave scene into Toronto in the early 90's. Eventually, Toronto would go on to have the biggest and best rave scene in the world outside London, UK. The first time I visited Church St. was when I was 16. I had come for the photography shops, but didn't know exactly where on Church they were located. So I got off at Yonge /Bloor Station and walked all the way down to Queen St. For a straight young guy who had never visited a gay community in any city previously, I was pretty amazed by Church St., from the rainbow flags flying all along the street, to the men holding hands and hanging out in front of coffee shops socializing, to the open and friendly vibe that resonated in the community. There was no question this was a great place for gay people to live and congregate. When I visited Montreal's gay neighbourhood a year later and actually had something to compare it too, I realized that Church St. was not a gay ghetto, and didn't have the seediness of Montreal's gay area, where I was propositioned by gay prostitutes several times and saw a man performing fellatio on another man in a car parked on a busy part of St. Catharine's St. The contrast was striking. Toronto's gay community seemed to be wealthier, the neighbourhood very respectable and far from seedy. One major difference between Toronto's gay scene and other cities like Montreal, New York, and San Fransisco was that it had far fewer commercial sex establishments (gay bath houses). While there are a few, there are not nearly as many as in the other cities I mentioned.

When I moved to Toronto from Mississauga a few years later, I occasionally found myself on Church St. and saw how it began to change in the early-2000's. The "gayness" of the place seemed to become diluted, the atmosphere changed in ways I can't really explain. Gay men in Toronto were (and are) generally upwardly mobile. As acceptance of the gay lifestyle became pretty much universal in the city, many gay couples left the neighbourhood to live elsewhere in the city. Furthermore, a police crackdown on panhandlers and street kids on Yonge St. pushed many of them to Church and soon the famous Steps were plagued by street kids. Eventually the steps were done away with and the heart of the heart of Church St. was gone. Ths was just the beginning of a loss of many pillars of the community. In the years since the Steps disappeared, many gay businesses have closed down or moved elsewhere. The businesses have become more diverse and the overall "gayness" of the area has decreased from this combination of gay couples moving out and gay businesses closing down or moving.

While Church St. has changed over the years, it remains the symbolic heart of the gay community and many gay people still live in the area. It is the centrepiece in Toronto's annual Gay Pride Parade, which is one of the largest in the world. Even this Parade has changed tremendously in 15 years. When I first moved to Toronto, the Parade was a raucous affair with lots of dancing, water fights, nudity, and ostentatious displays of gay sexuality. In more recent years, the festival has gone from being R-rated to PG-13. With gay marriage legal in Canada, many gay men who established the scene on Church St. in the 80's and 90's had grown up and gotten married or were in long-term relationships. Some of them had kids. These factors and others led to the Parade toning down its raunchier, more r-rated elements. Personally, I think that's a shame, but it reflects the changes of the gay community in Toronto.

Nowadays, gay men and women have dispersed across the city. I think most gay men live in the Old City, but are dispersed all across it, in many different neighbourhoods. Acceptance of the gay lifestyle is almost as high as in any city in the world, so gay people have the freedom to live amywhere they want in Toronto and feel completely at ease. The exception to universal acceptance comes from some elderly Canadians, but more commonly from newcomers from more conservative cultures that frown on homosexuality, but incidents of gay-bashing in the city are extremely rare.

So, if you are a gay man (or woman), both cities offer an excellent quality of life and are very accepting of the gay lifestyle.

I've taken time to talk about Toronto's gay community because I have far less to say about the comparative 'friendliness' of each city. I have often heard from travelers and former BC residents that Toronto is a friendlier city than BC. I haven't been to BC in years, so I can't personally comment.

Big cities like Toronto can be difficult to penetrate (socially, I mean) because people live busy lives and are not always eager to make new friends. That said, living in Toronto I have made tons of friends, but you have to be proactive. Pick up the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation activities schedule and join some classes that interest you. Go on meetups.com and join groups of people who have a shared interest with you. Make and effort to get to know your neighbours - don't expect them to start up a friendship. I think people in Toronto are very friendly, but in a busy city like this, you have to make an effort to choose appropriate venues where you can meet people. If you are religious, you have a ready-made community of potential friends right there. There are so many way to make friends in the city. Bt don't expect them to just come out of the woodwork. You have to make an effort using some of the resources I mentioned earlier, and any other that you can think of. Once you are able to meet with people who share a common interest or hobby, making friends is then up to you to take the initiative and socialize withe people to are compatible with. Also, if you are gay, the gay community can be pretty tight-knit and has many grassroots organizations that you can get in touch with to find out about various community events and groups that you could visit or join as a way of making other gay friends.

Well, I hope this information helps. But I always advise people who are contemplating a move to another city to take a trip to that city (try for one week minimum) and explore it on foot, visiting as many neighbourhoods as possible and talking to as many people as possible. A trip like this will give you a much better idea of whether or not you like the city and feel you will in well there.

Peace, and good luck.

Last edited by TOkidd; 03-26-2013 at 10:07 AM..
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:05 PM
 
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Thanks TOKidd.

Does anyone else have some light to shed especially about how friendly both cities are relative to each other?
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Oakville, ON
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Lived in both, Vancouver is the friendlier city, no question, at least on the surface. The people are more laid back and outgoing and from my experience are more likely to be courteous on the roads and in person. I've heard it can be difficult to an outsider to break into social circles, and friendships are often "flaky" and lack substance.

Toronto in contrast is opposite in many ways. People be cold at best, rude and aggressive at worst. I encounter at least one hostile person almost daily. However, people tend to be very loyal and warm once you break the shell. It may take some time, but the bonds I've formed here in only 2 years are much stronger than the bonds I've formed in almost 30 years in Vancouver. I've heard others say the same thing.
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberated in TO View Post

Toronto in contrast is opposite in many ways. People be cold at best, rude and aggressive at worst. I encounter at least one hostile person almost daily.


And we're off....
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoke View Post


And we're off....
I ain't biting.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Oakville, ON
377 posts, read 1,518,659 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoke View Post


And we're off....
You can agree to disagree. It's something the locals don't notice, but it is obvious to many outsiders who come to this city.
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Old 03-31-2013, 04:57 AM
 
489 posts, read 1,054,319 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberated in TO View Post
You can agree to disagree. It's something the locals don't notice, but it is obvious to many outsiders who come to this city.
Most outsider (especially Canadians) have the preconceive notions about Toronto/Torontonians and only see what they want to see to confirm their beliefs when they get here.

This could be said about anyone in any situation, it's just human nature.
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:48 AM
 
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I would describe Torontonians as reserved, non-confrontational, indifferent but are polite & civil (usually but not every single person). People are not outgoing and social with people they don't know, but once you break the friend barrier then people do have strong healthy relationships. People tend to be very loyal and cliquish with their established social groups, which can extend back to high school. I found people might be a little more loud and outgoing in Boston where I live now (I think this is an American thing) but people are still similar in terms of sticking with established social groups that don't change much.

When I lived in NYC, it was very different. Socializing with new people was part of the lifestyle as people were always looking to expand their social networks, which seemed to change and evolve more. People also didn't sleep enough with the whole work hard/play hard mantra. I've never lived in Vancouver but I've heard people are more relaxed and friendly but that it is also takes time to establish real friendships out there. That being said, I honestly wouldn't expect things to be that different in Toronto from what you are experiencing in Vancouver except the bigger city presents more opportunities to meet people. I've heard similar stories from people who moved to/from both cities so I recommend you take the initiative to meet people, especially other new people who have also moved to the city. You will eventually be fine.

Last edited by johnathanc; 04-01-2013 at 09:42 AM..
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