Mainstream Toronto nightlife is very ‘straight.’ How can we make it safer for queer communities?

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@cabbagerollbaby ISABELLE’S NIGHT CLUB, KING ST W TORONTO ON — DISCRIMINATES AGAINST QUEER PEOPLE: As a gay queer person living in a city as diverse and progressive as Toronto, I typically don’t think twice about facing discrimination for how I present myself— until last night, when I joined some friends to check out a new club called ISABELLE’S. I was quickly made aware that my queerness was unacceptable, and not allowed at Isabelle’s. #toronto #nightlife #queer #discrimination ♬ original sound – TOMY UNIVERSE

Gender-based practices are so entrenched in our city’s nightlife culture that they’re rarely questioned, according to critics.

“Hi,” TikTok user @cabbagerollbaby says while smiling sarcastically at the camera.

“I’m gay and queer and I like to wear feminine clothes sometimes.”

In the video, he goes on to recount his experience at Isabelle’s, a newish bar on King Street West that opened in December 2022. Although the women with him all carried their purses in without a problem, he was stopped and told that, according to Isabelle’s dress code, men weren’t allowed to bring in purses. If the TikToker wanted to enter, he’d have to check his bag or lose the $20 cover he already paid.

“They have a dress code or style guide for men and for women as if this is 1949,” @cabbagerollbaby says while holding up a small black purse. 

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