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GAYPOST: Toronto’s Downtown Gays vs. Toronto’s Uptown Gays

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who accused me, and not for the first time, of being a “downtown gay.”

This label wouldn’t bother me – after all, I live fairly close to the Village and am in a relationship with another man — but it seemed to be loaded with judgment.  As I thought about where this judgment was coming from, I remembered my own mindset from when I lived, for many years, in the Yonge-Lawrence neighbourhood.

  • Related: 12 reasons you know you are a Toronto gay

Living uptown, I believed (perhaps subconsciously) that somehow I was better than those who lived in and around the Village.  I had a clear image in my mind of what I thought these gays were like, a caricature of the negative stereotypes surrounding gay men.  I, on the other hand, felt I was somehow holding on to more of my masculinity than they were by choosing to be outside that world, venturing in on occasion but never truly being a part of it.

I think this notion came from a part of me that deep down inside still felt unhappy to be gay; a part that felt being gay was something that would prevent me from being a man.  Of course, years later I’d realize that there is a big difference between sexuality and masculinity.

I’m certainly not accusing my friend as being a self-loathing homo, but in my conversation with him he made it clear that he saw me as “immersed” in the Village and that he, on the other hand, doesn’t “fit in with the downtown gays” and lives in a “different world” from me.

This judgment of the entire gay populous living below Bloor saddens me.  We, as gay people, have fought hard to prove to the rest of the world that we can take many forms — masculine rugby players, lithe go-go dancers, and everything in between – and that one little part of our lives is not what defines us individually.

Yet here is my friend, categorizing an entire group of gay people as a group of people he definitely wouldn’t fit in with; a snap judgment based solely on their location.  And he’s not alone in this outlook of Uptown Gays vs. Downtown Gays.  However, as an uptown- gay-cum-downtown-gay, I can tell you what has changed for me in my venture to the dark side.

I can now walk to the Eaton Centre, I seldom have to cab it home after the bar, and yes – I do now find it a pain in the ass to meet you for a drink at Jack Astor’s on Don Mills.  Apart from that, pretty much everything else is still the same about me and I didn’t magically end up with high heels and a coke problem by moving close to the Village.

So go ahead, call me a downtown gay, because that’s what I am.  But if I hear you say it in a way that suggests you think you’re somehow better than me, I will fill a sock with all the change I’ve saved from rarely having to use the TTC and I’ll hit you with it.

 

Follow Simon on Twitter: @ScottishGuy

WP partying with Psy at the official MuchMusic Video Awards afterparty

Last night saw downtown Toronto again play host to the MuchMusic Video Awards and, for the first time, I had a VIP invite to one of the official after parties.

As the Canadian coordinator for MMVA co-host Psy’s dancers, as well as dancing in the show himself, my friend Ryan Scheel was invited to the official Universal Music Canada after party at Uniun nightclub.  Being Ryan’s BFF, I got to be his date for the event.  (Side note:  Ryan is attractive, single, and you can poke him on Facebook.)

When Ryan told me we’d be going to an MMVA after party the teenage boy inside of me got excited.  I remember watching the MMVA’s as a teen, imagining how amazing and lavish these parties must be; I fantasized about a room packed with celebrities, each of them able to be themselves as cameras were confiscated at the door.  This would be my chance to finally experience this from the inside.

We arrived at Uniun shortly after 12:30am and I took note of the limousines and absurdly long Lincoln Navigators parked around the block.  It seemed to be a good sign.  The bouncer at the front of the building gave us directions on how we would get into the club.  We made our way to a side door — how very VIP — and ventured inside.

At this point, I began to realize our night was not going to be what I had hoped and imagined for.

The massive nightclub was packed with people and in comparison to the blazers, bowties, and dress pants Ryan and I had worn, I spotted several basic Hanes-style white tanktops, a plethora of jeans, and even one sophisticated gentleman in track pants.

All I had wanted was to sit and watch Demi Lovato hammer back some Jager-bombs or see Avril Lavigne argue with husband Chad Kroeger over whose hair looked prettier in the nightclub light but it seemed that my night was going in a very different direction.

Disheartened, we made our way to the bar.  The booze may not have been complimentary but I certainly wasn’t going to leave without having a beer after I had schlepped my dressed-up self at midnight to a nightclub across town.

Sweating and unable to talk over the music, I made my way to the basement level of the club where the atmosphere was more laid back and the volume of people was closer to what I was expecting of a MMVA “VIP” after party.

After about ten minutes, I ran into a friend of mine, Mike Sleath, who is a drummer for various Canadian pop acts including Shawn Desman, Jesse Labelle, and Alyssa Reid.  We chatted about the MMVA’s and the fact that we were both doomed to wearing our jackets until we left the club for fear of revealing the sweaty mess underneath.  It was kind of a celebrity run in, I told myself; at least through association, anyway.

The basement level began to get busier, and I was introduced to many of the dancers from earlier in the evening.  Most of them were finalists on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and the pretty redhead was the winner of season 4, Jordan Clark.

Okay, so they weren’t exactly big name stars, but at least I’d be able to tell people I’d met someone at the party.

A circle began to form and one by one the dancers entered into it, showcasing their incredible, toned bodies and sensual dance moves.  It was like being in a scene from the latest Step Up movie.  Part of me felt the urge to jump inside and show them what I can do — which is pretty much just gyrate off beat like I’m having a seizure – however I smartly decided against it.

Someone grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “That’s Psy in the white shirt.”

Sure enough, 6 feet in front of me was the man who had been viewed more than a billion times on YouTube.

I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and readied my camera in hope of something awesome happening.  And then it did.  Psy broke loose of his minder and jumped into the dance-off circle.  I began recording, in spite of his minder’s best efforts to stop anyone from capturing the moment.  By the time he tried blocking my lens, I’d already posted the 7 second clip online.  Thanks Vine.

 

Shortly after, Psy was hurried out of the club.  It made me sad; the poor guy had just finished working his butt off at the MMVA’s and wanted to blow off a little steam.  Yes, people had their camera phones out but he wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.  He was simply dancing with some of the talented people who had help make his performance such a success.  It was hardly reason enough to cut short his fun.

The dancers seemed even more energized now and the party continued.  I locked eyes with an attractive blond who mouthed “hi” at me and I realized this was Matt Marr of SYTYCD and Glee fame.  I tried several times after that to put myself in his line of sight to see if he’d flirt with me again.  He did not, which makes me think he probably thought I was someone else the first time around.  Quel dommage.

Around 2am I felt it was time to call it a night.  I had a brief text conversation with my friend Dan Sadowski, front man for The Little Black Dress, about joining him at Danny Fernandes’ MMVA after party but the cry of the street meat vendor seemed way more appealing.  Sorry Danny.

In all, it was an extremely fun night and a fantastic experience but it certainly wasn’t the evening I had dreamt about.  The thing I’ve now come to realize is that with the number of parties happening in Toronto after the MMVA’s, the chances of finding a single party filled with wall-to-wall celebrities is non-existent.  But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m happy to allow the teenage boy inside of me believe that in a secret party venue last night, a list of Hollywood starlets got together with Rob Ford and smoked, um, a ham.

 

You can follow Simon on Twitter at @ScottishGuy for all the latest updates on the sweaty messes under his blazers.