Thursday, July 21, 2016

Toronto: Too efficient, too friendly? - Part 3

Free subway newspaper even celebrates

Note:  The following blog is part of a series of blogs about Toronto, made possible by ManAboutWorld Magazine and the Toronto as well as Ontario Tourism Board, visit for a FREE 3 month subscription and download the app for your Phone or Tablet today, to keep up with all the best news in LGBT travel from global correspondents, like myself around the world.

Europe and US collide in this magical, northern city. Whether you’re dealing with transportation – much more convenient and efficient – or just picking up the bill at your table, Canada (and Toronto specifically) is the spot to be for a city-feel that’s openly friendly and welcoming! Plus, they know how to celebrate Pride the right way – all encompassing.

Departing the Airport at
Baggage Claim

Whether it’s the money that’s enticing, or it’s simply genuine, Toronto knows how to properly welcome people into the city. I easily got downtown on the UP Express – but only that, I was greeted after customs by a rainbow flag on the exit doors – and a welcome to LGBT travelers at the final station. Rainbow flags were not only at the gay spots, but at every business in the city. And EVERY new person I met who heard that I was visiting told me “welcome” and wished that I had a great time there. 

In New York we expect you to come and it’s assumed that you’ll be having the time of your life, because simply – you’re here; it’s New York after all. In Toronto, you get reminded constantly; you have fun because the people are all cheering for it.

My Toronto guide Felipe Welcomes me
However, one thing might be too efficient: individualized Credit Card swipe/chip machines. Getting our Thai food (my first meal, of course) – I knew we would split it – but I didn’t realize it would be exact! She came to our table, presumable to collect cards – but suddenly she held out the hand-held reader to me and when I reached up to swipe my card in her machine – I didn’t realize, she was handing it to me (dramatically, I dropped it). Only in Europe and – well maybe even Asia – they have systems (and the semi-rude practice) of paying at the table. While perhaps it’s more efficient for us all, I like the 1) requesting of the check – 2) receiving it (time to read and process) – 3) putting down a card – 4) get it returned and – 5) not being stood over while giving an appropriate, but still generous tip. It’s much more refined – and you close your conversations at dinner, not abruptly leave!

Daniel & the GAYographer at the Treehouse, note
#NYC Pride Orlando bandana
Anyway, back to my next chapter in the Pride weekend-story – I’ve now explained up through the Pride Parade – afterwards, I met college junior Daniel – just standing at a soda machine at a Pizza shop. As he stood there in a confident but relaxed way, he knew exactly what he was doing. We bonded over nothing – probably something to do with Canadians and their amicability – and quickly he won a new friend. Nothing turns me on more than a twink who knows what he wants (here namely me) and isn’t shy about it. He not only came back to my table – but returned for my number and a hinted to join us (I was floored). While I usually do the advances, I guess these are the only boys I ever really connect with. The shy guys I scare – or don’t across my path (nor better, fall in it).

I helped to connect some friends and sought out some final dance moves at the party at Treehouse, an open-air finale of wild beats on a grassy college quad (of Ryerson College; Daniel’s campus). The best Pride finale I've likely seen, we were just loving it as we stripped down to not much to get our grove on in the dwindling twilight.
Joe Jonas' DNCE performs as I look on with friends.

Still one of my greatest friends was in Toronto, with his fiancé – so I had to dip out and meet up with them to see Joe Jonas (DNCE). We all thought it would just be a few songs – but they played for an hour! A free concert in the main Dundas Square – capped of by his big hit “Cake by the Ocean” – Daniel also joined us for this other simultaneous end to the weekend. 

We walked along Church Street trying to find somewhere outside, somewhere open – and not packed – and ended up at a a small bar where we celebrated and chatted (and frankly I was exhausted). Sadly the (mostly, but now intoxicated) suave, confident boy told me he would need to head back home (eventually) so we called it a night, as my friends did too. We caught an Uber back to the InternCon – you always meet your favorite people on the last day right?

Brian and Gordon post-Jonas
Happy Pride Toronto!

Postlogue: Upon departing the country (as you’re headed into customs), don’t get angry with the (uncustomarily rude and inefficient) security line staff, you’ll be so upset that (karma will strike and) you’ll forget your wallet, like I did. 

Thankfully, you can still depend on the kindness of strangers - and the great Canadian friends you've made: you’ll be certain to get it back (in due time!).

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