Posts Tagged ‘glbt issues’
Jane Jacobs would be proud.
For Toronto’s Northbound Leather, getting into the fetish-wear market started by being in the right place at the right time.
It happened “by virtue of the fact that we were located at ground zero of what was Toronto’s emerging gay culture in the ’70s,” says George Giaouris, the owner of the leather and fetish apparel retailer and manufacturer.
This year, Mr. Giaouris is celebrating his business’s 30th anniversary, but it’s really just a celebration of the current incarnation and name of the family business that got its start in Greece in 1961. Mr. Giaouris’s father was making metal closures for small leather goods when he saw an opportunity to expand into making the whole product – things like leather handbags, briefcases and globes.
A few years later, the family moved to Canada and, by 1970, the business had settled on Toronto’s Yonge Street. It was there that the store, which had started catering to hippies, found it was getting interest from a new market.
And so it began to cater to a new market: alongside the leather jackets Northbound makes and sells appeared items like leather pants, shirts, chaps and corsets. Other products, like restraints and the category euphemistically referred to as “percussion” are aimed uniquely at a kinkier customer.
“We were taken by the hand and led down the Yellow Brick Road,” Mr. Giaouris says. But that didn’t present a problem for the family business. “We were a very liberal family, very non-judgmental.”
I had started off Nuit Blanche at The 519, a community centre in Church and Wellesley, where the 13 Moons independent project was to be staged. When I came in, I found that the entire first floor had been transformed, enveloped in purple light and filled with art (including paintings by Nancy King, Chief Lady Bird) and performers. Sunset Services Ministries, a queer-leaning spirituality group, was involved in coordinating the different displays of art and performance.
One thing I dislike about Nuit Blanche is how there is so little time to engage in-depth with a work. I left early, just as the ceremony depicted in the sixth photo in this series was about to start. I wish I could have stayed longer; I wish I could have engaged more. This space felt most intriguingly holy.
When Aaron Hewitt walked into Striker Sports Bar as a first-time customer, the first thing he noticed was that the washrooms were gender-neutral. The second was that he had just stumbled upon a place to watch sports without dealing with the hostility that he’s experienced in straight sports bars.
Hewitt played sports as a child, but he says his experiences were negative, a common issue for some LGBT people. “There was a lot of bullying from staff and from other students. It’s awful and it makes you sort of avoid sports altogether,” he says.
As he got older, he realized that he missed both playing and watching sports, and decided he would not let hatred stop him from enjoying what he loved. The next logical step would be finding people with similar interests, so when he heard about Striker, he was excited to visit a new space where he could enjoy watching sports.
Striker’s owners dub it as the first LGBT-specific sports bar in Toronto. It opened on Sept 2, 2016, after a sleek renovation. “We designed it and hand picked every single thing in that place from tiles to floors to the seats,” says co-owner Vince Silva. “We poured our heart and soul into this.”
Expenses don’t appear to have been spared. Striker has 15 TV screens, impressive lighting and a frost-rail — a chilled strip along the bartop meant to keep drinks cold. It also serves pub-style food.