Updated July 2020. This post started out as lesbian-specific and has since evolved, but you may find some of the info to be a little lesbionic.
The thing about Victoria is that regardless of whether you hit up any gay events while you’re in town, it’s a beautiful, safe city* to explore with your same-sex partner, or to meet up with a group of queer locals. It’s also a great jumping off point for exploring this magical island, and a short ferry ride to both Seattle and Vancouver. There’s a lot to be proud of in Victoria! Victoria’s public school board recently passed a thorough new gender identity policy, the city explodes with rainbows during Pride, and hey – our mayor is an openly gay woman! Tourism Victoria even created an awesome map of all-gender/gender neutral washrooms in the city and surrounding area, with accessibility information.
Hold on, you might be thinking, I heard that Victoria is a small city with a disproportionately high retiree population?!? You heard right! But there are way more people living here who are below retirement age! It might seem quiet at first, but have no fear if you’re young and queer: there’s lots to do in this city, if you know where to look!
Lez Go to Victoria:
The Vicious Poodle: Yes you heard that right, there are now TWO queer bars in Victoria! The Poods (I think that’s what the cool kids are calling it) is brand new; it opened mid-June 2020, and features Tuesday drag shows, Sunday drag brunches, a daily happy hour, drinks named after talented local kings and queens, and even a small patio!
Paparazzi: Formerly the one gay bar in town! The beauty of this basement dance bar is that after big queer events, you know where the after party will be. Pap has cheap drinks during the week and regular events; check their facebook page to see what’s happening when you’re in town.
Meetup/Facebook: Online groups are a great way to connect with other queer folks if you’re visiting or new to the city! Check out the Facebook and Meetup groups below for upcoming events:
- Any of these LGBTQ+ Meetup groups
- Queer Outdoors – Victoria and Vancouver Island; Queer Climbers of Victoria, BC (for outdoor/active events)
- SNAQCS (Cycloadventure Pals) (for adventures and trips on two wheels)
- Staches and Lashes Collective Events (drag collective with a focus on events for queer youth and kids)
- Queer Quills Writing Group (BYO writing project)
- Queer Stitch-craft: Victoria BC (for practicing, learning or teaching various kinds of stitch-craft)
- Queerabilities Victoria (for LGBTQ+ folks with disabilities)
- Victoria Pride Society is a great source for news and events all year
- Queerudition: The LGBT+ Workshop Series (free workshops by VPSs Youth Council)
- Qmunity (a Vancouver-based non-profit that works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives)
- The Trans Archives at UVic (host events related to trans history)
- The Trans Tipping Point Project (connecting trans youth to each other, trans adults and creative voice)
Pride: My post about Victoria Pride 2019 provides a comprehensive idea of what Pride looks like in Victoria. Victoria Pride Society’s family-inclusive Pride festival includes a great range of events; every year they kick it off with Drag Ball, there’s a Big Gay Dog Walk, a spoken word event, roller derby, and lots of wicked parties to choose from. In 2019 there was even a queer kayaking event, where MEC provided free kayaks, with a drag show on an island! There’s also an Alt Pride, committed to “centering identities and voices that usually don’t get centered”.
Intrepid Theatre hosts an annual queer theatre festival, OUTstages, in June. They put on other events too; once we went to an incredible gay cabaret last December (Homo for the Holidays? Yes please!), check out their events on facebook.
Roller derby: If you’re a queer woman, you understand why roller derby made this list. Check out the Eves of Destruction when they’re back in action!
Wicked Wench: again these events (for queer women and trans folks) tend to draw in more of the latter age group at their more regular events, but they throw a fun party! They also plan some amazing parties once a year, like their annual rooftop-bar volleyball event during pride, wuttt! Update July 2020: Wicked Wench no longer hosts events, but I’m leaving it on the list because they still occasionally run the rooftop volleyball during Pride. Crush Dance Party: A monthly queer dance party with great DJs and performances! Plus, funds raised go to a great cause (read more on their events page). Update July 2020: Crush no longer runs regular events but I’m leaving them on the list because they may host a Pride party in the future.
Accommodation: Thanks to Tourism Victoria, here’s a list of approved accommodations which do “not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in their employment practices, actively outreach to the gay & lesbian community and strive to create a gay-friendly experience for their guests.” Yeah!
If you’ve relocated to the city, you may find Queer Housing Victoria or Jobs for Queers to be helpful. Trans, Two-Spirit, and gender diverse folks who are looking for health and wellness information may wish to connect with the Rainbow Health Cooperative.
Victoria is a small city, and it’s not always obvious how much is going on. But once you know where to look, you’ll discover a vibrant community. Us queer women don’t spend every night girlfriend-ed up at home! Fellow lesbian travellers: this city is a welcoming* and beautiful place for you to explore with or without a partner. Do the touristy things, see more of spectacular Vancouver island, and then come say hi at one of these rad queer events!
* I’ve experienced being queer in Victoria from a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied point of view. My reality is undoubtedly different from how others might experience queer events and services here. Just like probably any city in the world, Victoria is not a queertopia free of all negativity. If you are aware of specific issues within any of the spaces listed above, or have personal insight you’d like to share, please let me know.