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 wonderful mayor is an openly gay woman! Tourism Victoria even created an awesome map of all genders washrooms in the city and surrounding area.
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:
Paparazzi: 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: This is a great way to connect with other queer women if you’re visiting (or new to the city!); there are recurring members but there are always new faces. There’s a group for 20-40 somethings which is really active, and activities include everything from laser tag to burlesque shows to hiking! I haven’t been to the 30+ group (which I think tends to be more of a 40- 50+ crowd), but they’re very friendly and run weekly and monthly meetups.
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!
Pride: 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, and lots of wicked parties to choose from. There’s also an Alt Pride, committed to “centering identities and voices that usually don’t get centered”.
Crush Dance Party: This is a BRAND NEW monthly queer dance party! The first one was a huge success (read: SO MUCH FUN and drew in a big crowd); get ready for more great DJs and performances at the next one! Plus, funds raised go to a great cause (read more on their events page).
Intrepid Theatre hosts an annual queer theatre festival, OUTstages, in June. They put on other events too, like an incredible gay cabaret last December (Homo for the Holidays? Yes please!), check out their events on facebook.
Queer yoga: If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, there’s a new LGBTQTS+ yoga class that runs every second Friday. It’s by donation, and proceeds go to a drop-in for queer youth.
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!
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!
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.
Last month, Meg Cale (a queer blogger who happens to be a long time favourite!) put together a fantastic list of Lesbian Travel Blogs/Vlogs/Podcasts. I was really honoured to have been included, and it inspired me to put together a post about some of the great events for lesbians (and queer folks in general, in many cases) that happen here in Victoria. This list is nowhere near comprehensive, and I would welcome additions!