Just over a month ago, the Halifax Pride festival was in full swing, and the city was abuzz with LGBTQ (that's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or questioning, to you) activities. There was a film festival curated by Thom Fitzgerald, a Dykes vs. Divas softball game (pitting drag kings against drag queens) and tours on the Homo Hopper, as the city gathered, partied and paraded to celebrate diversity.
But that was in July. If you're a student new to the city, you probably missed all the fun. So, where's a gay student in Halifax looking for LGBTQ-targeted fun and support to go when it's not Pride Week? Don't worry —the city has a lot to offer in other months, too.
If you're looking for a decent LGBTQ support group, you might not have to look much farther than your own campus. Dalhousie University, the University of King's College and Mount Saint Vincent University all have official societies devoted to providing queer students with support and advocacy (DalOUT, the King's Pride Society and Mount Pride, respectively). NSCAD University elects a queer rep to student-council each year, and this year, the student council plans to heavily promote the idea of a queer society (which has existed in years past). Since the school year's just starting, many of the societies are still getting organized, but they should have more concrete details available for students soon. And take heart, Saint Mary's University students: while your alma mater currently doesn't have an official LGBTQ society, DalOUT's events are open to everyone.
Beyond campus, the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project (2281 Brunswick Street, 429-5429) is definitely worth checking out. The centre's services are targetted towards LGBTQ youth aged 25 and under. They have regular business hours (and provide counselling), Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and also hold one night activity per week—night programs run on a revolving schedule, and are usually on Tuesdays or Wednesdays; programs rotate to include movie nights, social drop-in nights, support-group meetings for LGB teenagers, and a support group meeting for transgendered youth. (Check youthproject.ns.ca for the schedule.)
For the religiously-inclined in need of a Sunday activity, the city also boasts a number of LGBTQ-friendly churches, including Safe Harbour Metropolitan Community Church, an inclusive Christian church that meets for weekly Sunday worship at 11am at the Bloomfield Centre (2786 Agricola Street, suite 108, 453-9249) and Centre of Hope, a newer "no walls, no boundaries" church, which meets at the Dalhousie Women's Centre (6286 South Street).
Queer cinema enthusiasts can also breathe easy in Halifax—we have you covered. The chain stores carry a few selections, and what they don't carry can probably be found on one of the 14 shelves of queer films available at independent movie haven Video Difference (6086 Quinpool Road, 425-3029).
And if you're looking for places to party after all that movie-watching and church-going, we have those, too. The city's LGBTQ-friendly bar selection isn't terribly vast, but it's mighty. The best-known option, dance bar Reflections Cabaret (5184 Sackville Avenue, 422-2957) has been rocking Halifax since 1996, and is renowned for its drag shows and elaborate theme nights. Manager Stephen Filek describes Reflections as a "no labels" bar. "We cater to the gay community —however, everybody's welcome....We're kind of that unique space in the city, where everyone can come and not be stereotyped, just be themselves," says Filek. You can't beat acceptance—especially when it comes coupled with a 4am closing time.
Menz Bar (2104 Gottingen Street, 446-6969) makes its home in the north end. "We're known as the "local neighbourhood gay bar,'" says co-owner Doug Melanson. "Basically...what ends up happening is as soon as someone new walks in, it takes about five minutes for the bartenders to introduce themselves....By the second visit, we already know what you drink." The bar and its sister diner Mollyz (2104 Gottingen Street, downstairs from Menz, 405-3376) sponsor a tonne of Metro LGBTQ causes and groups. And you can order anything from the delicious Mollyz menu while at Menz (or head downstairs to the diner for awhile, for a change in scenery). Plus, Halifax's other gay bar, Blue Moon (2099 Gottingen Street, 446-3644) can be found across the street from Menz and Mollyz, which means people can easily check out all three and expend relatively minimal effort doing so.
For those who aren't into the bar scene, Get Out Halifax (gethouthalifax.ca) is a local initiative that is dedicated to a wide range of recreational programs for the LGBTQ community. From camping weekends to regular cycling and movie nights, it's a great way to meet people. Keep an eye on The Coast's listings and on their website for future fun and games.
Delicious diner eats, shelves of independent cinema and the promise of Pride parties in the summer to come—really, what more could one ask for?
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