The mingling of LGBTQ+ and allies in Toronto’s oldest gay bookstore

Jan 29, 2019 | News

OutACTRAto held a Queer Industry Mixer at Glad Day Bookstore with Theresa Tova, president of the outACTRAto committee, on Jan. 24. (Trang Tran)

Trang Tran

LGBTQ+ performers and their allies had their first informal Queer Industry Mixer in Glad Day Bookshop last week.

The outACTRAto Committee in Toronto hosted the open event for all allies to mingle and to share an honest dialogue on Jan. 24.

“In Canada, we have had a growing acceptance and our human rights are a big part of Canadian culture,” Joanne Vannicola said. “We have LGBTQ marriage, same-sex benefits. A lot has happened in the last twenty years. But there is still a lot of discrimination and a long way to go.”

The chair of the outACTRAto Committee said it is important to create a committee that provides space and dialogue for queer performers in the film industry.

“For many years, lesbian, gay, trans and non-binary identified people have been left out of the pages of screenplays and movies and television shows,” Vannicola said.

“There is a very small amount of access to employment for queer actors and it’s very difficult to get screenplays produced and to get support in the larger culture and community,” she said.

The community gathered together, shared their stories, or simply talked to others who give them their support. Each person brought to Glad Day Bookstore their own stories.

Actor and comedian Colin Mochrie is a long-time ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Being in the business, you meet a lot of people from this community and they’re all fabulous people,” said Mochrie, whose daughter is transgender. “You hope that everyone could put their prejudices aside and just accept people for who they are.”

Debra McGrath, left, with her daughter. McGrath is a member of outACTRAto. (Trang Tran)

Debra McGrath, an active member of outACTRAto, attended the event her daughter. McGrath has spent almost every early morning signing online petitions, writing letters and calling her local member of provincial parliament to tell them their decisions are mistaken on gender identity policy.

“I’m worried sick about all the children from kindergarten up who are not understanding who their fellow students are and don’t have the knowledge and respect,” McGrath said. “I worry deeply about it.

“And I will fight it till my last breath,” she emphasized with a firm nod.

She joined the committee because of her daughter. However, her efforts are a big support to the LGBTQ+ community.

“My message to every community, gay, straight, any ethnicity, would be that love is the answer. We’re all just trying to live our lives in peace and be our best selves. Live and let live,” McGrath said.

“I’ll walk a million miles to help any group that is marginalized,” she said.

The Queer Industry Mixer is one of a series of events that continues until March focusing on the LGBTQ+ community.

Glad Day Bookshop has been a place for LGBTQ+ literature since 1970. It was the first bookstore that served the gay community. Now Glad Day is a bar, coffee shop and restaurant also.