Living somewhere you feel safe and accepted is important. This is true for most people, but this is especially true for people in the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t think I need to prove to you why I make this statement. Look on the news, check your social media. Even in 2018, safe spaces are not always easy to find and finding a safe space to raise a family in a same-sex relationship is even harder. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
For a long time, I thought that I would live my whole life in the gay village in Toronto’s downtown core. When I was a realtor in Toronto, I would check the new listings daily, hoping to find a condo that I could afford. As a first-time home buyer and out lesbian, I thoroughly believed that if I wanted to live a life where I felt safe and accepted, I had to be in the village. I came to accept that if I wanted to raise a family with my partner and not worry about discrimination, we had to stay in Toronto. Little did I know there was a place besides Toronto that could offer me safety, minus the everyday hustle and bustle of a large city.
I spent a lot of my youth in Guelph and Wellington County. Stone Road Mall was “the mall” to go to when you wanted to hang out with friends. Driving up Highway 6 was always an exciting adventure. I genuinely enjoyed my time in the area, but it was not until I had a chat with a friend from the University of Guelph that I truly understood how awesome the city and its LGBTQ+ friendly community is. Below are some of the key reasons why I decided to leave Toronto and finally settle down in Guelph.
A sense of community: Guelph has a very vibrant LGBTQ+ community
There are great monthly LGBTQ+ events ran by members of the community. Here is a link to the events calendar and Facebook page. Regardless of whether you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, you will always find something fun to do. If you’re looking for business opportunities, I even run a monthly LGBTQ+ networking event! https://www.facebook.com/groups/197379400730273/
Out on the Shelf (OOTS)
We have a great non-profit organization called Out on the Shelf that plays a very active role in the queer community. It has over 130 members and 30 volunteers, and it offers a plethora of services to the LGBTQ+ community in Guelph and Wellington County. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out the OOTS library; it has over 3000 LGBTQ books, audio books, and videos from all over the world. The library also acts as a resource centre and provides supportive monthly programming. You can find OOTS at 42 Carden street in the 10C resource centre.
ARCH is an amazing non-profit HIV/AIDS resource centre and community health organization. They provide programs, services, education, and support to the community. I regularly chat with quite a few ARCH employees, and they’ve told me that people from as far as five hours away come to Guelph to take advantage of the amazing services that ARCH has to offer. My brokerage took part in the safe space training provided by this organization, making Trillium West Real Estate Brokerage the only Guelph brokerage that’s certified by ARCH as a safe space.
Guelph’s downtown core has a supportive atmosphere that can’t be missed. I’ve walked into so many stores that have rainbow flags hanging loud and proud, letting me know that I’m in a safe space. During my interactions with members of the LGBTQ+ community in Guelph, I’ve also learned that Guelph is the go-to town for many LGBTQ+ people who live (or grew up) in the surrounding areas. The neighbourhoods that are most sought after are Exhibition park, St Patrick’s Ward, and the Junction.
Yes, my awesome city has its own yearly PRIDE festivities! We have Guelph Pride in May, and the organization puts on numerous community-wide events, from family-friendly BBQs to touching spoken word performances. Of course, let’s not forget the fun bar hops and clubbing events. This year, Guelph Pride is running for 15 days to celebrate its 15 years of existence. Now that’s something to be super proud of!
So why did I write this blog? I felt that I needed to put out there that members of the LGBTQ+ community do have options besides Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time there, and I get that some people love it and will never leave. However, for people who can’t find affordable housing and don’t have millions of dollars to buy a detached house downtown, there are other options- a lot actually! Jump on the 401 and head west for a bit to start exploring!
Interested in finally making the move to Guelph? Looking to see what it has to offer? Feel free to reach out to me anytime. I’d love to show you the city I fell in love with. Until next time, lovelies.