A guide to LGBT charities in Toronto
If you're having trouble figuring out what to give as gifts for the folks in your life, why not donate to a Toronto organization that provides for your LGBT family in need instead? You can give to one of the organizations listed below in someone's name or donate through yours and let them know you've done so with a card (Just an idea. You can also just tell them and then hug them.) Giving always feels good, especially when it makes someone else's life better, right?
If the one you love would rather a puppy or firefighter calendar, let them have it! Just don't let the door hit them on the way off your nice list ;)
This world-famous Church street community centre provides a safe and accepting space for our LGBT community. They also have workshops for new LGBT parents, training courses, and consulting services to help make things easier in this big city for LGBT folks of all ages, genders and backgrounds. We could go on and on, but check out their website for a full roster of their services.
Overdose Prevention Society
This super important group not only opened the first overdose prevention site in the province last year, but they also “support direct actions aimed at increasing awareness about the preventable nature of overdose deaths.” In a year where overdosing has become more common than we’d like to talk about, we are so lucky to have a group who works so hard to keep people safe, without judgement.
Toronto's Rainbow Railroad helps LGBT people around the planet escape state-sponsored violence in their home countries. This means they get a constant flow of requests for help from around globe. They focus their efforts on cases with LGBT folks who "have faced physical violence or face an imminent threat of violence, imprisonment, or death." It's serious stuff, but the work they do is astounding since they're literally saving lives. They also happen to throw some pretty great fundraising parties. If you come from somewhere where gay is not OK, or just want to help our brothers and sisters get to a better place, check out the website and learn all about it.
Canada's first and only stand-alone hospital for people with HIV/AIDS opened in 1988 and is still going strong. The late Princess Diana once visited the house on Isabella street to visit patients and help battle the stigma around the disease. They always, always need help giving their patients dignity in their final days and making them as comfortable as possible. It's care without judgement and a place where LGBT people living with HIV/AIDS will be treated with respect. Learn more about them on their site.
My parents used PFLAG services when I first came out. They felt a bit lost, confused and even angry, and PFLAG put them in touch with other parents who had lived through their kids coming out and lived to tell. That's what they are all about, helping families across the country understand the coming out process and help parents through the process themselves.
The Toronto Asian Community AIDS Services has been helping the Asian LGBTQ+ and HIV community for over 25 years now. Programs they host include HIV support and testing, women and trans services, their well-known and loved Queen Asian Youth program as well as SLAM, the queer Asian men’s support group. We are so lucky to have a group like this in the city, they throw events all year long and have a physical office on Spadina.
// The Youth
I wish Youthline existed when I was a confused queer weirdo. It's a "Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit* youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario." They provide completely anonymous feedback, support, referrals and recommendations for resources on how to make the right decisions. They are non-judgemental, sex positive, and give younger queers a chance to ask questions they may be afraid to ask anyone else.
Supporting Our Youth is a program that supports the health and wellbeing of queer and trans spectrum kids through programming, tutoring and one on one or group support for folks under 29. They celebrate and support all spectrums of queer and all identities, and help create a sense of belonging and support. They are the shit.
The AMY Project
This is a group of artists who mentor youth. They help build "the leadership, confidence, and unique voice of young women and non-binary youth in Toronto and surrounding regions by providing them with performance training, connections to artistic mentors, experience working in a professional theatre, and support towards the early growth of their careers." The performing arts world is a tough one in the first place, but for women and female identified folks especially. Amy helps make this journey a bit easier.
Buddies in Bad Times
There is no theatre like Buddies in the world. They help develop queer voices for the stage. That's a capital Q queer covering all identities. They're plays push buttons, envelopes and call out sexual and cultural normality. It's in fact the world's largest and longest running queer theatre, and their plays are a gift to the community. They give voice to the unheard, the frustrated, the non-existent, and are passionate about created a nurturing space for artists and the community a whole.
Our very own LGBT film festival. Inside Out is bigger and better than ever thanks to its hard working team and support from the community. Film and video made by and about LGBT people of all ages and races is what it's all about, and the programming reflects this big time. Sometimes with world premiere films, special guests, fascinating programming and (very fun) parties. On top of all this, they also run a film festival in Ottawa and host year-round programming at TIFF. We are so lucky to have them showing us LGBT stories on screen from around the globe. Get into it, film buffs!
The Canadian Lesbian Gay Archives is the largest independent LGBTQ+ archive in the world. The World! They house and preserve our history! That's anything from magazines, to party posters, t-shirts, buttons, books, art works, as well as audio and video stuff. There are even leather uniforms. They're working on some major renovations next year to make the space completely accessible, but anyone is welcome to stop by anytime and have a dig.
The. World's. Oldest. gay. book. store. It's right here in Toronto! Not only have they been part of Canadian and Toronto queer history through their struggles and mere existence, but they offer the best selection of queer lit anywhere on the planet earth, they have magazines, they have food, a cafe, a bar and host endless parties. How to you make a donation to Glad Day? Simply go into the store and buy a book or three! That, or stop in for some food or a cocktail. Anytime you walk in the door, you're supporting this much-needed queer space.