The 2018 Yohomo Awards
Well, that was fast. This year flew by, and no doubt it was because we had SO. MUCH. FUN. And we’re not just saying that; we have the evidence to back it up. We spent the whole year chasing the best, coolest, and queerest that Toronto has to offer, and holy moly – we’re just glad we have the holiday season to rest and recharge so we can do it all over again in 2019! Take a look at our absolute favourite memories of 2018.
Ballsiest & Babeliest Brunch
Winner | Glad Day Bookstore
Just when you thought brunch couldn’t get any better, it turns out all you have to do is sprinkle in a little drag and things completely turn up. If you know us, you know we LOVE drag. Glad Day Bookstore hosts a drag brunch every weekend (noon and 2pm showtimes), and it kind of makes drinking mimosas anywhere else seem bland and unexciting. We’re hooked! We loved it so much we hosted the first ever Toronto Drag Market here. Drag kings, queens, and folks selling drag-related merch joined us inside the world’s oldest queer bookshop for an afternoon of shopping, swapping, sipping, and hugging. Good times!
Whimsical Wonder Wimin
Winner | Venus Fest
Only magical things happen when a group of women join forces to empower each other whilst rocking the fuck out. That’s exactly what happened at Venus Fest’s second summer festival, featuring everything from face painting and tarot card readings to incredible female-led performances in the historic (and delightfully haunting) Opera House theatre. It was hard to know if you were at a festival or in a dreamlike state. We’re hoping it becomes a bona fide tradition next year.
Simply Bootyful & Banging
Winner | Rude x Yes Yes Y’all x Ragga: Punany
We partied hard at Luanda House. This jam, hosted by three of our city’s finest collectives, is described as “a place to kotch, split in de middle, and fast wine.” DJs Blackcat, Nino Brown, Neon Christina, and chanlmrshl spun into the morning and we stumbled home scantily clad, unsure of what just happened. You just – you just had to be there.
Lights, Camera, Queers!
Winner | Inside Out Festival: Local Heroes
We saw all sorts of fresh queer faces in the annual shorts program Local Heroes, a collection of some of the best queer voices and stories this city has to offer. We love seeing more queers on screen, and everyone in the TIFF screening room had a blast (and became more cultured, duh). Plus, we had a freaking amazing time at the after-party, where we were dazzled by a catwalk full of dancing queens. Dang, take us back.
Party City, Bitch! Best New Party
Winner | New Ho Queen
Party spaces are dying, bars and clubs are closing. There are legit fewer and fewer places to throw parties, let alone queer parties, in the city that forgot how to have fun. But you’re a fool if you thought that was going to stop Toronto’s queers from having a good time and pushing for the parties they want to see. New Ho Queen is our favourite new party, and one that celebrates Asian queer culture to the fullest. They take over spaces and turn them out with wildly beautiful décor in collaboration with queer Asian artists. There are drag shows, queer Asian DJs, and a stunning crowd of folx who want to dance in a space created for them, by them. It’s safe, celebratory, artistic, unique, and sexy as well.
Best New(ish) Queer Watering Hole
Winner | Sweaty Betty’s
Yep, this eclectic little hole in the wall is our new watering hole on Ossington/Queen West since Miss May has taken over ownership. We loved it before but love love love it even more now that we can add it to our (unfortunately) limited roster of queer culture hubs in Toronto. Everything about this place rocks, whether you’re tucked away on the back patio, lounging on the den couches, or just popped in for a nightcap at the bar.
Public Enemy #1/Our Hero
Winner | Gay Jesus
Drag artist Heath V. Salazar has been performing as Gay Jesus for two years, exploring queer identity as it relates to religion, sparking some outrage among those who consider their work blasphemous but also adoration from those who can totally relate to the fraught relationship between who we are and the culture we are raised in. Gay Jesus is doing all sorts of good work to educate and protest through their performances, and also helped us write a love letter to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. You know you’re doing something important when you’ve got fans and equally passionate haters! So much love, Gay Jesus!
Best New Drag Crew
Winner | Diet Ghosts
Drag in Toronto has never been as exciting as in 2018. Both the city’s drag king collectives have gone off with great shows and events all over town, a new crop of queens and kings from across the spectrum have been dragging their faces across west-end and Church Street stages like no other year before it. The kids are braver, fiercer, and more innovative than ever. We should be super proud. One house stood out above them all for us: the Diet Ghosts crew. This group of misfits creates over-the-top, conceptual drag shows that take you on a journey. You can usually catch them at the Beaver, but they also float around to other spaces – like their house-wide murder-mystery drag extravaganza at Oasis Aqualounge earlier this year.
Hot & Steamy Bathhouse of the Year
Winner | Oasis Aqualounge
Think Body Blitz with a happy ending, ladies. We’ve heard nothing but positive sex-positive experiences from ladies coming out of this place. Even though it’s a little hush-hush, this water-themed “adult-playground” was all the rage this year, featuring a heated outdoor pool and lounge area, a grotto, lockers, bar and dance area, and then multiple floors with sex rooms for group action or more personal play. The space is focused on women and their partners and throws a monthly queer night called Bathhouse and Bodyworks, with DJs, drag queens, pole dancers, sex demos, and special pricing ($20) for queer folks of all genders all night. No judgement here, folks. If you’re curious and want to experiment in a safe space where saying no is as respected as saying yes, check it out in the new year!
Scalding Hot Pot of Tea Award
Winner | The Pride Toronto AGM
You should know this about us: we decidedly try to stay away from politics. Here at Yohomo, we believe our very existence is political, and we know how to do what we do well. We’re not fully equipped to write about politics in the city, and because of that we often leave more serious queer news to other publications, and for better or for much worse, Facebook. We couldn’t, however, have a list like this without mentioning something that does directly affect a lot of us, and that’s our city’s Pride fest. Pride TO recently held its annual AGM, and it was shut down shortly after it started. Discussions around allowing the police to apply to be in this year’s parade erupted into a chaotic shouting match, and it soon became clear nothing was going to be accomplished. Pride has yet to announce a date for the rescheduled AGM (expect it sometime at the end of January), but when it does happen, we’re looking forward to the discussions and hopefully solutions that come out of it. If you feel something or have anything to say, consider becoming a member and being part of the discussion.
Yohomo moments of our year!
Some cute highlights of our year with you - Thanks for supporting us all year round. WE LOVE YOU the mostest and can’t wait for 2019!
Best Worst-Kept Secret
Winner | Yohomo’s Not-So-Secret-Garden at Dundas West Fest
We kicked off Pride month with the beauties at the Fountain for the Not-So-Secret Garden, a queer patio during the 2018 Dundas West Fest, the West End summer street festival. It was the perfect cocktail of bump-and-grind DJ talent (Lulu Wei, the FranDiscos and Yohomo DJs Phillippe and Diego Armand), drag queen super talent (Ash Ashlee Stewart, Justin Toast Gray, Nookie Galore, and Miss Moço), and 500 of our LGBTQ+ friends and allies. It was a sexy garden party on the most magical sunshiny day, steeped in all sorts of queer love and laughter. We also discovered that one of our new favourite things is starting conga lines that dance into the sunset.
Sweaty Rooftop Party for the Win
Winner | Yohomo Presents Love on Top
We sold this baby out so fast, people were breaking legs to get into Mascot Brewery while the getting was good. The day started out a little cloudy, but we brought the sunshine with our positive good vibes! We danced so freaking hard we made it rain our sexy sweat all up in that rooftop patio. Pride never looked so good.