Queer Girl City Guide: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

0. 2/20/2012 – Here/Queer Call for Submissions, by Riese
1. 3/02/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Montreal, Canada, by Sid
2. 3/05/2012 – Playlist: Here/Queer, by Riese
3. 3/05/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Portland, Oregon, by Lesbians in PDX
4. 3/07/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Brighton, United Kingdom, by Sarah Magdalena
5. 3/07/2012 – Oh But To Be A Queer in Sicily, by Jenn
6. 3/08/2012 – City Guide: Seattle, by Marley
7. 3/11/2012 – City Guide: Washington DC, by Keena
8. 3/13/2012 – Here/Queer: Sydney Mardi Gras Is On Your To-Do List, by Crystal
9. 3/14/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Spokane, Washington, by Ana
10. 3/15/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Cleveland, Ohio, by Lora
11. 3/16/2012 – Madison, WI and W4W Entertainment, by Emily
12. 3/16/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Dublin, Ireland, by Una
13. 3/19/2012 – Queer Girl City Guide: Vancouver, Canada, by Kathryn

Hello ladies! My name is Kathryn and I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to my hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia. Although I was born and raised right in central Van, I’ve only been out for just over a year, so I’m still getting comfortable in the queer scene. If any of you are Vancouver Queer Scene experts — and I imagine that you are — please give your own tips in the comments!

Oh, Canada!

Vancouver’s North Shore

In addition to being a naturally spectacular city, Vancouver is one of the most LGBT friendly cities in Canada, second only to Toronto or maybe Montreal. Homosexuality was made legal in Canada in 1969 and the province of British Columbia has had same-sex marriage equality since 2003. Personally, I’ve never encountered overt or violent homophobia and I feel like most people are indifferent, which is awesome.

When people do stare, or ask questions, its usually out of basic curiosity and not animosity. Our country’s citizens have a reputation for being polite and friendly and this kindness is usually extended to all minority groups including LGBTs. I know we’re responsible for Bieber, but Canada loves the gays, y’all.




West End

The annual Pride Parade shows our city’s spirit and attracts over 600,000 unique spectators from all over the lower mainland and beyond. Everyone from the mayor to members of small social justice groups participate in this event. It’s organized by the Vancouver Pride Society, a non-profit organization that hosts a multitude of LGBT events all year round. I had the opportunity to volunteer for them as an office assistant last year and the amount of dedication and work that goes into planning pride is staggering.

The Festival typically takes place on the B.C. day long weekend (the last one in July), and includes the Davie Street Dance Party, the Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast, the Parade and the Sunset Beach Festival. It’s one crazy, half-remembered, sparkly, rainbow filled weekend full of homosexual magic. You should come.



Welcome to the Gaybourhood


There are two main gaybourhoods: The Davie Street area (aka the West End) and the Commercial Drive area. Davie Street is host to a multitude of fabulous gay bars including Celebrities, Numbers, the Junction, 1181, and the Fountainhead. Saturday is Dyke night at Oasis Ultra Lounge, which is opportunely located above a 24 hour Denny’s. I’ve frequented said establishment for many drunken 4am eating binges that I’m not proud of. The best/worst part is, there’s a jukebox, and I remember on one occasion a posse of annoyingly drunk straight girls managed to get the whole restaurant to sing along with them to “Shape of my Heart” by the Backstreet Boys. Good times? Who knows, but I digress.

Little Sister’s



LGBT Bookstores


The West End is also home to Little Sister’s, which I believe is the only LGBT bookstore in the city. This little hidden away treasure has long been the subject of controversy. They’ve fought a long battle against government censorship, seizure of materials at customs, and even violent attacks.

I’m a former film school student, so believe me when I say that The National Film Board of Canada is an amazing institution that has produced some of the most memorable material in our nation’s history. They created a documentary about this store called Little Sister’s vs. Big Brother, that is hard to find, but totally worth watching because it interviews some important authors like Jane Rule and Sarah Schulman.

It’s ironic that a government funded body created a piece critiquing the government. But then again, we have publicly funded news here that’s subject to an arms length government commission (the CBC), so I guess it’s not so strange.


The Drive


Anyways, The West End, although friendly to all the colours of the rainbow, is mostly populated by gay men. Commercial Drive is where the lesbians are at. This funky east side neighbourhood is located at a major transit hub (the Sky Train) and originally hosted a large Italian Canadian population. More recently, the drive has been taken over by poor students, hipsters and dykes. The annual Vancouver Dyke March, which is led by the awesome Rainbow Concert (Marching) Band, takes place on Commercial during Pride. There are many affordable bars, various “ethnic” restaurants and coffee shops all along that street. The best place to have coffee and check out cute gay ladies is definitely Cafe Deux Soleil, which also hosts poetry slams, open mic nights and live bands. (I know, awesome right?)



Music Scene


Vancouver has a phenomenal indie music scene. Bands like The New Pornographers, The Organ (featured on The L Word), Mother Mother, and Hot Hot Heat all got their start in B.C. Tegan and Sara are originally from Calgary, but Tegan and her partner have lived here for a while. I tell you this just incase you want to stalk them and ask them awkward questions about how they got to be so darn cute.

Some hidden gem bands I will shamelessly promote are:

Aunts and Uncles
Joyce Collingwood
Hey Ocean

Some of those kids went to my high school, just sayin’. UBC’s CiTR radio and CBC Radio 2 plays some pretty good stuff. You can catch these bands and others at places like, the Railway Club, the Biltmore Cabaret, and the Croatian Cultural Centre.





Sadly, there aren’t any strictly lesbian bars/venues in Vancouver, rather lesbian friendly nights at certain clubs. There used to be a lesbian bar named Lick, but it closed down last year. It was kind of a dive, but it had Turkish Oil Wrestling, which, let’s face it, is super hot.

Shrine to the one and only Jimi Hendrix

In my modest opinion, a company called Fly Girl Productions organizes the best events. “Hershe Bar” typically takes place on the Sunday of every long weekend at Red Room Ultra Bar or Canvas Lounge. Popular DJs at Hershe include DJ Riki Rocket, DJ Kasey Riot and DJ Miss M, all of whom are smoking hot.

During pride, the event moves to Gossip Nightclub and Blvd 22, which are conveniently located right beside each other! One side blasts filthy Dubstep, and the other a combo of new and old dance hits. I’m partial to both, so it’s always a good time. It’s literally “where the girls are.” 560 on Seymour also has lesbian friendly nights.

However, if you’re really looking for a good time, you must attend a Man Up drag show featuring the intoxicating stage presence of the MC and co-creator: Pony Boy. Man Up takes place at The Cobalt, a dive bar on Main Street that’s been re-appropriated by hipsters and queers alike. The show features lip syncing and dancing acts that leave you wanting more. Also, there is quite a following for Bloody Betty Burlesque shows, which are also held at the Cobalt and tend to be a gruesome good time, although not really my cup of tea.

The Cobalt





If you’re looking to see a more traditional live show, there are some tremendous little theatre companies in Vancouver. The Arts Club Theatre and Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island put on some pretty awesome stuff, considering there isn’t really much a budget. The Fringe Festival, which takes place in September, is a perfect way to get acquainted with the underground theatre scene. Even though the government has been consistently cutting funding for the arts, locals have banded together to support theatre companies and keep the culture alive. That’s how much this city loves a good musical.

There’s also a great outdoor Shakespearean festival every summer called Bard on the Beach. The staging sometimes makes it difficult to hear, but the acting is always top notch.

Granville Street Bridge





There are so many great and culturally diverse restaurants in Vancouver, its hard to know where to begin. This city is extremely multicultural, but Toronto still wins. There’s a massive Asian population here, and I’m proud to be one of millions of Chinese Canadians.

There are also large Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Indian populations here. You should definitely tour Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and visit Sun Yat-Sen Gardens.

Sun Yat-Sen Gardens

If you’re feeling like some authentic Chinese food, I recommend Sun Sui Wah, Hon’s Wun Tun House, Congee Noodle House, or the Kirin if you want something fancy pants. If it’s Japanese you seek, Vancouver has the best sushi selection in Canada. There’s pretty much a sushi bar on every block downtown. I’m partial to Toshi, Shiro, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, and Ajisai. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try Japadog (Japanese style hog dogs), Guu, The Eatery or Hapa Izakaya. I could go on forever, but I won’t.

Other popular restaurants include Feenie’s, Vij’s, Las Margaritas, Nuba, Havana and Blue Water Café. Also, the best Vietnamese hole in the wall that I love dearly, is Au Petit Café on Main near 33rd. It’s a family business with the best pho in town.






Up in the Great White North, we really do enjoy us a good old hockey game. The Vancouver Canucks are a fantastic team — we almost won the Stanley Cup last season! Our loss in the Seventh game of the finals to the Bruins was heartbreaking, and worse than that, fuelled a massive riot downtown that caused millions of dollars in damage and cast a shadow on the reputation of our respectful city. It was a haunting echo of a similar occurrence in 1994. Police are still in the process of pressing charges. On a lighter note, we’re doing well this season and will most definitely make it to the playoffs. If you’d like to see a game, they play regularly at Rogers Arena, but the ticket prices are exorbitant.

The B.C. Lions, our football team for the CFL, also won the Grey Cup last year, but there is less spectatorship for this sport. There’s also a soccer team called the Whitecaps, who are off to a good start this season.


College Life


Speaking of competitive sport, there are two major universities in the Vancouver area. They are the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. I have had the privilege of attending both, so I can give you a semi-fair opinion.

UBC is a top-notch school, but tends to be little elitist. Most of the funding goes towards the Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The picturesque campus is located on the western tip of the Point Grey area and is surrounded on three sides by ocean. Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s only nude friendly beach, is a 10-15 minute walk away from residence. Unfortunately, Pride UBC is kind of a joke. Maybe it was a fluke, but the only event I went to was a dance that consisted of a tiny room with a dude dancing by himself, two girls making out in a corner, and an Italian soda bar. The horror! The queer ladies tend to hang out at the Women’s Centre, which is tucked away in a corner on the top floor of the Student Union Building beside the Pride office. It’s hard to find, so the space is generally empty, but it has nice couches for taking naps.

Science World

SFU is also an excellent school, but its main campus is located in Burnaby (east of Van) and is considered to be a commuter school. The “Academic Quadrangle” is literally built on top of a mountain that overlooks the greater Vancouver area. A brand new downtown campus for the contemporary arts was just constructed, and some classes are held at Harbour Centre, which is in the heart of the city. More funding is provided for fine and performing arts and the school provides other programs not offered at UBC like Health Sciences, Computer Science and Criminology. SFU’s LGBT centre, named Out on Campus, has a much more inviting atmosphere. I’ve met some legitimately awesome people there and it’s not cliquey at all. If you want to check out cute queer ladies and get some exercise, join the women’s ultimate team (duh).


What’s It Like To Live Here, I Mean Really Live Here


Not everything is sunshine and rainbows though. If you are considering moving to this beautiful city, you must take into account that its rains, like ALOT, and the cost of living here is ridiculous. Rent prices are staggering and the only affordable places for students are East Van and the outlying suburbs. Culturally, East Van is where its at, but you’ll still pay anywhere from $400-$1000 a month for a one bedroom. This is balls considering that minimum wage was only recently raised to $9.50/hour and we pay some of the highest tax rates in Canada.

Burrard Street Bridge

It must also be mentioned that our current Federal Conservative government, which is frankly a mild version of the Republican equivalent, has been cutting funding for important social programs such as welfare and pension plans and diverting it towards building prisons. You know what’s great though? We have more than two parties to vote for! The left leaning Liberals and the further left New Democratic Party form the opposition against the evil Conservative reign in Parliament led by the weasel-faced Prime Minister: Stephen Harper. (I’m not biased at all.) There’s also the environmentally conscious Green Party, who nobody really takes seriously enough.

Although our mayor, Gregor Robertson is an avid environmentalist. He rides a bike to work, pushes an eco-friendly agenda and owns a popular brand of organic smoothie drinks called “Happy Planet”. Anyways, I usually support the NDP because they are the only party with candidates who have an LGBT agenda. As a joke, I once voted for the Marxist-Leninist candidate in my riding. I know, I’m a pinko-commie traitor. Only in Canada my friends!

Granville Island Market

Admittedly, although a great nation, Canada is far from perfect. I must also acknowledge the government’s disgraceful treatment of our Aboriginal population. Native peoples are given tax credits and government funding, but are limited to reserves, some of which are in desperate need of basic provisions, like clean water. There are upwards of a hundred unique tribes in the lower mainland alone, each with a distinct language and set of cultural traditions. Many argue that B.C. has appropriated Native cultures and arts in order to create a sense of “West Coast” identity and promote tourism. Stores in popular tourist areas like Gastown and Robson Street that offer “authentic” Native artwork or cheap imitations, are perfect examples of this phenomenon.



Insight into Insite


If you’ve got thick skin and care to see the seedy underbelly of Vancouver, because it’s a major part of the city’s character, you should venture to the downtown east side during the day, where drug use and homelessness are at an all time high.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the opening of a safe injection site called Insite near Main and Hastings in recent years. Insite has been proven to save lives, but almost faced government enforced closure due to the ethical ramifications and negative public opinion. Regardless, homelessness remains a huge problem in this city that has been ignored for too long, and it was a subject of major debate when we hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Vancouver Art Gallery



Closing Statement


In summary, it pays to know someone who lives here, incase you ever want to experience Pride weekend or spend some time up at Whistler. The skiing/snowboarding here is amazing, but again, super expensive. Nothing good comes cheap. There are so many reasons to visit and/or live in this amazing place I call home. I’d love to show you around and let you see for yourself. So please, come to Canada, eh?

photo via gettyimages

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  1. YAAAAAAAY!! I was waiting for a Here, Queer: Vancouver!

    *takes long detailed notes on where to find gayladies*

  2. woop! my city! i don’t know why, but i love reading tourism guides to the city i live in… strange.

    another thing queers who come to van might be interested in is our great array of vegetarian food. cute queers both staff and eat at bandidas taqueria, a vegetarian mexican place with a bicycle theme and great eco politics located at commercial drive and 12th avenue. havana is also a common lesbian hangout.

    we also have “our community bikes” and “pedal”, collectively owned/managed/staffed bike shops that are part of vancouver’s incredibly enthusiastic bicycling subculture! east van queers can’t afford cars because the rent here is so high, so everybody bicycles during the excellent summer months. oh, and by the way, our summer makes up for the shitty rainy rest of the year. please try to visit during the summer.

  3. Also notable about the Commercial Drive area: They have a sex toy store called Womyn’s Ware, whose logo is a doodle of a curvy dancing woman with armpit hair. All the ladies working there when I went in had awesome haircuts and facial piercings, and one of them showed me how to try on my first packer. So happy I have family in Vancouver so I get to visit.

  4. I had the great pleasure of performing in IDKE the year it was in Vancouver, and not only was the city beautiful even while it rained the whole time, but the queer ladies and kings were suuuuuper hot. So, hooray for Vancouver. :)

  5. What I’m getting out of this is that Bunny Colvin retired to Vancouver to set up New Hamsterdam. Correct me if I’m wrong, please.

  6. oh no, the area where insite is is not at all a seedy underbelly!!! the downtown eastside has fabulous galleries — gallery gachet on cordova often focuses on mental health issues and women’s art — and is a centre of activism and heart in the city. people are friendly and don’t want to mess with you, they might just be high or having a bad day. i’ve taught quite a bit in the downtown east side and have found it to be the opposite of its public stereotype.

    in terms of theatre, i’d like to add screaming weenies. local queer theatre company that runs a competition for queer playwrights and the winning scripts are read at the queer arts festival in august

    also Rhizome Cafe near Kingsway and Broadway. dyke-owned, tons of queer people, and reliably hosts queer and social justice events

    and get the profiteroles at chopain on davie. because you’re worth it.

  7. Yes, Vancouver! So happy to see this up now. (Take a ferry over to the island while you’re visiting! Victoria’s where it’s at!)

    • Yes take the ferry! I moved from Squamish (halfway between Whistler and Vancouver) to Victoria a few months ago and its pretty much the best thing ever. I’ll have to check out these places in Van though, sounds like a good time for a newly out/newly of age lady

  8. Yes, I second taking the ferry to Victoria! It’s such a hippie city. And very gay friendly. As so pretty!

    And Victoria and Vancouver (mostly Van) have lots of vegan food, too.

  9. Man. Oh. Man.

    I mean, I’ve probably commented on most Queer Girl City Guide posts…but Vancouver. I have ALWAYS ALWAYS SYAWLA wanted to go to Vanfuckingcouver.

    I am thinking of going tavelling by myself (just to avoid complications of organising with friends), do you vancouverites think this is an ok thing to do? Like, can you imagine it’s easy to make friends in Vancouver if you’re travelling through there solo? Still not convinced I’d like being by myself…BUT I REALLY WANNA GO TO VANCOUVERRRRR!!!!

    • in all honesty, vancouverites can easily be described as aloof. we’re friendly and helpful, but in my experience it can be a bit difficult to make friends here. HOWEVER, as a tourist…you’ll be more than fine. there are lots of friendly hostels around where you’ll meet other travelers. in fact, most of the new friends i make are travelers. i don’t want to talk shit about my city, but the locals can be kind of cunty.

      • Totally second this. The friendliest people I’ve met in Vancouver have been almost exclusively from other towns/cities, so definitely be wary of the snob factor.

        I guess it’s nice otherwise?

          • I’m a local and I am not cunty so be my friend. Also to whoever wrote this article, were you at the Aunts & Uncles show at Interurban for the Wintermitts CD release? We have similar taste in bands (plus my friends are in those bands you mentioned) so maybe I’ll see you at a show!

      • Real talk.

        If you want to make friends in Vancouver, it’s probably best to try meeting people who aren’t actually from Vancouver.

        • HEY!

          Sweeping generalization much?

          My experience settling into Vancouver was similar to my experience making queer connections in Montreal and Victoria. Just like in any community, elitist douchebags exist, and it doesn’t have anything to do with where you’re from.

          Didn’t matter if the queers I connected with here imports or Vdot born and raised. Good people are good people, and I have a mix of both locals and people from abroad in my life.

          If you get on the right online forums, show up to queer-positive events, put the volunteer work in for social justice/women/queer groups, work with one of the east-van alt queer dance party collectives [HIGHLY recommended for meeting nifty awesome queer folks], and generally show up, folks of a feather will surface.


          • I found it super hard to meet people here over all the other cities I’ve lived in, but I won’t go on about this…

            Anyway. I’ve met some of my friends online (Craigslist, CouchSurfing and Superdyke) and IRL through volunteering for stuff (Girls Rock Camp Vancouver, Prance) and the whole “friends of friends” type thing. (I also met a couple of good ones through school, but I tend not to associate with people in my program for the most part, lol…)

            Volunteering is a great way to meet people! :-)

          • aw, don’t get offended by my sweeping generalizations. i’m only making them because i was born and raised here; and they’re true.

          • Vancouverites are cunty, got it! I think I have all the information I need for solo travel through your native city :)

  10. Oh how I miss living here. I came back to Calgary after a wonderful year in Van, however I was still hiding in that cluttered closet I livied in (and payed $500/month for).

    An amazing city, truly. Even when it rains, I miss the cloudy sky over the ocean.

  11. I didn’t know Happy Planet was owned by Vancouver’s mayor! That’s awesome sauce, I buy their soups all the time. Armenian red lentil is my favourite flavor.

  12. I was walking to the Sky Train in Van about a month ago and passed Tegan Quin and Lindsey Byrnes on the street.


  13. Yayyyy for Vancouver!

    I live here and Kathryn’s guide is pretty accurate. Hooray for Vancityyy!

  14. also…MARIJUANA. vancouver is a sweet city to blaze – beaches, mountains, forests, doobies. you’ll smell it everywhere, and we’ve got a couple cafes (most notably the new amsterdam cafe on hastings, just west of cambie).

    i know there’s nothing intrinsically queer about drugs, but you’ll find good ones here.

  15. Also, I’m moving to Vancouver come May. And am desperately in need of friends/connections/a-place-of-residence. So… if you live in Vancouver… let me buy you a coffee in exchange for potential friendship? Sounds like a win-win to me.

  16. Reading about all these wonderfully queertastic Canadian cities makes me want to cry. Somehow I’ve ended up in the least gay place in Canada (Newfoundland), and I’m poor as hell to boot (yay grad school) so I can’t afford to visit any of these wonderful places :(

    My woes aside, this is a wonderful guide and Vancouver sounds like an amazing place. Thank you for this piece!

  17. Thanks for the insightful comments everyone!! There was so much awesomeness to cover, that I couldn’t possibly touch on all of it. Please feel free to continue adding! As I mentioned, I’m not exactly the most experienced person in this regard, but I hope you got something out of it.

    • Hi Kathryn,

      Just read your travel article on Vancouver as we are visiting in August’18. Anyway we can connect with you to maybe show us around if at all you are available?

  18. I might be going to UBC for grad school in January, and I’m pretty much terrified. I’m from Calgary and the high cost of living/crime rates are kind of making me really nervous… I don’t really know anyone who lives there, and I’ve never been to Vancouver before…

    So, am I biting off more than I can chew? Am I just going to get overwhelmed and become horribly depressed and crawl back to Calgary a nervous wreck?

    • It’s expensive, I’m not gonna lie… but crime isn’t that bad around here. I mean, if you’re smart and lock up your stuff and don’t leave stuff lying around where people can take it (ie. on outer pockets of your bag) you’re going to be fine.

      Just stay out of Surrey. Especially at night.

  19. I moved from Vancouver last year and lately I’ve had the worst craving for a veggie burger from Cafe Deux Soleils. This post did not help.

  20. Yay, Van! My very first foray into a gaybourhood happened in Van a couple of years ago when I was not-really-out-yet, and I walked down Davie Street with my heart pounding and then furtively ducked into Little Sister’s to buy myself a copy of Tipping the Velvet. Nobody actually paid me any attention whatsoever, of course.

    Also: “the evil Conservative reign in Parliament led by the weasel-faced Prime Minister: Stephen Harper” – I strenuously object to this characterization! ………….He definitely looks like more of a lizard.

    • I’ve done my share of ducking into Little Sister’s so I get what you mean! The first time I went my friend basically catapulted me in. Such a great little shop though and the people there are super friendly.

  21. “pride UBC is kind of a joke”.

    Hey dude, they try hard. Shout out to Abi and the other great folks who work to help the lost little queer undergrads find their footing in this lovely city.

    • The last time I went to a Pride UBC meeting, half the people there were there for the food and left shortly after the food ran out. This was a month ago.

  22. As someone who’s moved to Vancouver, I can completely agree that yeah, Vancouverites are largely cunts. Thankfully I had friends here already so I didn’t have to really go out and make new ones. If you’re moving here, hopefully you already know people. Or can go online somewhere and get to know people that way.
    There are pretty rad people here though! Don’t let the stand-offish attitudes scare you away.

    I will also agree that Man Up is a fuckin’ great party, and add that if you’re at all into beer-related things, check out Steamworks Brewpub, St. Augustine’s (on the Drive) or Rogue (at waterfront skytrain).

  23. This further makes me want to go to UBC for grad school in their awesome women’s, gender, and sexuality studies program! Or, I will stay in my own sore lesbian city! But if anyone is interested, you should really look into their WGSS program!

  24. Also wanted to mention the very amazing Rio Theatre near Broadway and Commercial. It’s one of the host cinemas for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and also houses many events, comedy shows and concerts. Tomorrow’s event is a poetry reading/fundraiser for Tara Hardy, and features Ivan Coyote, a Vancouver resident.

  25. Yay Vancouver! One of my best friends lives there, so I’ve been thinking about going there for grad school, even though the price of rent terrifies me a little. Knowing someone already makes it a bit less intimidating.

    I miss being able to watch the sun set over the mountains on the transit ride home.

    • My recommendation would be find a place on the Skytrain line, but out in Burnaby. It’s an extra ten or fifteen minutes into the city, but it’s preeetty affordable for a decent place.
      (A good friend of mine lives right off Metrotown, pays a reasonable amount for a spacey bachelor pad.)

      • Thank you so much! I will definitely look into that if I do end up in Van. :) Ten or fifteen minutes wouldn’t be bad at all, especially after commuting from YVR to Surrey the last time I was there.

  26. I live in Vancouver (shoutout to the other locals on here!) and as I am still in the process of coming out, this article definitely helped me learn about out the queer community and places to go in the city. Thanks! :)

    • I’m totally with you! I moved here about a year and a half ago and am recently out. I really want to get into the queer scene here and this was supremely helpful

  27. I can’t comment on the friendliness or otherwise of Vancouverians having never been there.*

    BUT I moved from New Zealand, where people display puppydog friendliness to pretty much everyone, to London (which is, err, not so friendly) two years ago – I got on Meetup.com and immediately met a whole bunch of super awesome lady gays through various groups. It looks like Van has a bunch of similar Meetup groups so I’d recommend giving that a shot to anyone moving to Van (or anywhere else where Meetup operates).

    *various friends who have lived there loved it. Kiwis love Canada generally.

  28. I can’t comment on the friendliness or otherwise of Vancouverians having never been there.*

    BUT I moved from New Zealand, where people display puppydog friendliness to pretty much everyone, to London (which is, err, not so friendly) two years ago – I got on Meetup.com and immediately met a whole group of super awesome lady gays through various groups. It looks like Van has a bunch of similar Meetup groups so I’d recommend giving that a shot to anyone moving to Van (or anywhere else where Meetup operates).

    *various friends who have lived there loved it. Kiwis love Canada generally.

  29. Personally I’ve found the queer scene here to be a bit clique-y. I went to Lick a few times before it closed and was ignored for 10 minutes by the bartender who was more interested in talking to her friends than getting drinks. I’ve also tried to get involved with some organizations but it hasn’t been a very welcoming environment. Maybe I’m not meeting the “right people” or going to the “right events” but it does seem like if you don’t have an in with someone, it’s difficult to get into social circles.

    • michelle tea has this great line in valencia that goes something along the lines of,
      lesbians in every city are cliquey. if you don’t think so, you’re in one.

  30. Agreed with LDR. The queer scene is very clique-y, but once you meet one person they’ll introduce you to a plethora of other queers. There is quite a network of gays. It’s like that song.. how does it go..? “The hip bone is connected to the knee bone..- Except in this situation it’s “This gay is connected to the other gay, and that gay is connected to the other gay.” When you connect all the gays you get a unicorn shape.

    Pretty soon clubbing becomes like a high school dance (except the entire school is gayish). You’ll see the babydyke freshmen, lesbian preps, lesbian jocks, lesbian Asian nerds, Cool lesbian Asians, Varsity lesbian jocks, Girls who drink their feelings, Girls who don’t drink anything, Faberrys, Krisbians, Desperate lesbian wannabes, lesbian Burnouts, sexually active lesbian band geeks and of course, The lesbian Plastics. The clique limit does not exist, I tell you.

    I kid, I kid. You tend to see the same groups, but once you get to know a few people they’re all quite friendly and you’ll have a gay old time.
    Hershe, Man Up, Oasis’ saturdays are a fun time with friends. If you want to get to know people in a setting that doesn’t require shouting in someone’s ear, untwist those knickers, straighten that bra and get out and down with your bad self! Try joining clubs, hanging around gaytown.

    • What the *** weed have I been smoking, the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, gosh dang rabbit.

  31. Oh Van City how I miss you. I truly enjoyed this guide, it gave me the urge to make a comment.

    I have lived in Vancouver several times and I am in love with this city, I explain it as an affair. Been there opened my eyes to a whole new world, especially to the gay one, which was absent in my previous life in my pretty conservative country. I remember my first time walking on Davie, I was trying to go to the beach and suddenly, there was my first walk into a gay neighborhood. A lot of feelings went through my head, heart and body. I remember feeling nervous of staring a little too much or worrying about people noticing my confused little/excited self. It was all new and took a while and many walks around there to start feeling part of the scene. Before this I never questioned anything, after this I started questioning everything.

    Been able to walk here and look people so freely living their life and people indifference to this, made me really happy and curious, I instantly started to dream with a life like that and still pursuing that dream, fortunately for me I am getting dangerously close to go back to my beloved Vancouver and finally live there as a citizen :)

  32. Uh, the Biltmore was my first experience legally in a club/bar situation. If you’re into oldies, go to the Ice Cream Social they have on Friday nights every once in a while. So much fun. It’s all hipsters and lesbians.

  33. Oh Vancouver… how I kind of sort of miss you. I just wanted to give a shout out to two of my favourite east van parties.

    The Work Less Party Party is the “fundraiser” for the Work Less Party. They hold 3-4 throughout the year at the Japanese Hall in the DTES. It is a fantastic excuse to be completely ridiculous for a night. There’s at least 3 DJ rooms and a costume contest, live performance, traveling band and a BDSM tent/booth/general area. The only detraction is that it gets obscenely warm and they tend to run out of beer within the first hour.

    Spit was started by two of my good friends as an alternative to the Davie scene. It’s held on the first Friday of the month at the Anza Club. Sex-positive, body-positive and kink-positive. Mike and Quinn will put on a themed performance and have a few drag and/or burlesque performers throughout the night. It combined my love of cheap booze, making outlandish costumes, sticky dancefloors and public nudity (in a safe environment). God I miss it.

  34. Thanks for this! going to vancouver for a month this summer so have written my list of places to go, i’ll be on my own so kind of nervous but i’ll just see how it goes!

  35. If anyone is planning to head to Vancouver, you have to check out and get on http://www.Quiivr.com, it’s the lesbian Social Network/ Resource / Chat site for Metro Vancouver and you’ll find ALL the girl events listed on there as well as groups and locals!

    Everything from Gay Day at Playland to LipStick Jungle / Man Up/ Oasis and Gay boardgames / hiking & kayaking outings are all on there too.

  36. I’m coming to Vancouver at the beginning of september…I would love you to show me around!!! :)

  37. Other must-see Vancouver events fulls of queer girls: the annual Vancouver folk music festival at Jericho beach (seriously, even my straight friends noticed how many dykes were there and there are always great queer performers), the Queer Arts festival (during/after Pride), the Queer Film Festival (mid-August). Also, pride weekend is the first in August, not the end of July! So you haven’t missed it yet this year! Check out the newspaper Xtra West (online as well as in paper) for queer news and events on the west coast.
    Also, props for including info on Indigenous peoples!

  38. Awesome write up! And thanks for the shoutout! :) Any ladies visiting Van feel free to msg me on fb or e-mail me off my website, would be glad to fill you on on lezzy/queer events happening while you’re in town. xxx

    • Hi,
      I am planning to come in town in the next few weeks. Would very much like to check out some lezzy places. Are you available? :)

  39. I am planning on visiting Vancouver by myself, like to know some cool people and places. Will anyone be my guide?

  40. I know this is an old post- but- I have to say- Emily Carr University is a really good, pretty widely known school for Art and Design, and it’s in Van. So, three Universities :)

  41. Literally loved this, such a good honest review and I’m in love with Vancouver already ;) I’m coming over to SFU on exchange from England in January so hopefully I’ll get the chance to hit up a few of these places :) Thanks!

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  43. don’t see any comments re queer/lesbian entertainment, etc since 2012. Is this site still functioning?

    BOLDFest – http://www.boldfest.com – is a weekend of and for dykes and lesbians at the Coast Plaza Hotel. Mostly fro 40’s and up, a lot of younger dykes come for the dances and as of the past 2 years, our “intergenerational” workshop – a popular topic of late.
    Hope to see you there. Info on website re registration. This is an event for women who identify as lesbian and/or dyke.

  44. Pingback: Days 47-48 – Vancouver – Craychel and Stella's Interstellar Adventure

  45. Vancouver is a great city to be a lesbian. The best places to hold hands are:
    Davie Street
    IMHO lol
    Also if you are an artist, the Opus in Coquitlam is very gay friendly.
    And if you are wanting to support local artists you should check out my creations:D! Great lesbian and LGBTQ greeting cards for the cute West Coast girls you will meet here <3

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