Complicating Queer Space in Toronto: How the Development of Toronto’s LGBTQ2I Spaces Fits within Homonormative and Homonationalist Scripts

Ryan Adamson, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 26 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)


This major paper challenges the dominance of celebratory narratives in academic literature that posit Western urban gay enclaves as beacons of social inclusivity and tolerance. This research is intended to address the reality that gay village spaces in North America, Europe and Australia were built exclusively for the benefit of middle class white gay men and continue to exclude women, queers of colour, trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Toronto is used as a case study to demonstrate how modern municipalities have appropriated LGBTQ2I identities in order to market themselves as cosmopolitan urban centres that are worthy of various forms of capital investment. The case study will also elucidate how processes of homonormativity (Duggan, 2002) and homonationalism (Puar, 2007) have been accelerated by municipal investment in gay village spaces. Three central questions guide the analysis of this case study: (1) How do cities appropriate LGBTQ2I identities to present themselves as cosmopolitan urban centres? (2) In what ways does the image of state-sponsored LGBTQ2I spaces work to exclude non-homonormative queers? (3) How can cities plan differently for the future?