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Buddies in Bad Times: World's longest-running queer theatre company celebrates World Pride

Follow along as Andrew takes an intriguing person out for a night on the town, visiting some of Toronto’s newest hot spots and offering tips on how you can create your own date night.

I was excited about going on a date with Brendan Healy, the artistic director at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, Buddies is the largest and longest-running queer theatre company in the world. This June, Toronto has the esteemed pleasure of hosting World Pride and I thought there would be no one better to chat with about the city’s annual rainbow flag festival than Healy.

We met at my favourite restaurant on Church Street, the always-bustling Sabai Sabai located just south of Dundas. Chef Nuit helms the kitchen here, serving authentic tapas plates inspired by her native Thailand. Over lunch we crunched and munched our way through addictive deep-fried squash fritters, crispy fish with sweet tamarind and spicy chicken noodle salad.

In many ways Buddies is Toronto’s gay watering hole. The institution that makes the Village gay. Healy explains, “the vision for Buddies has always been to act as more than just a theatre.

“When Buddies first opened over three decades ago, it was a time where few spaces existed in the city for the LGBT community to connect. Today it’s an amazing place where different communities regularly interact. One can find fans of Margaret Atwood lingering at the bar after watching her latest play while drag queens arrive for the evening’s late-night dance party.”

From May 31 to June 29, the Buddies Pride program will showcase a broad spectrum of performances that include drag, burlesque, comedy and theatre. This year’s World Pride lineup includes thoughtful experiences that explore LGBT issues on a global scale. Buddies has partnered with Pride Toronto to present a not-to-be-missed play reading of Just Me, You and The Silence, a work performed by nine black actors who explore the controversial anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. For those looking to have a gay ol’ time at Buddies, Healy suggests

“Homo night in Canada! It’s a real crowd pleaser on the Saturday night of Pride and hosted by the B-Girlz, Toronto’s famous queer comedy drag trio. After the show we open up a full facility dance party worth sticking around for.”

Heading to Buddies for a show and want to make it a date night? Check out Healy’s favourite spots to grab a drink or a bite just a stone’s throw from the theatre.

Pre: Have dinner at Fabarnak. The food here is fantastic and you’ll be supporting the 519 Church Street Community Centre at the same time, which feels great.

Post: Pop by Boutique Bar for a vodka martini and sit under the stars while people watching from the petite patio.

Get your Pride on

World Pride runs June 20-29. Find more details at and

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