Upon arriving in Vancouver, I was immediately informed that it was known as the most bisexual city in the world. "Everyone's bisexual here. Everyone says so." The person who told me this was, alas, not bisexual, but the second, third, and fourth person I met were.
Is that enough to declare it as fact, to say that Vancouver is the most bisexual city in the world? I believe it is so, though my editor here at The Advocate seems to disagree. Let us meet in the middle: Vancouver is among the most bisexual cities in the world. And whether you are bi or gay or lesbian, no matter where you land on the gender spectrum, Vancouver, the City of Glass, is one of the safest and most LGBTQ-friendly places to visit.
Surrounded by both snow-capped mountains and the ocean, the beauty of the city is impossible to miss. Next time you go, here are seven of the queerest things you can do in the city.
1. Go to Wreck Beach Just west of the city, you'll find the famed, clothing-optional Wreck Beach. Trail 6 will lead you to the most popular part of the beach, but follow signs to Trail 7 where the queer beachgoers congregate.
Pro-tip: it's about a 30-minute hike from the trailhead, so bring comfortable walking shoes along with your sandals.
2. Get a Drink at the Botanist Though not specifically a queer-only bar, The Botanist is the #1 bar in Vancouver, and possibly the world. It should be at the top of any traveler's list of things to do in the city. The Botanist (located in the bottom of The Pacific Rim hotel) has an extensive cocktail menu and is most famous for its "Experiential Cocktails."
The Pretty Bird (pictured above) is a bubbly gin drink that you sip through a straw that comes out of the bird's, uh, butt. It's delicious, though my favorite was the Smoke On The Water, which includes aged rum, mezcal, charred lemon, birch sap, coconut oil, and is served in a canister overflowing with cedar smoke.
2. Little Sister's Book & Art Emporium aka Little Sister's Jim Deva and Bruce Smyth opened Little Sister's, named after their cat, in 1983 after their continued frustration at being unable to find LGBTQ books anywhere in the city. The store blossomed into an unofficial LGBTQ community center in Vancouver and later, they were forced to fight government censorship and the seizure of books and other materials at customs.
This, combined with having bombs thrown into the store on three separate occasions as blowback from their legal battles, has made them a legendary part of the queer history of Vancouver.
The store, though now in a new location, still resides in the LGBTQ neighborhood on Davie Street.
4. Stay At The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel As our partners at Out reported, recycling and saving the environment is extremely gay (so gay that straight men aren't doing it to avoid looking overly feminine). The Fairmont Waterfront is consistently ranked as one of the greenest hotels in the country and is on their way to being a Zero Waste hotel.
Most impressively, they also function as a Bee Hotel and house 500,000 bees in their terrace garden. Research indicates that wild bee populations continue to show signs of decline, with the loss and fragmentation of their natural habitats cited as a leading factor. In order to combat this and Colony Collapse Disorder, The Fairmont Waterfront has created a place for wild bees to live and reproduce.
Fun fact: a Queen Bee (not thatQueen Bee) can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day.
Another fun fact: Vancouver is poised to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.
5. Go to the Seawall Running about five and a half miles, The Seawall is the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. Vancouver is known for being an outdoorsy city, so expect crowds when the weather is good.
Start your day walking or biking The Seawall. You'll get to experience the beauty of the city and mountains that surround it, so this is one of Vancouver's prime spots to take a selfie.
6. Go to the Bars on Davie Street Celebrities (more a nightclub vibe), Numbers (known for their cabarets), The Junction (superior drag), and The Fountainhead (a pub) are all local favorites.
If Davie Street is too male-focused, Commercial Drive attracts more queer women. It's the home of the Vancouver Dyke March every year and while there aren't specifically queer-only spaces, you'll find a large number of queer women — and often their families — throughout.
One queer, local favorite on Commercial Drive is Cafe Deux Soleil, which stays open late and often hosts local bands.
7. Watch The Bratpack Perform Four of The Advocate's favorite Vancouver-based drag queens perform every Thursday at The Junction on Davie Street. The Bratpack, a drag supergroup, currently consists of Kendall Gender, Thanks Jem, Jane Smoker, and Gia Metric. Go check out the queens before the recently announced, Drag Race Canada premieres next year so you can say, "I knew you when."
Enjoy the show and don't forget to tip your queens.