Horny Hamilton: Sex-Positive & Queerness in #HamOnt

swimming in the fountain naked
Mooning in Gore Park.

I moved to Hamilton, three years ago this August, to come to school at McMaster University. After my graduation from a one-year college program, I decided to make the leap to university. I packed up all my things, had some friends get me across half the country, and landed here in the Hammer. At the time of moving, I was just looking for a random place to land while closing a certain chapter of my life. I didn’t have many expectations for this city, but over the past few years, it’s become my home. I’m still exploring, but Hamilton has felt more home to me than any of the three other cities I’ve lived in.

Hamilton is going through an interesting time right now, as the city is quickly scaling through gentrification. Local stores are popping quickly around the area, but there seems to be a lack of sex-positive and queer friendly stores for our growing population. We don’t even have a quality all-types-of-queer-friendly bar! Since there’s not much around, I’ve had to dig deep to find good sex-positive and queer events and spaces to explore. Luckily, with the help of the internet and the communities here, I’ve managed to make some friends who’ve pointed me in the right direction. So here it is folx, your queer friendly, sex-positive guide to Hamilton, Ontario.

Art Crawl. One of Hamilton’s rising-in-popularity events is Art Crawl, a monthly art, and music event on James Street North. Local vendors, artists, and makers line the street selling #HamOnt brands and creations. All the music venues and art galleries have shows going on and the city feels alive. Some of my favourite rad artists like Sugarbones, Juliana LaChance, Dope Chief, as well as emerging kink themes in vendors like Black Line Accessories. I feel like every time I attend more talented people come out to sell or show their art. Art Crawl happens on the second Friday of every other month.

Bent Q Media. Bent Q is a new multimedia company run by and for queer Hamiltonians. Run by James Dee, the website focuses on highlighting queer events, speaking about queer issues and experiences in Hamilton, as well as showcasing art, music and writing from local queer artists. While Bent Q Media is still a baby blog, I see great potential for its impact on this city. Check out this article about how queer and trans babes can help stand up against gentrification.

che burrito and lounge sex-positive

Che Burrito and Lounge. There are many places in the city that are great for going out and partying after Art Crawl. One of my favourite places to go out drinking and dancing is a bar called Che Burrito & Lounge. I’ve never even seen a burrito served there, but the music is good and the energy is high. Friday’s is No Standards Night, where the music is mainly throwbacks to the American rock of the early 2000’s. Che has a very welcoming policy and bans homophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism from the bar, and is the only bar in Hess Village that has gender neutral bathrooms!

Dungeon Divas. While Hamilton still doesn’t have any local feminist sex stores, we have a women-run BDSM boutique called Dungeon Divas. The Dungeon has everything a kinkster could want, including lingerie, custom accessories, sex furniture and more. Unfortunately, some of the toy selection is porous and toxic, but the non-insertable products are perf for any perv in the Hammer.

Fringe Fest. Happening right now in downtown Hamilton, the Fringe Fest is a live performance festival featuring 300 local performances over 11 days. Every June the Festival is put on, allowing locals to explore various theater companies and acts. With theater being a liberal art, usually there are explicit themes woven into some of the performances. This year was no exception. The top on my must see list is Elephant Girl (drama,) Swipe Right for Love (improv,) Perfect Couples (drama,) No Dick Pics Please (comedy) and Brine (drama.) The Fringe closes in one week so go support some local queer and sex-positive talent.

queer night hamilton pub

Queer Pub Night. Hamilton has two permanent gay bars/clubs. One of which is under construction, and the other being a mainly white, mainly cis-dude establishment. Luckily, other bars downtown have noticed the growing Queer community here and have decided to create pop up queer nights! Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge, located on the corner John St S and Augusta, has a monthly queer pub night at the end of each month. The pub night is run by the folx from Queer Outta Hamilton, a new event community dedicated to making Hamilton queerer. Gallagher’s has amazing nacho’s and provides a safe, fun space for people to be themselves. However, it is a 21+ bar, so make sure to bring your ID’s!

Sacha. Sacha is a sexual assault awareness center, which offers many awesome services to the surrounding Hamilton community. The center is feminist, non-profit, and community-based, being guided by anti-racist and anti-oppressive values. Sacha offers a 24 Hour Support Line and counseling and advocacy for survivors of sexual violence and people supporting survivors. They run a Diverse Communities Outreach Program, which offers programming to support Hamilton’s women from diverse racial and cultural communities. Sacha also operates a public education section, and run various feminist workshops for the community. They run Take Back the Night, an annual march for women and nonbinary folks to show their support for survivors. This organization does so much for the women and trans folx of Hamilton. If you’d like to support Sacha, you can donate online and they run fundraisers throughout the year.

The Tower. On the corner of Cannon & Victoria, you’ll find an anarchist social center called the Tower. The storefront-esque space is used as a multi-purpose community center for all of Hamilton’s “local activist groups, community organizations, revolutionaries, and anyone sympathetic to anarchist principles of (direct) action, mutual aid and solidarity, voluntary association, prefiguration, equality, and autonomy.” The Tower offers events like film screenings, political discussions, skill-shares, workshops and group meetups. Every Wednesday is their Queer Social night, which is on my to-do list of events to attend this summer. The communities that use the Tower are all queer friendly and sex-positive, so it’s a great place to find like-minded anarchist friends. AND it’s the best place to learn some about activism in #HamOnt.

And there we have it, the best queer friendly, sex-positive events and organizations in Hamilton. Since the city is growing quickly,  places pertaining to my pervy interest levels will hopefully pop up soon. I’m hoping that a feminist, all gender friendly sex store opens so the city can use it as a resource for sex education (and hopefully employ me too.) Who knows, maybe Come As You Are will open up a brick and mortar in a new city?

What are your favourite local queer/sex-positive events, shops, and media? I’d love to have some resources to look to if I’m visiting new cities.

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