Bean There, Grind That: Queer Coffee Culture and the Politics of Place, Belonging and Representation
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The gay village located in Toronto, Ontario, is generally thought by mainstream society to be excessively determined by the establishments, individuals and normative LGBTQ identity representations located in the area i.e. mostly white, middle/upper class. Based on this and the interviews with my informants, I assert how the dominance of normative LGBTQ identity makes the area over-determined. However, I will attempt to highlight the importance of alternative queer places along the strip in the Church and Wellesley Street area. My thesis will explore the relationship between place formations, LGBTQ identity construction, and coffee consumption. I aim to create a richer understanding of the various ways in which queer identities are understood, created, and negotiated within coffee shops. I highlight how, at times, queer coffee shops are open and dynamic, and allow for new and old meanings to become generated in and out of these places. Queer coffee shops shed light on how my research informants grapple and work with or against these complex sites of negotiations. Ultimately, queer coffee shops in the Church and Wellesley Street area are microcosms of the larger LGBTQ community in the same neighbourhood. These processes help to shape LGBTQ identity, membership, place, rootedness, and belonging while simultaneously encouraging misunderstanding, tension, conflict, and estrangement.