Coming Home comes home to Eighth and Eight

Guy Dubé is writing a new chapter of creativity

Guy Dubé, who previously ran the Coming Home Cafe Uptown, has found a new home for all things fabulous at Eighth and Eight Creative Spaces/Ria Renouf

We at The Anchor have a challenge for you: go visit the space at Eighth and Eight that hosts the Coming Home program and try not to smile.

Even as Guy Dubé walks me through the doors of his new home—a home oozing creativity, colour, and kindness—you can’t help but grin.

“The space we’re in is the old Hyack Football coaches' room, which I’ve turned into all the colours of Coming Home—it’s basically the colours of the rainbow,” explains Dubé, who indeed is that Guy Dubé: the creative genius (also known to many in the community as “Grandma") behind the Coming Home Cafe, which had a home for about 17 years at its first location—in Uptown New Westminster.

“The way that it happened—for all those that did follow my last year of Coming Home [Cafe], I closed in October of 2022, but of course, prior to that, the space had been sold, and it was a lot of drama,” Dubé reminds The Anchor. Admittedly, what happened only in October (that was six months ago!) feels like a remnant of yesteryear as we move through the new space—you’re transported into those old welcoming, spirited vibes as Dubé shows me everything he’s curated.

“We have the rainbow birthday coat, the colour bar … all those types of items that made people go, ‘ah yes!’ The Dame Edna glasses … the fun, quirky aspect of what I had at Coming Home is now in the Coming Home [Program] space as well.”

There isn’t a kitchen at this point—Dubé says there are plans in the works to fundraise for that—which prompts me to ask about the mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, and of course—the Kick-Ass Bennies. “There are no kick-ass bennies at this point, but that will come.”

From Coming Home Cafe to the Coming Home Program

“What was amazing was Jessica Schneider—who is the executive director here—when I posted that just could not do it anymore, ‘I’m done,’ ‘I just have to close,’ I think an hour later I got an email from Jessica going, ‘can we please meet?’” Dubé swore he was done, but that didn’t sit well with Schnieder.

“She was like, ‘no, you’re not, Coming Home cannot—no.’”

The following day, Schneider took him on a tour of Eighth and Eight spaces, and while showing him around the building, she explained her vision for the building. It was enough to convince Dubé to turn the page: he gave notice with his last landlord that same month.

“We didn’t know [what was going to happen] but I was just going with the universe, and going with Grandma Goddess saying, ‘just move forward.’ It took a few months, and then [a few months later] we were just going, ‘OK. What are we going to do? How are we going to do this?’”

Soon, everything naturally fell into place. In the case of this space, Dubé wants to underscore how important it was for everyone in the LGBTQI2S+ community to be part of creating this iteration of Coming Home, along with its programs.

The contrast of the entrance to the meeting space was a deliberate choice by Dubé, who wanted to create a moment of surprise for those who enter: the path begins in a moody, mysterious and darkly-lit moment, branching out into a bright, light-filled space/supplied

“Especially now. We’re coming back to the fight for equality and safety and taking our space. And I do want the community to know that it’s time for us to take our space again,” he elaborates, adding it isn’t just about having a safe space, but also somewhere to thrive and be creative. “So yes, I am the ‘leader’ of this part, but your leaders are only as good as the people around them.”

There is relatively more space at the program’s new site, so one of the things Dubé is keen to do is put together a workshop, of sorts—it’s one example of the options available to the community, adding the sky is the limit.

“There’s a room behind this little space that we’re sitting in right now—the old football closet—their uniforms were in there. I want to turn that, with the help of people that want to volunteer and create—into a ‘work room.’ By work room, I think of RuPaul’s Drag Race: creativity, sewing machines, mirrors, the whole nine yards of over-the-top, fun-loving, just-go-with-it [vibes].”

Dubé, who was also the president of the first pride festival—which happened 13 years ago—is hoping that there will be an opportunity to collaborate with New West Pride, among other groups.

“I’m a Pisces. I’m a Gen X. All I can ever imagine is creativity, and that’s the only time I’m happy—is when I’m dreaming of amazing things to happen,” he notes, adding that at the end of the day, it is an act that gives him so much meaning. “This makes Grandma kick ass and feel good! Grandma is smiling a lot right now,” Dubé exclaims, grinning from ear-to-ear. “It’s happening, that’s just it, right? It’s the beauty of letting people be creative.”

“I opened Coming Home in 2005, so 17 years of schlagging to be honest, and to know that when somebody says, ‘we’ve been paying attention to what you’ve been doing,’ it’s a beautiful thing to have that reinforcement. The negative that could have happened with what happened last year turned into one of the most beautiful, positive things because I get to continue to the process of what I believe Coming Home was about.”

“The coffee was just an excuse for great conversation—and now there’s no coffee—so we’ll start with conversation and just bring in the coffee after.”

What about the mural with the deer?

The deer are here—yes, they’re baaaaaack!/Supplied

One of the other things The Anchor was dying to know about were the deer: you may remember some of the fallout amid some changes at Coming Home Cafe’s old location: “we all know that at some point last year, the new owners of the building painted over a gorgeous mural, the two-spirited mural of our transdeer, and that upset a lot of people,” he reminds us, noting that the work was created by Roaming Deer. The idea behind the Roaming Deer of New Westminster was to see deer, the symbol of gentleness, and a reminder to take care of one another, painted in each of the city’s neighbourhoods.

Dubé was pleased to share with The Anchor that the deer have, well, come home to Coming Home.

“The beauty of this is that sometimes when someone shuts a door and the negativity happens, it doesn’t always stay that way because there are people in this world that are absolutely fantastic,” he says, repeating some of the words he shared in a post to Instagram seven months ago.

For Dubé, the discussion of the return of the deer is a perfect way to symbolize this fresh start, and all the things he so deeply believes in.

“It’s time. It’s needed: to just share the love. More love, more fun. Kindness is free. Love is free. And just like with [Coming Home Cafe] I didn’t care if you were young, old, rich, poor, straight, queer, or not. The—always—most important thing is if you were kind, you’re welcome. And that still stands here.”

The Coming Home Program will kick things off by hosting the Rainbow Connections Café every Wednesday from 3 to 8pm. It had its first event on April 19. Dubé hopes the community will join him—and others—for some coffee, conversations, dreaming, and community building.

To learn more about the spaces at Eighth and Eight—they include the Massey Theatre, the Plaskett Gallery, as well as a number of performance studios, digital labs, and audio and visual spaces for the community to use—check out this page.