This article draws from and advances urban studies literature on ‘creative city’ policies by exploring the contradictory role of queer arts practice in contemporary placemarketing strategies. Here I reflect on the fraught politics surrounding Radiodress’s each hand as they are called project, a deeply personal exploration of radical Jewish history programmed within Luminato, a Toronto-based international festival of creativity. Specifically, I explore how Luminato and the Koffler Centre, a Jewish organisation promoting contemporary art, regulated Radiodress’s work in order to stage marketable notions of ethnic and queer diversity. I also examine how and why the Koffler Centre eventually blacklisted Radiodress and her project. However, I also consider the ways Radiodress and Toronto artists creatively and collectively responded to these tensions. I maintain that bringing queer arts practice into discussions about contemporary creative city policies uncovers sites of queer arts activism that scale up to shape broader policies and debates. Such disidentificatory interventions, acts of co-opting and re-working discourses which exclude minoritarian subjects, challenge violent processes of colonisation and commodification on multiple fronts, as well as fostering more collective and relational ways of being.