Ottawa Xtra

Taiwan, junk science and Luxembourg eye candy

27 May 2017 - 8:36pm
[[asset:image:309875 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Taiwan will move towards equal marriage Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled Wednesday the country must pass legislation in the next two years permitting equal marriage for gay couples. Taiwan will be the first country in Asia to make the move. Read more at the Washington Post.   Hungary hosts hate summit Hungary’s right-wing government is hosting the World Congress of Families, a United States organization widely recognized as an anti-gay hate group. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a speech praising Christian values and encouraging Hungarians to have more children. Read more at the Guardian.   A photogenic first husband While heads of state met to discuss the future of Nato, their spouses gathered to snap a picture in Belgium this week. Twitter particularly ate up Gauthier Destenay, the handsome first husband of Luxembourg’s gay Prime Minister.     Gay panic science A Canadian researcher hoped to prove in a new study that homophobic men experience more stress when watching gay men kiss. Instead she found that her subjects experienced the same amount of stress regardless of attitudes, suggesting that non-homophobic men may be just better at handling their stress.   Male attraction theory of lesbians criticized by gay community Researchers in Cyprus have theorized in a new paper that same-sex attraction among women may have evolved because it is attractive to straight men. The paper was met with scorn from both LGBT groups and scientists. Read more at IFL Science.

City council votes to fund Pride Toronto despite ban on uniformed police

26 May 2017 - 8:35pm
An effort to strip Pride Toronto of its city funding has failed. City councillors defeated a motion brought forward by Councillor John Campbell that would have suspended city money to Pride Toronto unless police could march in uniform. Instead, council agreed to provide the festival with $260,000. But the hours-long debate on May 26, 2017, exposed a continuing rift on city council between those who want to fund Pride Toronto without conditions and others who believe that council should attach strings to city money. “This conversation was exactly why we feel we need to take a step back and we really need to reconsider what it means to be LGBTQ in this city and start again,” says Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto. Along with Campbell, 16 other councillors voted to suspend city funding to Pride Toronto. “When you’re giving money, there are conditions attached to the giving of money and there are certain expectations of outcomes and Pride didn’t meet those to me,” Campbell told reporters after the vote. Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto’s only gay city councillor, strongly criticized Campbell for bringing forward his motion in spite of the fact that he’s never attended a Pride parade. “When you have never spoken up for LGBT rights and equality, if you have never attended the Pride march, and you’ve placed a motion before us today, I have to ask, where is your allyship?” she said. The latest effort to defund Pride Toronto was a response to the organization’s members voting overwhelmingly in January to ban police officers from marching in the parade in uniform, with firearms and alongside police vehicles. Police officers will still be able to march in the parade, either individually or as a group, if they follow those conditions. The decision sparked a backlash from some members of Toronto’s LGBT community and a handful of city politicians, who argued that placing conditions on police participation was exclusionary. City staff, who recommended to council that the funding be approved, confirmed that Pride Toronto’s policy does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy. Michael Williams, general manager of economic development and culture for the city, said staff gave Pride’s funding proposal an especially close look both because of the media attention and because they were worried about staffing turnover at the organization. “We were pleasantly surprised by how solid they came together at the last minute,” Williams says.   Debate During the debate, city councillors fell broadly into three groups with respect to their views on funding Pride Toronto. Those who voted to strip Pride Toronto’s funding believed that the festival should be defunded for excluding uniformed police. But some councillors who were uncomfortable with Pride Toronto’s decision, including Mayor John Tory, still voted to maintain funding because Pride Toronto is in an ongoing dialogue with the Toronto Police Service about the relationship between the two organizations. Tory said that both Nuamah and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told him personally that defunding Pride Toronto would hurt those efforts. “These very same groups are working together now to resolve some unresolved issues,” Tory said. A final group of councillors was much more sympathetic to the concerns raised by Black Lives Matter Toronto during its protest at last year’s Pride parade. “If you let everybody in without addressing power and privilege, you actually are going to send some of the people out,” said Councillor Neethan Shan. “You listen to black youth, you listen to trans youth and you realize that journey to inclusion is a much longer walk,” said Councillor Joe Cressy. “And you realize we’re not there yet.”   Scrutiny The effort to defund Pride Toronto was reminiscent of previous attempts by some city councillors to take away funding from 2010 to 2014. During that time, many city politicians threatened Pride Toronto with defunding if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) was allowed to continue to march. One of the persistent questions councillors raised today about Campbell’s motion was why Pride Toronto continues to face greater scrutiny than other cultural organizations. “I think that every year that I have been here, and that’s a very long number of years, we’ve had this debate, over and over and over again,” said Councillor Pam McConnell. “I would like for one year for us to be able to take this grant and just give it to them.” “Somehow Pride is always held to a completely different standard than every single organization that we fund in this city,” Cressy said.

Inside Out festival gears up to choose an LGBT international film winner

26 May 2017 - 5:34pm
Kate Johnston knows her films. As a seasoned filmmaker and performer, she’s proven her worth on both sides of the camera. And to her, the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival is something special. “It’s like being in church without the religion,” she says. Johnston thinks the festival is more supportive of local artists than most other fests that she’s been to. And the Torontonian knows this from firsthand experience, with her film Tru Love winning Audience Best Feature at Inside Out 2014. But as a juror on this year’s Bill Sherwood award, she’s broadening her lens and taking a look at films from outside the city. The award, named in honour of the American director of the cult classic Parting Glances, is an international prize presented to a first-time feature director. “The job of film is to elicit emotion and take you on a journey,” she says. And it’s this impassioned odyssey that will be one way she’ll evaluate which of the 19 international films make the cut.   Joining her on the panel are two other queer film heavyweights: Brittani Nichols, known for her on-screen appearances in Transparent and her award-winning film Suicide Kale; and acclaimed Korean-American filmmaker Andrew Ahn, whose first feature Spa Night premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and won the Bill Sherwood Award for best first feature in 2016. Ahn also sees magic at Inside Out that is hard to find other festivals. “I was so in awe of the audiences,” he says of his inaugural attendance last year. “The screenings were sold out and people were so engaged in the films and really loved talking to the filmmakers.” In particular, the inclusion of a category for specifically-international films presents a rare and valuable opportunity to see new perspectives. “For any film festival, it’s so exciting to bring in films from all over the world and to be able to showcase a range of stories,” he says. And the stories at this year’s festival are indeed varied, with topics ranging from LGBT homeless and queer refugees to transgender firefighters and lovestruck linguists. The inclusion of often nuanced perspectives in film is not restricted only to queer cinema. Programs like Inside Out might very well serve as a guide for the mainstream. As the jurors prepare to take on the important task of selecting the most moving of all 19 international film submissions, they too are showcasing that cinema presents an important window into LGBT communities. As Andrew Murphy, director of programming for Inside Out writes in the program guide, we’re entering new territory for queer film. And that’s exciting. “Queer paths travelled may no longer be as clearly defined as before, but this makes our experience no less interesting or important.”

Why we need more intergenerational LGBT spaces

26 May 2017 - 5:34pm
Despite its reputation as one of the most progressive and inclusive queer communities in Canada, Toronto still lacks cultural spaces intended to foster meaningful engagement between younger and older generations. Ty Sloane recently moved to Toronto from Alberta. He says one of the drawbacks of growing up gay outside a major city is the absence of a queer community and the knowledge that can be gleaned from older generations. “Growing up gay, for me and I think a lot of my generation, if you’re not from some place like Toronto or Vancouver, you really rely on Netflix movies or any TV shows,” Sloane says. “I found that there was no elder, or there was no fairy gay godfather or godmother, or what have you, to teach you anything.” Sloane is one of the youth involved in the The Youth/Elders Project — an upcoming series of performances happening over five days at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre that aim to inspire change with its intergenerational cast. The ensemble consists of 13 players — six youth and seven elders — and is a partnership between Buddies, the Senior Pride Network and The 519. Through a series of performances, The Youth/Elders Project will use Buddies as a temporary venue for younger and older queers to come together. The performers and creators hope the project will inspire local community builders to acknowledge the importance of intergenerational venues. According to Sloane, the first part of addressing the issue is starting a dialogue between generations. “I just think we need to start talking to each other more and engaging each other more as people. We’ve run away, sometimes, from a lot of heteronormative and conservative places and then all come together,” he says. “We don’t talk to each other, which defeats the purpose of trying to seek out a community.” Lezlie Lee Kam is one of the elders performing with The Youth/Elders Project. She says the youth and elders involved in the project stand to mutually gain knowledge of each other’s vocabulary, perspective of queer history and identities. As the only differently-abled elder of colour, Lee Kam hopes to act as a mentor to queer youth experiencing forms of oppression. “I would like to be able to support queer youth because what queer youth are going through now,” Lee Kam says, “especially queer youth of colour, trans youth, indigenous youth. “I keep telling people that are my age that we need to be working with queer youth to support them because we’re going to be needing them as we get older.”   The project, which utilizes elements of performance art and partially scripted dialogue, is focused on creating a positive space for LGBT people to engage audiences — and one another — on intergenerational issues within the queer community. While significant progress has been made in recent LGBT history and younger activists continue the efforts of their elders, recording one another’s stories and personal histories still remains a vital issue. Jordan Campbell is another youth performing with The Youth/Elders Project and says one of the main benefits of bringing younger and older generations together under the same roof is that it helps repair a broken timeline of queer history. “Things have changed a lot, and that’s not to say it’s easier or harder now to be queer. I mean, institutionally, we’ve made a lot of strides with legislation and with different rights that we’ve secured legally,” Campbell says. “But, what I’m saying is, a lot has changed and a lot has happened very quickly, let’s say, over the last 60 years.” “So, it’s really important for us to know the history and to know what’s going on now and to continue to track what’s going on. Queer history isn’t always as well-documented as it can be.”

What I learned about myself during an encounter with a disabled married client (Part 1)

26 May 2017 - 2:34pm
I’m surprised when he opens the door. We’ve exchanged a few emails in advance of meeting. I know what he wants to do. But his appearance catches me off guard.  The session we’re planning is pretty vanilla; a little kissing, some body contact and sucking each other off. But his situation is particular. A few years ago, a stroke partially paralyzed the left side of his body. He managed to regain most of the function in his arm but his leg is still largely immobile and requires a brace. He uses that, in combination with a pair of crutches to get around. Since we’ve gone over all of this in detail, I’m confused when the door is answered by a guy who clearly has two fully functional legs, which I can see because he’s wearing a pair of loose-fitting shorts. He gestures for me to come in. He doesn’t seem particularly excited to see me. But he also doesn’t look upset. Clients can sometimes seem a bit closed when your first arrive because they’re trying to hide their nerves. But this guy just seems completely blank, like he’s totally indifferent to my presence.  Without saying anything, he walks into an adjacent room, which looks to be an office of some sort, and closes the door behind him. I stand, glancing around, unsure of what to do. Does he want me to leave? Does he need to do something to prepare for the meeting? Did he exaggerate the nature of his disability? Is this some sort of weird trick? Just as I’m wondering whether I should pack it in and depart, there’s a noise from the top of the stairs to my right. Slowly, one step at a time, I hear someone descending. As his legs gradually come into view, I realize that this is person I’m here to meet.  I’ve had a handful of experiences meeting disabled clients where they’ve invited a friend to hang out during the session. Having limited mobility puts you in a vulnerable position when you’re meeting up with a beefy, able-bodied escort whose sense of ethics you know nothing about. The possibility of being assaulted or robbed or both means a third wheel is a good idea, just in case something goes wrong. As he gradually comes into view, I see an attractive 50-something man with a shaved head and a trim grey beard. He’s also wearing a pair of loose-fitting shorts, which clearly reveal his leg, somewhat atrophied, encased in a brace. By the time he reaches the foyer, he’s gasping for breath and I wonder if he’s going to collapse. He just smiles and reaches one hand out to pat me gingerly on the shoulder.  “You wanna to come up?” he says. I feel bad that he’s struggled to make it down the stairs to greet me, just to turn around and return. But we’re not going have our session on the floor of his front hallway, so I nod my agreement and he starts his journey back up, me walking slowly behind him.  At the top of the stairs, I follow him down a hallway to a bedroom with a king-sized bed and a small wooden dresser covered with framed photos, mostly of children. The table next to the bed is scattered will pill bottles. Underneath it sit two large plastic jugs, which I recognize as the vessels provided to bed-bound patients to pee into. A large wooden crucifix hangs above the bedroom door.  He eases himself onto the bed, carefully placing his crutches on the floor, within reach. He stares up at me, looking bashful, but with a slight smile. I strip off my clothes and climb in next him. It takes a bit of effort but he manages to swing both of his legs up to lie himself down. He strains to grab the blanket near the bottom of the bed, that’s been folded down in advance, but he can’t reach it. I take it by the edge, pull it over us, and cuddle up next to him.  I often say I’m not paid to ask questions. But I’m so curious about the scenario I’ve been greeted with, so I decide to take the risk to inquire what’s going on. “Is that guy downstairs your friend?” “You could say that.” “And he’s just . . . um . . . hanging out here today?” He smiles. “No,” he says. “He lives here.” After a little more back and forth, I realize the guy who answered the door isn’t a platonic acquaintance. It’s his husband. He’d been married to a woman for more than 20 years and they have four children together (featured in various stages of growth in the photos on the dresser). Having struggled with his sexuality since he was a teenager, in his mid-40s he finally came out and split up with his wife, by all indications amicably. About a year later he met the guy downstairs. They fell hard for each other and were married within 12 months. Four years later, he had the stroke. Marriage, at least traditionally, is supposed to be for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. But what must it have been like for the other guy, to be four years into a relationship and have his partner become disabled?  It makes me wonder what I might do in the same circumstances. Would I stay with someone I was romantically involved with if they suddenly lost the use of their legs? If the situation was reversed, would the person stay with me? Would I be able to forgive them if they didn’t? The clock shows I’ve been here for 45 minutes so I decide it’s time to initiate the sex . . .

Why are HIV/AIDS programs for marginalized Torontonians facing the chopping block?

26 May 2017 - 11:34am
A number of HIV/AIDS programs aimed at racialized and marginalized communities in Toronto are facing the chopping block after their grant applications were rejected. Programs run by the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP), Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS), the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) and Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN) are all under threat. Shannon Ryan, the executive director of Black CAP, says it’s no coincidence that the organizations facing cuts represent marginalized communities.  “The larger organizations are in an absolute position of privilege within these programs that we are not,” he says. “We’re fighting to hold onto what we got.” On May 23, 2017, the four organizations separately presented appeals to the Toronto Urban Health Fund Review Panel, arguing that they are able to effectively work with communities that aren’t well served by larger organizations. “They’re not going to be able to accommodate the marginalized group, the people that we work with, because we are close to the community,” says Noulmook Sutdhibhasilp, the executive director of ACAS, which is trying to save programs aimed at queer men and trans women. Haran Vijayanathan, the executive director of ASAAP, says its South Asian women’s sexual health program, which did not receive funding, is the only one of its kind in Toronto. “That actually takes sexual health education for South Asian women out of the system completely,” he says.  Many AIDS service organizations point to the creation of the Toronto Urban Health Fund as one of the root causes of the decline in programming. The fund (which replaced the AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program and Drug Prevention Community Investment Program) was created in 2013 by bringing together separate funding streams for HIV prevention, harm reduction and youth initiatives. Since then, the number of HIV programs that are funded, as well as the total amount of money, has steadily declined. Ryan and Sutdhibhasilp both say that when the fund was created, around 40 HIV prevention projects were given money. Today, less than a dozen are funded. For AIDS service organizations, the instability has been compounded by major changes to how HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment is funded at the federal level. “This past year, we’ve seen many programs defunded,” Ryan says. “It feels like we’re under attack.” In addition to seeking more funding, Ryan would like the City of Toronto to segment off funding streams for HIV prevention in order to provide stable funding for essential programs. “We need that stability in addition to additional resources,” he says. “We don’t know where we stand when it comes to the city and HIV funding.” Sutdhibhasilp says that when the pot of money shrinks, a different approach is needed to funding HIV/AIDS organizations. “When we talk about funding programs, we should also talk about equity issues,” she says. “Because we are aware that the grassroots community organizations are going to go first if there is a funding cut.” Black CAP’s community outreach program is one of the programs now in jeopardy of shutting down. Ryan says that cancelling the program risks harming public health. “Black people are the second-most at-risk population after gay men,” he says. “And to lose the visibility in these spaces I think really creates new infections, it creates additional costs for the health care system, it adds to the stigma that exists for black people living with HIV and AIDS.” A petition demanding that funding for the program be restored has received more than 200 signatures.  “This tells a story of marginalized populations in general in terms of access to resources,” Ryan says. “This is not a new story.”

Out in Toronto: May 25–31, 2017

25 May 2017 - 5:34pm
Thursday, May 25  Strictly Ballroom: The Musical Based on the much-loved Australian film by Baz Luhrmann, this musical adaptation follows ballroom dance champ Scott Hastings’s adventures on the dance floor and in love. Features classic songs from the film, including “Love is in the Air” and “Time After Time.” The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, June 25, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W. mirvish.com [[asset:image:309818 {"mode":"full","align":"","field_asset_image_caption":["Strictly Ballroom: The Musical is based on the much-loved Australian film and takes place at the Princess of Wales Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Alastair Muir"]}]] Newsgirl Opening at Soulo Theatre Festival Savoy “Kapow” Howe, founder of the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club (a club for women and trans folks), relates tales from her 25-year-long boxing journey. Her one-woman show, which takes place in her actual boxing ring, covers everything from teaching survivors of violence to box to close calls with the city’s underworld.  8–11pm. Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club, 388 Carlaw Ave. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:309869 {"mode":"full","align":"","field_asset_image_caption":["Toronto Newsgirl Boxing Club has its opening on May 25, 2017. "],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Lisa Kannakko"]}]] Inside Out 2017 Opening Gala Party  Following a screening of the film God’s Own Country, the 2017 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival kicks off with a huge party. Features music by Toronto’s DJs Lucie Tic and Ace Dillinger and a silent auction. The 11-day-long Inside Out festival include artist talks, panel discussions and thousands of film screenings.  9:30pm–1am. Malaparte, 350 King St W. For more info, visit Facebook.   Friday, May 26 RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World Tour As if the city’s drag-obsessed queers weren’t overstimulated enough, a massive drag show featuring some of your favourite queens from the hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race comes to town. This frantic night of heels, hose (like hosiery, of course), hips and lips features performances by Alaska Thunderfuck, Shangela, Bianca Del Rio and others.  8–11pm. The Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309866 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Bianca Del Rio performs at RuPaul\u2019s Drag Race: Werq the World Tour on May 26, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Voss Events"]}]] L The latest addition to the village’s nightlife is a simply-named dance party for women, trans folk and non-binary people of colour. Presented by Mojo Toronto, the inaugural party features DJs Recklezz and Mavis spinning hip hop, R&B and house. Includes a raffle and proceeds will be donated to  Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. Allies welcome.  10pm–2:30am. Blyss, 504 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309863 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["DJ Recklezz spins at L on May 26, 2017, at Blyss."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Jana Summers"]}]] Saturday, May 27 The Fabulous Book and Junk Sale Now you too can own a piece of Canada’s queer history. Each year, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives sells off duplicates from its collection. That means books, pins, pictures and other paraphernalia. All proceeds from the sale go back to the archives to help with its mission: keeping our stories alive.  Noon–4pm. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Wimmin: Queer Rock and Roll Dance Party  The dance party focused on rock ’n’ roll from female and “gender-expansive” rockers returns. You can expect music from such artists as Patti Smith, The Cliks, Hole, Against Me!, Betty Davis, Le Tigre, Garbage and many others. Everyone welcome (but, as billing says, “queers to the front”). The venue is not accessible. 10pm–2am. The Steady, 1051 Bloor St W. For more info, visit Facebook.   Pitbull: Summer Kick-Off  The party for big buff guys with tans and the ability to grow facial hair welcomes summer with a bash headlined by superstar New York DJ, Hector Fonseca. Includes great decor, go-go dancing porn stars and a mind-blowing sound system. This is one of a slew of Pitbull events that will take place this summer. 10pm–4am. The Phoenix, 410 Sherbourne St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Wednesday, May 31  2017 Pride Month Flag Raising Ceremony Toronto Pride month 2017 kicks off with the usual proclamation and ceremonial raising of a rainbow flag at city hall. Mayor John Tory, city Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and other community members will be on hand for the event. For the second year in a row, Toronto Pride will take up the entire month of June.  Noon–1pm. Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St W. For more info, visit Facebook.

Eight handy tips on masturbation for when the mood strikes

25 May 2017 - 2:33pm
When Daily Xtra asked me to contribute a piece to a series on “masturbation mishaps,” I immediately said, “Sure!” Then I thought, “Wait a minute, what am I going to write about?” I’ve been doing this a long time, and I can’t remember it ever going wrong. I’ve never been walked in on unannounced or forgotten about the hot peppers I chopped for dinner. Nothing like that. I’m kind of a pro. I first encountered masturbation in a book, but I was clearly too young to figure out what she was talking about when I read Judy Blume’s 1973 novel Deenie. When Deenie talked about a “special place” she would touch to make herself feel good, it went right over my head. I couldn’t figure out where that place might be. A friend of mine had the same reaction when she read it, so she chose a spot — her elbow — and was convinced that it worked. A couple of years later, I read a more erotic and detailed description of masturbation in a half-hidden-on-my-parents’-bookshelf book. It was either The Story of O or Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask). I tried it. I loved it. I never looked back. I also never felt any shame about it; I just knew that it was private. Admittedly, it is easier for folks with girl parts to indulge in unobtrusive self-love. A blanket, a poker face and some controlled breathing are really all you need. Trust me. However, it is nice to have the whole house to yourself and a long stretch of time to kill so you can really enjoy it. Of course, a quick wank is nice too! The important thing is to match the time and location with the proper method. Here’s my handy (see what I did there?) reference guide: Five extra minutes in the morning: Shower massage. Trouble falling asleep: Bed, with or without toys and porn (note: you don’t want clean-up to wake you up again). Sudden luxury of time and space alone: Couch or bed, with porn and toys, if desired. Putting off studying or chores or any kind of creative work: Couch (I call this procrasturbation). In a tent while others are asleep: In sleeping bag, slowly. At work: Washroom, single-stall accessible toilet preferred. Aroused while reading: Couch, chair, vehicle, other (blanket may be required; see above). Aroused while snowshoeing: Get off the path. Use a branch from a fir tree to cover your tracks. Remove one snowshoe and use it to dig a comfortable trench. Snowpants on. Mitten off. If you infer from all of this that I have masturbated in many and varied locations, you are correct. One of the most interesting was enjoyed several times the summer I delivered auto-body paint. Many of the garages I delivered to were located on the outskirts of town down long, straight country roads. In order to relieve the boredom, I would sometimes give myself an orgasm . . . while driving. If you are tempted to try this one on your own (and that’s really the point, isn’t it?), here are some tips: Make sure there is no oncoming traffic. Pay special attention at intersections (I recommend a pause in play). As you begin to climax, your foot may press down harder on the gas pedal. Be aware of this. Keep your eyes open. Have tissues — or better yet, wet wipes — in the vehicle for easy clean-up. You do not want to arrive at an auto-body shop filled with men high on paint fumes and whose walls are lined with pictures of half-naked women smelling of sex. Be sure to wipe the satisfied smirk off your face. Even if you are the butchest dyke around, it will be misinterpreted. So there you have it. No misadventures, just pleasant ones. And now that I have finished writing this piece, I feel I deserve a little reward. I’m going to hit the shower. (Note: add this to list above.)

Out in Vancouver: May 25–31, 2017

25 May 2017 - 2:33am
Thursday, May 25 Chicks With Picks Yes, they said picks. This is a singer-songwriter series, not Xtube. Girlgig Productions brings you Summer Osborne and Sarah McCracken with guests Hannah Dyson and Silent MartI for one night only. Education of the soul, one song at a time. 7pm. Fairview Pub, 898 West Broadway St. Cover $10. facebook.com/girlgigproductions/   The Hunger Room Staircase Theatre proudly presents the world premiere of Scott Button’s The Hunger Room, a dark thriller directed by Stephen Heatley. A crisis takes over a suburban high school when a mysterious stalker begins delivering notes written in blood to female students. I have goosebumps already. 8pm. Tuesdays through Saturdays, until Wednesday, June 7. PAL Studio Theatre, 8th floor, 581 Cardero St. Tickets $17–$22 at staircasetheatre.com.   Vancity Street I always thought having a designer for a partner would be pretty cool; all my clothes would be tailor made for free and I could even get them adjusted before and after the Christmas piggy days. They always get scared off, though, when they see I’m seven feet tall. For you shorter folk, here is your chance to bag a designer at a night of fashion and style featuring local acts, street style vendors and designers for the underground runway, including up and coming headliner Adam. 8pm–2am. Are You MIA, 350 Water St. Tickets $10, and info at facebook.com/events/1299379510099526.   Mixtape: Your First Mix Remember making a mixtape to express your feelings to your first crush, only to find out that ten songs of Tina Charles or Vicki Sue Robinson told your prom date that you were gay and she wasn’t getting laid for prom after all? Tonight, the Hero Show may bring back those memories at a brand new show that brings comedy and music together into a strange hybrid alien baby. Tonight’s show is stacked with a plethora of comedians including Ryan Steele and Amy Goodmurphy. There will even be a visit by Vancouver’s all-female comedian choir; I lie not. 8:30–11:15pm. The China Cloud, 524 Main St. Cover $10 (that’s like fifty cents a comedian). facebook.com/events/1867452806909937   Spin: Round 3 It’s round three already and I haven’t had the balls to get in the booth and spin a set; I wouldn’t even be hidden because my head would be two feet above the glass. Guest DJs from around the community join in for a shot in the booth and to spin their own sets. This week features Pol Harrison at 12:30am and the one and only Kendall Gender closes the night with her own set at 2am. Resident DJ Rafael Calvente of Brazil will also be spinning music to get you moving with a sound you won't hear anywhere else in the city. 11pm–3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No cover. facebook.com/xyvancouver/   Friday, May 26 Nothing’s Hotta Than Dinner With Carlotta This is going to be a cheap dinner. I mean, the gurl has two tic-tacs and a cube of ice and is full. Have you seen those legs? Rub them together and you have a hell of a bush fire on your hands. She’s joined by Miss M, Mandy Kamp and Mina Mercury, so this week’s theme must be M. Dine and drag with the cream of the crop, but watch out, if you choke while laughing and eating, Carlotta Gurl will probably give you mouth to mouth. 7pm meet and greet the Queens. 8pm show. The Village Restaurant, 1143 Davie St. Reservations recommended. facebook.com/carl.mcdonald.90   Strut Pre-Party With Spectrum Before you freak out because you haven’t found just the right heels for the walkathon, this is just a pre-party to get you going before the actual event Saturday, June 3. Spectrum Events Group will be putting together a team to walk in Strut Vancouver, as well as throwing a fundraiser party with three DJs, entertainment, and more. Strut members will be joining in, wearing their fabulous heels and sharing how to get involved or join Spectrum’s team. Come out early and support this amazing cause, check out some killer shoes, and get your dance on. 8–11pm. Are You MIA, 350 Water St. Free cover if you donate $10 to the team walking. Come with pledge sheets that have $10+ donated or join the team and pledge $10. facebook.com/events/208541389652665   Man Up: May Musicals Musical theatre geeks rejoice! A new lineup of tributes, recreations, and reimaginings from the famous classics all the way to the way-off-off-off-Broadway obscurities is back. Man Up brings you some of the best drag kings around to do homage to the gayest of gay musical numbers. Joining them will be the Leaping Thespians bringing you ridiculously funny theatre. 9pm–2am. The Cobalt, 917 Main St. Cover $8 before 10pm, $15 after. facebook.com/events/1191262100984515   Bye Bye VAL Part 1 This is a sad weekend for a lot of people. Vancouver Art and Leisure is open for a last party that is so big it encompasses tonight and Saturday. Two full nights of amazing talent in seven rooms of art, music and leisure. It has been two years of many memories and this will be the last opportunity to experience it before they move on to a new pop-up model that may be be new, exciting and fun but won’t be the incredible space that beats with a heart of its own at 1965 Main. Good luck to Matt Troy; I know we all wish you well in whatever you do. 10pm–3am, both nights. Vancouver Art & Leisure, 1965 Main St. Friday info at facebook.com/events/219758218524976/. Saturday info at facebook.com/events/292150014570747/.   Divas at the Junction Drag queens are usually so perfectly made up you can’t tell their age — well unless they’ve had a few too many cocktails (sorry Conni). Take Sienna Blaze for example. Tonight is her birthday diva show and most of the time she looks like a pubescent teenager. Join her together with Glitteris and Misty Meadows, and let me know what you think. Maybe they have a curfew to be in bed by midnight. Any takers? 10pm–3am. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Cover $5. facebook.com/events/306237913145134/?active_tab=about   Bye Felicia with Will Sheridan Doesn’t this damn Felicia ever leave? To be honest, no one has ever said this to me, so I must be doing pretty well. In this show, saying “Bye Felicia” is all about saying goodbye to negativity. After coming out in a lengthy ESPN story titled “Will Sheridan: I'm Proud Of Who I Am,” former basketball star Will Sheridan has undoubtedly become a public figure in the LGBT community and one of the top DJs around. Hosted by Alma B Itches along with special guests Ilona Verley and DJ G-Luve, come by, leave all negativity outside and just enjoy. 10pm–3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Tickets $10–$12 at eventbrite.ca/e/bye-felicia-wwill-sheridan-nyc-tickets-34529190739.   Saturday, May 27 Loli*Pop: High Society “Loli” means a sexual attraction to women who portray themselves as younger than their age and “innocent.” Kind of sounds like Carlotta Gurl is at it again. Come join Coco and Ilona and experience their version of high society along with performances by Synthia Kiss, Eva Scarlett, Molly Poppinz and more. It sucks to suck, so let them show you the right way to suck. 9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 West Hastings St. Cover $7. facebook.com/TheOdysseyBar/   Underwear or not to Wear That is the question. Get your skivvies out, the less material the better. It’s your choice of banana hammock, budgie smuggler, grape smuggler, manties, tighty whities, crotchless, assless, jockstrap, thong or knickers as long as they are holding the jewels in place. Even better if the jewels are swinging free; I’ll be there practising my testicular inspection technique, no need to cough. 9pm–3am. The Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. Cover $5 after 9pm. pumpjackpub.com/   Sunday, May 28 Rainbow Afternoon Beer Bash Looking for a new bear or cub to train? Travel just a bit out of your comfort zone and discover that New Westminster is the place to be. This monthly event will be on the last Sunday of every month. Show up, grab a drink, make some new friends or reconnect with some old ones. They will also be collecting toonies for New West Pride. 2–7pm. Judge Begbie’s Tavern, 609 Columbia St, New Westminster. No cover. facebook.com/events/307951876294328   SLAM Wham, bam, slam me man. Looking for a room full of jocks, the breathing kind not the dirty kind? Well, there may be quite a few of those as well. This is, after all, a room full of baseball players. Now is the time to be an athletic supporter for the travelling softball teams raising money for tournament travel. Prizes, draws, entertainment, games and loads of jocks to try to bag. 3–7pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. $10 gets you a barbecue burger, a draft or a pop. junctionpub.com/events/go-slam/   Sanctuary Second Anniversary It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since this night started. Alma was just a wee thing with barely a goatee back then. Now look at the bearded queen! Tonight Alma brings back the original guest from the first show, current reigning Vancouver drag superstar Kendall Gender, and now it’s legal for her to get in. In this church, you’ll be sweating out those sins on the dance floor as DJ Rafael offers all you heathens cummunion after the show. 11pm–2am. 1181, 1181 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/events/1981796002041606/?active_tab=about   Monday, May 29 Get Stumped This event title is literal; trust me, I know. I went hoping it was something altogether dirty and different, but alas it was a game show. But it was lots of fun after all! General knowledge, picture and movie clips and fun games to win prizes. Let your host Richard Romano test your skills or maybe you can even stump him. Still no hidden meaning, guys. 7:30pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. No cover. junctionpub.com/events/get-stumped-trivia-2017-05-29/   Tuesday, May 30 Femmes Night Out Time to pamper the drag queen in your life, or maybe just your own inner one. Hosted by the Gallery of BC Ceramics, a new pop-up called Femmes Night Out celebrates the love of all things femme — all genders welcome. There will be cocktails, a braid and nail bar, lots of spectacular ceramics, and Divine’s Disco Album on repeat. Treat yourself to gorgeous ceramic jewellery by David Robinson, Amy Chang and Heather Lippold. Beautify your space with bud vases from Diane Espiritu and Anyuta Gusakova and functional ware from Amelia Butcher. 7–10pm. Gallery of Ceramics, 1359 Cartwright St. Free admission. facebook.com/events/140384166502338/?active_tab=about   Wednesday, May 31   Wing Social with Vancouver Men in Leather Looking to join or socialize with Vancouver Men In Leather but don’t know how to get started? The best way to a leather bear or man’s heart is with wings — BBQ, teriyaki, S&P, honey garlic or your own special coating. Every Wednesday VML members get together at Junction to chow down and chat over wings and drinks, then head over to Pumpjack for an evening of pool and fun. Drop by and you’ll be surprised at how fast you are pulled into the fold. All are welcome so don’t be shy. 6–7:30pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Only cost is what you eat and drink.  vancouvermeninleather.ca/events/

Final vote confirms Sam Sullivan wins Vancouver-False Creek

24 May 2017 - 8:32pm
The final vote count has been completed in Vancouver-False Creek, upholding BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan’s victory over Morgane Oger of the BC NDP. “It’s good to get past the uncertainty,” says Oger, who would have been the first openly trans candidate elected to public office in Canada had she won the seat. In the end, Sullivan received 10,370 votes (42.16 percent of the vote) compared to 9,955 (40.47 percent) for Oger. Although preliminary results of the May 9 provincial election placed Sullivan ahead by 560 votes — more than the 100-vote margin typically required for an official recount — Elections BC authorized a recount due to an irregularity with one of the riding’s advance voting ballot accounts. The chance for a recount, coupled with the uncounted absentee ballots, created a small window of possibility that maybe the tide might just change in Oger’s favour. “It’s disappointing I didn’t outrun Sam Sullivan in the end. There was this hope that it might be possible, but adjacent to that was the unlikeliness of it as well,” Oger says. Still, she says, there is still a lot of good to be taken from the campaign. “My team and myself, we’ve proven ourselves to be a competitor. That I’m a candidate to be reckoned with,” she says. “I opened up a riding, that was great.” Oger was one of 15 openly LGBT candidates running with the province’s three main political parties this election, only five of whom — all incumbents — were elected. However, Oger remains undeterred. She says she plans to run in the next election if the NDP’s False Creek constituency chooses to nominate her at that time. Until then, she plans to continue her advocacy work, returning to her roles as chairperson of both the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council and the Trans Alliance Society. “I’m going to stay an advocate and I’m going to keep on advocating for my community, whether it’s this community [False Creek] but also the community of parents with kids in Vancouver and the LGBT community at large,” she says. Oger says she’s hopeful that more new LGBT candidates will be elected next time —and that they’re given opportunities to run in ridings where that’s truly a possibility. “With this experience I recommend to people who are thinking of getting into politics, to look into it,” she says. “It’s a contribution to society that we need more people. We need more different people than we have in it now.” Final results are expected in all ridings by the end of day May 24, 2017, barring the possibility of judicial recounts. Going into the final count, the BC Liberals hold 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens 3.

Five queer films you don’t want to miss at Toronto’s Inside Out 2017

24 May 2017 - 2:31pm
Now in its 27th edition, Toronto’s Inside Out brings the world’s best queer films to movie-hungry localhomos each year. From romantic comedies to gut-wrenching documentaries, there’s a little something sprinkled in for everyone. Xtra has perused the program to highlight a few tasty morsels for your cinematic consumption.   Free CeCe [[asset:video_embed:309857 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_video_credit":["Jacqueline Gares\/YouTube"]}]] Trans women of colour make up more than 50 percent of LGBT homicide victims. CeCe McDonald would have been one of those statistics, but when the Minneapolis resident was attacked on the street by a gang of four people late in the evening of June 5, 2011, she did the thing she wasn’t supposed to do. She fought back. The incident left one of her attackers dead and McDonald was charged with second-degree murder. A year later, she made headlines when she accepted a plea deal for a lesser charge, agreeing to 41 months in a men’s prison, rather than go to trial and risk a lifetime behind bars. Jacqueline Gares’ debut feature recounts the story of McDonald’s attack, legal battles, incarceration and the countless protests to free her. If that were the entire story, it would make for a pretty depressing film. But Free CeCe doesn’t stop there. We follow McDonald’s release from prison, her process of being accepted by her family, and her journey to activism. Though it starts with a horrifically dark incident, the film succeeds in an unexpected feat; turning a story of almost unbelievable oppression into a tale of tear-jerking empowerment.   Handsome Devil [[asset:video_embed:309842 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_video_credit":["EclipsePicturesIE\/YouTube"]}]] Cinematic portrayals of relationships between queer guys and straight dudes are frequently strained. Gays are often victims of violence (The Matthew Shepard Story, Milk) or aggressors themselves (Irreversible, Pulp Fiction). While we have plenty of examples of positive interactions between gay men and heterosexual women (Sex and the City, Mean Girls), stories of gay/straight friendships without sexual tension are a relatively new phenomenon.  Set against the mega-macho and highly-homoerotic backdrop of a rugby-obsessed boys boarding school, Handsome Devil makes a much-needed contribution to this fledgling genre. Irish director John Butler’s second feature charts the development of an unlikely connection between a sports-hating outcast and his hunky jock roommate. Equal parts laugh-out-loud comedy and poignant coming of age story, the film offers the next generation of both queers and straights a new template for how they can interact with the world.   Sebastian  [[asset:image:309848 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Inside Out"]}]] Each year, Inside Out selects a country to feature in its spotlight series. In 2017, the festival will turn that beam homeward to bathe the Great White North in its glow. Along with the documentaries Rebels on Pointe, about an all-male, all-gay ballet company and comedian Shawn Hitchins’ Ginger Nation, which follows his decision to donate sperm to a lesbian couple, the program includes Toronto-native James Fanizza’s debut feature Sebastian. Adapted from a short that screened at the 2014 festival, the film follows a disgruntled artist-cum-barista (Fanizza) as he embarks on an unexpected weeklong romance with an Argentinean tourist (Alex House). The wrench in the works is that the hunky visitor happens to be his current boyfriend’s cousin.  Set against a backdrop of familiar Toronto scenery (The Beaver and the intersection of Hallam Street and Dovercourt Road feature prominently), the film paints a nuanced portrait of 20-something queerness; that perpetual feeling of having what you want at the tip of your fingers, but not being sure if you really want to grab it.   Signature Move [[asset:image:309854 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_credit":["Inside Out LGBT Film Festival\/Facebook"]}]] On March 29, 2016, actress Fawzia Mirza did what many aspiring filmmakers before her have done. She launched a crowdfunding campaign extolling the virtues of a new project she wanted to make, complete with heartfelt video encouraging people to donate. Unlike most other artists who embark on this journey, Mirza raised the necessary cash within less than a month. A year later, the resulting film is making the rounds at festivals.  Signature Move follows Zaynab (Mirza), a queer Pakistani woman working as an immigration lawyer and caring for her conservative Muslim mother (Shabana Azmi). When she meets Alma (Sari Sanchez), a half-Jewish half-Mexican free spirit, the tequila shots fly quickly and before long they’re hitting the sheets. While Alma is comfortable with her sexuality and open with her family, Zaynab is neither, and this clash of values proves an impediment to their budding romance. Full of subtly dry humour and genuinely touching moments, the film succeeds in re-envisioning the queer rom-com through a cross-cultural lens. Oh, and there’s lady wrestling.   Stumped [[asset:image:309851 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Inside Out"]}]] Will Lautzenheiser, for all intents and purposes, had it made. The Boston-born writer and filmmaker was about to begin a tenured job at Montana State University. He had a loving partner, a close-knit family and a promising career. Then, almost overnight, an aggressive bacterial infection forced doctors to amputate all four of his limbs in order to save his life. Finding himself a quadruple amputee at the age of 37, Lautzenheiser suddenly had to renegotiate his career, his relationship, and, obviously, his ability to navigate the world.  But that’s only half the story. In 2014, Lautzenheiser was selected as the second individual in US history to undergo a double arm transplant. Robin Berghaus’ debut feature film recounts Lautzenheiser’s story in all of its painful detail. Narratives of disability often aim to induce pity or create inspiration and Stumped, as much as it tries to avoid these tropes, ends up doing a little of both. But more than that, the film provides a touching portrait of a queer relationship and the power that comes with being able to laugh in the face of tragedy. 

Free CeCe

24 May 2017 - 2:31pm

The Canadian federal apology for gay arrests, firings is coming — by the end of 2017

23 May 2017 - 5:30pm
The federal Liberals are pledging to apologize by the end of 2017 for the Canadian government jailing and firing people suspected of homosexuality, after activists started decrying a lack of action. The Liberals will start community consultations shortly, but they’re leaving questions of compensation to ongoing class-action lawsuits. They also haven’t indicated how or when officials will review or expunge convictions for consensual gay sex. MP Randy Boissonnault, the Liberal government’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, announced to reporters on May 17, 2017, that “our government will apologize before the end of 2017” for the “programs and policies that contributed to injustices and discriminations against LGBTQ Canadians.” “We're going to work closely with members of all facets from the LGBTQ community to make sure that our apology is comprehensive and that it takes into account a broad range of the stories and the lived experience of Canadians,” Boissonnault said.   Delays and concerns “It’s very important to separate the apology from what’s taking place with the class action suits and with other policy initiatives like pardons and expungements,” Boissonnault said. That separation concerns the We Demand an Apology Network, which has documented hundreds of people who were purged from the military and public service over suspected homosexuality. “This is a limited victory,” spokesperson Gary Kinsman said in a May 18, 2017 statement. “We are demanding a firm commitment to an associated redress process.” The group is now asking Pride committees across Canada to “to question the participation of the Prime Minister, or his representatives, in Pride parades given the delays in an official apology and the lack of action on a redress process and pardons. “Why should the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party get the free promotion that comes with marching in our parades when they have yet to come through on their basic commitments to the LGBT communities?” Boissonnault’s announcement came on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. But his remarks also followed Egale Canada advocates lamenting a lack of action since the group published its Just Society report on June 13, 2016, seeking an apology and compensation. When Boissonnault hinted an apology would come by the end of his mandate in October 2019, Egale switched from a cautious tone to outright criticism. In an April 24, 2017 open letter, executive director Helen Kennedy said “the government has had more than enough time to respond.” She noted that activists first demanded an apology in April 1998, and pondered: “How much time does the Government need to do the right thing?”   Class-action suit proceeding Meanwhile, class-action lawsuits filed in October 2016 are proceeding, seeking at least $600 million in compensation for LGBT Canadians pushed out of the military and public service. The Cold War-era purge continued into the 1990s, as police investigated public servants and soldiers suspected of being gay as threats for blackmail by communist spies. These campaigns persisted after the 1969 partial decriminalization of homosexuality. Constitutional lawyer Douglas Elliott, representing claimants outside of Quebec, tells Xtra that he’s discussing, with government lawyers, “a framework” for offering appropriate compensation, including how they’d find the right people, and if individuals and/or groups would receive the money. “It’s moving quicker than just about any other case I’ve been involved in,” Elliott says, but noted the Egale report had sought other things, like changes to police training and anti-discrimination policies in health services. “It’s kind of baby steps because we’re only going to be dealing with one issue.” In January, public servants in some departments received emails asking them to preserve documents that “relate to or refer to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” as well as employment records of people dismissed or harassed on those grounds. Meanwhile, a similar case filed by Halifax lawyers on Dec 7, 2016, was later merged with Elliott’s suit on April 11, according to court documents. None of the cases deal with people criminally charged for consensual same-sex acts. Documents obtained by Xtra in November 2016 suggest public servants have been ready for months to start clearing roughly 6,000 records, and estimated it would cost $4.1 million. Elliott also said an apology will resonate with the people he represents, but advised against an overly legalistic statement, like the one the Toronto Police Service offered in June 2016 over the 1981 bathhouse raids. “If an apology misfires, then it’s actually worse than no apology at all,” Elliott says. “What’s important is a real community consultation process, and that doesn’t mean photo-ops and selfies, which seems to have been a lot of what’s been going on since Mr Boissonnault’s been appointed,” Elliott says.  “This apology is too important to do it as a public-relations gesture. They need to get it right, and we’re here to help them. There’s lots of people in the community who are prepared to help them get it right — we want them to succeed.” Elliott suggests the Liberals should echo the Australian state of Victoria, which included victims and LGBT groups in the parliament for its apology. He wants the Conservatives and NDP to also apologize, as they held government or the balance of power while these policies persisted. “They failed to protect us from discrimination as well.” Elliott says the apology should include some sort of physical statue, research grant or documentary “as a warning to future generations.” He says that many people remain surprised that Canada imprisoned and fired people for being gay, with many initially expressing disbelief. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that sense of disbelief can over time can translate into actual disbelief, and people denying that these historical events ever took place.”

Didgeridoos, word choice and a premature celebration

23 May 2017 - 2:30pm
[[asset:image:309833 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Indonesian men publicly caned for being gay Two Indonesian men have been caned 83 times in front of a crowd of thousands after they were filmed having sex by vigilantes who broke into their house. While gay sex is not illegal nationally in Indonesia, the men were charged in conservative Islamic Aceh Province. Read more at the BBC.     What’s the difference between “gay” and “homosexual”? When it comes to how we talk about gay people, words matter. A researcher at the University of Minnesota writes that people who hear the word “gay” instead of “homosexual” are more likely to accept gay rights, especially if they are conservative or have authoritarian tendencies.   French TV host mocks gay men on air French TV host Cyril Hanouna is facing formal complaints and accusations of homophobia after making fun of gay men on air. The host posted a fake profile to a gay hookup app, and then chatted with respondents on live television in front of a studio audience. Read more at the BBC.   A premature celebration Britain is celebrating 50 years since its 1967 decriminalization of homosexuality, but that date has been overblown, says UK activist Peter Tatchell. Celebrating the anniversary, he argues, ignores the decades of gay persecution that followed so-called decriminalization.   Didgeridoo porn A gay porn site is under fire for posting a new video in which two white American men use a didgeridoo as a sex toy, in what some say is offensive cultural appropriation. Read more at Out.com.  

How to tell if a sports league will welcome your queerness

23 May 2017 - 11:30am
The days are warmer, the evenings are longer and you might be thinking about playing some sports. Joining a league is a great way to get exercise, socialize and maybe even meet a potential partner, but with so many leagues out there, how do you choose the right one? Finding a good fit can require looking at a lot of variables beyond just the sport being played. For starters, leagues will vary in intensity, from the strictly competitive to the more recreational that that place a greater emphasis on having fun with friends. There’s also the choice between co-ed and single-sex leagues. “You want to choose a league that has similar values to yourself,” suggests Steev Letts, communications director for the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association (VGVA). Letts adds that a good place to start is asking organizers about the events they host and the charities they support. “Learning what causes the league supports is a great way to figure out if they’re in line with your own values,” Letts says. “For VGVA, any event that we have always has a charitable component to it,” he continues. “Even something as simple as a 50/50 draw goes to a local food bank or, for our Christmas party, we raised money this year to bring a queer Syrian refugee over.” VGVA is part of Greater Vancouver Allied Athletics (GVAA). Letts recommends reaching out to anyone involved with the GVAA — or a similar organization — before committing yourself to one league. “A lot of our managing directors know and speak to each other,” Letts says. “They may very well know of someone out there able to point you in the right direction.” Michael DiPietro, communications co-ordinator for the English Bay Swim Club (EBSC) — which is also part of the GVAA — recommends looking for keywords on league websites. “They tend to be, ‘inclusive,’ friendly,’ ‘welcoming,’ the standard ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘allies.’” DiPietro says. “It can be difficult in non-major metropolitan areas to find teams or leagues that are geared specifically to the LGBTQ demographic. So if that is the case, it helps to seek out like-minded individuals and ask around. Be it on Facebook, at clubs, or in other social settings in your life.” Some sports organizations like VGVA offer multiple divisions that cater to different skill levels, while other leagues offer a single mixed division. “A single mixed skill division can be a little bit more intimidating for first timers,” Letts says. “But it’s actually great for socializing because everyone faces off against everyone at some point so you get a better introduction to the whole league.” If you’re a competitive player trying to improve, a single mixed division might not be the challenge you’re looking for. Accessibility to changing facilities can also play an important role and may require additional research. For genderqueer or non-binary folks, DiPietro suggests looking for policies specifically outlined on league websites. Some leagues, like the EBSC, “expressly encourage trans and gender variant swimmers to join,” DiPietro says. The Vancouver parks board, which runs the city’s parks and  facilities, including those used by the EBSC, established a Trans* and Gender Variant Inclusion Working Group in 2013 to help identify barriers people face in accessing parks and recreation services. The working group recommended five key areas for review: signage and literature, public spaces (including washrooms and change rooms), staff training, policy and working with the community. The parks board approved the recommendations in 2014 and launched a trans-inclusive campaign the following year to begin implementing  the recommendations. Whether or not you want to come out to your teammates is a matter of personal choice and comfort level. “If you want to play in a league that’s not specifically gay or queer-centric, then go ahead and do so,” Letts says. “I personally do play in straight leagues as well, and I just give myself a little time to see other people’s language and the way they communicate and interact. That sort of determines whether or not it’s friendly or if I need to mention anything to alter their language or behaviour.” Letts adds that he’s never had a serious or direct incident of homophobia outside of the occasional off-colour language in the changing room, but says it’s certainly something to watch out for. You can talk to coaches, organizers or players, and some leagues let you start with a trial before committing yourself to a team. However, Letts warns that leagues typically fill up very quickly, so it’s a never too early to start asking your questions and scouting potential teams.

Qmunity finally finds a new home and it’s in the Village

19 May 2017 - 5:26pm
It’s been a long and winding road but Qmunity has finally found a location for its new home, and one that isn’t outside Vancouver’s queer Village.  Qmunity — BC’s queer, trans, and two-spirit resource centre — offers year-round programming and services aimed at improving the lives of community members “through support, connection, and leadership.” It also helps individuals, families, businesses, schools and service providers learn how to make their spaces more LGBT-inclusive. Since its inception 38 years ago, the centre has been located on Bute Street. The new space will be at Burrard and Davie streets (the northeast corner, across from the community garden), and will be funded by $7 million in community amenities from the rezoning of Burrard Place, and also through a $200,000 capital grant from the city for the design and planning of the new facility.  The announcement came on May 19, 2017, at Qmunity’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia fundraiser breakfast. Mayor Gregor Robertson shared the news as part of his opening remarks at the event.  “Our council in very recent days made the unanimous decision to support a brand new home for Qmunity. It’s long overdue, we’ve been looking for a long time,” he told the audience. “We’re thrilled to be able to help provide a space for you and make sure you have a great new home right here in the heart of Vancouver.” [[asset:image:309827 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mayor Gregor Robertson announces the future location of Qmunity\u2019s new facility. Robertson shared the news at the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia breakfast on May 19, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["James Goldie\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Robertson says Qmunity will have a nearly 1,000 square-metre space in the new building, which will be constructed on land purchased by the city two years ago. He said there will be over 100 affordable housing units above Qmunity.  He directly thanked Councillor Tim Stevenson for his work on the project. Stevenson, who was part of the group that first began organizing to establish Qmunity (then called The Centre) in 1979, has been pushing for a new LGBT resource centre since he was first elected to city council in 2002. “It’s been such a long, long road to get here. It feels wonderful and a relief to finally have it nailed down,” he says.  In December 2013, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to allocate $7 million in funds — obtained as part of a rezoning and development application — for the new centre. What followed was an extensive community consultation to find out what Vancouver’s queer communities wanted out of a new centre. There was also the challenge of finding the right location. Stevenson says it was important that Qmunity stay in the Davie Village. “Nobody was selling and of course the prices were going up through the roof. We could find locations outside of the Village area but we were all very keen that it should be in the Village,” he says. “[Davie] has been really the focus of the gay community. And to move out of there would have dissipated that.” Stevenson says that while the city purchased the Davie/Burrard location two years ago, at the time Qmunity was still looking into the possibility of renovating and upgrading their current location on Bute Street. He says he would like to see only affordable housing above Qmunity (as opposed to a mixed market/subsidized model) and that his dream would be for the housing to be reserved for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Qmunity’s executive director CJ Rowe says the news is has been a  long time coming.  “I’m on the edge of my seat ready to go,” Rowe says. “We are working with an architect, and now that we have council approval to move forward we will be engaging with a feasibility study and a design phase.” During its consultation process which began in 2015, the organization heard from more than 750 community members. CJ says one of the issues raised repeatedly was accessibility.  “It’s more than an elevator and wheelchair– and scooter– accessible washrooms. It’s about bringing physical accessibility into the built space as well as gender inclusivity,” Rowe says. “One of the things I’m interested in shepherding forward is [if] there’s a way to build two-spirit community, indigenous community elements into this space that are actually culturally relevant to here.” Rowe says the new centre will share the ground level with some commercial spaces and will also have rooms on the second floor as well. Rowe confirms there will be multi-purpose spaces for community members and groups to access. In terms of affordability, Rowe acknowledges there will be added costs to having a larger facility.  “It will come out once we engage with the city in terms of [next steps],” Rowe says. “This is why the ‘building a sustainable future for Qmunity‘ [fundraising initiative] is important because there will be some new levels of operation that we don’t currently have.” Neither Rowe nor Stevenson could confirm when construction will start on the new site.  “Well we’re hoping it’ll be done in a couple years so I imagine fairly soon,” Stevenson says.

How an X-Men character became my sexual conquest

19 May 2017 - 2:26pm
The first man I fell in love with wasn’t even a man. If we’re going to be exact, he was a mutant and beyond that, a cartoon character — a series of black lines and primary colours dancing across my parents’ Toshiba on a Saturday morning. But as a gay boy who had spent much of his youth playing with hand-me-down Barbies and (almost exclusively) female action figures, the way in which those lines came together was a revelation. The key details remain: an immaculately sculpted torso beneath a strong square jaw, windswept sandy hair above a yellow visor, muscular thighs framing a bulging Speedo. In Scott Summers, I saw change. A moment of recognition and an appreciation that went well beyond wanting to be the hero and saving the day — he represented something else, something much more carnal. I wanted to finger Cyclops from the X-Men.  Now, some context. Heroes had always bored me. The stories compel us to support them, and we inevitably find ourselves cheering along as they reestablish order and save the day. But it was the villains who remained the most interesting characters and, especially in those late ’80s cartoons, almost always vaguely queer. They obsessed over the hero and came up with elaborate plans to capture him or her. Occasionally, they longed to brainwash said hero and take control of their immaculate bodies. Death was rarely the goal, but more so a chance to hold the puppet strings. They wanted the hero on their team, fighting beside them. They wanted the hero. I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Kneel before your master! And I wanted the hero, especially this hero. Anyone familiar with the X-Men comics will know that Cyclops was about as dull as heroes come. In contrast to Wolverine, he was upstanding and uncomplicated. He was selfless and believed in authority. There were no moral shadings to him, and even his wife, Jean Grey, started to stray out of boredom. (It should be noted that in revisiting my feelings for him, my track record for boring, somewhat upstanding exes makes a lot more sense.) Still, there was something about him — that firm, unwavering air that made me long to be with him, to have him. It certainly didn’t help that he was also wearing one of the more revealing get-ups on team. The full-body coverage suggested modesty and propriety, but the tightness of it certainly did not. At least He-Man didn’t beat around the bush. And so there, on those Saturday mornings, I started to feel something very complicated happen within me that made the cartoon ritual just a tad unsavoury and most definitely forbidden. Adulthood announced itself in between commercials for Skip Its and Polly Pockets. The pink and blue gloss of childhood started to fall away, and all I wanted was him. His body. To be mine. And so it was that on a Saturday morning in the mid-’90s, I conquered Cyclops from the X-Men. Twice.

Uniformed police will march in Vancouver’s Pride parade

18 May 2017 - 8:25pm
After months of community consultation and debate, the Vancouver Pride Society has decided that police will march in this year’s Pride parade, some of them in uniform. In a statement released May 18, 2017, the VPS says members of the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP are invited to march with the City of Vancouver’s parade entry. Officers will be mixed together with staff from the city, fire department, emergency health services, parks board and public library. The statement says about 20 percent of the police contingent, including those who are “visible in the community,” will march in uniform. The rest will wear T-shirts. In an email clarification to Xtra, the Pride society says the exact number and identity of “visible” officers in uniform will not be known until volunteers sign up, but reiterates that the contingent won’t exceed 20 percent. Last year, about 110 police officers signed up to march in the parade, according to the VPS. This year, the VPS has asked police not to use sirens and not to bring any marked law enforcement vehicles in the parade. The RCMP will still have its purple diversity bus, the VPD will have an unmarked vehicle, and Correctional Services of Canada will have a white van with a logo on the door. “The steps that the VPD and the RCMP have agreed to take in response to community concerns must be the beginning of an inclusive, ongoing process to building new relationships and a new way forward,” the VPS says in its statement. The decision to reduce police presence follows last summer’s sit-in at Toronto Pride, when Black Lives Matter activists asked Pride uphold its principles of diversity and equity, fully support more community spaces, especially for marginalized groups within the community, and remove police from the parade. Since then, Halifax police have voluntarily withdrawn from this year’s Pride parade and the Toronto police force says it will respect Pride Toronto’s decision to ban uniformed police from the parade too. “We recognize that the conclusions we have come to this year are not going to make everybody happy,” says VPS co-executive director Andrea Arnot. “We feel like our process has been solid. We have taken our time to reach these decisions, we have listened to many voices on this topic on all sides, and in the middle.” Arnot says the work Black Lives Matter groups in Toronto and Vancouver have done to bring the issue to the forefront remains an ongoing conversation. “This is a step we are taking this year, and by no means do we think this work is done,” she says. But, she says, in its consultations the VPS heard more people ask not for police removal but for some kind of gesture to change police participation, hoping to see the conversations continue throughout the year, not just around Pride. “It’s not about a majority or a popularity contest, it’s about listening to different voices,” Arnot says. “BLM in their original open letter said last year they would be content with an entry like this, so we have based our work partially on that letter. The goalposts were changed later on. In recent meetings with BLM, our board and staff have felt that they don’t want to be banning police entirely from the parade, so this is our way through and our compromise for this year.” Banning groups may make them unlikely to cooperate in future, she adds. “When you ban someone from something they are probably not going to want to work with you. What we want is to hold police accountable 365 days of the year and have them do this work on a daily basis, so that’s why we have allowed them to be in the parade this year.” According to the Pride society, police and RCMP have agreed to participate in listening circles organized and facilitated by the VPS before and after Pride — “where community members can share their stories with police in a supportive and accessible space, so that we might learn more about each other and find a path to breaking down barriers to trust.” When asked how police will be held accountable for engaging in the listening circles, Arnot says community members who attend will evaluate the experience and officers will provide feedback on what they might have learned. Black Lives Matter Vancouver member Jabari Cofer says while a reduced police presence is a step, BLM wasn’t given an opportunity to offer feedback on the VPS’ police strategy. “They’re claiming this was a dialogue but it hasn’t been. They haven’t talked to us since the meeting in February,” Cofer says, where BLM alleged their concerns were disregarded by both the VPS and the police department’s LGBT liaison officer. Cofer says Pride’s policing decision appears cosmetic, and obscures continuing police brutality toward people of colour and a lack of meaningful work to change. “It just looks different from the outside without changing anything,” Cofer says. “Having the VPD and RCMP in the parade is pinkwashing these violent institutions and it seems like the whole purpose of having the cops in the parade in the first place seems to be a PR move to make it seem like they’re so supportive of LGBT people, when in reality they just aren’t.” Fatima Jaffer, founder of the South Asian queer support group Trikone, believes the blame lies largely with the Vancouver Police Department. “It’s the VPD that isn’t listening,” she says. “If this is the extent of what the VPS has managed to negotiate with the VPD, it’s shame on the VPD that they haven’t listened to the calls that say, ‘step back right now, this is the best way you can be an ally or listen.’” While she believes the Pride society is accountable to some degree as representatives of the queer community in conversation with the police, a voluntary police withdrawal is the appropriate response to such a fractious issue in a community they claim to want to support. “Their persistence in being in the parade is for me the appalling thing about this. The fact that the VPS has left it open and said the conversations will continue is a step in the right direction.” Jaffer warns that racism is on the rise in Canada, including activities by Soldiers of Odin, which shares a name with a European neo-nazi group and whose members allegedly attacked anti-racism protesters at a rally in March. Jaffer alleges police stood by and watched while queer people of colour cried out for help, and did not intervene until violence erupted. “There is a nationwide rise of these right-wing groups but the police are not making those links. It is tied to Pride in that the bodies that are not being protected in this country are the same people who don’t feel included at Pride.” Cofer questions the VPS’ listening circle plan, saying there seems to be no way to hold police accountable for practicing better community relations, even if they attend meetings. Marginalized people may feel unsafe talking honestly to police about assaults and negative experiences, potentially fearing retaliation, Cofer points out. “I hope that wouldn’t happen, but that could be something that’s a barrier to them participating in these circles.” Cofer says they are unsure how BLMV will participate in Pride 2017, but the group will continue pressing the VPS for action. “We’re not pleased and this definitely isn’t over, it’s not final by any means and we are going to continue pushing for the removal of police from Pride,” Cofer says. “We think Pride needs to return to its roots. At Stonewall it was the queer, trans, Latinx and people of colour who started the riot against police that led to Pride, so it’s ridiculous to have an institution that has been oppressing folks for decades stand up and say, ‘we’re okay now.’” Imtiaz Popat, who founded the queer Muslim support group Salaam and last year organized a Pride march for queer people of colour, says he boycotted the Vancouver Pride parade last year. The 2017 plan changes nothing, he says. “Their desire to march is an act of pinkwashing,” Popat says, referring to police. “The police have not been accountable or accepted their actions against all of our communities, including two-spirit communities, and they certainly have not engaged the queer and trans people of colour who are more harmed by their actions, so we are not pleased.” Popat agrees with BLM that police should be uninvited from the march, rather than simply asked to reduce their presence. He says while the VPS decision is a step in the right direction, Vancouver police have not done enough to deserve a spot in the parade. “It’s causing friction in the community, the rise of racism in the community. Things haven’t gotten any better, they’re actually getting worse,” Popat says. “The community loves the police more than they love queers of colour and trans folks. They don’t feel welcome in the parade.” “People want the police more than they want us,” he says. “They can have their white Pride parade then, that’s what it’s turning into and we don’t want to be any part of that.” Like Jaffer, Popat points to the anti-racism protest in March, where he and other members of visible minorities allege Vancouver police stood by while people of colour were assaulted by the group Soldiers of Odin. Popat says police, city council and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson have all been idle about growing racist sentiment. Last week, former VPS directors Chrissy Taylor and Tim Richards called on Robertson as police chair to support a voluntary withdrawal of police from the parade. Robertson welcomes the VPS’s decision to work with police to keep them in the parade. “I’m pleased to see the Vancouver Pride Society and Vancouver Police Department work constructively to reach a mutual decision regarding police participation in this year’s Pride Parade,” Robertson tells Xtra in an emailed statement. “The VPD has made tremendous progress in building bridges with Vancouver’s diverse communities, but I understand that many marginalized communities do not feel comfortable around police,” he continues. “This is a global, systemic issue that we collectively need to address as a community, and continually strive for legal and lived equality and inclusion.” “I strongly support VPS and VPD’s listening circles where marginalized voices will be able to safely voice concerns,” he says, “and I encourage residents to use that channel to participate in constructive dialogue before and after the Pride parade.” In a statement from Vancouver police, Sergeant Randy Fincham says, “supporting Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ community goes beyond just the parade. We will continue to enhance our existing outreach, education, and awareness efforts year-round to help the community thrive and feel safe.” Fincham cites the police force’s LGBT liaison officer, mandatory transgender sensitivity training video for new officers and “safe place” program where businesses post a window decal to display their willingness to assist victims of hate crimes, as examples of “a significant amount of work to support Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ community.” “Our members and volunteers look forward to participating in the Pride parade each year, and we’re pleased that we can keep that tradition going,” Fincham says. In its report on its consultations, the VPS highlights a few other key issues also raised, including concerns about the corporatization of Pride, too much emphasis on partying, trans exclusion, erasure of femme and bi community members, people of colour inclusion, diversity in representation, and costs to participants. The full report, and its proposed strategies to address these concerns, can be read here.

Out in Toronto: May 18–24, 2017

18 May 2017 - 2:25pm
Thursday, May 18 Strictly Ballroom: The Musical  Based on the much-loved Australian film by Baz Luhrmann, this musical adaptation follows ballroom dance champ Scott Hastings’s adventures on the dance floor and in love. Features classic songs from the film, including “Love is in the Air” and “Time After Time.” The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, June 25, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W. mirvish.com [[asset:image:309818 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Strictly Ballroom: The Musical runs until June 25, 2017, at the Princess of Wales Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Alastair Muir"]}]] Friday, May 19 Kings and Classics  This night of performance is all about drag kings — old kings, new kings, everything in between kings.  Presented by Pretty Munny Productions, this edition of the new monthly show includes performances by Kelsey Slammer, Mike Hunt-Black, Quinn and others. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). 10:30pm–midnight. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. For more info, visit Facebook [[asset:image:309311 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Spencer Munny (left) and Pretty Riikkii (right) put on the new monthly Kings and Classics event at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to help new and emerging drag kings get their start."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Saturday, May 20 Arabian Knights: Slick Saturday  This queer Middle Eastern dance party adopts a new theme: Slick Saturday. What this means in practical terms is that there are oil-covered go-go dancers wrestling each other (why not?) and shaking their glistening butts to Arabic house music. Everyone is welcome. Wrestling singlets encouraged. The venue is not accessible.  10pm–3am. The Black Eagle, 457 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook    Cherry Bomb: Queer Your Long Weekend Part 2  One of the city’s longest running dance parties for queer women and their friends helps you chill out for the long weekend. As always, the lovely DJs Cozmic Cat and Denise Benson are at your service all night, tag teaming back-to-back sets of the best beats.  10pm–3am. Round, 152 Augusta Ave. For more info, visit Facebook    Sunday, May 21 Screen Queens: Spice World  Drag queen hosts give live and potentially drunken commentary for this screening of the classic — yes, classic — film Spice World. Starring The Spice Girls, this lighthearted film features cameos from everyone from Elton John to Bob Hoskins, and the lovely Stephen Fry plays a judge. Features drinking games, special guests, performances, surprises and debauchery.  7:45–11:30pm. The Royal Cinema, 608 College St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Go Hard: All White Everything Video Party  The immortal DJ Blackcat returns with another of his poppin’ dance parties and this time the theme and dress code is all white. Taking place on the Victoria Day long weekend, this event features a soundtrack of hip hop, soca, house and dancehall tracks from the 1990s to today. The venue is not accessible.   10:30pm–4am. Club 120, 120 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Tuesday, May 23 Condo Heartbreak Disco Launch  Queer artist and comic book creator (and former illustrator of a Daily Xtra column) Eric Williams launches his new graphic novel, Condo Heartbreak Disco. Features music by DJ Schramm and a performance by drag queen Allysin Chaynes. The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or accessible washroom door).  7:30–10pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309821 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The Launch of Eric Williams\u2019 graphic novel, Condo Heartbreak Disco takes place on May 23, 2017, at Glad Day Bookshop."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Eric Williams"]}]] Hollywood Games Night: A Fundraiser for Rainbow Railroad  Drag performer Heroine Marks and event promotion group Mojo Toronto present a night of celebrity impersonations and unique takes on the classic game shows The Match Game, Hollywood Squares and The Newlywed Game. This night of performance raises funds for Rainbow Railroad. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). 7:30–10pm. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Wednesday, May 24  Altered States: A Naughty Comedy Hypnosis Show Las Vegas-trained hypnotist Brandon Dean’s monthly hypnosis show is a surprising, goofy and sometimes dirty peek into the subconscious mind. During his show Dean calls adventurous (or perhaps foolish) volunteers up on stage and guides them on a journey through imaginary environments for the amusement and delight of the audience. 8–11pm. Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309488 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Hypnotist Brandon Dean\u2019s show takes place on May 24, 2017, at Tranzac."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Alex Hill"]}]]  

Out in Vancouver: May 18–24, 2017

17 May 2017 - 8:24pm
Thursday, May 18 Key West Cocktail Classic Like twins separated at birth but following the same path, these two are both writers, comedians and media stars — and one of them is even funny. Decide for yourself which one. Ryan Steele and Bruce Vilanch perform at the fourth annual Stoli Vodka event, the largest LGBT bartender competition in the world. Come see the reigning champ James Rawlings, co-host Patrik Gallineaux and homoculturist Brian Webb as you sample delicious cocktails, vote for your favourites, and have a chance to win a trip to Key West. 7–10pm. Numbers, 1042 Davie St. No cover. First 100 RSVP’d guests receive a Stoli drink ticket plus a wristband to sample all the cocktails and vote. out.com/KeyWestCocktailClassic.   Speed Friending: A Rainbow Refugee Community Event I may be a bit forward with speed dating, so this may be the way to go; at least I won’t get a drink thrown at me. Join in for a unique night marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Using the method of “speed friending,” Rainbow Refugee members will share their stories with small groups in timed sessions, moving from table to table. There will also be a short film and a chance for further activities and conversations.  7–9pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Free admission. facebook.com/events/269981346805564/.   Bling: Luscious Moov When Patricia Raye and Nick Apivor launched the project Luscious Moov, they were inspired to make a room full of people feel sexy and loved. The versatility of the vibes, keys, drums, bass and smoky vocals deliver fresh and exciting arrangements of standards with an added twist of soul, funk, and electronica. Sounds like a perfect way to escape the Top 40. 9pm–1am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Tickets $10 at eventbrite.ca. Info at facebook.com/events/203336976847689/.   Friday, May 19 Qmunity IDAHOT Breakfast This event sounds like a great name for a drag queen, but is actually Qmunity’s benefit breakfast for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Stories are important for queer, trans and two-spirit people and communities, to find escape, new meaning and connection; join Qmunity and guest speakers as they share stories of our community, presented by Vancity. 6:45–9am. Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia St. Tickets $100 at eventbrite.ca. More info at facebook.com/events/1291478407594638/.   Bianca Del Rio: Not Today Satan A woman after my own heart, this hilariously hateful comic is known for her foul mouth and unapologetic humour. A self-professed “clown in a gown”, Bianca Del Rio (aka Roy Haylock) continues her worldwide stand-up comedy tour, Not Today Satan, for a second round across North America. If you missed it the first time, you have a second chance to redeem yourself. 8–9:30pm. The Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St. Tickets $50–$250 at thebiancadelrio.com/tour/. Info at facebook.com/events/1203011123148141/.   The Enchantment of the Arch It may sound like a convention for podiatrists, but this is actually the Surrey Coronation XIII, which — naturally — takes place in New Westminster. Yes, I do drink a bottle or two of wine doing these listings, but I assure you this is all factual. This night is the Out Of Town Show, Saturday is the Ball, and Sunday is the Victory Brunch. 9pm Friday. Columbia Theatre, 530 Columbia St, New Westminster. Tickets for Out Of Town Show, $15. 5pm Saturday. Columbia Theatre, 530 Columbia St, New Westminster. Tickets for the Ball, $60. 11am Sunday. Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia St, New Westminster. Tickets for the Victory Brunch $20. All tickets at epama.ca/ball2017.htm. Event info facebook.com/events/1817088968565521/.   Backdoor: Last Chance Some places come and go, replaced by something new, but this time one of the most unique venues in the city will be closing its doors for good. Backdoor was Matt Troy’s special baby, the party that changed everything. This is your last chance for a little Backdoor fun, and if you’re like me, the last chance to go after that hottie Matt Troy’s own rear entrance. Everyone is welcome, daddies, grannies, freaks and treats, to enjoy deep penetrating bass with three rooms of dancing. Organizers promise crazy out of this world art installations to make you gag, and wild, hidden intimate spaces to keep you gagging.  9pm–3am. Vancouver Art and Leisure, 1965 Main St. Tickets $30 at residentadvisor.net with limited tickets at door. facebook.com/events/1490225211039274/.   Saturday, May 20 The Chair If you were at Red last week and saw David C Jones on stage, you’ll find it hard to imagine someone that energetic just sitting in a chair performing (unless it’s a rim seat, but that’s a different show altogether.) This concept is hilariously dramatic, at times shockingly surreal, but one of the best nights of unexpected entertainment you will experience, organizers promise. Eight actors get The Chair and bring John McGie's words to life, sometimes with wild comedy sketches, sometimes with touching short dramas.  8–11pm. Seven Dining Lounge, 53 West Broadway St. Tickets $10 at door. eventbrite.com/e/the-chair-sat-may-20th-tickets-33451469245?aff=eac2.   Bears Night Out Hibernation is over; bears are hungry, horny and on the hunt. If you’re looking for unpretentious, unadulterated, in your face fun, then this is the place to be. Twinks, muscle, daddies, grand daddies, boys, tall, short, hairy or smooth, there is a horny bear just waiting to feast. Head bear hunter DJ Del Stamp keeps the pace going and the dancing bears grinding on stage. This is the night I get to feel like a hunk of meat just waiting on the buffet line to be eaten. 9pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. $5 cover after 9pm. pumpjackpub.com/.   Tease: Alyson Calagna And Del Stamp If the event is called Tease then you know two things: Del Stamp will be involved, and somebody will be on their knees in the DJ booth. The tease is, will it be you? Love and Freedom Events is excited to bring DJ/Producer Alyson Calagna back to Vancouver with DJ Del Stamp for a very special opening set, inspired by Alyson's sound. Expect infusing house, tech house and more into sets that are groovy, bouncy and fun! Some people called Alyson’s set during last year’s Big Pride Weekend the musical highlight of Pride. 10pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Tickets $15 and more info at facebook.com/LoveAndFreedomEvents/.   Sunday, May 21 Absolut T-Dance; Out For Kicks BBQ Back in the day — yes my day: I’m old get over it — T-Dances were the best parties around. They were so popular and fun that we would even drive to Seattle just for the Sunday Timberline T-Dances and they would be packed. It’s time to get that tradition back. The Out For Kicks Soccer club starts us off right, and hopefully they will be in full gear, including Luke and Dave’s famous short shorts. Come support the club and meet some of the hottest jocks around, you know they can go for hours, running or anything else you might want to do. 3—7pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. $10 entry gets you a drink, Absolut of course, and a burger. facebook.com/events/263827534020861/   Diva’s Den This isn’t for me, but I can’t let my followers miss out on this annual women-for-women strip show fundraiser for the Vancouver Dyke March. Wanda and June will be your hosts for this show that encourages amateur and professional performers to get on stage and let loose for charity in a safe and supportive environment. Diva’s Den and the Vancouver Dyke March are trans-, gender-nonconforming-, intersex-, and queer-inclusive. They encourage each person to decide for themselves if they belong in a “women for women”-centred space. ID checked for age, not gender marker. Transphobia will not be tolerated. 7:30–11pm. The Penthouse, 1019 Seymour St. Tickets $20 at Little Sister’s, 1238 Davie St, JQ Clothing, 2120 Commercial Dr or $25 at the door. facebook.com/events/982307251871235.   Ruff At The Pint If you haven’t been to a Ruff party yet, you’re in for a treat. It’s always a room full of hot, horny, shirtless, sometimes pantsless, handsome men just waiting to have some fun. Air thick with so much testosterone even Conni Smudge could grow a beard. MN events always knows how to throw a great long weekend party, and you do have Monday off to recover so what are you waiting for? With performances by Mr Ruff 2017 Jesse, Colin, Anuar, Quincy, Chris and Addison, if your shorts aren’t soaked then better have your Cowper’s Glands checked out. DJs Nick Bertossi and Nark keep the action moving and the men sweating all the way to the after party at Steamworks, just up the street. Because after all that, you’ll definitely need a shower and a blow dry. 9pm–3am. The Pint, 455 Abbott St. Tickets $20 at Top Drawers, 809 Davie St and online mnevents.ca or $25 at door.  facebook.com/events/242728429529731/.   Aja Live: Saturday and Sunday Shows If you couldn’t catch Aja on Saturday night then don’t let this night pass you by. Tommy D may now be queen — oops emperor — of Vancouver, but that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his rather large laurels. OUTtvGo and TFD Presents are bringing you even more drag fantasy featuring fan favourite Aja of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. She’s carrying, henny — don’t miss out on what will be the true gaggarini of 2017. And if that isn’t enough to get you here, a double show with Legends and Shequel follows after that. Thank god there is an ATM in the bar. 9pm–4am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Tickets $25–$35 at eventbrite.ca. Info at facebook.com/events/1727919160839492/.   Babes on Babes: Von Kiss Babes on Babes is a collective of artists, DJs and promoters who showcase and celebrate local and international queer talent. Von Kiss is a DJ who can move the masses. Based out of LA with residencies in Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco, she has talent that comes from years of rocking shows all across the globe. Frankie Teardrop is a DJ, producer, and promoter in Montreal's underground queer party scene. With these two along with DJs Jane Blaze, O-Show, Angle, Ethan, Cho Cha and Leahbabe, the three rooms promise to be rocking with everything you like. 9pm–2am. Fortune Sound Club, 147 E Pender St. $15 at door. facebook.com/events/811590135665977/.   Hershe Bar Okay, Hershe Bar has definitely come a long way since the old days, and good on her. I heard a rumour that tonight there will be shower dancing and, if coaxed enough, Leigh Cousins may take a spin on the shower pole. Go for it, doll! DJs Soulfunkee and Miss M will keep the dance floor, and other things, bouncing to your heart’s content. 10pm–2am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Tickets $12-15 at eventbrite.ca. More info at facebook.com/events/1984972821732178/.   Spanglish A night dedicated to the modern art of mixing two languages together. If there is Spanglish, is there also Franglish, Italglish or Polglish? Caliente Nights’ resident team will be joined by your reigning Miss Gay Latina BC, Rebecca Wolf, and Ms Gay Vancouver 37 Casha Only to bring you performances that celebrate the collision of languages. If you can understand the words then you have had too much to drink. 10pm–3am. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. $5 cover. facebook.com/events/1319814214795986/.   Monday, May 22 Holly Near and Tori Trujillo Holly Near has been singing for our lives for over 45 years, and is still speaking and singing out about the times we live in right now. As an acitivist and a skilled performer, she puts on a great show reflecting on the world in which we live, and the complexities of love and integrity. Tori Trujillo was raised on everything from Motown and Carole King to Mexican band music and Bob Seger, with a heavy influence of gospel greats like Mahalia Jackson. Put the two together and you have a show that will raise the roof. 7pm. St James Community Square, 3214 W 10th Ave. Tickets $30–$45 at soundsandfuries.com/concerts.html.   Wednesday, May 24 WE Arts: Dance In Transit Looking to show off the goods? Dance in Transit has come up with free outdoor dance events this spring and summer in four amazing downtown venues: Robson Square, Jim Deva Plaza, Queen Elizabeth Plaza, and Plaza of Nations. They’re meant to build community involvement, expand social networks, ease people away from their digital devices, and get back to face-to-face connection. It’s a free event open to the public. Join to volunteer, participate, or just hang out and watch. 8pm–11pm. Robson Square Rink, 800 Robson St. Details and sign up at meetup.com/Vancouver-Lifestyle-Club/events/239967211.   The Princess Show This is right up Alma B Itches’ britches. A sequined and bearded Princess Edward who journeys into a world where anime heroes, bass guitarist rock stars and pop epics meld into a music-filled thriller. Princess Edward is an alter ego of Aaron Collier, former keyboardist for The Jimmy Swift Band and founding member of the electronic duo Scientists of Sound. This show is a mashup of Dungeons & Dragons, Attack on Titan, Zelda and RuPaul’s Drag Race. The setting is fantasy but the problems the Princess encounters are very real to all of us. Show runs until Saturday, May 27. Various times, 7pm to 9:45pm shows. Vancouver Culture Club, The Cultch, 1895 Venables St. Tickets $15–20. Showtimes and tickets at upintheairtheatre.com/the-princess-show.

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