Ottawa Xtra

Why one Toronto city councillor wants to bring back the LGBT advisory council

31 May 2017 - 8:42pm
Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam wants to bring back the city’s LGBT advisory council. Wong-Tam, Toronto’s only openly gay councillor, believes the move is essential to bring diverse LGBT voices to council. “The challenge that we see here is that there is not full understanding of who this community is,” she says. “This is not a monolithic group; we are hyper-diverse.” Wong-Tam announced her intention to bring forward the issue at the annual City Hall Pride flag raising on May 31, 2017. “Sexual liberation and human-rights work needs to happen each and every single day, and not just when we come together once a year,” she said. Wong-Tam says that the debate around Pride funding demonstrated the need for a greater understanding of LGBT issues at city council. “What I would have gleaned from this entire sort of situation is that if we have ongoing dialogue, and if there’s a proper venue for the community to bring forth their concerns, we would be in a better place to respond,” she says. Toronto has operated without any sort of LGBT advisory council for over a decade. The community advisory committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues was created in 1999 and was chaired by Kyle Rae, Toronto’s first openly gay councillor.  The committee’s mandate was eventually folded into the roundtable on access, equity and human rights, which hasn’t been active since 2006. Wong-Tam hopes that an advisory committee would allow LGBT communities to have greater input on funding for public health programs, arts and cultural activities and economic development. “I would much rather be proactive and have the discussions ongoing year-round as opposed to once a year during the symbolic and busy time of Pride, when we’re all pulled in many different directions,” she says.

Why do people masturbate differently?

31 May 2017 - 2:41pm
Dear Dr Ren, I am curious. Is there a difference in the way “vanilla” folks masturbate as compared to “kinky” BDSM folks? The more involved I become with kink, the kinkier my masturbatory fantasies have become, but my hands-on hasn't really changed. This has left me wondering: do kinksters do it differently? This oyster is starting to open for me, and I would appreciate your expert suggestions. Curious Oyster   Dear Curious Oyster, Yours is a logical question. One would think that as our fantasies, and even our behaviours change, that our corresponding masturbatory patterns would as well.  But, no. Just as a baby duck imprinted to a puppy rather than a mama duck will follow that dog throughout its life regardless how many other ducks are available, so too we embrace our early sexual pleasuring patterns even when others could easily intrigue us. One of Kinsey’s interview questions was, “How do you masturbate?” Open-ended though it was, the question's most common response was, “The usual way.”  We generally learn to masturbate early and in private, and we do not discuss this activity with others. Indeed, each of us believes the way we get off is the way everyone else does.  In fact, there are several conventional masturbatory patterns sufficiently similar that many of us claim one as our usual, and add variations which we use occasionally. Even so, the alternates take more time and concentration.  Usually we lie on our backs and use our fingers or a vibrator to manipulate our genitals to a state of high arousal and eventual orgasm. Alternative positions include side-lying or standing up, but the method is essentially the same. A fair number of women lie on their stomachs with pillows, blankets or stuffed animals underneath them, but still use their fingers or a vibe to stimulate their clitoral and labial regions. Many enjoy the feeling of fullness obtained by inserting something in their vagina prior to orgasm. Men’s corollary is to stick something up the bum, adding prostate stimulation. Regardless of gender, this practice is a matter of personal preference. Generally it doesn’t make much difference how we pleasure ourselves so long as we enjoy it and it gets the job done.  However, for some males, there is a style that becomes problematic. It bears the unwieldy title of Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome. When men engage in TMS, they lie on their stomachs, often with a pillow under their hips, and tighten their thigh and buttocks muscles rhythmically until they ejaculate. They may or may not rock their hips. They do not touch their genitals with their hands, which are often held tightly at their sides or pulled up against their chests. You may wonder why your position during masturbation would matter at all — and ordinarily it doesn’t.  If you lie on your side, or on your back, or even sit while jerking off, your face and body are exposed to your surroundings. Your hands are likely encircling your penis and stroking your thighs, chest and testicles.  In TMS, this is not the case.  Boys who learn this masturbatory technique isolate with their fantasies during arousal and ejaculation. They close their eyes and go inside — these are not porn watchers.  Since they do not touch themselves, they do not learn to associate touch with the pleasure of sex. Also, their rigid body form does not mimic the fluid lovemaking of partnered sex in later years. It is this problem with transferring erotic patterning from solo to partnered sex that prompted sexologists to dub this “traumatic” masturbatory syndrome, for these fellows experience great difficulty relating erotically to another person.  Everything about partnered sex feels foreign to them. The touch of another’s skin, so much a turn-on for a man who has learned to associate stroking with pleasure, is a distraction and/or an annoyance for one who lies silently, internally focused, clenching and releasing his muscles, hands balled into fists. Eye contact is difficult, as are relaxing and changing positions during lovemaking.  Murmuring sweet nothings? Not likely.  In fact, sharing the journey from erotic stirrings to orgasm is next to impossible for a man who has learned to masturbate on his stomach without touching his genitals. He becomes sexually crippled in terms of partnered sex. Other than in the case of TMS, how you jerk off doesn't much matter.  What you are asking about, Curious Oyster, is why your more expansive fantasy material, and even your increasingly uninhibited behaviour, isn’t changing your buzzing off pattern.  The answer is that it doesn’t need to.  Though we may add to our basics for the purpose of arousal — and masturbation with a partner in attendance is surely a different experience — when it comes to getting the job done, we return to our original “imprinting” pattern because it is familiar and efficient.  When the fantasies of hot wax and clothespins have spun you into a frothy lather, you will likely still bring yourself off just as you did at age 13.  It’s comforting, really, to know that some things we can always count on.

Pride Winnipeg says police can march in this year’s parade — just not in uniform

30 May 2017 - 11:39pm
Pride Winnipeg says police are welcome to march in the parade on June 4, 2017, but not in uniform. According to a Pride Winnipeg statement released May 26, officers will be allowed to participate “in the spirit of cooperation and inclusion,” but will have to leave their uniforms and their police cars at work. Officers will, however, be allowed to wear police department T-shirts and carry a banner. The decision follows six days of now-closed surveys on SurveyMonkey and months of community consultation. Pride Winnipeg vice-president Darrel Nadeau says the consultations began after Pride season last year. The organization hosted a town hall in July 2016 to ask what Pride had done well and what needed to improve. It was well attended, he says, but lacked diversity. “We asked, ‘Why won’t people from diverse backgrounds come give us feedback?’” he says, explaining that Black Lives Matter’s protest at the 2016 Toronto Pride parade woke up Winnipeg’s volunteer-run Pride board and inspired self-reflection on the lack of diversity on their own planning team. “We spent the past year working really hard — listening and consulting with community groups and enhancing the voice of those who have been traditionally excluded,” he says. Nadeau says listening to community members led Pride Winnipeg to rethink who is currently sharing in the celebration and what marginalization still occurs, and what advocacy work remains. It also inspired this year’s Pride theme: Resurgence: Taking Back Space, and led to the recent online survey. According to the survey’s results, members of some marginalized groups in the LGBT community, such as non-binary, two-spirit, indigenous and trans people, had less positive experiences with police than respondents who identified as gay. Nearly one third of respondents said they wanted police to either be invisible in the parade or removed altogether, while another third said they would accept uniformed police but only if the department made a firm commitment to improve its relationship with the community. More than 600 people filled out the survey. Based on the results, Nadeau says Pride decided to invite rather than exclude police, but with conditions. “To improve the relationship between police and the LGBTTQ community, our focus is to have dialogue with the police,” he explains. “Not to exclude them from conversations, which some people have asked us to do. We are taking a stance that complete exclusion is not going to bring positive change.” Winnipeg police Inspector Gord Friesen says it was police who first reached out to Pride Winnipeg after Black Lives Matter held its sit-in at Toronto Pride last summer. Nadeau agrees. “Pride Winnipeg was undergoing community consultations on this issue and had not yet contacted police when they touched base with us. It’s been a very collaborative and positive process,” he says. Friesen says the dialogue has been unfolding since. “We’ve been in conversation the last 10 months after Toronto,” he says. “I was really impressed they took the step of reaching out within the community to do the survey.” Friesen believes the Winnipeg police force has “a pretty good relationship with the community, but you can always do better.” He says he and some officers are disappointed they can’t march in uniform this year, but they feel Pride Winnipeg has the right to choose. “It’s their event, we are their guests,” he says. He says officers can feel uncomfortable without their uniform because they take an oath to act when they see trouble, and the equipment on their belts can be useful in case of an incident. “But the people at Pride did a really good job explaining why and it was the stress response for some people on seeing uniforms and firearms,” Friesen says. “I can draw a parallel with that: we have a diversity relations unit within our division and we go out and speak to newcomer groups,” he says. “People sometimes come from countries where the police aren’t the same as here — they can be corrupt, they can be oppressive, they’re not your friends, and so when the police come to your house that’s not a good day. “When they come to Canada with that context it’s not as if you can just turn that off and say it’s different here, the police are not corrupt, they’re here to help and support,” Friesen continues. “Seeing a uniform or a firearm, those people don’t have the ability to control how their bodies will respond.” Friesen says officers often wear plain clothes when meeting more vulnerable people, and says the Pride decision seems to be founded on a similar principle. In February, Halifax police announced their intention to voluntarily withdraw from this year’s Pride parade and the Toronto police force soon followed suit to say it will respect Pride Toronto’s decision to ban uniformed police from the parade. On May 18, the Vancouver Pride Society announced that it will allow some uniformed police to march as part of a civic services entry this year. Pride Winnipeg runs from May 26 to June 4, 2017.

Meet the new Conservative leadership: the same as the old one

30 May 2017 - 5:39pm
After a dramatic year-long leadership race that featured an astonishing number of lows and not too many highs, the Conservative Party has chosen perhaps the blandest possible option in former House of Commons speaker Andrew Scheer as its new leader.  Far from the worst choice, Scheer is no comfort to LGBT Canadians, except in that his leadership will likely ensure the Conservatives stay in the political wilderness for a while yet.  This was an ugly year for the Conservative Party. The leadership vacuum created when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped down after the 2015 election allowed all the demons he’d barely repressed in the party to emerge with a vengeance.  Anti-Muslim bigots found their cheerleader in Kellie Leitch. Anti-LGBT and anti-abortionists found cheerleaders in Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux. Maxime Bernier courted so-called men’s rights activists — actually radical anti-feminists — with winking social media posts.  The handful of candidates who rejected social conservative and anti-immigrant messaging — Erin O’Toole, Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt, Deepak Obhrai — collectively earned less than 20 percent of the party vote on the first ballot.  In Scheer, the Conservatives have chosen a candidate who seeks to have it both ways on social issues. He is on the record opposing LGBT rights and abortion. He has voted against same-sex marriage and against C-16, the bill that would protect trans people from discrimination in federal jurisdictions, ban hate speech against trans people, and include anti-trans bias as an aggravating factor in hate-crime sentencing.  In an interview with the National Post, he says he considers many of these questions “settled” or constitutional issues that he’s not interested in pursuing as prime minister — similar to the line Harper peddled for years in office.  Scheer spoke in favour of ending the party’s official opposition to same-sex marriage at last year’s policy convention in Vancouver, yet when speaking with CBC’s Rosemary Barton, he refused to say he believes in equal marriage, leading Barton to finally suggest he’s “just going to live with it.” And yet, hours after winning the leadership, he wouldn’t rule out repealing C-16 in the future, if the bill is passed.  True, this wishy-washy position didn’t endear him to the hardliners at the Campaign Life Coalition, who refused to endorse him. But social conservatives were celebrating his victory hard, and it’s clear that the voters who lined up behind Trost and Lemieux had moved their second and third choices to him. It’s not as if Harper didn’t find a myriad of other ways to screw with our community over his time in office. A Scheer administration beholden to anti-LGBT voters will likely face pressure to cut funding to our programs and erase LGBT people from policy and communications. And we can be assured that whatever the Trudeau government doesn’t manage to get done by 2019 — an official apology/compensation, ending the gay blood donor ban, repealing the sodomy law, gender-neutral documents, increasing funding to promote LGBT rights abroad — wouldn’t find a champion in a Scheer government.  And Scheer’s signature policy idea — restricting funding to universities that insufficiently protect free speech (a code for restricting gruesome anti-abortion campaigns) — is a policy quagmire with an obvious blind spot for LGBT people. After all, if freedom is so important, what would Scheer say about Trinity Western University, whose covenant explicitly forbids gay sex, steeping the Langley campus and its students  in a painful culture of shame?   Scheer’s apparent mantra — I oppose your fundamental rights but won’t do anything to hinder them because it’s politically unsellable — isn’t exactly a comforting message to the LGBT community, if for no other reason than it gives license to the bigots in society to be even more brazen against us.  Say what you will about Trudeau’s I love the gays but let’s take painfully slow baby steps toward progress PR campaign, but at least he’s setting the right tone.     It’s easy to see the logic behind otherwise socially progressive Conservative voters supporting Scheer — after all, this sort of mild antipathy won Harper three straight elections.  But the ground has — I suspect and hope — shifted in Canada. The next election will come nearly a decade after Harper’s last successful election. Dog whistles against LGBT people will likely not be as successful in the increasingly urban and multicultural Canada of 2019. Our growing visibility and acceptance across Canada has led to the passage of trans-rights bills in nearly every province and territory (with Yukon sure to complete the movement within weeks). Time will tell if Scheer can rally enough Canadians to the Conservative Party to move him into 24 Sussex. But time doesn’t appear to be on his side.

OutGames fraud and White House whitewashing

30 May 2017 - 2:39pm
[[asset:image:309893 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] OutGames abruptly cancelled amid fraud allegations The World OutGames in Miami cancelled nearly all of its events citing financial difficulties, leaving many athletes stranded who had already arrived in Florida. Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office says it is investigating the organization for fraud. Read more at OutSports.   Chinese lesbian app pulled from the web After the parents of Chinese LGBT children staged a publicity event in a Shanghai park, the government responded by shutting down the country’s most popular lesbian dating app, Rela. Read more at Shanghaiist.     Chinese orders media caution over Taiwan ruling After the Taiwanese high court ordered the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Chinese government in a leaked document ordered journalists to cover the issue sensitively. Journalists should not make a big deal of the story, the order says, and should put words like “constitution” and “legislate” in quotation marks. Read more at Radio Free Asia.   White House photo caption omits gay spouse Gauthier Destenay, the husband of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, was left out of the caption of a White House photograph of the spouses of Nato leaders. After backlash, the White House included Destenay.   Boycotts hit Tel Aviv LGBT film festival Activists have successfully persuaded a number of filmmakers to pull out of TLVFest, an Israeli LGBT film festival. Activists say the festival is “pinkwashing”, using a veneer of LGBT rights to paper over Israeli human rights abuses. Read more at the Jerusalem Post.  

Senate committee rejects motion to narrow trans bill’s scope

30 May 2017 - 2:39pm
A bill aimed at enshrining protection for transgender people into Canada’s human-rights code is headed back to the Senate for what should be a final vote, after eight hours of testimony that included heated arguments, apocalyptic predictions and racially charged language. On May 17, 2016, the federal Liberals introduced Bill C-16, which would encode both gender identity and expression into Canada’s human-rights and hate-crime laws. The bill follows similar legislation either tabled or passed in every province and territory. A year later, senators on the legal affairs committee have sent the bill back to the red chamber in its original form in a 12-3 vote. After hearing from 24 witnesses, the committee rejected an amendment that would have narrowed the bill’s scope, as well as a formal observation expressing concern about forced speech. The Senate resumes sitting May 30, and will have five weeks to hold a third reading of Bill C-16, alongside a handful of other bills. Senators could still propose amendments to the bill, which the federal Liberals could reject and send back to the red chamber. The Liberals might also prorogue Parliament this fall, which would kill the bill entirely if it hasn’t yet been made law. The bill’s sponsor, Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, told the Hill Times he’ll fight to get the bill passed before the June 30 summer break, even threatening to use time allocation — a parliamentary motion that curtails debate and forces a vote, but often prompts opponents to delay other bills in retaliation. “It’s a hill I’m prepared to die on. This has to be passed before the summer break,” Mitchell said. Here’s a rundown of the issues senators deliberated over five contentious sittings:   Forced pronouns? Most of the committee hearings centered on whether people could face fines or jail time for using the wrong pronouns. Bill C-16 would protect trans people from discrimination in federal jurisdictions. The human rights tribunal that hears such discrimination complaints generally negotiates settlements and fines federal agencies found guilty. In rare cases, people who don’t comply with tribunal rulings can be jailed. The Senate first heard from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who said “there is nothing within Bill C-16 that would compel somebody to have to call somebody by the pronoun ‘he’ or ‘she’ or otherwise.” But she also suggests that people could be punished for intentionally using the wrong pronouns: “Harassment involves speech or conduct that is persistent and serious enough to create a hostile or poisoned environment,” she said. Her comments were echoed by Brenda Cossman, a University of Toronto law professor specializing in sexual diversity studies, who said tribunals could sanction people who intentionally misgender someone. She pointed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy, which already includes gender identity and expression. “It requires that you don’t use the wrong name, and if you don’t like the right one, then just use a person’s name,” Cossman said. Opponents maintain that Bill C-16 is vague and can be interpreted as forcing people to use gender-neutral pronouns. And though the justice minister promised to provide her department’s analysis of how the bill doesn’t impede Charter rights, senators complained they hadn’t received it by the time their hearings ended two weeks later.    ‘An ideological war’ University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson told the Senate he rejected the “unbelievably dangerous” bill because it would lead to jailing people for rejecting “government-mandated speech.”  Peterson painted a dystopian picture of radical groups using dubious anti-bias training to erase both the concept of gender and the acknowledgement that most people identify with the gender and sex they’re assigned at birth. “There’s an ideological war that’s tearing campuses apart,” he claimed. “The ideologues who are pushing this movement are using unsuspecting and sometimes complicit members of the so-called transgender community to push their ideological vanguard forward.” While stressing he is “not a discriminatory person,” Peterson said it would be "unbelievably dangerous” to implement into law the idea “that human identity is nothing but a consequence of socialization.” At one point, Peterson held up an illustration marked Gender Unicorn, which he called “particularly reprehensible" for targeting children. Gad Saad, a Concordia University marketing professor who uses evolutionary science to explain decision-making, claimed that campus activists alleging “systematic violence” for not using the proper pronouns have created a “stifling environment” in universities. [[asset:image:309884 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Gad Saad (right), a Concordia University marketing professor focusing on evolutionary behaviour, speaks with a trans advocate in an East Block committee room on Parliament Hill after testifying on Bill C-16 on May 10, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Dylan C Robertson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Saad claimed Bill C-16 would encourage activists to expand “the trajectory of victimhood” in anti-discrimination laws to tackle fatphobia and protect “transracialism” (where people self-identify as another race, like Rachel Dolezal). “The slippery slope of totalitarian lunacy awaits us,” he said.  Theryn Meyer, a trans YouTube blogger who has contributed to the far-right site Breitbart, accused the Liberals of “playing the role of social justice activists with their political power.” She claimed the legislation would limit speech and make employers see trans people as a legal liability. “The bill will also send the impression to Canadians that trans people are too weak to defend and make the case for their identities in a free society, and that the only way for us to exist amongst others is to restrict by draconian law the freedoms of others,” she said. “Bill C-16 is a sure way to engender resentment and intolerance and true transphobia.” These assertions led Senator Don Plett to suggest the committee add an observation to the bill — a note that would inform judges when issuing rulings — that some witnesses “raised serious concerns . . . with respect to the compelling of gender-neutral speech from persons who may or may not subscribe to this particular theory of gender.” Plett’s motion failed 10-5. In 2013, Plett controversially moved to amend a similar bill to exempt trans protection from jails, shelters and bathrooms.   Feminists decry ‘a trend’ A member of Vancouver Rape Relief told the Senate why her group’s shelter still doesn’t house trans women. Trans volunteer Kimberly Nixon filed a complaint against Rape Relief in 1995 after the organization excluded her. While the BC Human Rights Tribunal sided with Nixon, two BC courts later ruled against her. Hilla Kerner said the Nixon case caused a “witch hunt” against Rape Relief, and explained the incident while referring to Nixon as “he.” “I don't know what it means to ‘feel like a woman’ — I know what it is to be a girl and to be a woman,” she said. “We know the embarrassment of having our clothes stained with blood from our period, the anxiety of facing an unwanted pregnancy and the fear of being raped, and we know the comfort of grouping with other women.” Her comments were echoed by Meghan Murphy, founder of the website Feminist Current, who said Bill C-16 would “reinforce stereotypes and oppressive ideas” by “treating gender as though it is either internal or a personal choice,” instead of a social construction. “The rights of women and girls are being pushed aside to accommodate a trend,” warned Murphy. But it was the president of the Québec Women’s Rights Association, Michèle Sirois, who left some senators speechless, by raising the spectre of men claiming to be women to compete in sports competitions, or predators accessing private spaces. Sirois specifically brought up the case of ex-Colonel Russell Williams, who photographed himself in stolen women’s underwear before killing two women and raping others.  “Why would he not decide that he’d be better off in a women’s prison?” Sirois asked. “Bill C-16 will result in the elimination or weakening of women’s rights.” Senator Betty Unger cited these concerns in tabling an amendment to the bill, which would have changed it to “gender identity and expression,” instead of “or,” arguing it would ensure non-trans people don’t take advantage of the legislation. The amendment failed in a 5-10 vote, after some senators argued that provincial laws use “or,” and claimed it would make it harder for trans people to access justice.   The bathroom argument As with similar bills in the past, social-conservative groups argued Bill C-16 would lead to gender-neutral washrooms that could expose women to a higher risk of predators. Paul Dirks, a Baptist pastor who started the WOMAN Means Something Campaign, presented his research on 255 incidents of alleged “male violence against women in public spaces,” including voyeurism in changerooms and 29 cases “where males have expressed a female gender and perpetrated violence in women’s safe spaces.” Senator André Pratte challenged Dirks on not having data on assaults in sex-segregated spaces. “There always have been predators, and I would submit that your data is not scientifically reliable,.” he said. Devon MacFarlane, the director of Rainbow Health Ontario, told the Senate that trans people are far more likely to be the people harassed in bathrooms. [[asset:image:309890 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Two trans activists \u2014 Devon MacFarlane (left), director of Rainbow Health Ontario and diversity consultant Marni Panas (right) \u2014 pose in an East Block committee room on Parliament Hill after testifying on Bill C-16 on May 11, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Dylan C Robertson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “Two-thirds of trans people avoid public spaces like bathrooms for fear of harassment or violence. Most of the trans people here in the room today have likely had bad experiences in bathrooms and keep mental maps of where to pee in peace,” MacFarlane said. “With this comes significant discomfort, if not outright pain, from holding it when we can’t find a safe washroom,” he said. “This has health consequences. In a US study, 54 percent of trans people developed problems like dehydration, urinary tract infections or kidney infections; six per cent had to seek medical care.” Greta Bauer, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University, echoed similar points, noting that “the majority of the trans people who had experienced transphobic assault were avoiding a large number of public spaces.” Bauer led the 2009-2010 Trans PULSE survey of 433 trans Ontarians, which documented lower incomes and frequent discrimination. It also found 70 percent of respondents struggled to get identity documents that matched their gender. Bauer argued this leads to trans people avoiding driving or going to bars because they fear unsympathetic police or bouncers.   ‘The real disconnect’ Witnesses also spoke in favour of the bill, including legal experts and trans people. Marni Panas, a trans woman and diversity consultant from Edmonton, told the committee about living “in a society that would often we rather not exist at all.” She recounted her divorce and family isolation. “I am a woman, I am a daddy, I am transgender. I was assigned male at birth but I have always been a woman,” she said. “I’m not pretending anything that I am. I’m finally living who I am, and that is the real disconnect.” Melissa Potvin spoke about struggling to understand her child, Warner Schaettgen, who at age two declared she felt like a girl.  “We read everything we could to try and understand and meanwhile we allowed Warner to wear dresses and female clothing in private. The fear of social rejection and inevitable bullying kept us hiding this secret for six years from the closest family and friends,” said Potvin, who identifies as a Catholic conservative. [[asset:image:309881 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Warner Schaettgen, 9, speaks at a rally on Parliament Hill in support of Bill C-16 on May 11, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Dylan C Robertson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “Through medical guidance, reading research, and with love and faith we were able to see that supporting Warner to be herself gave her the best chance of growing up healthy and happy,” Potvin recounted. “This uncomfortable and sad little boy became this beautiful, happy, outgoing girl almost overnight.” “If I could change this, I would. The big guy upstairs has reasons for everything and we are all equally deserving of love and respect.” Senator André Pratte argued that using chosen pronouns was “a matter of pure respect,” and used an analogy with racial slurs: “Some people may think that Blacks should not be referred to by their name, that they should all be addressed: ‘hey, nigger.’ But you don’t address them as, ‘hey, nigger;’ you call them by their names because that is what you do,” said Pratte, who later apologized for using the word. During the four days of testimony, senators raised their voices and rolled their eyes, while some trans people left the room. Senator Murray Sinclair proposed affixing a note to the bill, that the witness’ views “while strongly and legitimately held, were not well-founded.” That left his colleague Plett shaking in his chair, loudly responding that “to suggest that these witnesses were not credible is mind-boggling to me.” Outside the Senate, roughly 125 people gathered on Parliament Hill for a rally on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, moments before Peterson’s testimony. “Trans people aren’t just these people that can be talked about without us being present,” Fae Johnstone, a non-binary femme who organized the rally, told Xtra, saying many witnesses were “speaking from a place of bigotry.” Trans activist Joshua M Ferguson told the rally Bill C-16 was long overdue. “We’ve been waiting with our lives hanging in the balance for a decade now,” they said. “This is more than just pronouns; this is about our very lives that are at risk everyday we walk into public.”

Toronto is full of queer history — if you know where to look

30 May 2017 - 11:38am
It’s likely Toronto tabloid Hush didn’t know that it would be making queer history. But when it published a dismissive article about the flamboyant men who frequented Yonge Street in the 1930s, it gave recognition to a collective that existed before the present day Church-Wellesley Village. The “pansy colonies,” as it acerbically dubbed the area, referred to the collection of gay men who lived and worked in retail jobs near Yonge and Dundas streets. But now that it’s included in a Heritage Toronto walking tour of LGBT history, it’s gaining recognition as an important part of our shared past. “It’s fascinating and less well known than some of the history of the Village,” Jade Pichette says. Pichette is the volunteer and community outreach coordinator for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA). The CLGA is partnering with Heritage Toronto to deliver summer tours that showcase often-neglected parts of queer history. The result is the Pride Outside the Village: LGBTQ+ Heritage tours, that shines a light on hidden parts of Toronto’s LGBT stories, including the pansy colonies. According to Pichette, one of the interesting aspects of the pansy colonies and the gay men who lived there was the intersection of sexuality and commerce. Despite the repressive attitudes that were commonplace, there were many examples of employers attending court hearings to support their gay employees, who faced the criminalization of their sexualities. Their employers would argue on their behalf because of the important economic functions they served. “It’s also an interesting story in regards to class,” Pichette says. It also highlights the connection between queer history and the city experience. “Those who observed the growth of Toronto’s gay world in the early 20th-century understood it as a distinctly urban phenomenon,” writes Steven Maynard, a professor of sexual history at Queen’s University, in the Journal of Urban History.   It may seem ironic that such an important aspect of queer history has its genesis in a homophobic tabloid, but Pichette isn’t surprised. “It’s expected in some ways that the only places that we would find material about our communities before we started creating them ourselves would be in the places that would be trying to shame us,” she says. Historical records of queer life in Toronto in decades past can be difficult to find; when material was written explicitly by gay men, it was often later destroyed. So tabloid clippings help to paint a picture of life for queer individuals of the era — and later generations. Pichette argues that the pansy colonies and other stops along the upcoming tours are important for us to understand our shared past. “By knowing the history, we’re able to get a better sense of who we are as a community today.” She also says there’s demand for us to connect with the stories and lives of those who blazed trails before us. Pichette says it’s important to remember that while it’s easy to think of queer desire as a modern phenomenon, it’s always existed in Toronto. “There’s a real longing there that we’re not taught.”

Pride to offer a full month of programming for the second year in a row

29 May 2017 - 2:38pm
For the second year in a row, Pride Toronto will be hosting a full month of programming for the festival. And the schedule confirms that Pride Toronto has followed through on the promises made to Black Lives Matter Toronto, including the return of a South Asian stage and increased support and programming for deaf LGBT community members. The month will kick-off with a flag-raising at Toronto City Hall on May 31, 2017, with another flag-raising at Queen’s Park on June 19. Four human-rights panels will again be hosted at The 519 community centre. This year’s panels include a look at the legacy of the Compton Cafeteria riot, a 1966 anti-police riot in San Francisco led by trans women; a remembrance of last year’s Orlando massacre; an examination of global LGBT rights that includes recently-imprisoned Jamaican activist Latoya Nugent; and a panel on transfeminism and gender fluidity. The Trans March and the Dyke March, both grassroots marches that have, at times, been independent of Pride Toronto, will continue to be held under the Pride banner this year. The 33rd annual AIDS Candlelight Vigil will be held at Barbara Hall Park on May 23 and will focus on the struggles faced by indigenous communities living with HIV/AIDS. Culturally-specific programming is also strongly represented this year, including events targeted at Middle Eastern, Latinx, South Asian and indigenous communities. The Senior Pride Network will be hosting an intergenerational social event at The 519, the first time a senior’s event has been incorporated in Pride’s official programming. This year’s festival is lighter on big names than 2016 but includes playwright Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.

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. [[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.   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   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   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).   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.   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.   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.   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.   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 Saturday info at   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.   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   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.   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.   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.   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.   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.   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.   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.   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.

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