Ottawa Xtra

Walmart, sex addiction, and kinky cat parasites

4 December 2016 - 6:52am
[[asset:image:308548 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] UK will cover PrEP The UK’s National Health Service has announced it will cover pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs (PrEP) for thousands of people starting in 2017. The government lost a lengthy legal battle trying to avoid paying for the drug. Read more at BuzzFeed.   Cat parasites could make you kinky A parasite transmitted to humans from cats has been linked to an increased tendency to enjoy BDSM and unusual sex. The authors say the parasite, which is carried by a large number of humans, is likely responsible for only a very small portion of kinky behaviour. Read more at I Fucking Love Science.   American sex educators reject sex addiction The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists have released a position statement rejecting “sex addiction” and “porn addiction” as useful clinical concepts. The organization says these labels often unduly pathologize consensual sexual behaviour.   Walmart pays $7.5 million for denying spousal benefits Retail giant Walmart has settled a class-action lawsuit with former employees, paying out $7.5 million to compensate same-sex spouses who were denied benefits between 2011 and 2013. Walmart finally began providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples in the United States in 2014. Read more at the Washington Blade.   Los Angeles man gets 12 years for killing trans partner A Los Angeles man will go to prison for 12 years for stabbing his partner, trans woman Yasmin Payne. The jury in the case downgraded the charge from murder to voluntary manslaughter, for reasons that remain unclear. Read more at the Advocate.

The joys of park sex — and a few hints on discretion, cleanup and consent

2 December 2016 - 6:47pm
It was the middle of summer and my friend Nathan wanted to get some sunshine, hang out with friends, and maybe get some dick. Good thing he was in Vancouver, where he could get all three in one spot. I picked him up at his apartment in Chinatown and we drove to the UBC Endowment Lands, then walked down the hundreds of steep stairs to Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s beloved nude beach. We hit the main beach, hung a left and walked along a narrow, uneven dirt path along the river for about 15 minutes, passing pairs of nude men lounging amongst the logs and trees. Finally, we hit the Oasis, a small sandy beach perched alongside the rising tide of the river. We found a spot up near the treeline and I laid a towel down and immediately stripped naked. There was a group of guys wearing skimpy swimsuits, two twinks lying facedown with their naked butts sweating in the sun, a few guys I recognized from the scene — in all about 50 guys in various states of undress. Nathan didn’t go nude but instead wore little short shorts and a small shoulder bag which he carried around for such occasions. Nathan soon decided to go for a smoke in a dirt area just behind the beach, so I tagged along. It didn’t take long for someone to notice him. A tall slender guy walked around eyeing Nathan up. He had a shaved head, a toned body and a gigantic penis that flopped around. And this guy was serious about Nathan — he didn’t play coy at all. He stared right at Nathan and grinned without taking his eyes off him. Nathan kept glancing at him bashfully. “Oh, fuck it,” Nathan said. He stood up, put his cigarette into the ashtray, and smiled at the guy. The tall slender guy walked toward Nathan. Nathan moved slowly towards a path that led into the bushes, allowing the guy to catch up to him. As soon as he did, the guy stuck his hand down the back of Nathan’s shorts and slipped his fingers into his crack. They walked along the path deeper into the bushes — Nathan was leading him right towards his favourite spot to get fucked. I decided to follow so I could watch. There was a tree stump that is slightly higher than knee level. Nathan stood facing it, dropped his shorts, raised his right knee onto it, then grabbed a bottle of lube from his little shoulder bag. He handed lube to the guy, who immediately poured some on his cock. The tall guy began fucking Nathan with his enormous cock. This, naturally, attracted an audience. Other guys wandering around in the bushes stopped to watch — some just observing, others jerking off. A few guys obviously wanted to get in on the action, so they got closer and gathered in behind Nathan. After a few minutes, the tall guy pulled out of Nathan to let someone else have a turn. Nathan knew what was going on so he kept his knee raised and handed the next guy the lube. Nathan didn’t even turn around to look at the next guy — he so enjoyed the attention he was getting that it didn’t matter who was fucking him at this point. One after another, the guys in behind him took their turn — all five of them. Eventually, the tall slender guy went back to fucking Nathan and orgasmed. Nathan’s eyes lit up in joy. That was enough for him for now. Nathan lowered his knee down to signal that his ass had had enough. He grabbed his lube and put it back in his little shoulder bag. He then brought out his tissues, used one to wipe the lube off his ass, and stuck it back in his bag. He yanked up his shorts, came towards me with an ecstatic smile, and we made our way back towards the beach.  This is what Nathan adores about summer in Vancouver. Public sex, in nature, in the warm weather, with lots and lots of men. It seems rather harmless, and like a lot of fun. That’s why I was shocked to hear of the Toronto police crackdown on public cruising in an Etobicoke park that saw 75 men and two women charged. The police strategy involved methods I thought were long past, including entrapment. [[asset:image:308539 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["A Toronto police car parked at Etobicoke\u2019s Marie Curtis Park on Nov 19, 2016, after the news of the sting broke."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] As a west coaster, I don’t know Toronto very well, but between this sting, the “militaristic” new police cars, and the crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, I’d say we’re witnessing a very wide divergence in the attitudes of law enforcement in Toronto compared to Vancouver. Not only has Vancouver led the way on harm reduction (from opening safe injection sites to regulating weed dispensaries), but our police force hasn’t wasted resources on a park sex crackdown in more than a decade. In fact, in a 2003 interview with Xtra West, Inspector Dave Jones from the Vancouver Police Department said police would not interfere with or launch a sting into park sex as long as the men are discreet. I think Nathan sets a fine example of how to cruise discreetly and consensually for maximum enjoyment with minimal impact on other members of the community. Cruising and sex don’t happen just anywhere at Wreck Beach (or in the trails of Stanley Park for that matter);  they take place in carefully defined locations that unsuspecting families are unlikely to stumble upon. Wreck Beach may be a bit exceptional since it’s clothing-optional, so a bunch of men hanging around naked is not unusual, even for non-sexual purposes. But even here, the sex itself is discreet. The main sex area is in the bushes behind the Oasis, a small riverside beach midway between Trails 6 and 7. Men can fuck in these bushes, while hikers on the east-west trail won’t see a thing. Another spot east of Trail 7 isn’t a hiking route, so the only people along the beaches there are gay men. Having discreet locations, away from public view, can strike a balance to  make space for public cruising without offending the sensibilities of other members of the public. [[asset:image:308533 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Wreck Beach is a popular cruising spot with discreet trails into the bushes off the beach."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Guilhem Vellut\/Flickr\/Creative Commons"]}]] Another way to minimize the impact on the larger community is by taking care of the park after using it for cruising. Nathan could’ve thrown his tissue on the ground after wiping his ass but he didn’t. He put it away in his little sex purse until he could throw it away in a garbage can. I don’t think the general public should have to deal with large amounts of trash, such as tissues, lube, condoms, as the by-product of sexual encounters. Cruising rules should match camping rules: bring out what you bring in. Consent is another way to minimize harm, both for cruisers and others in the park. Let’s be honest: consent in the context of gay sex has always been a bit different. Rather than “yes means yes,” the traditional rule has always been “no means no.” Nathan didn’t verbally consent, particularly to the other four men that fucked him. But he used his body to indicate yes or no. He kept his knee raised, waiting for the next cock. He handed the second guy lube (though not the other guys as his ass was wet enough after the first two guys). And when he’d had enough? He put his knee down and pulled his shorts up. All the guys there understood those cues perfectly, and respected them. Watching Nathan, I saw just how public cruising can be done — joyfully and safely. I think Toronto police should ask some gay community organizations for lessons in public cruising etiquette, to minimize harm. If police are unsure how cruising works, we can offer them a ride along to introduce them to the ins and outs. If Toronto police could agree to a few rules on when they’ll leave men seeking sex alone and when to potentially intervene, our gay community organizations could distribute and post guidelines in cruising areas to note which locations are considered safe and discreet,  how to dispose of waste, and, most importantly, how to seek consent in the context of cruising. Toronto activists probably have their work cut out for them. It seems the Toronto approach to any illegal activity is to crack down hard. It’s part of their police history, one they ironically just apologized for. Still, I hope LGBT and other civil rights groups can work with police there — and I hope police will sincerely listen and implement their suggestions on how to approach law enforcement when it comes to cruising. Otherwise, these types of issues will continue to crop up, wasting public resources and needlessly ruining people’s lives. In the meantime, I wish more guys were like Nathan and the guys he played with in the bushes. They were discreet, he tidied up his garbage and they all knew how to interpret consent in an unusual but very gay context. As for Nathan, he’s an avid traveller, but I notice he always seems to stay put in Vancouver in the summer. I think he relishes more than just the warm weather.

Five reasons Canadian queers should demand the repeal of Canada’s secret police law

2 December 2016 - 3:47pm
Bill C-51, the sweeping legislation passed last year by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and dubbed “Canada’s Patriot Act” is up for consultation, and Canadian queers should do our part to send it to the scrap heap. Our right to privacy is the right to be who we are — and from RCMP surveillance to bathhouse raids to the notorious Fruit Machine, queer Canadians have too often ended up on the business end of state snooping. From a queer perspective, there are many reasons to oppose mass surveillance. Here are just five:   C-51 allows for targeting of peaceful protestors Historically, queers in Canada have had to protest for their rights, but Bill C-51 gives the government broad power to surveille protesters and any group they deem a security threat. What qualifies as a “security threat” is open to wide interpretation, and may depend on prevailing political sensibilities. Protests for queer rights could, under C-51, justify government surveillance of queer activists.   C-51 chills freedom of expression Queers have a history of speaking up and telling tough truths to power, often in ways that offend the moral majority. But under C-51 certain types of speech could be considered threats to national security. Vague, sweeping language gives the government leeway to decide what is and is not a threat, and label free expression as “terrorism.” Queer people, such as those at Vancouver’s Little Sister’s bookstore, have fought important battles for free speech in Canada; C-51 could make those battles more difficult.   Personal data collection pries into queer lives Mass data collection undermines individual privacy on a national scale. In a recent ruling, the Federal Court of Canada found that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, illegally amassed and retained huge amounts of metadata on innocent Canadians — for a decade. We know metadata can lay bare a whole life — your political affiliation, sexual orientation and medical conditions can all be revealed by piecing together whom you speak to, when and for how long. C-51 open queer Canadians up to profiling and targeting by the government.   Government agencies are allowed to distribute private information without a warrant C-51 gives government agencies such as Health Canada the freedom to share information with the RCMP without a warrant. Health records, in particular, contain sensitive data that have little to do with security, but could be used maliciously to out, harass or blackmail queer people. Sharing this information between 17 different government agencies makes it vulnerable to leaks and exposure by criminal actors, with no guarantee it will be used for its intended purpose.   Queer Canadians have historically been the targets of surveillance Canada has a dark history of using the state security apparatus to target queers. Gary Kinsman and Patricia Gentile describe in their book The War on Canadian Queers how Canada’s queer community has been subjected to increased surveillance, illegal searches, and even blackmail. This should be an important reminder why queers should be wary of unaccountable government officials. The current public consultations on national security are our best opportunity to not only eliminate the negative impacts of C-51, but put positive privacy protections in place to keep Canadians safe. Registering your opinion through OpenMedia’s pro-privacy tool at SaveOurSecurity.ca is an action you can take right now to ensure that our rights are not eroded by this overreaching legislation. For further reading on C-51, you can check out this handy primer, Everything you always wanted to know about Bill C-51, created by Openmedia.ca.

When your client wants to take drugs during sex (Part 2)

2 December 2016 - 12:47pm
We hadn’t discussed it, but he tells me that he wants me to be the one to inject him.  He can’t do it himself, he says. The sight of blood makes him nauseated.  I grew up in a medical household, reading anatomy textbooks and watching videos of surgeries over grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ve given injections before and I’m not squeamish with blood. But right now, I’m freaking out a bit. It’s not a discomfort with the body that’s making me nervous. It’s the reality that he’s about to pump a quantity of chemicals cooked up in a bathtub directly into his arm and that if something goes wrong, I could be held responsible for administering the substance.  I just shake my head and tell him to go ahead, while I flop back onto the bed. Once the syringe is ready, I pull up a chair next to him, wrap the tourniquet around his arm, find the vein and clean the area with an alcohol compress.  He turns his head away while I inject and I place a cotton ball over the point while I withdraw the needle, closing his elbow to stop the flow of blood.  My experiences with chemicals have always been energizing. Maybe it’s because I associate them with warehouse parties and techno beats, but they just made me want to dance. With him, they seem to dispel his nervous energy, leaving him relaxed and calm.  He returns to the bed, this time on his knees with his ass in the air and I mount him from behind. The whole thing is strangely normal. If I hadn’t shot him up myself, I’d have no idea he was high. We continue fucking rhythmically for a while, me alternately pounding his ass hard, then leaning forward to kiss his neck and play with his nipples. I’d always envisioned PnP sex (party and play sex, also known as chemsex) to be sort of violent and shaky. But he just seems very relaxed. I’m getting close to coming so I reach around to grab his dick. It’s completely flaccid, either because of the drugs or his nerves or both. I assume he’s not even going to try to come, so I flip him over, straddle his face and jerk off into his mouth. There’s a thing that happens sometimes with guys when they orgasm, where whatever comfort that has been built up suddenly shatters and they return to the shy, awkward state they arrived in. In this case, it seems my orgasm does that to him.  With drops of semen still on his face, he turns away from me staring, at the wall. I cuddle up next to him, trying to make it feel more intimate.  He doesn’t pull away but his openness is gone. After a few minutes, he quietly gets up, returns to the desk and begins getting dressed. He carefully puts all his items back in his bag and puts on his shoes. It feels odd that we’ve just shared this moment of intimacy, and now it feels so cold and disconnected. I walk towards him, gather him in my arms and press my lips to his. He kisses back with his eyes closed. When he opens them, he crosses my gaze for a fraction of a second, before returning his eyes to the floor.  “You have to understand — it’s very difficult for me,” he says. “That’s the reason for the drugs. I can’t be with a man otherwise.” My impulse is to try to start a processing session but he needs to leave in less than 10 minutes to meet his wife, so I decide it’s better not to initiate something I’m unlikely to finish and leave him more fucked up than before. I see him to the door and send him on his way with a peck on the cheek and a pat on his ass. He pauses in the hall for a moment and I think he’s going to say something. But he just turns and walks toward the elevators without looking back. I flop onto the bed and start clicking through the TV channels until I stumble on the Colin Farrell remake of Total Recall.  Usually the moments right after a session, when I’m alone with my drying jizz and a stack of bills, are among the most contented in my life. But right now I feel conflicted.  I gave him what he wanted but somehow I don’t feel like I gave him what he needed. It’s not my job to fix people psychologically — I’m here to offer sexual satisfaction.  But when I encounter someone who seems so clearly in need of therapy, I can’t help but feel like it’s my job to reach out to them. My limited view of the PnP scene had led me to believe certain things about the guys who were in it. I had the idea that once they tried sex with drugs it was just never the same without them. But now I see that’s not always the case. With George, drugs weren’t about lowering his inhibitions and heightening his pleasure — drugs were a way to temporarily erase the crippling shame that prevented him from even beginning to access his desires.  It’s sad to see someone settle for temporarily escaping guilt in lieu of true self-acceptance. At the same time, he’s managed to find a way to explore his sexuality. However conflicted he might be, maybe I should be happy for him? Sex and drugs have never gone together for me. But for other people, they literally can’t be separated.

The life cycle of a gay refugee in Vancouver

2 December 2016 - 12:47pm
Butterflies are beautiful creatures. Their journey from caterpillar to cocoon to colourful butterfly illustrates the beauty and dynamism of life. Like butterflies, refugees to Canada have their own evolution, one I’ve experienced first-hand living for the last two years in Vancouver. I think we should respect that evolution. An assumption that gets on my nerves is that gay refugees will shed their old skin, covered in scars from the homophobic communities they left behind, and replace it with a new colourful skin that fits into Canadian society. I can tell you this is not true; this change takes time, effort and painful transformation. This is not because Canadian LGBT society is not welcoming, or because refugees don’t want to integrate. It’s a simple fact of life: Change is not easy. Immigration is a sudden change, and accepting and celebrating it requires time and hard work, from both the newcomer and society. I believe this change happens in three stages, just like the transformation of a butterfly.   The honeymoon phase Like a newborn caterpillar, we devour everything joyfully. Vancouver looked delicious and inviting to me, and I immersed myself in every corner of it. When I first arrived in Vancouver, my motto was simple. “Everything is awesome,” I would say to friends and people I met in the streets. Everything indeed looked awesome, inviting, beautiful and worth exploring. Every cultural event felt stunning and brand new, and every person I met felt special and interesting and unique. The bars felt open and welcoming, the streets felt wide and safe, and the people felt caring and dear. It wasn’t love at first sight; it was marriage at first sight. I met Vancouver, moved in with the city, married it, and was ready to have its babies. But we can all imagine what such a marriage looks like down the road. I adored Vancouver, but not from an authentic love for its people, streets, restaurants or gay scene. It was because the city was different from everything I’d ever experienced before; it was different and new and safe and welcoming and open. A gay refugee needs the community’s support to recognize this, and to also recognize that it’s not the full truth. Like anywhere in the world, living in Vancouver can be difficult and challenging. It’s not always rainbows and parties and yummy food and hangouts with friends. There is the search for elusive work, the unaffordable housing market, the transit mess and the challenge of finding friends here, for example. While life here may be 100 times better than living in the homophobic communities they come from, it still has its own unique challenges.   The cocoon phase This phase seems to occur at different times for different people, but all the LGBT refugees I have spoken to say they have gone through it at one time or another. At some point, we all recognize that we face challenges: finding meaningful work, building authentic relationships, finding housing, or dating. These are the same challenges most Vancouverites grow up facing, but instead of handling it one step at a time, the gay refugee must do them all within the first couple of months after arrival. Why would we put this much pressure on the refugees to adjust? Sometimes, it’s based on need: we need to live, eat, drink, buy clothes and find ourselves a good home. Sometimes, it’s a drive: I needed to feel like a useful member of the community. But this is where refugees sometimes feel stuck; it’s extremely challenging to update your resume to fit the Vancouver job market, find the right home for yourself, find friends, and learn to be a part of the community. Change is not easy; a billion changes at the same time are almost impossible. Don’t forget, the refugee is doing all of this while still missing home. Because home is not simply homophobia, it’s also family, friends, lovers, streets you know, people you see every day. All gay refugees escape homophobia and transphobia but they also leave behind so much, and lose so much to become their true selves. Some refugees might retreat, might feel like they don’t want to go out and would rather hide at home. Some might abuse drugs and alcohol to hush the anxiety, some might face depression and cultural shock.  A gay refugee needs the community’s support in this case, not its judgment. Don’t tell them to get over it, or that “happiness comes from within.” Don’t make them feel guilty for the natural feelings they have, or deny them the right to this process. Help them overcome these challenges, support them in finding meaningful work and help them find them volunteer work while they wait. Help them get in touch with other community members from their own backgrounds, and support them to find peace through counselling.   The authentic love phase The refugee has made it through the hard times, and learned a thing or two about their own strengths and abilities. They’re ready to be an equal member of the community, and to become Canadian. The refugee loves the city, not because it’s better compared to their lives before, but because they love that sushi restaurant, adore that street corner where they hang out with friends and have walked so many times over the rainbow crosswalk that it has become normal to them. They are in love with a city that means something authentic to them, not because they’re forced to love it instead of their homeland. The community’s job now is to accept that the refugee has finally came to the other side of their journey, and to regard them as an equal. Their refugee past is gone; they’re now part of society, and similar to you in every way. They don’t need to be grateful for being here anymore because it’s their safe haven; they can be grateful to be here because — like other Canadians — they truly love Canada. Your job now is to step back and let them love this city and this immcountry truly, passionately and without expectations. 

Federal government to review Canada’s tough HIV laws

1 December 2016 - 6:45pm
The Canadian federal government says it will attempt to reverse one of the world’s toughest legal systems for people with HIV/AIDS, a move advocates say would be a major change in how Canada deals with the virus.  “Just as treatment has progressed, the criminal justice system must adapt to better reflect the current scientific evidence on the realities of this disease,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a Dec 1, 2016 statement for World AIDS Day. The government is considering creating prosecutorial guidelines, which could ask judges to consider less severe sentences for people charged in  HIV non-disclosure cases, based on the real risk of transmission and the accused’s intention in the case. That would be a major change for a legal system that has given harsh sentences to people living with HIV who have exposed others to the virus — regardless of their intent or whether the disease was actually transmitted. “I intend to work with my provincial and territorial counterparts, affected communities and medical professionals to examine the criminal justice system’s response to non-disclosure of HIV status,” Wilson-Raybould says in the statement. HIV/AIDS organizations say more than 170 people in Canada have been charged with criminal offences for failing to disclose their HIV status, with some facing murder charges. In October, the executive director of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario said he’s heard other countries ridicule Canadian courts at global conferences. “Canada remains a world leader in prosecuting people with HIV,” said Ryan Peck, during a panel discussion on LGBT issues that included activists, scholars and parliamentarians. “It provides a disincentive for people to get tested in the first place.” [[asset:image:308542 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the AIDS Committee of Ottawa in temporarily raising a red ribbon flag on Parliament Hill, in front of Centre Block on December 1, 2016."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Dylan C Robertson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomed Wilson-Raybould’s statement, noting that more than 70 prominent Canadian medical experts called for a major legal reform in a spring 2014 statement. “It is very important to see this is finally recognized as an issue by the federal government,” Cécile Kazatchkine, a senior policy analyst, told Daily Xtra. “ The law needs to catch up with science. Those are concerns we have been voicing for years.” In addition to its announcement on HIV criminalization, the government marked World AIDS Day with a slight boost to funding to tackle the disease, and a brief ceremony where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the AIDS Committee of Ottawa in raising a temporary red ribbon flag on Parliament Hill. “I encourage every Canadian to get tested,” Trudeau said, adding it was a matter of “being aware of and taking care of our own sexual health.” He also took aim at HIV stigma, saying that “men, women and trans persons deserve to be respected.”Health minister Jane Philpott spent the morning taking a rapid-HIV test at Ottawa’s Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. She later announced $3.5 million for biomedical and clinical research on the disease, as well as a national conference in February 2017 on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections like HIV and Hepatitis C. The federal government spends roughly $76 million each year on such research. Philpott came under fire this fall when changes to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s $26.4-million fund for HIV and hepatitis C organizations resulted in numerous previously-funded organizations losing their funding.  Philpott restored that funding until 2018, leading some groups and the Conservative opposition to demand long-term support.  Outside the House of Commons on Dec 1, Philpott said the February 2017 conference will look at “how we can support community agencies.” The government also unveiled its estimates on the roughly 75,000 Canadians living with HIV. According to their figures: 80 percent of HIV-infected persons know their status 76 percent of those diagnosed are on treatment 89 percent of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Last year, the Liberal government endorsed a 2014 UN AIDS plan known as the 90-90-90 targets, which aim at reaching 90 percent in all three of the above categories by 2020.

Out in Ottawa: December 2016

1 December 2016 - 3:45pm
Thursday, Dec 1 Gay Soulmate! Wanted Book Launch Ottawa author Charles Seems honours World AIDS Day with the launch of his new semi-autobiographical book. The second in a trilogy, Gay Soulmate Wanted! picks up where The Road to Dalhousie left off. The launch includes the auction of the painting which the book cover is based on, a work by Claude Chapdelaine.  5pm. The Cross, 360 Elgin St. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:308509 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Charles Seems\u2019 new book, Gay Soulmate Wanted! launches on Dec 1, 2016, to honour World AIDS Day."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Robert Labine"]}]] Friday, Dec 2 Queers and Beers: Naughty or Nice Edition  Queers of every stripe “queer” the city by having a few drinks — and dumping heaps of glitter — in typically-straight microbreweries and pubs. Hosted by the newly-minted non-profit organization Queering613, this edition of the recurring event is holiday-themed. It’s a good opportunity to enjoy old friends and meet new ones.  6–10pm. Lowertown Brewery, 73 York St. facebook.com/queering613 [[asset:image:308512 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Organized by Queering613, this holiday edition of Queers and Beers is held on Dec 2, 2016, at Lowertown Brewery."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Bailey Cook"]}]] Sunday, Dec 4 CGOGMC Tradition 2.0  Don’t fight it. Just give in to the hokey, but strangely comforting stuff of Christmas. And what could be more Christmassy than a bunch of gay men singing at you and swaying gently? The Ottawa-based gay men’s choir, now celebrating its 30th year, presents a concert of both traditional and modern holiday choral favourites.  4pm. Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 310 St Patrick St. cgogmc.ca  [[asset:image:308515 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["CGOGMC sings holiday favourites on Dec 4, 2016 at Saint Brigid\u2019s Centre for the Arts."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Robert Honey"]}]] Cabatinée  It’s a matinée cabaret — get it? In celebration of The Lookout’s 20th anniversary, this party from Black Swan Events is 1996-themed. The entertainment includes drag performances and DJ Jungle Jen spinning hits from the ’70s to the ’90s. To reserve a table or for more information, contact blackswanevent2@gmail.com.  4–9pm. The Lookout, 41 York St. thelookoutbar.com   Tuesday, Dec 6  Gaymer Night at Swizzles: Monthly Munchkin While everyone else is out doing drugs and racing souped-up jalopies and voting for Trump, some wholesome queers gather to play several versions of the Munchkin game — Munchkin Legends Deluxe, Adventure Time-themed Munchkin and Munchkin Steampunk. The event is in a bar, but there’s no obligation to drink.  6:30–10pm. Swizzles, 246 Queen St. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:308518 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Gaymer Night takes place on Dec 6, 2016 at Swizzles."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy JP Rousseau"]}]] Queer and Present Danger Tour A bunch of queer comedians are touring the country to spread laughter and joy. The tour, which includes many stops in many cities, stops off in Ottawa for a couple days. The line-up includes such luminaries as DeAnne Smith, Chantel Marostica, Jess Beaulieu and Ashley Moffat. Billing warns of adult language, so it should be good.   Runs until Wednesday, Dec 7,  8:30pm. Yuk Yuk’s, 292 Elgin St. yukyuks.com [[asset:image:308521 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Chantel Marostica is one of several queer comedians on the Queer and Present Danger tour."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy April Plett"]}]] Thursday, Dec 8 Stonewall Wilde’s Jingle Mingle This gathering is a great chance to get a glimpse of the new Stonewall Wilde’s. The result of the merger of the sex store Wilde’s and the book and art store After Stonewall, this new business is a 2-floor shopping experience. Many of the artists whose work is for sale in the store will be on hand for the evening, as well as sweets and punch.  6pm. Stonewall Wilde’s, 370 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook. Thursday, Dec 15 Hard Cover Book Club Ah yes, gays and Christianity — will they ever get along? Jeff Chu’s book Does Jesus Really Love Me? is about faith, politics, sexuality and growing up in Christian America. For this book club meeting, men gather to discuss their reflections on the book, socialize and eat cookies (PS, bring cookies).  6:30pm. Centretown CHC, 420 Cooper St. aco-cso.ca/gayzonegaie   Saturday, Dec 17 Bears Christmas Dinner The bears are having an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner for the holidays and everyone is invited (provided you like bears and know how to eat a lot). It’s roast beef, leg of lamb, pork, turkey and ham! All the animals get to go in our bellies today — scurvy be damned. To reserve a spot at one of the bear tables, contact oursottawabears@gmail.com.   7pm. Tuckers Marketplace, 61 York St. oursottawabears.ca   Oh My Jam: Ugly Sweater Soirée And it wouldn’t be Christmas without something being ugly sweater-themed. The Queer Mafia, a non-profit community organization, hosts an inclusive ugly sweater dance party for the holidays. It features DJs Craig Dominic and D-Luxx Brown spinning hip hop, R&B, dancehall and reggae. Ugly sweaters encouraged.  10pm–2am. Babylon Nightclub, 317 Bank St. facebook.com/thequeermafia [[asset:image:308527 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The Queer Mafia hosts an inclusive holiday-themed ugly sweater dance party on Dec 17, 2016 at Babylon Nightclub featuring DJ Craig Dominic (pictured)."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Rob Ven"]}]] Saturday, Dec 31 G-Spot Events: New Years  For many in the city’s queer community, this event is already shaping up to be the must-attend New Year's’ Eve party. It includes drag by Zelda Marshall, and burlesque by Lana Lovecakes (and some surprise guests). DJ Johnny Roll provides the soundtrack. Space is limited, so get your tickets early. Food and champagne available. 8pm–2am. Live! on Elgin, 220 Elgin St. For more info, visit Facebook.

Out in Toronto: Dec 1–7, 2016

1 December 2016 - 3:45pm
Thursday, Dec 1 Black Boys  The latest production at the ol’ queer theatre is billed as “an exploration of queer male blackness.” The play depicts the efforts of three black men to understand themselves, each other and their places in the world. It is performed by Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Thomas Olajide and Tawiah Ben M’Carthy.  Runs until Sunday, Dec 11, 2016, various showtimes. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com  [[asset:image:308503 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Black Boys is about \u201can exploration of queer male blackness,\u201d and takes place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until Sunday, Dec 11, 2016."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Dahlia Katz"]}]] Toronto World AIDs Day Vigil World AIDS Day is set aside each year as a time to remember those taken from us by HIV/AIDS and to give thought to those still affected. The choir of St Anne’s and the LGBTQ community choir Singing OUT come together for a song-filled candlelight vigil. Everyone is welcome to attend.  7:30pm. St Anne’s Anglican Church, 270  Gladstone Ave. For more info, visit Facebook.   Saturday, Dec 3 A Very Chris-terical Christmas Cabaret  Each Christmas, a jolly man comes to town to give something special to each and every one of us. His name: Chris Tsujiuchi. The high-kicking musician brings together a variety of his friends for a holiday-themed cabaret. He is joined by Kevin Wong, Anthony Rinaldi, Colin Asuncion, and others for an evening of music and comedy. Runs until Sunday, Dec 4, 7pm. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com [[asset:image:308506 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Musician Chris Tsujiuchi and his friends come together for a holiday-themed night of songs and laughter at Buddies. "],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Phil Crozier"]}]] The Michael Hughes Christmas Special  The 2016 Broadway World Toronto Award nominee Michael Hughes is obsessed with Judy Garland. Inspired by The Judy Garland Christmas Special of 1963, his Christmas cabaret promises to have not only an assortment of everyone’s favourite holiday tunes, but lots of stories, laughter and bizarre Hughes family traditions. 8:30pm. The Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Ln. youngcentre.ca    Toronto Queer Slowdance: Winter Formal Edition Want to know what the best time of year to go and dance with strangers is? Flu season. Billed as “high school with a happy ending,” this dance all about slow songs and is popular with queers of all types. Designated dancers are on hand to coax out the wallflowers. Fancy outfits are encouraged, but not required.  10pm–2am. Dovercourt House, 805 Dovercourt Rd. For more info, visit Facebook.

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