Ottawa Xtra

Morgane Oger says she’s unlikely to defeat Sam Sullivan in final count

11 May 2017 - 11:11pm
After a rollercoaster of an election night, when at times she seemed poised to become the first transgender person elected to Canadian public office, Morgane Oger is coming to terms with the fact this is not likely going to be the case. The preliminary election results in Vancouver-False Creek show BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan ahead of the NDP’s Oger by 560 votes. Although absentee ballots have yet to be counted, Oger acknowledges it would be a long shot for those votes to sway the election in her favour. “Indications are that Sam Sullivan won this election. And we will really know on the 22nd [of May] by how much,” she says. “We need to see what the final count is.” In an email to Xtra, Andrew Watson, communications manager for Elections BC, says his office estimates there were roughly 176,000 absentee ballots cast in this year’s election province-wide. It’s not known how many of those ballots were cast in Vancouver-False Creek. “We don’t have an electoral district breakdown yet but will publish one before final count starts on May 22,” Watson says. [[asset:image:309785 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger greets a supporter on her way to NDP headquarters on election night."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] In the wake of May 9’s preliminary results, Oger says she’s staying positive. Like their respective parties more broadly, the race between Oger and Sullivan was neck and neck for most of the night. One candidate would take the lead only to later be overtaken by the other. “I think I had every emotion. There was this elation that [our campaign] had worked, and then this horror as it went from ‘it worked’ to ‘it failed,’ and then relief that it worked and then dismay again,” she says. [[asset:image:309782 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger watches the tight race with supporters on election night."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] At 11pm, with just six ballot boxes remaining, Oger was leading by 48 votes. She and her team came to NDP headquarters preparing for what looked like victory. “At one point I was practicing my speech — and then at another point I was looking at the numbers and it said the votes were 100 percent counted,” she says. But despite the outcome so far in Sullivan’s favour, Oger says her campaign can be proud of how close she came to winning as an NDP candidate in a Liberal stronghold. “This riding was considered almost un-winnable,” she says. “It means finally in Canada a transgender person can — if properly supported and properly engaging with the experience required to have credibility as a candidate — a transgender person can take a fight to [an establishment] candidate.” [[asset:image:309779 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger heads to NDP headquarters on election night."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Oger attributes the closeness of the race to public fatigue with the BC Liberals. She also suggests that her work on a broad range of issues, such as education, and her background in the tech sector made her relatable to a larger constituency. She believes her advocacy work on trans and human rights issues alone would not have been enough to propel her to office. “It’s important to appreciate that being an advocate for a tiny percentage of the population is not enough to get elected. One has to have done things that touch the mainstream,” she says. “This is what I encourage the transgender community and the LGBT community to do. Touch the mainstream. It’s the mainstream that elects you.” [[asset:image:309776 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger says she\u0027s staying positive as she waits for absentee ballots to be counted."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] She says it’s unclear what impact a series of transphobic flyers plastered throughout her riding may have had on her chances of being elected, but she describes them as “horrifying” and “destabilizing” to her campaign. “They forced us to focus on that some days. And that was detrimental, that harmed us,” she says, referring to time diverted to speaking with the police, filing a complaint with Elections BC, and crisis-management team meetings. She says the team was forced to cancel some engagements while dealing with the poster issue. “Cancelling an engagement within the last 10 days of an election — that has consequences.” Still, though neither Oger nor the other three openly trans candidates were elected May 9, Oger says this election has been groundbreaking. “I was very encouraged within our community to see the love and the hope,” she says. “I hope that everybody appreciates this was a major win for the transgender and the LGBT community, that we can be satisfied that anybody can run who’s credible.”

Out in Toronto: May 11–17, 2017

11 May 2017 - 2:11pm
Thursday, May 11 Strictly Ballroom: The Musical Based on the much-loved hit Australian film by Baz Luhrmann, this musical adaptation follows ballroom champ Scott Hastings, who gets himself disqualified from a major competition after busting some pretty sweet new moves. After his dance partner dumps him, he considers wallflower and amateur dancer Fran (“Just Fran”) to fill the role for the next competition — and finds love. Features classic songs from the film including Love is in the Air and Time After Time as well as new songs from artists such as Sia. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until June 25, 2017, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W. mirvish.com.    It’s All Tru Everything’s fine in the life of Kurt and Travis, a perfect gay couple, until one of them has unprotected sex with a stranger. Written and directed by Sky Gilbert, this new play explores such issues as the use of PrEP and the criminalization of HIV. The cast included the Dora Award–winning David Coomber. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, May 14, various showtimes. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com  [[asset:image:309677 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["David Coomber and Caleb Olivieri star in It\u2019s All Tru, which runs until May 14, 2017, at Buddies."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Seanna Kennedy"]}]] Contain/Collect  This month-long interdisciplinary art show and performance lab is all about queering history. Features talks, performances and work by more than 25 artists. Includes original pieces for sale by such artists as Ulisa Deskaj, Melissa Florence and Michael McGlennon. The event is run by Elephant in the Attic, a print gallery and design shop.   Runs until Sunday, May 14. 1544 Dundas St W. elephantintheattic.ca/contain-collect [[asset:image:309716 {"mode":"full","align":"null","field_asset_image_caption":["Contain\/Collect runs until May 14, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Marcela Boechat"]}]] Les Femmes: A Drag Burlesque Revue Draglesque (a performance style that combines drag and burlesque) lipsyncs, sashays and nipple tassel twirls its way to the village. This edition of a new recurring live show features performances by three sassy seductresses — Leelando, Scarlett Bobo and Juice Boxx. The night is hosted by Laura Desiree.  10:30pm–1:30am. Blyss, 504 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:309770 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Juice Boxx performs at Les Femmes: A Drag Burlesque Revue on May 11, 2017, at Blyss bar."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Juice Boxx"]}]] Friday, May 12 Cruising Season Ribbon Cutting with Queers Crash the Beat  Queers Crash the Beat, and organization formed in the wake of the police sting in Marie Curtis Park in fall 2016, celebrates the beginning of “cruising season” with a formal ribbon cutting in a park. The event takes place in one of the city’s most popular places for the carnally-minded to meet up on summer nights: Queen’s Park.  2–3pm. Queen’s Park. For more info, visit Facebook.   Trade’s Fourth Anniversary Wigs and Jocks Party  Guys come together (pun intended) to celebrate a sex-positive dance party’s fourth anniversary. DJs Scooter McCreight and Joshua Reid supply the soundtrack and San Francisco performance artist Grace Towers provides the entertainment. Includes dance floor, dark room (bow-chicka-wow-wowww) and patio. The venue is not accessible.  10pm–3am. The Black Eagle, 457 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Saturday, May 13 Massive Presents: The TCAF Queer Mixer  This laid-back event is all about the queer side of the 2017 Toronto Comic Arts Festival. A screening of footage from the film Queer Japan is followed by mixing and mingling with some of the queer comic creators involved with this year’s festival. The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or the accessible washroom door). 7–10pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Wednesday, May 17 Queer Progress Featuring Tim McCaskell  Tim McCaskell reads passages from his latest book, Queer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism, and discusses queer history in Canada and the work of Body Politic (a now-defunct publication once owned by Pink Triangle Press). The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or the accessible washroom door). 7:30–9pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.

Out in Vancouver: May 11–17, 2017

10 May 2017 - 11:10pm
Thursday, May 11 Life Drawing Straight friends never understand when I tell them where I go, what I do or who I do for fun. Take this night, for example. While they’re at a strip club or watching sports and filling their bellies with 23 cent wings, I’m at a male-only drawing session where the model and the artists are naked as the day they were born. Feel like dropping your gear and letting it all hang out? Just bring your sketch pad, pencils and a towel — hopefully just to cover the jewels. Brought to you by Vancouver Men In Leather. 7–9:30pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/VancouverMenInLeather/.   Eurovision 2017 Viewing Party The first time I watched a Eurovision contest, the drag queen Conchita Wurst kept her beard for the performance. Not just the stray facial hairs like Robyn Graves, but a full-on beard. Alma B Itches must have watched that show too, because looked what happened. There are more drag queens with furry faces than there are lipstick lesbians. Who knows what new trends this three-night party will start. Deluxe Edition Is holding viewing parties of the Kiev 2017 contest tonight, Friday and Saturday, with two big screens. 7pm all nights. 1181, 1181 Davie St. No cover. deluxeeditionyvr.com/.   The Hero Show It seems like comedy nights are popping up faster than Conni Smudge at a dildo factory. Not that there’s anything wrong with either; everyone needs a good laugh. I am talking about the comedy. Or am I? The Hero Show is back for another hit night of solo sketch comedy featuring the best of the best our city has to offer. Hosted by Cameron MacLeod, joined by Ryan Steele, Jenny Rube, Kyle Fines, Graham Clark and many others. If you’re lucky, you may even sit beside the famous Amy Goodmurphy, who goes to rate Ryan’s performance. 8:30pm. The China Cloud, 524 Main St. $10 admission at door. facebook.com/events/409877722729472/   Friday, May 12 Sweet & Sour There are two ways you can get me to go out: the promise of naked men, or a stop at a Chinese restaurant. At this night, Kendall Gender, Nate Fader, Guilherme Babilonia and DJ Nick Bertossi bring you an evening of music, men, and hopefully Chinese take-away. 7pm–3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Partial proceeds to the DMS.  facebook.com/xyvancouver/.   The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin I grew up in the time Armistead Maupin wrote about in Tales of the City. Unfortunately I was in Vancouver, not San Francisco, so I didn’t experience half the fun or sexual excitement. Watch Maupin tell his story in his own words, in this film by Jennifer M Kroot. A natural born raconteur, Maupin talks about his first sexual experience, and then bursts into the torchy standard, “Is That All There Is?” Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure. Part of the DOXA Film Festival. 9pm. Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. Tickets $11–$15 online at doxafestival.ca/film/untold-tales-armistead-maupin.   Queen Please Joan-E’s monthly hit night is more like a trip to Las Vegas than Vancouver. And by Vegas, I mean the grittier, dirtier, pornier part of the city. Sometimes that broad could make a trucker blush, and tonight her partner in crime is her drag daughter Valynne Vile. See if the apple doesn’t fall far from the big bush. Always a fun night, but don’t bring granny. 9:30pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Cover $5 at door. junctionpub.com   Saturday, May 13 Night of 1000—or less—Stars A night of entertainment to celebrate Christopher Gudgeon’s launch of The Encyclopedia of Lies, as well as to fundraise for two VCC Scholarships in memory of Gudgeon's son and foster son, Keating Gudgeon and Jess Nichol. Craig Northey, Nathan Rogers, Yasuko Than and many more will perform. 6–9pm. Vancouver Community College Auditorium, 1155 E Broadway. Tickets by donation and info at eventbrite.ca.   Red Always a smash hit and a great fundraiser for the essential Positive Living BC, this event features an all-star cast of local Illusionists, dancers, models, designers, fashion retailers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and much more. All are uniting to support Positive Living’s 5,700 HIV-positive members across BC. 6pm–12am. Harbour Event Centre, 750 Pacific Blvd. Tickets $60 at redvancouver.ca. facebook.com/events/1847203725501373/.   Boots & Buzzcuts Where else can you go to get both a buzzcut and your boots shined at the same time? Hell, if there were someone giving bikini waxes, you could just lay there and come out a new man. Three bootblacks in attendance — Pup Figaro, Bootblack Everett, and Ariss Bootblack — will treat your leathers and give them some much needed TLC. Marshall and Reuben from the Undercroft Barber Shop will also be there to provide buzzcuts and fades for those needing a trim in time for spring. There will also be hot demos throughout the night, including a forced-shave scene and erotic bootblacking. Brought to you by Vancouver Men In Leather. 8–11pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. Cover is free if in gear. Otherwise $5 at the door. vancouvermeninleather.ca/.   Fetish Sex-Trava-Ganza Can you believe this group has been going strong for 16 years of fetish entertainment? Sin City is Vancouver's longest-running, groundbreaking, bar-raising, award-winning fetish night. Featuring guest performer Mimi Cherry from Montreal, Melody Mangler and lots more. A dungeon play area, three DJs, play gear, and fetish performances make this one unforgettable party. Well, that and the rope burns you’ll have in the morning. 9pm–2am. The Imperial, 319 Main St. Tickets $30 at the door or online. facebook.com/events/620952984720061/.   Sunday, May 14 Legends What do former empresses do? They still get dolled up and work their asses off to entertain us. Jaylene Tyme is a former Empress of Vancouver and a master of illusion, recreating incredible looks including Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey and Tina Turner. Joining her are Mandy Kamp and that cart-wheeler about town Carlotta Gurl. 8–11pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $5. facebook.com/xyvancouver/.   Monday, May 15 Pack a Condom Want to volunteer? Here’s a spot with hot men, condoms and food. So if you don’t show up, don’t use the excuse that you’re allergic to latex. I said you were packing them, not testing them. Here’s a terrific way to give back to the community. Help cram, stuff, and pack condoms and lube into tight little packages. You must be good at that by now. 6–9pm. Health Initiative for Men (HIM) office, 1033 Davie St. checkhimout.ca/ai1ec_event/condom-packaging-party-14/.   Tuesday, May 16 Pleasuring Prostates After a long weekend of being prodded, scratched by unkempt fingernails, and hit like a nail — if they even know how to find it — isn’t it time for your prostate was pampered? In this live demo-based workshop by Redrobin, you’ll explore anal and prostate play on men. You can expect to hear about safety, toys and tools, getting over fears and shame, methods, tips and tricks for solo play and partnered play. Did you catch the part about the live demo? 7:30pm. The Art of Loving, 369 West Broadway. Please register 24 hours beforehand at theartofloving.ca. Tickets $50.   Stage Time: Open Improv Jam Two great shows, Light and Dirty Little Secrets, are holding a night to showcase even more talent, including yours. Play along with your improv hosts in randomly selected teams. Come play with randoms, vets, newbies, and everyone in between. If you’re an improviser, come and jam, or just come to watch and laugh.  8–9:15pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No cover, donations collected at the end. facebook.com/events/104672393433504/

BC election shows no gains in LGBT representation in the legislature

10 May 2017 - 8:10pm
Despite the record number of openly LGBT candidates running for seats in last night’s BC election, it looks like the same number of LGBT MLAs will head to the provincial legislature now as in 2013. Of the 15 queer candidates — including four openly trans candidates — running for office with BC’s three main political parties, only the NDP’s five gay and lesbian incumbents were elected on May 9, 2017. Jennifer Rice (North Coast), Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington), Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam), Nicholas Simons (Powell River-Sunshine Coast), and Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver-West End) were all re-elected by wide margins. The Green Party’s four LGBT candidates (Nicola Spurling, Ian Soutar, Veronica Greer, and Jennifer Holmes) and the BC Liberals’ two LGBT candidates (Nigel Elliott and Stacey Piercey) were all defeated. Three queer NDP candidates were defeated as well: Sue Powell, Stephanie Goudie and Gerry Taft. And the NDP’s groundbreaking trans candidate, Morgane Oger, was narrowly defeated in Vancouver-False Creek, where she lost to Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan by just 560 votes after a very tight race that saw the lead see-saw between them for hours as the ballot boxes were counted. It’s not yet known whether the final vote count (which includes as-yet-uncounted absentee ballots) will change the outcome in False Creek, or if the BC NDP will ask for a recount. Should a final vote count favour Oger, the NDP could increase its seats in the legislature to 42, bringing the party into a tie with the BC Liberals, who currently hold 43 seats to the NDP’s 41 seats. On May 10, BC’s lieutenant-governor asked the Liberals to lead the new minority government, but final counts and/or recounts are still expected in at least four ridings, including Courtenay-Comox where the NDP candidate won by just nine votes. The final count begins on May 22, according to Elections BC. Oger’s campaign has yet to speak or release a statement regarding Tuesday night’s results. If she is elected in the final count, she will become the first openly trans candidate elected in Canada. Mable Elmore, the lesbian MLA re-elected to a third term in Vancouver-Kensington, was at the NDP’s election night rally. When she spoke to Xtra, Oger had a slight lead over Sullivan, and Elmore said she was watching that race closely because it would be “incredible” for LGBT British Columbians to see an openly trans candidate elected for the first time in Canada.   [[asset:image:309764 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger, centre, looks hopeful as she watches the results come in for Vancouver-False Creek."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] As for her own victory, Elmore says she’s happy with the results and promises to keep serving her constituents. “My commitment, and John Horgan’s commitment and the BC NDP, we said we’re going to work on behalf people and that’s what our record is and that’s what I’m passionate about and that’s what I’ll be continuing to do,” she says. In Vancouver’s West End, gay MLA (and proud new father) Spencer Chandra Herbert was easily re-elected with 61.2 percent of the popular vote. “It feels incredible. In the West End, Coal Harbour, they spoke loud and they spoke clearly, and I’m incredibly humbled by their support,” he says.  This will be Chandra Herbert’s fourth term in the legislature, but he says he is not taking anything for granted. “I know I’ll just have to keep working harder every day and listen to all their voices.” Chandra Herbert defeated gay Liberal contender Nigel Elliott by 7,612 votes. Despite his re-election, Chandra Herbert says he experienced more homophobia on the campaign trail than in any previous election. “I faced a lot of hate on the streets. People screaming out hateful things, more so than in any campaign I’ve faced so far,” he says. Most of the invective had to do with him now being a father, he says, though he quickly notes that the number of constituents who congratulated him and his husband “speaks a lot to me about how incredibly accepting and loving the West End and Coal Harbour is. And that hate lost in a big way.” Chandra Herbert says a minority government in BC will hopefully mean a government that listens to LGBT people. “The Liberal majority government refused to listen to us until the public was so loud and deafening that they could do nothing but listen to us,” he says. “I hope that we’ll get a government that will actually listen to us without having to shout. That will act for us before we have to protest and that will be responsive to our needs.” Mike Farnworth says he’s “thrilled beyond belief” by his re-election in Port Coquitlam, where he won by his largest margin yet. He says having so many openly queer candidates “speaks to the fact that LGBTQ candidates are very much part of the mainstream political fabric of the province of British Columbia.” Farnworth acknowledges it’s not yet clear what the new government will look like, but says a Liberal minority government should mean “there’s going to be no backsliding on human rights issues and equality issues.” The BC Greens — having tripled their representation in the BC legislature from one member (leader Andrew Weaver) to three — now hold the balance of power between the Liberals and the NDP. They will likely play a pivotal role in what shape the new government will take. Ian Soutar, one of four LGBT candidates running with the BC Greens this election, placed third with 2,553 votes in his riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, where the Liberals’ Joan Isaacs narrowly beat the NDP by 170 votes (pending final counts). Soutar is pleased with the election’s overall outcome. He alleges that Coquitlam-Burke Mountain’s outgoing NDP MLA Jodie Wickens was unresponsive to LGBT issues. “But now because it’s something the Greens are interested in, like myself, I can totally see where that party would have to collaborate with us to make sure [changes] happen,” Soutar says. Although Green candidate Nicola Spurling did not win in her riding of Coquitlam-Maillardville, she increased her party’s percentage of the vote there from 8.7 percent in 2013 to 10.8 percent, and says she’s excited by the role the Greens will play going forward. “I think the fact that we’ve managed to grow while the NDP has also grown has really dispelled a lot of those vote-splitting myths,” she says. While the Liberals were neck and neck with the NDP in Coquitlam-Maillardville in 2013 (with both parties winning about 45 percent of the votes cast and the NDP narrowly taking the seat with just 41 votes), the Liberal candidate slipped to 38 percent of the vote this time and lost by nearly 2,500 votes. Spurling says it’s hard to know what impact being outed as a transgender candidate may have had on her run for office, but says the positive messages she received afterwards were the highlight of her campaign. “I received a ton of emails and Facebook messages from people across Canada and even around the world telling me how much they supported me, how inspired they were to see so many trans people in politics,” she says. “I think Morgane’s campaign is a real testament to how well LGBTQ2+ candidates can do . . . I’m hoping that people won’t be dissuaded from getting involved in politics just because we didn’t have a trans person elected in this election.”

Pride Toronto clears first hurdle to keep city funding

10 May 2017 - 8:10pm
Pride Toronto has easily cleared the first hurdle in order to keep its city funding. On May 8, 2017, Toronto city council’s economic development committee voted unanimously to continue providing Pride Toronto with a quarter-million dollar annual grant.  In what was a contentious meeting that centred around Pride Toronto’s ban on uniformed police officers marching in the parade, even skeptical city councillors voted to continue providing city funds for the festival. “We are the biggest festival in this country, we bring in the biggest dollar amount into this city,” Olivia Nuamah, executive director of Pride Toronto, told the committee. Councillor John Campbell has said he will introduce a motion at council to cut off the $260,000 grant that the City of Toronto gives to Pride each year unless police floats are included in the parade. That motion will come on May 24, at the full council meeting. But during the committee meeting, Nuamah made it clear that police could still march in the parade, as long as they weren’t uniformed, armed or accompanied by vehicles. “We have never said that the police are banned from our parade,” she said. “That is us as an organization responding to our constituents and suggesting to them that we respect what they think and feel.”  Nuamah gave a full-throated defence of the decision made by Pride’s membership to ban uniformed police from marching.  “We are a queer movement, that means our priority are the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “And in that, we think it’s important to listen to what every aspect of our community has to say.” Nuamah she also stressed that Pride and the Toronto Police Service are engaged in talks about how police will be able to participate in next year’s parade. “The most positive aspect of what has happened through this dialogue is the relationship between Pride Toronto and the Toronto Police Service,” she said. Bryn Hendricks, an LGBT community member who opposes excluding uniformed police from the parade, asked that city council pass a motion asking Pride Toronto to pay for the cost of the police protection for the parade. Currently, the Toronto police provide that for free. “It is hypocritical on one hand say that we do not want police marching in uniform,” he said, “but that we then are okay with having the police provide security at the same time.”  Earlier in the day, Mayor John Tory reiterated his support for funding Pride Toronto as long as the organization and the Toronto Police Service continue to discuss the role of police in the future. At the committee meeting, city staff confirmed that Pride Toronto’s stance on police participation doesn’t violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy. “I’m not supportive of any measures that will penalize an organization that is not breaking any city rules,” said Councillor Michael Thompson, who chairs the committee. Nuamah told reporters that the current threat to Pride’s funding is not the most serious threat the organization has faced. “Long before this issue, there was the fight against HIV and AIDS,  there was marriage equality, there have been many conversations about the relationship between the queer community and the police,” she said. “So no, we see this as just one in several issues that this community has had to fight for to ensure equal rights for everybody.”

How I almost ruined Christmas with a vibrating egg

10 May 2017 - 2:10pm
Christmas Eve. I’m at my mom’s house, drunk on tequila and high on pot cookies. In my hands, I’m holding a vibrating anal egg, a thoughtful Christmas gift from my roommate (I had stuffed it in my bag before I left the city, unsure if I would have an opportunity to give it a whirl over the holidays, but you know: better safe than sorry). There, with my family asleep and me the last one standing, alone in the basement, medicated and horny, opportunity is indeed a-knockin.’  I’m prepared, of course. I had brought lube, for ease, and a condom to pop the egg into, to simplify clean-up — I’m a planner. My family is snoring above me on all sides in different rooms, and before you can say “Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum,” there I am squatting on the basement floor with a hard-on, easing the lubed, egg-filled condom into my asshole. Merry Christmas to me. It pops inside, a thin black wire extending from my ass to the handset, which I immediately grab and fire up. It’s fantastic (thank you, makers of all things vibrate-y — thank you very, very much).  I go to business, switching vibratory speeds, yanking away on my dick, thinking about sexy Santas and having a jolly (but respectfully quiet) old time. Things ultimately go as things of this nature often do: there is a highly enjoyable climax, after which I lay back, congratulating myself on a job very well done. After a few moments of festive bliss, it’s time to clean up. I reach down, grab the wire and prepare to gently pull the egg out of my ass. There are moments in life when you are so absolutely sure of one outcome that when a different and wholly unexpected outcome presents itself, you are tossed into a blind panic. I anticipate that I will tug the wire, the egg will be released, I’ll sigh, dispose of the condom, pack everything away, and get some sleep before Santa swings ’round. I gently tug the wire, and . . . nothing happens. The egg does not budge. I tug again . . . a little more insistently, and . . . nothing. The thing that was supposed to happen hasn’t, and suddenly I’m panicking. And because I’m panicking, I’m clenching, and because I’m clenching, that egg isn’t going anywhere. I know I have to relax; I lay back and take a breath . . . and that’s when all the shame voices start. I’m sitting covered in cum on Christmas Eve in my mom’s basement with a wire hanging out of my ass; I’m a pervert. What kind of a monster does this? It’s at this point that my medicated state turns against me; paranoia sets in. What kind of a pig are you? You’re going to have to pull so hard on that wire, it’s going to tear loose, leaving the egg inside. You’re going to have to go upstairs and wake somebody up and get them to take you to the hospital because there’s a vibrating egg up your ass. How are you going to explain that? You have just broken Christmas.  Luckily, I have a lot of experience with anxiety and the demon voices in my head. EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP. A sudden, graceful silence fills my head (my demon voices know who’s boss). Lying there, I turn the egg back on, hoping it will soothe the muscles in the surrounding area into a less alarmed state. Once again, the egg does its magic, and I briefly contemplate going for round two but decide against it. I realize it’s possible that my ass just doesn’t want the egg to go, like a little boy faced with having to surrender his brand new fire truck on Christmas morning. I think happy thoughts and stealthily wrap the wire around my right hand. When the moment feels right (and my ass feels reasonably distracted), I yank. PLIP! Out pops the egg. I lay back on the bed, grateful and victorious. In that moment, it’s the very best Christmas gift I could ever get.  I become immediately cocky as I clean up and pack everything away. I’m not a monster, I’m sexy. Who doesn’t masturbate with a new sexy toy in their mother’s basement on Christmas Eve when they go home for the holidays?  It’s a question I’m still not sure I want the answer to.

Hiromi Goto’s work presents new ways of imagining queer life

9 May 2017 - 5:07pm
On May 19, 2017, Vancouver’s queer, trans and two-spirit resource centre, Qmunity, will be putting on its 13th annual breakfast for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, in honour of the World Health Organization first declassifying homosexuality as a mental disorder 27 years ago. This year, the breakfast’s theme is “Stories Of Us,” with first generation Japanese-Canadian settler and acclaimed writer Hiromi Goto as the keynote speaker. Goto says the breakfast is a wonderful platform to showcase the diversity of queerness. “It’s important to be visible and share experiences from [my] standpoint because often the queer culture that is focused upon is very youthful and primarily white,” she says. “I think it’s important for younger people who are just coming out, and uncertain, that there are generations of queerness.” Goto represents these generations of queerness in her own work through the representation of gender, sexuality and race. Her 2001 novel The Kappa Child, for example, is written in first-person, but deliberately leaves out any gender pronouns. It’s an experimental novel that explores how we speak about gender and its expression. Goto describes The Kappa Child as a “very queer story” which shows readers other ways of existing in a world so heavily filled with labels. Since the publication of The Kappa Child, Goto has acquired an impressive list of titles. Her next book, Shadow Life (2018) is a graphic novel about a 76-year-old Japanese-Canadian woman who escapes an assisted living complex to set up a bachelor apartment to enjoy the little things in life. From queer stories to ones that spotlight other marginalized communities, Goto’s creative prowess carries through in many genres to show the power of storytelling; she wants to show readers that books can offer salvation for those who feel ostracized in everyday life. “I remember when I was young, books transported me, stories transported me, and I feel like they kind of saved my life in a way,” Goto says. For Qmunity’s executive director CJ Rowe, choosing Goto was a no-brainer. “Stories are powerful devices,” Rowe says. “Hiromi has weaved stories and has brought light into the shadows where she teases out the beauty in often complicated places.” For Rowe, Goto’s work can allow trans, queer and two-spirit youth to find new meaning, new connections and ultimately find new ways of working through their struggles. And this is something Goto also recognizes. “A story can be a place to salvage oneself, can be a harbour and it can a place to imagine a different way of being without risks to your personal safety,” Goto says. “A story can let you imagine yourself in a future that is perhaps what isn’t now, where you’re not lonely, frightened, in danger, but a future where you can say, ‘My life can have a different outcome.’”

Canadian LGBT refugee groups ask federal government for permanent funding

9 May 2017 - 5:07pm
Canadian groups that have brought dozens of LGBT refugees to safety since 2011 are asking the federal government to make their pilot program permanent. But the federal government might instead fold the program into a general private-sponsorship system. The Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program (RRAP) brings LGBT refugees to Canada with the help of volunteer groups across the country. Originally launched under the former Conservative government for three years, the program has been renewed twice, with Canada’s immigration department providing a total of $300,000 for refugees’ first three months of living expenses. Donors have contributed $1.4 million to the groups, which shows enthusiasm for the program, according to Capital Rainbow Refuge coordinator Lisa Hébert. “The Rainbow RAP makes the settlement of LGBTQ refugees human and welcoming because it provides ongoing support,” Hébert said at a May 3 news conference. The immigration department says 69 cases have been identified for sponsorship through the RRAP, of which 57 were resettled, 18 are in process and four have withdrawn. The cases span 13 different countries and some involve two people. Roughly half those refugees were referred to Canada by the UN Refugee Agency, while the rest avoided UN registration and connected directly with Rainbow Refugee groups  because they live in “states that can jail or kill LGBTQ people,”Hébert says. Hébert joined other advocates in testifying at the House immigration committee on May 3, asking the government to make the pilot project permanent. MPs asked the groups about problems LGBT people face in refugee resettlement, such as discrimination within camps and inappropriate questioning in UN interviews.  Rainbow Refugee Vancouver chair Sharalyn Jordan noted that even in countries that officially protect LGBT people, they can face persecution from strangers they encounter, making it hard to know where they’re safe. The committee heard from three refugees who arrived through the RRAP’s help, including Eka Nasution: “My husband and I were married discreetly in Canada without having any friends or family present. It broke my heart. But having him next to me at the Nepean Point here in Ottawa with our officiant, I told myself that this is perfect. We had no celebration afterwards,” Nasution told the committee, recounting a life in Indonesia marred by death threats and police shutting down his LGBT activism projects. A RRAP group tried to bring Nasution and his husband to Canada, but long wait times and increasing risks convinced the group to instead help the two apply for general Canadian visas. They both arrived in Canada roughly a year ago and successfully claimed refugee status. Nasution is now director of the Foundation of Hope, a charity fundraising for programs like RRAP chapters. He said that though Canada’s recent resettlement of Syrians has been inspiring, it also delayed his own visa application as well as refugee processing for a handful of LGBT people he’s contacted. “It is better [if] all the assistance program for LGBTQ refugees is not only focused on one single country, actually in the Middle East. It has to be done in terms of humanity.” While the RRAP groups asked for permanent funding for refugees and administering the program, a senior official told the committee they might instead replace it with something else.  “Moving forward, our objective is that LGBTQ2 groups will be able to meet the financial and support responsibilities of private sponsorship, in the same manner as Canada’s other private sponsors,” says David Manicom, the associate assistant deputy minister for the immigration department’s strategic and program policy. That could mean no government funding for the groups, but possibly the opportunity  to bring in more people. “We’re looking at the various options as to how best to continue to meet the needs of LGBTQ refugees,” he says. The committee’s Conservative and NDP members forcefully interrogated Manicom during the May 3 meeting over why Canada doesn’t log how many refugees it resettles based on specific kinds of persecution.  Manicom cited privacy rules and logistical hurdles, even if some refugees specifically mention LGBT persecution in their UN case file. “Even when we have some numbers, if your statistics aren’t global and comprehensive, you can’t use them. They are just sophisticated anecdotes,” he said.

Keep your anti-trans flyers out of our neighbouhood, says rally

8 May 2017 - 8:04pm
More than a hundred people rallied at Emery Barnes Park on May 7, 2017,  to protest a flyer campaign targeting NDP candidate and trans activist Morgane Oger, who is running for election in Vancouver-False Creek. The flyers include Oger’s birth name and question the validity of her gender identity. Oger says she was warned the flyers were coming, but that didn’t soften the blow. “They really did hurt. They were extremely mean,” she says, adding that she’s very lucky to be in a position that affords her both legal and emotional support. [[asset:image:309752 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Morgane Oger talks to voters while campaigning in early April."],"field_asset_image_credit":["belle ancell\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “What really, really hurt in this is the terrible anxiety I felt; that I knew everyone in my community across Canada was going to experience this flyer as well, more or less unfiltered.  And that, unlike me, with my resilience and my support, most people were going to experience this flyer alone,” she says. “This will harm people,” Oger continues. “You read the poster, and you imagine yourself with that on your front door, and you think, ‘oh my god, what’s going to happen?’ That scares you, and if you’re not out, you’re not coming out for 10 years. It hit all the fear points for trans people.” Rally organizer Clayre Sessoms says after January’s anti-trans posters in the Davie Village and now these flyers — she felt pushed into action. “Morgane’s my friend. We go way back — we were two scared people having coffee three, four years ago before we ever came out. We just talked a lot about what the future would hold and how scary it was,” Sessoms explains. “She’s remained my close friend, and when this is happening to her and also happening in my neighborhood, I’ve got to stand up against that.” [[asset:image:309749 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["\u201cWe need to stand together and say \u2018not here,\u2019\u201d Clayre Sessoms says."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Sessoms says the flyers do not reflect the neighbourhood where they were posted. “There’s a lot of really good people here,” she says. “I know a lot of the parents because of the school here, and a lot of families — really good, open minded people. I haven’t had any problems with the residents of the neighborhood.” Her plan was to create a positive event where the community could come together and resist transphobia through solidarity. Attendees heard speeches from community figures like teenage trans activist Tru Wilson, and Qmunity’s executive director CJ Rowe, who encouraged them to fight hate in their daily lives. “This can no longer be something that we just turn away from,” Sessoms told the crowd. “We need to stand together and say ‘not here.’” Attendee Dom Nasilowiski says the rally is an important show of visibility. [[asset:image:309746 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Dom Nasilowiski says it\u2019s important not to be silent."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Hannah Ackeral\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “It matters when there’s been something negative like this — transphobic, homophobic, hateful flyers — that the community responds and that we’re not silent,” she says. “Elections come and go, but human rights are an everyday thing. It’s important to address incidents when they happen, but we have to continue community building every day,” she adds. Sharon Velmont, a volunteer who DJ’d the rally, says the event meant a lot to her. “Being the trans person that I am, I need to speak out for those who experience hate, and to be involved in that process,” she says. [[asset:image:309743 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"","field_asset_image_caption":["Sharon Velmont appreciated the chance to rally together."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Hannah Ackeral\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “I felt it was good — we really spoke our minds and really focused on what happened in this part of the world, in Vancouver,” she says. “I think that was a good thing, that we were able to broadcast that, and get others to join us and share our feelings with each other and pump each other up because we are good people.” Katherine Jenkins, who commuted from Surrey to attend the rally, also felt that it served an important purpose. “This is an issue that was very dear to me. I want to stand up against transphobia,” she says. “People need to be focused on spreading positive words, and shaming those who do hate speech.” When she heard about the flyers through social media, she says she was “disgusted.” [[asset:image:309740 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Katherine Jenkins found the flyers \u201cdisgraceful.\u201d"],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]] “I thought it was disgraceful. It was cowardice, really. If you’re going to attack a political opponent, rather than criticize their stances or platforms — to criticize their background is pathetic,” she says. Bill Whatcott, who has handed out anti-gay pamphlets at Pride, previously been found guilty of hate speech and is now responsible for the flyers, says it’s “nothing personal.” “If you’re in the public sphere and you’re promoting agendas that people disagree with, people are going to speak,” the Christian evangelist told Xtra by phone on May 6. “I believe I have the right to speak and, more than that, I believe I have a civic and a biblical responsibility to speak. People may or may not accept what I’m saying, but I think I have a valid voice.” “I think most of those are screaming I’m transphobic are Whatcott-phobic, and they need to get over themselves,” he says, asked how he responds to accusations of hate speech. “I don’t go along with that — grow up, work harder to defeat my ideas. I’m not afraid of you so don’t be afraid of me.” [[asset:image:309755 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Gio and Pamela attended the rally to oppose Whatcott\u0027s anti-trans flyers on May 7."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Wulfric Odinson\/Daily Xtra"]}]]  

Jordan Peterson invited to testify on trans-right bill

8 May 2017 - 8:04pm
A controversial University of Toronto professor will soon testify at a Senate committee studying Bill C-16, which would encode trans people into Canada’s human-rights laws, Xtra has learned. On May 17, 2016, the federal Liberals introduced Bill C-16, which would protect trans people from discrimination targeting their gender identity and expression. The legislation follows a handful of similar bills that were tabled earlier by individual MPs. Psychology professor Jordan Peterson is a strong critic of Bill C-16 and gained notoriety for claiming in September 2016 that his free speech is threatened by what he considers to be “political correctness.” He believes the bill will emulate “totalitarian and authoritarian political states” by criminalizing anyone who refuses to use a trans or non-binary person’s chosen pronouns. Legal experts have disputed Peterson’s interpretation of the bill. Exactly a year after the bill’s introduction, Peterson will speak to the Senate legal committee, which is reviewing the legislation on May 17, Conservative Senator Don Plett tells Xtra. “We have invited a range of people that we feel can help with the arguments. Jordan Peterson clearly brought to light the issue of compelled speech with the pronouns,” Plett told Xtra in a May 8 interview. Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, who sponsored the bill, tells Xtra that the Liberals initially intended to invite no witnesses, as Bill C-16 echoes similar legislation that was already studied, but says Plett wanted to invite Peterson and others.  “The committee made a responsible decision to trade it off at eight witnesses ‘per side,’” Mitchell says. Plett says he’s skeptical the legislation would change the rates of suicide and bullying for trans people, because similar laws at the provincial level haven’t. “Obviously there is something else that is inherently wrong that this is continuing to happen,” he says. Plett also tells Xtra he feels maligned by people who accuse him of hating trans people after amending a similar bill in 2015 to exclude bathrooms (the bill never became law). “We all have feelings; of course it bothers me,” he says. “I have never, in all of my speeches, used one hateful term or said somebody’s inherent beliefs and feelings were not, in fact, correct. I have just simply said what my feelings are.” Plett told the legal committee on May 4 that he supports protecting trans rights, but worried that an “intellectual dissenter” who rejects the idea of an “infinite gender spectrum” would be prosecuted. The committee has published its guest lists for two days. May 10 features opponents of Bill C-16, like Paul Dirks of the WOMAN Means Something Campaign. May 11 features trans advocates like Marni Panas. Plett tells Xtra that witnesses will also include trans people who believe there are only two gender identities. Mitchell also says the committee chair intends to have a clause-by-clause reading of the bill on May 17, which could pass quickly or delay the bill for weeks. Parliament starts a one-week break days later. The bill will then face a final Senate vote and, if passed, may get royal aassent into law before the Senate rises on June 30, when it will break until mid-September.

Bermuda, the third gender and lesbian reggaeton

8 May 2017 - 2:04pm
[[asset:image:309737 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Nepali trans man barred from office Despite the introduction of third-gender passports in 2015, a Nepali trans man says he was denied a place in local elections because of his gender. Local laws say the two district chairs must be split by gender, and election officials decided his third-gender passport did not qualify him for the second seat. Read more at My Republica.   Study: LGBT people more likely to suffer from revenge porn According to a study by researchers at Australia’s Monash university, LGBT people are more likely than straight people to be targeted by “revenge porn”, non-consensual sharing of explicit images. The result comes from an Australian online survey.   The lesbian sending up Argentinian reggaeton Reggaeton music is known for its machismo and explicit sexuality. One Argentinian woman, however, is flipping the style on its head to talk about lesbian sexuality. Read more at the Guardian.   Bermuda court rules for equal marriage A Bermudan-Canadian couple will be able to marry after the Supreme Court of Bermuda rules that same-sex marriage must be allowed under the territory’s human rights act. Last year, voters in Bermuda rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum. Read more at Xtra.

Why I’m torn between the BC Greens and the NDP

6 May 2017 - 8:01pm
For the first time in ages, I’m politically torn. Though I pride myself on being non-partisan, election after election I tend to find the NDP’s platform most closely matches my own values of social equality and resource sharing. But this time, there are two BC parties prioritizing the kind of society I want to live in, and I’m a bit stumped as I head towards the ballot box. Xtra invited all three major party leaders to join us, each for their own hour-long Facebook live interview dedicated to our LGBT community and hosted by two of my favourite drag queens. Premier Christy Clark’s people never accepted our invitation, despite a few friendly if noncommittal exchanges by phone and email, but NDP leader John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver happily agreed to take our community’s questions. Both Horgan and Weaver were great sports, embracing our wig-wearing slogan makeover with good humour and humility. Both candidates struck me as sincere and offered thoughtful rather than canned answers to our questions. Both arrived on time with almost no entourage and were as comfortable chatting with the queens off camera as they were on (though with Isolde and Peach’s charm, who could resist them anyway?). And both candidates say they want to change our province into the kind of equitable, generous, diverse and respectful society that I want to live in. So who gets my vote? Both Horgan and Weaver portray themselves as outsiders, as accidental politicians who come to the fray by passion and principle, rather than political opportunism. Horgan, who has worked in several industries including forestry and construction and who was raised with three siblings by a single mother after his father died when he was a baby, believes the role of government is to help others. He says he wants to ensure “that everyone is comfortable in British Columbia. I have been very fortunate in my life and I want to pay that forward. And when I see bullying, when I see discrimination, when I see hate — I want to resist that,” he adds. Weaver, who won the Greens’ first seat in the BC legislature last election in 2013, is a climate change scientist and a professor at the University of Victoria, who says he never expected to go into politics but couldn’t stand by and watch what was happening without at least trying to make a difference. “If you’re not engaged in our democracy, then you only have yourself to blame for what we do,” he says he repeatedly told his students, before taking his own advice and deciding to run. Watch our full Facebook live interview with Andrew Weaver, above. (Angelina Cantada/Daily Xtra) Both candidates believe the provincial government needs to change and that the people of BC are ready for change after 16 years of BC Liberal rule. Both say their party should be the agent of that change. Though details differ, both parties’ platforms promise to address the affordable housing crisis, reduce poverty and shrink the disparity between the wealthiest and poorest people in this province, eliminate MSP premiums, subsidize childcare, bring back the Human Rights Commission, better fund education at all levels, and prioritize mental health and addiction services, among other socially progressive policies. On the specifically queer questions that we asked, both candidates were equally neck-in-neck. On PrEP, both Horgan and Weaver emphasize the importance of preventive medicine and promise to cover the costs of Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis for gay men and others who want affordable access to a daily pill to protect themselves from HIV. “Your ability to pay for this shouldn’t be a barrier to access,” Weaver says. “Because whenever we can find ways to make people’s lives safer, why wouldn’t we invest in that?” Horgan asks. On education both agreed that all schools should comply with the BC Human Rights Code and protect LGBT students, and offered complimentary suggestions on how to get there. Horgan promised to supply resources to districts and teachers so they’ve got the means, support and training to effectively implement the government’s new mandatory policy. Weaver promised to withhold government funding from any independent schools that refuse to comply. “If you’re not going to share the values of society, then frankly public funding should not be there for you,” he says. Watch our full Facebook live interview with John Horgan, above. (Angelina Cantada/Daily Xtra) On trans rights, they offered thoughtful though somewhat different answers. Now that protection for trans people is enshrined in BC law, we asked each candidate how we move from those rights to cultural change that embraces gender diversity. Both emphasized the need for better education to value diversity from the earliest age. Horgan also emphasized the importance of allowing people their own beliefs but meeting those beliefs with consequences should they turn into discriminatory acts, to slowly modify bias over time, without hardening resistance. “We, as the state, have a responsibility to educate, and that starts in the school system. When it becomes second-nature, commonplace, you don’t think about it. That’s what we want in our society,” he says. “But you can’t get there by the state forcing people to think a certain way. That leads then to resistance, and the response is Trump.” Weaver likens it to debates over climate change. “Sometimes people have faith-based belief systems that contradict with societal values and norms,” he says. “I worked in the area of climate change. There are people out there who don’t believe the world is warming. They don’t believe that thermometers exist. It’s remarkable. So my approach would be: rather than confronting them in an adversarial manner — because when you’re up against a faith system you can never get them to change their mind — you show them the evidence as to why this is such an important challenge, and it is really an opportunity,” he says. “I think the best way would be to show them the positive values of acceptance and diversity because it’s so rewarding,” he adds. Really, I’d very much like to see both these leaders get reelected. Maybe even work together to lead this province forward. We asked Weaver if the Greens have always been so progressive. He says the party’s environmental policies are already known but people kept asking where they stand on the economy, hence the emphasis this election on the socioeconomic parts of their platform. In other words, the Greens had to broaden their policy if they wanted to appeal to a broader base of constituents. I give them full credit for embracing such a progressive vision of society, but I can’t help but wonder if their commitment might have differed had the NDP, rather than the Liberals, been in power for the last 16 years. Up against that status quo, I wonder what change the Greens might have pushed for? Maybe I’m just cynical. So who gets my vote? Should I choose the party with a long-standing history of supporting the marginalized and prioritizing a more equitable society? Or should I choose the untested but seemingly progressive fresh voice of social and environmental change? In my traditionally NDP East Vancouver riding, I will cast my ballot for the NDP and hope they keep that seat and win a majority on May 9 — even as I root for Weaver and the Greens to make a breakthrough and breathe some much needed fresh air into our legislature.

Ukrainian rainbows, word choice and an intersex saviour

5 May 2017 - 8:00pm
[[asset:image:309725 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Ukraine paints rainbow on soviet monument In preparation for the notoriously gay Eurovision Song Contest, the Ukrainian capital of Kiev has painted a soviet arch into a rainbow. Right-wing groups, however, are protesting the symbolism. Read more from Reuters.   Putin backs Chechnya inquiry Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will look into reports that gay men in Chechnya have been rounded up, detained and tortured. Putin was urged to take action by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.   Australian anti-bullying petition collapses over word choice A petition to improve anti-bullying support in Australian schools has been retracted over the author’s choice of words. The petition called for “tolerance” of LGBT students, but critics say the higher bar of “acceptance” should have been demanded. Read more at the BBC.   The midwife who saves intersex babies In Kenya, intersex babies are traditionally killed at birth. One midwife, however, has challenged her culture by adopting unwanted intersex children. Read more at the BBC.   Russian newspaper attacks Manchester gay village A columnist in Russia’s largest newspaper has written a scathing report on Manchester’s gay village, urging her own country not to follow the path of gay acceptance. She seemed both surprised and horrified that there was a part of the city dedicated to gay people in the first place. Read more at the Independent.

Toronto couple gets Bermuda Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage

5 May 2017 - 8:00pm
The Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled today that same-sex couples have the right to marry, bringing to a close a years-long drama over marital rights in the British island territory. The case was brought by a Toronto-based Bermudian and Canadian gay couple, Winston Godwin and Greg DaRoche, who filed their challenge last July. Although they could marry in Canada, they preferred to marry in Godwin’s home country Bermuda. On May 5, 2017, the court found that Bermuda’s Human Rights Act took primacy over the Matrimonial Causes Act, which bars same-sex marriage. The court ordered that Godwin and DaRoche be given the right to marry. Godwin has been living in Bermuda for the last several months as his Canadian visa had expired, while DaRoche continues to live in Toronto. While the long-distance relationship has been difficult, DaRoche says he’s excited to be reunited with Godwin, either in Bermuda or Canada. “We’ve been very supportive of each other and very optimistic, and having the court case and fighting for something larger than our relationship has brought us closer together,” DaRoche says. “The decision that was made today represents something bigger than ourselves. It shows that you can love whoever you "choose" to love and that love will be acknowledged and more importantly protected. Today love won!” Godwin wrote on Facebook after the decision. DaRoche says he found out about the court’s decision via text message from Godwin while he was at work. “I was overjoyed and excited and I kind of felt out of place in my office, because it’s a quiet atmosphere and I had to contain my enthusiasm,” he says. “Winston and I need to talk about what our next steps are at this point.” It is not clear yet if the government of Bermuda plans to appeal the decision to the territory’s Court of Appeal or to the Privy Council in London. The situation for LGBT people in Bermuda had gradually been improving over the last few years. Discrimination based on sexual orientation was banned under the territory’s Human Rights Act in 2013. Following that, the Supreme Court issued rulings allowing same-sex couple adoption in 2015, and allowing bi-national same-sex marriages to be recognized for immigration purposes last year. For Bermudian LGBT activist Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, the ruling is an opportunity to draw a line under divisions that have wracked the island community for years. “Now, more than ever, both sides  — and everyone in between — on the marriage equality debate need to collectively move Bermuda forward. Working together can only be good for Bermuda's future,” Hartnett-Beasley says. The ruling will allow Hartnett-Beasley and his Irish husband, whom he married in New York, to obtain the full suite of residency and citizenship rights on the island. “Having been involved in two of the legal cases relied on by [Justice] Simmons, we are proud that the courts are building out a more just and equal framework, where the legislature failed us,” he says. Last May, the government held a referendum asking the public if it approved of same-sex civil unions or marriages. Voters rejected both options by 2-to-1 margins, but turnout was too low to be binding. Last July, the Bermuda House of Assembly passed an opposition bill that would remove the Matrimonial Causes Act from the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Act, but it was blocked by the Senate. However, the Senate only has the power to delay legislation for a year. It is unclear if legislators still plan to proceed with the bill, or whether they would be able to. Justice Charles-Etta Simmons wrote in her decision that she would not wait for Parliament to make a decision. “There is no reason in all of the circumstances to await the likelihood of that proposal or a result,” she wrote. Simmons also discounted the referendum result due to low turnout. “One can fairly assume, politics aside, that the public was aware of the issues but chose not to engage in the process,” she wrote. The Bermuda court decision marks the first time any court has found a right to marry in any British territory. Recognition of same-sex unions varies within the UK and among its overseas territories and dependencies. The UK Parliament legalized same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2013, and the Scottish Parliament followed later that year. Civil partnerships, but not same-sex marriage, are allowed in Northern Ireland, where the issue is the subject of ongoing political and legal controversy. Among Britain’s crown dependencies, same-sex marriage is legal in the Isle of Man and Guernsey and is expected to pass in Jersey this year. The law in Guernsey does not apply to its own dependencies, Alderney (which is expected to introduce its own law later this year) and Sark. The UK maintains 14 overseas territories, which are remnants of its colonial empire. In addition to Bermuda, same-sex marriage laws have been passed by the local governments of the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, the Pitcairn Islands, and Ascension Island. The UK government has enacted same-sex marriage laws for the British Antarctic Territory, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and the British Indian Ocean Territory, which have no civilian populations. Tristan da Cunha’s government has announced plans to legalize same-sex marriage, and a Supreme Court case for same-sex marriage has been filed in St Helena. The remaining territories – Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – do not allow same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in all or part of 22 countries worldwide.

When sex work is unsexy (Part 4)

5 May 2017 - 8:00pm
Leaning over the bathroom sink, I wash the oil off my hands and then splash my face with water. I’ve made it to the halfway mark.  I feel my confidence flooding back. I can do this. I can’t guarantee this will be the best sexual experience this guy’s ever had, but I feel sure I can get him off and then get out of here unscathed. Back in the bedroom he’s propped himself up on his arms again, the same angry expression on his face. I flash him a smile as I come in and ask him to turn over on his back.  At this point I usually would start massaging the client’s chest, teasing his nipples as I let my dick touch his face. But given how poorly he was handling my dick with his fingers, I don’t want to bring it anywhere near his teeth. Instead, I sit on top of his thighs facing him, and begin to gently rub his balls. I normally ask a client what position they want to fuck in, but given his mobility issues, it seems like the best course of action is to get him hard as quickly as possible, sit on his dick before it can go soft and then flail around and moan, trying to make it seem like he’s giving me the ride of my life.  His dick begins to stir slightly, and I gradually move my fingers to the shaft, enticing it to become erect. Then, just as I think things are finally going well, he abruptly sits up like a corpse coming back to life.  He stares at me, his mouth hanging open, and then tries to kiss me again with the same horrible attempt to devour my face.  I ease him back down onto the bed and shift my position so I’m still sitting across his legs, but closer to his feet. I was hoping I could get away without sucking him off. But right now I’d rather face his dick than his lips, so I bend towards him, taking him in my mouth.  Even though we showered together just over an hour ago, there’s a ripe aroma emanating from his foreskin. I hold his dick in my hand, drool as much saliva as I can over it, and then rub it up and down to try to clean it off. The flavour is slightly improved but still unpleasant, so I just focus on running my hand up and down the shaft, while occasionally touching the tip with my tongue until he’s hard. Taking his cock briefly in my mouth, I use both hands to open the condom, then return to jerking him off, while I apply some lube to my ass.  When he seems like he’s as hard as he’s going to get, I sit up, slide the condom onto him, and then straddle his crotch.  Holding his cock with one hand and prying my ass open with the other, I manage to get him inside me and then begin slowly riding up and down. Usually by this point in a session, I would have managed to get myself hard as well, but my dick is still hanging limp, so I grab it and close my eyes as I begin to jerk myself off. Just as I’m getting close to getting hard, he roughly grabs at my dick, his fingernails scratching me. Determined to try to make the session to work, I just push his hands away, not bothering with any excuses. I can feel his dick has started to go soft inside me, so I ease up my rhythm, but it slides out of me. I glance at the clock. Just over an hour left. I shift my position again so I can bend to reach his dick with my mouth. I slide the condom off, and begin sucking him but I can already tell he’s not going to get hard again. In this situation, the worst thing you can do is pretend like the erection is going to happen and try to get them back inside. Not being able to get hard is going to make them feel like a failure. It’s better to move on to other things and let thoughts of penetration fade.  It seems too early for me to come, but there’s not much else left to do, so I lie down beside him and begin to jerk off. “Are you gonna help me come?” I say. He just stares.  I bring one of his hands to my chest, placing the finger on my nipple.  “Just rub there,” I say.  He begins stimulating me and I press my face into the side of his neck. “Oh baby, that feels great,” I moan. “Just keep doing that and you’re gonna make me come so hard.” I keep jerking myself off until I explode.  “Wow,” I murmur. “That was so good. I haven’t come that hard in a while.” I don’t know if my performance is fooling him at all, as his expression hasn’t changed since I arrived. But at this point, all I care about is getting out of there. I excuse myself to the bathroom again to clean my dick off.  As before, I take an inordinate amount of time washing myself, trying to eat up the seconds. When I return to the bedroom he’s lying exactly as I left him, motionless. I cuddle up next to him, and take his now-soft dick in my hand. It’s not an absolute must for a client to come during a session; some guys just can’t and for other’s it’s not important. But generally, an orgasm at the end of the session is going to shape their memory of the entire experience. If they come now, you’re a lot more likely to get a return call. I continue to stroke him, but the flaccidity of his dick makes it seem highly unlikely he’s going to get there. There’s not much sense in humiliating him for being unable to get an erection, so I just let go and try to engage in a little conversation. There’s a thick guidebook about Vietnam on the shelf so I ask him about his trip there. He’s been three times, he tells me, but the last visit was more than 15 years ago. We talk about places we’ve both visited. The conversation is stilted, partially on account of his English, but also because he just doesn’t seem to want to talk. We end up lying mostly in silence, with me occasionally asking a new question. Finally, I give in and check the clock. I’m overjoyed to see there’s only ten minutes left in the session. I give him a kiss on the cheek and announce I need to get going. I grab my bag and head to the bathroom. I debate taking another shower to wash the experience off, but decide I’d rather just get out of there. When I step into the hallway, he’s standing there fully dressed with the same expression on his face that he’s had the entire time. I’ve managed to run out the clock. Now I just need to collect my money and go. This part of sex work really shouldn’t be awkward. The arrangements have been made in advance. But there’s still a part of me that hates having to actually ask for the money. I slowly put on my shoes and my jacket, waiting for him to say something but he remains silent. I go over to him put my hands around his waist and deliver a kiss to his cheek. “Thanks,” I say. “That was great.” His expression doesn’t change. I can’t tell if he’s disappointed or whether I managed to deliver something that he actually enjoyed. At this point, I honestly don’t care. I just want to leave. “So,” I say. “I should get going now.” He says nothing. “We just need to take care of business before I go.” We stand there, silently, me offering an awkward smile, him just staring. Finally I can’t take it anymore, so I decide to dispense with politeness. “I just need to get my money and then I can go,” I say. He continues to stare for what feels like more than a minute, then turns and walks into the living room. He returns 30 seconds later with a handful of bills and I breathe a sigh of relief. I give him another embrace as I take them from his hand. “Great to meet you,” I smile. “Keep in touch.”  As I step into the hall, he lurches forward, grabbing the edge of the door to keep it from closing, staring after me as I walk away from him. I momentarily debate taking the elevator but I can’t bear to have his eyes on me any longer than necessary, so I walk past it to the door for the stairs.  As I push it open, I turn back and he’s still staring at me. I offer a little wave, then step into the stairwell, letting the door close behind me. Walking away from his building I have the urge to look back, but I feel almost certain he’s staring out the window at me. I continue through the alley between the lingerie store and the defunct Irish pub, to the main street and then turn in direction of the train station.  Some days what I do is a genuine pleasure. I enjoy the experience itself and the money is a little bonus. Other times, like today, it’s clear that I’ve been paid to do something I really didn’t want to do. It’s not a feeling of guilt or shame, but more like a sense of pride and accomplishment. Sex work can be hard and horrible in certain moments. But right now, I’m hyper-aware that the wad I bills I can feel in my pocket is money I’ve really earned.

Canada not approached by Chechen gay men: senior bureaucrat

5 May 2017 - 5:00pm
Senior immigration authorities are grappling with how Canada can help gay men from Chechnya escape persecution — but they haven’t had any direct requests for resettlement, according to a Canadian senior official. “It's something where we want to work discreetly, carefully, as cases arise,” David Manicom, the associate assistant deputy minister for the immigration department’s strategic and program policy, told Xtra on May 3, 2017. Manicom’s comments came moments after addressing the House immigration committee about a separate resettlement program, though MPs asked him what Canada has done so far to bring gay men from the authoritarian Russian region to safety. “We are working closely with our embassy in Moscow and other international partners, such that if urgent protection cases come to our attention, we would be able to respond appropriately,” Manicom told the committee. “We have not had any cases identified to us at this time.” On April 18, the Toronto-based group Rainbow Railroad asked the federal government to create a program to evacuate gay Chechens, such as giving them emergency visas so they could get to Canada, make an asylum claim here and have a refugee hearing. Manicom told Xtra that diplomats in Moscow are in touch with local groups and aware of safe houses in Russia for gay Chechens, but said that no one’s come forward with a formal request for getting to Canada.  “We can’t reach out and put them on a plane to Canada in any obvious way,” Manicom says. Senior officials worry about exacerbating the problem in Chechnya, he adds, because everyone leaving Russia faces questioning at a border post. “If they go to the airport with a Canadian document and they’re refused exit, would we actually be helping the community?” Manicom asks.  He also suggests that Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov could retaliate. “[If] Canada decides to embarrass him internationally, do we help those individuals? Or does he, say, stop torturing them and put a bullet to the back of their head? And I’m not speaking melodramatically.” And though Manicom says Canada could resettle some gay Chechen men, people from the region require extra screening, he says.  “Chechnya's an extraordinarily nasty place. No one would want to bring individuals from Chechnya without a very careful security screening,” he says. “We want to bring the victims, not the perpetrators.”

Out in Toronto: May 4–10, 2017

4 May 2017 - 10:59pm
Thursday, May 4 It’s All Tru Everything’s fine in the life of Kurt and Travis, a perfect gay couple, until one of them has unprotected sex with a stranger. Written and directed by Sky Gilbert, this new play explores such issues as the use of PrEP and the criminalization of HIV. The cast included the Dora Award–winning David Coomber. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, May 14, various showtimes. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com  [[asset:image:309677 {"mode":"full","align":"null","field_asset_image_caption":["David Coomber and Caleb Olivieri star in It\u2019s All Tru, which runs until May 14, 2017 at Buddies."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Seanna Kennedy"]}]] Contain/Collect  This month-long interdisciplinary art show and performance lab is all about queering history. Features talks, performances and work by more than 25 artists. Includes original pieces for sale by such artists as Ulisa Deskaj, Melissa Florence and Michael McGlennon. The event is run by Elephant in the Attic, a print gallery and design shop.   Runs until Sunday, May 14. 1544 Dundas St W. elephantintheattic.ca/contain-collect [[asset:image:309716 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Contain\/Collect runs until May 14, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Marcela Boechat"]}]] Sh!t Show: Queer Comedy Night  The village gets a new comedy night. This edition features the comedy stylings of Jess Beaulieu, David Tomlinson, Johnnie Walker, Kinsey Fail, and others. Stay late for  an afterparty with music by DJ Orange Pekoe. The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or the accessible washroom door). 9pm–2am. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Friday, May 5 Inside Out 2017 Launch Party  Pick up your program guides for the upcoming 2017 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival at this sweaty dance party kick-off. There is food, drinks, and DJ sets by hey! dw, Mary Mack and Jules Bangsworth. Inside Out is the largest event of its kind in Canada, with artist talks, panel discussions, and thousands of film screenings every year.  7:30pm–12:30am. St James Cathedral Centre, 65 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.    The PepTides Live at Buddies  The PepTides, the eclectic and very queer musical group, puts on a concert at the theatre in the Village. The group, consisting of men and women, gay people and straight people, and people of all backgrounds, puts on a performance full of live vocals and tunes you can definitely dance to. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). 10pm–1am. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Saturday, May 6 BMO Presents Martha Chaves at We’re Funny That Way  Martha Chaves, one of Canada’s most successful comedians, hits the stage for some standup. The Nicaragua-born queer comedian covers just about every topic, and her biting political commentary is current, accessible and unique. The performance is part of We’re Funny That Way, a comedy festival produced by Ford Cassella Productions.  9–10pm. Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Just a Taste: The Green Space Festival Launch Party The Green Space Festival, a multi-party extravaganza that takes place every Toronto Pride, kicks off this year with a huge ballroom-style bash. DJs Deko-Ze and Hector Romero spin. Scott Fordham choreographs an army of dancers. And folks show off their looks on the runway. Proceeds from the festival benefit The 519. The venue is accessible. 9pm–2am. The 519, 519 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Sunday, May 7 Warning, Trigger: A Cabaret by Heath Salazar  The Dora Award-winning Heath Salazar teams up with their drag alter ego Gay Jesus for a cabaret. They perform and share their experience of mental illness and being a transgender performer. Presented by Jennifer Walls, the evening also includes performances by special guests Kevin Vidal and Chiano Panth. 8:30–11:30pm. 120 Diner, 120 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309713 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Warning, Trigger: A Cabaret by Heath Salazar\u00a0takes place on May 7, 2017, at 120 Diner."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Heath Salazar"]}]]  

Chechyna

4 May 2017 - 4:59pm

Out in Vancouver: May 4–9, 2017

3 May 2017 - 7:58pm
Thursday, May 4 DOXA Film Festival This year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival has an intriguing preoccupation with human-animal hybrids, from mermaids to horse-people. Check out the films Mermaids, Être Cheval, and other queer picks at showings starting today. Shows May 4–14. See a full schedule of showtimes, or browse through the festival’s queer picks.    An Evening With Ruby Remenda Swanson Little Sister’s, to me, is one of the best places for a book launch. You can not only listen but also eye-shop all the kinky things you’re normally too embarrassed to look at in daylight. I caught a woman doing exactly that last time I was there; she was more intrigued by the fingertip massage unit than the book. You can do the same tonight if you want, but Ruby Remenda Swanson is far more interesting. Her book, A Family Outing, tells 46 stories about how her son coming out to her led her to become a gay rights advocate. 7:30–9:30pm. Little Sister’s Bookstore, 1238 Davie St. Free. facebook.com/events/1963624373860307/   The Clothesline Swing And speaking of book launches, journalist, author and Xtra columnist Ahmad Danny Ramadan launches his long-awaited book, The Clothesline Swing, tonight too. Don’t miss his reading from his first novel in English, which he describes as an “epic story of two lovers anchored to the memory of a dying Syria,” and inspired by the Arabian Tales of One Thousand and One Nights. 7pm. The Emerald Supper Club, 555 Gore Ave. Free. facebook.com/events/401262696900270/   Shower Power I don’t know what the manager of Odyssey is thinking bringing in Alma B Itches as hostess on a night with hot naked men in the shower. That girl can’t tell the difference between acting as hostess and fluffer, though at her house I hear it’s all the same. Come see if the new shower goddess can keep her tongue to herself. For all you Hunter followers, tonight is the big debut reveal (see what I did there?) 9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5 or get on guest list at facebook.com/events/1844482229146018/.   Super Gay Bowie Thursday The first time round, I thought this was a David Bowie tribute night. Nothing could be further from the truth; it’s much better. This monthly event is catching fire quickly with divas, drag queens and hotties in abundance. Performances by Anna May Rogue, Rich Elle, South East and Ilona may be enough for some, but top it off with DJs Del Stamp, Skylar Love, Matthew Hilton and a cherry-busting DJ debut from STILLA, and this promises to be an over the top event. 10pm. Celebrities, 1022 Davie St. Free with RSVP at celebritiesnightclub.com, or bring out the wallet. facebook.com/events/232955387181242/.   Friday, May 5 Boys Gone Wild Girls Gone Wild videos are all about shy college girls lifting their tops, so it’s safe to assume a Boys Gone Wild wet underwear contest would involve dropping some fabric. That describes half the DJ booths in the Village on any given night, though. Tonight see some wet, clinging, skimpy, stretched-out underwear straining to hold in the goods. Casha Only, Gina Tonic, Sir John Taylor, Mona Funtasy and Brooke Davis will be there to edge everything, or everyone, along. Cover is cheaper than a good bratwurst. 9pm–12am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5. facebook.com/events/203378050170937/   Jungle Party Break out the loincloth and have a few shots; you may see Ryan Steele as Jane tonight. Victor Venutti and Jorge Mateos are launching their first party of the season, and what better to get people aroused than the wild jungle? Fun, music, jungle costumes, furries, and more. It’s going to be legendary. 9pm–3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No cover. facebook.com/events/659899380878580/.   Sixth Annual Mr/Ms Cobalt Drag Finale It’s finally here, the night we have all been waiting for, the night the Cobalt Duchess Peach Cobblah offers up the contestants to be the new Cobalt Queen. Head judge Isolde N Barron will cast the others aside to reveal the new monarch. Mr or Ms, all must kneel to the Duchess to be crowned. We’re down to the final nine, but only one can get the honour. It may be one of your favourites; be here to find out. 8pm–2am. The Cobalt, 917 Main St. $10 cover includes your ballot and the dance party. $1 from each ticket will be donated to Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian organization trying to help get LGBT people out of Chechnya. facebook.com/events/287428918350390/   Saturday, May 6 Blue Heron Open House Okay, I admit it, sometimes I’m not the sharpest tack in the box. After all these posts I think I finally get the name of the group: Blue Heron. Is it because most of the members have “blue hair on”? Today is the open house for the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club, and all are welcome to drop by. Get some free instruction, meet the members and try out a bit of bowling, country club style. 11am–3pm. Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club, 9100 Stanley Park Dr. Map and info at splbc.com/2017_open_house.   BBQ In The Burbs You’ve tried all the tube steak around town, so why not venture to the burbs and enjoy a new wiener — in your hot dog, that is. This fundraiser is for the Surrey Pride Society, so get out and have a nice road trip topped off with a bit of fun. 11am–3pm. Save On Foods, 9014-152 St, Surrey. facebook.com/events/1770259843287175/.   Spring Thing Have you ever tried on one of those rubbermen suits? Everyone starts sliding their hands all over you and eventually, some faster than others, your thing does indeed try to spring — hence the name of the event. Have some fun rubbering up, getting into bondage gear and enjoying some other surprises. Come talk about the direction of the club with Reid and the other regular members of the monthly meets. Always welcoming new leather and rubbermen. 2–5pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/groups/vancouverrubbermen/.   Cinco De Mayo I may not be smart, but I do know my dates, some even by name. Cinco de Mayo is the fifth of May, hence the cinco. Maybe this show should be called Seis de Mayo, or maybe that’s just one of the jokes for this comedy show. Hosted by Venezuelan comic Hector Rivas, this annual Latin show is set to be a night to remember. Come join some of the finest international comics who are ready to rock your mundo with laughter. The line-up includes Miguel ‘Pow Wow’ Jordan Ducharme, Alex Rockhill, Antonio Cordero, Steve Venegas Mark O’Keeffe and Andy Cañete headlining. 7:30–10pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $10 at door. facebook.com/events/1903468679931002/.   Madame Gandhi Live Madame Gandhi is an electronic music artist and activist based in Los Angeles who gained recognition as the former drummer for M.I.A. and as the iconic free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon. Madame Gandhi now writes music that elevates and celebrates the female voice, making their stage a platform for women’s rights and a message of empowerment.  10pm. The Waldorf, 1489 East Hastings St. Cover $12. facebook.com/events/1771756533137181/.   Monday, May 8 HIV In My Day: Reflecting Back, Looking Forward Calling all HIV-positive youth and allies. In the early years of the HIV epidemic, Vancouver lost an entire generation of vibrant, young gay men in a very short period of time, often in six months or less from diagnosis until death. This oral history project hopes to document the beginning of the HIV epidemic in Vancouver’s 1980s by having sexual minority men and their caregivers recount their experiences.  6–8pm. Chateau Granville, 1100 Granville St. Free event but must register with williamf@youthco.org or at eventbrite.ca. Info at facebook.com/youthcovancouver/.   NYET Again In 2013, after Russian president Vladimir Putin introduced his anti-gay "propaganda" laws, one of Vancouver’s local queer theatre companies asked playwrights from all over Canada to create 10-minute pieces in response, which they presented in a one-night cabaret. As a result, Zee Zee Theatre raised thousands of dollars for the Russian LGBT Network. Now, four years later, Zee Zee and Qmunity once again present a cabaret of Canadians concerned about the reported rounding up and killing of gay men in Chechnya. Isolde N Barron and Peach Cobblah will host, featuring new work from Chris Gatchalian, Allan Morgan, Sky Gilbert, Nicola Harwood and more, and a panel discussion on what's happening in Chechnya and how we can mobilize as a community. All proceeds will be donated to Rainbow Railroad, an organization working with the Canadian government to help LGBT people get out of Chechnya. 8–10pm. The Cultch, 1895 Venables St. Tickets $20 at facebook.com/events/1675655426073313/.   Fruit Bowl It’s the Superbowl for gays: the Fruit Bowl! I may have just stolen a joke, but if not, then QueerProv owes me money. Two teams will be at it again! Who will come out as the cherry on top to claim the coveted Fruit Cup? Hosted by the big fruit Dan Dumsha, who is in charge of keeping order between two rival teams and ensuring the room is filled with laughter. Come down, forget about politics and have some fun. 8–11pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Free admission. facebook.com/events/402810770050548/.   Tuesday, May 9 Lights It’s another night of comedy, with karaoke fun to follow. Twelve of Vancouver's hottest improv comedians present back-to-back short sketches that have never been performed for an audience before. This could be your chance to see stars in the making. Funny. Weird. Best. Worst. Unforgettable. Unforgivable. You will experience it all at this improvised sketch comedy show. 7:30pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Tickets $5 advance on Facebook site or $8 at door. facebook.com/events/189982014359708. 

What happens when your pseudonym gets in the way of your sex life?

3 May 2017 - 7:58pm
“Touch my pecker,” Doug said. I was at Rough House, an afternoon dungeon-like play party at Club 120 when I got this request. It was in 2015, my first year of writing this column. Under the red lights, there were shadows of men at play: some being flogged, some smacking with moans and groans filling the club. I watched and listened,while sipping a beer and leaning over the mezzanine, shirtless,wearing only jeans and wrists restraints.  That’s when Doug approached. I’d noticed him at the party earlier but we got chatting when he passed by. I was supposed to interview him for my column, but we had yet to lock down a time. We’d only ever messaged on Facebook, so it was great to finally meet, even though unexpected. I thought we were hitting it off  and remember thinking that he was a lot nicer in person too, all smiles and good vibes.  During a lull in the conversation I looked down into the main room below and watched men cruise in full gear. There was always something going on down there be it flogging demos or fisting — anything goes.  When I looked back at Doug he had his cock out and was masturbating. I was totally fine with it; sure, I was a little surprised but given the context, it wasn’t shocking by any means. Until he said, “Touch my pecker.” I was taken aback, not just because the last time I’d heard someone refer to a penis as a pecker was when I was 12 years old, but because it seemed to have come out of left field. I was flustered. Mike Miksche is a lot cooler than I’ll ever be. I sometimes wonder whether I’ll live up to my pseudonym’s hard kinkster image. I got into BDSM through my sexual mentor, DH, before I’d started the column. I was exploring the the leather and sex scenes at the time and had written about the infamous Lab.oratory in Berlin and The Point, the gay campground in Ontario for Xtra. That soon led to the column but those scenes were still very new to me at the time.  In the years that I’ve written this column, guys have sent me explicit personal stories, sexual propositions and nudes. Some people assume that I’m down for sex anywhere and with anybody because I write, sometimes quite explicitly, about sex culture. And while it’s flattering, I wish it was all true — but I’m really shy. In my personal life, I’m very much into BDSM, but usually only one-on-one and in private. If I’m going to do something in public I need a level of anonymity — I can’t relax, especially if there are people there who I know (like at Rough House that night), but I can have a drink and chat with friends.However, when I’m traveling to places where nobody knows me, I become a different person, free of the sort of hang ups I often get in my home city. I can become whoever I want — I can be Mike Miksche. At the same time, an interesting thing happens in the absence of my needed anonymity. I become a voyeur. Voyeurism  is just as significant a part of the public sex ecosystem as anything else. Without us, the exhibitionists would be deprived of joy and it’d likely throw everything off kilter. I love observing sexual behavior and how people use public spaces; it’s a window into the essence of desire and what makes so many of us tick, sexually. I find it interesting to see how people utilize space to get what they need, so even if I don’t get off, I still kind of do.  Rough House has never disappointed with such visual stimulation. By just standing up on the mezzanine, one can bear witness to the the entire spectrum of male perversity: I’ve seen guys pumping their testicles with saline so they look like balloons; I’ve seen Sirs forcing their subs into submission, fisters plunged forearm-deep in some dude’s ass and I’ve seen packs of pups sniffing and searching for handlers..From fisting to bondage, it’s stuff that I’ve experienced privately, but there was some sort of satisfaction that I got just from watching too.  When Doug asked me to touch his “pecker” he wouldn’t know any of this about me. Mike Miksche writes about sex so I guess he figured I’d have sex with him even though he wasn’t my type. I made a lame excuse and walked away awkwardly but he immediately started to get off with someone else.  I felt kind of embarrassed by my reaction, as if I was a let down to Mike Miksche. I couldn’t blame Doug for asking me to touch his pecker — like others who read my column, it’s not inconceivable to think that Mike Miksche would be open to sexual experiences with anyone, on the spot. But that’s just not who I am.

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