Ottawa Xtra

Girl Guides, a missing web page and the queer canon

24 January 2017 - 3:28am
[[asset:image:308866 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] UK Guides welcomes trans women Girl Guides in the UK will now include all people who identify as female, including trans people, the organization has announced. The new rules include both children and group leaders. Read more at the Independent.   The case of the missing LGBT page In the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration, some news sites were quick to announce that all reference to LGBT people had been scrubbed from the White House website. Further research, however, showed that, in fact, all White House content had been transferred to an archive site, and there was no evidence of specific targeting of LGBT content by Trump.   Australian kills five after homophobic attack on brother An Australian man stabbed his gay brother and then plowed his car into a crowd, killing five people, allegedly out of anger at his brother’s sexual orientation. His brother was injured but survived. Read more at LGBTQ Nation.   Texas to reexamine same-sex marriage equality The Texas Supreme Court says it will reopen discussion on same-sex marriage, agreeing to hear a case on whether gay city employees must be given spousal benefits. Some see the case as an example of a legal environment emboldened by the recent US Republican electoral victory. Read more from Bloomberg.   Call Me By Your Name makes waves Director Luca Guadagno’s queer film Call Me By Your Name is being hailed as a “major addition to the queer canon.” Read the review at the Guardian.

Ten percent of BC school districts missed deadline for new LGBT policy

23 January 2017 - 9:26pm
Three weeks after the deadline to pass anti-homophobia policy in all BC schools, Xtra has learned that a few districts are lagging, despite initial claims from the education minister that all complied. Though most of the 60 public school districts and the Federation of Independent Schools Association passed a policy or already had one in place by the Dec 31, 2016 deadline, at least six districts are still in progress, and one’s status is unknown because it wouldn't return Xtra's calls. The six districts that missed the deadline are: Peace River North, Kootenay-Columbia, Okanagan Skaha, Richmond, Nisga’a and the Conseil scolaire francophone, which are all in the process of making changes to their policy. Abbotsford didn’t return Xtra’s calls. When Xtra contacted BC education minister Mike Bernier on Jan 3, 2017, he initially said that no districts were lagging behind, and insisted that all school boards were expected to comply. He also said the ministry had signed a partnership with the ARC Foundation to support school districts in making the changes. After Xtra provided the ministry with the names of districts found to be lagging or unconfirmed, Bernier’s staff refused to schedule a follow-up interview but provided a statement from the minister saying ministry staff have reached out to all districts asking where they’re at with the policy changes. “I expect every school district to have references to sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies as required. My ministry is following up with districts for a status update. We will direct any districts without the references in place to get it done immediately,” the Jan 12 statement says. James Chamberlain of the Pride Education Network hopes Bernier will take action with districts that are late or inactive. “Bernier needs to have a consequence for the districts that haven't passed it. The districts that are left over are really outliers in terms of basic human rights for students and supporting LGBTQ students in schools,” Chamberlain says. “So, you know December's come and gone, but the question really becomes what is the minister prepared to do about that,” he says. Chamberlain says the Pride Education Network would be happy to support districts who need a hand implementing their new LGBT policy. He notes that without such a policy in place, those teachers who want to comply and teach anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia education are left with little support. “Those teachers are really left out on a limb and unprotected,” he says. At least one district welcomed the deadline because it pushed them to pass new policy. Superintendent Charlene Seguin of Nechako Lakes, an hour west of Prince George, says her district met the deadline to update existing policies and is working on a new, separate policy to specifically acknowledge and protect students’ sexual orientation and gender expression. She’s optimistic about the new policy’s impact. “My assumptions are that once these policies are in place more kids will be coming forward [about their gender identities and sexual orientation],” she says. Other districts didn’t make the deadline. Candace Clouthier, assistant superintendent of Peace River North, says she started circulating her district’s policy update and it should be completed by the end of January. “The policy is there it just hasn't been through its final cycle and I don't see any problem with that,” she says, adding she’s confident it “will be passed by the end of January.” As with all new policy, Clouthier says she has to circulate the proposed changes for 45 days, during which the public is invited to give feedback. In this instance, she hasn’t heard from anyone, but she says this is common when it comes to policy changes. Clouthier provided Xtra with a copy of the policy in progress, and says that once it’s in place she hopes it will make schools safer for LGBT students in her district. “We're a very small northern town. . . but we certainly have groups of students and individuals who are identifying [their gender and sexuality] in various ways and that’s very much supported at the school level by teachers, by principals and accepted by other students as well,” she says. Meanwhile, support staff from the Nisga’a district and the Conseil scolaire francophone say their districts have started updates, but no one was available to speak on the record to confirm details on their progress. Okanagan Skaha has posted its proposed policy changes online with a public feedback deadline of Feb 1. Xtra wasn’t able to connect with anyone from Kootenay-Columbia, but a staff member at the BC Teachers’ Federation says the district has started updates. Back in the Lower Mainland, Richmond has yet to comply. In an email to Xtra, school trustee Sandra Nixon says revisions to the existing student code are in their final stages and now open to public feedback. In November, students petitioned the Richmond trustees for a stand-alone LGBT policy. In response, the board asked staff to research the possibility of a separate policy for the district. According to Nixon, the board is anticipating a report back from the district superintendent “in the near future.”  Chamberlain says Richmond’s lack of leadership in creating a separate LGBT policy is disappointing. He suspects some parental opposition may have deterred the Richmond trustees from passing such a policy earlier, and it may have been the students’ lobbying that persuaded them to reconsider. “The districts that have had it [a dedicated LGBT policy] for a long time have found it very effective in reducing harassment of LGBTQ students,” he says. In Abbotsford superintendent Kevin Godden did not respond to Xtra’s interview request and the district’s communications director Kayla Stuckart initially promised to provide an update but didn’t follow up. The district is known for its spotty record of supporting LGBT students, including its headline-making decision first to ban an LGBT-friendly Social Justice course for Grade 12 students in 2008, then to offer it but only with parental consent. As for BC’s independent schools, the executive director of their federation says it has created a policy that asks its 300 member schools to develop strategies to create an inclusive environment. In keeping with the ministry’s new guidelines, Peter Froese says the new policy requires BC’s private schools to provide “protection from bullying regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression while remaining consistent with the school's faith values, cultural perspectives and philosophical values.” Asked if an independent school’s “faith values” could override protection for some LGBT students, Froese says schools are allowed to “set their own enrolment policies,” which vary from “open” to “restrictive.” But once enrolled, students will be protected against gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination, no matter whether the school is faith-based, secular, special needs-based, or pedagogical like Montessori, Froese told Xtra on Jan 17. According to Froese, all  schools in the Federation of Independent Schools have adopted the new policy, except for one that was lagging behind. He would not disclose the name of the school but says the government’s independent school’s branch had given its schools until Jan 20 to implement the policy, and he was hopeful the school would comply.

What’s the LGBT community saying about Pride Toronto’s decision on BLMTO’s demands?

23 January 2017 - 9:26pm
Activists in support of Black Lives Matter Toronto are encouraged by the outcome of Pride Toronto’s recent annual general meeting, where a majority of members voted to accept a list of demands for upcoming festivities. However, not everyone is celebrating. On Jan 17, 2017, two Pride Toronto members put forth a motion that the organization officially endorse and carry out all of the demands that Black Lives Matter presented last summer during a sit-in protest that saw the Toronto Pride Parade halted for 30 minutes.  The list of nine demands includes increased funding for community stages, more diverse representation in Pride Toronto’s staffing, and, most controversially, the removal of police floats and booths from all Pride marches, parades, and community spaces. Alexandria Williams, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, says watching last Tuesday’s meeting unfold and hearing the community’s response that night made her very happy.  “I don’t know if I can place in words or be eloquent enough to describe the emotion of seeing something you knew actually come to light and not just be a theory in your mind,” Williams says. “I was happy but it was also sort of an out-of-body experience.” [[asset:image:308845 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Black Lives Matter Toronto\u2019s nine demands."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Black Lives Matter Toronto\/Facebook"]}]] Williams says she and others from Black Lives Matter Toronto came to the meeting to see who would be elected to the board, and to learn where they stand on various issues. She says she was pleasantly surprised when community members independent of Black Lives Matter Toronto put forward the motion to support their list of demands.  “It’s part of the reason I love to do the work that I do because when you’re able to ignite or invoke something in someone else for them to step up and make those decisions, to make change in the spaces that they utilize and places that they love. It’s beautiful.” It was members Gwen Bartleman and Kami Chisholm who asked Pride Toronto to officially endorse all of Black Lives Matter’s demands. Gary Kinsman, a long-time activist and a founding member of the Toronto Lesbian and Gay Pride Day Committee, seconded Bartleman’s initial motion and describes the vote as a “very, very significant development” and an attempt to “return Pride back to its more community-oriented and . . . radical roots.” [[asset:image:308812 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Long-time activist Gary Kinsman said he was \u201cstrongly in favour\u201d of BLMTO\u0027s demands. Pictured here at the Pride Toronto AGM on Jan 17, 2017. "],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Kinsman says the demand to exclude uniformed police forces from participating in Pride festivities is important. “Not only are the police attacking black people and other people of colour and trans people who are black and all sorts of other groups in our society, but they’ve also reverted to much more overtly doing sting operations against consensual queer sex among men,” he says, referring to the recent undercover sting at Marie Curtis Park. He says it’s worth remembering that Pride was born in response to the Stonewall Riots —a rebellion against police oppression in New York City — and that the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto gave rise to the first Lesbian and Gay Pride Day here.  “When we remember all that, it was not only a significant victory for Black Lives Matter and people who support it, [but also] people who are very concerned about police violence and repression,” he says. But not everyone shares Kinsman’s view. Danielle Bottineau, LGBTQ liaison officer for the Toronto Police Service, says she was saddened and disheartened by Tuesday’s meeting. “Where we go from here I don’t know. We’re waiting to sit down and chat with Pride Toronto, if that’s going to happen,” Bottineau says, adding it’s not clear to her how or if the new board (elected after the vote on Black Lives Matter’s demands) will be implementing those demands. Pride Toronto did not respond to Xtra’s request for an interview.  Bottineau says the Toronto Police Service has not received any information from Pride Toronto about changes to this year’s Pride events and so far no meeting has been scheduled between them. Bottineau admits that if uniformed officers are banned, it will hurt the bridges built between the police and LGBT communities. “Will that relationship possibly be fractured? Absolutely. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to change as a service doing the ongoing community outreach,” she says. Community member Bryn Hendricks says he was disgusted by the way Tuesday’s meeting was “hijacked,” and believes there should be a change in Pride Toronto’s board of directors. He says he wholeheartedly supports Black Lives Matter, especially as a Métis man, but he thinks the decision to exclude uniformed officers would be wrong. “The police have been there supporting our community for quite some time now and building those bridges has not been easy,” he says. Hendricks designed a poster decrying Pride Toronto and stating, “The Toronto Police can stand with me. I won’t be at Pride without them.” He brought the poster to the Toronto Pride office and shared it on social media.  “It’s a publicity stunt most certainly, and it’s done for the Toronto police because they should be in the parade,” he says. “I think just that Black Lives Matter are denying our community the policies we’ve been working towards for years. We’ve been fighting for the same kinds of rights that they as an organization are fighting for.” [[asset:video_embed:308863 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_caption":["Pride Toronto had its first town hall on Aug 30, 2016, to discuss issues arising from last year\u2019s Pride and BLMTO\u2019s demands."],"field_video_credit":["xtraonline\/YouTube"]}]] Christine Drummond echoes these sentiments. She started a petition imploring Pride Toronto to allow police services to march and be present in uniform at this year’s festivities. At the time of publication, the online petition had over 7,400 signatures. “Things needed to be discussed, things needed to be agreed upon. It shouldn’t have been a one-sided vote,” Drummond says. “I found it very, very hurtful considering I have a lot of friends that are LGBTQ officers and who are allied officers as well.” Drummond sits on the Ottawa Police Service’s GLBT Liaison Committee but emphasizes that she made the petition as a private citizen, not on behalf of this or any other group she’s affiliated with. She plans to deliver the petition to Toronto Pride in person along with some of the comments people have made when signing. She says the Black Lives Matter demands run counter to spirit of Pride. “Pride is based on inclusion,” she says. “At the end of the day, officers can’t take off their uniform. They can’t. They’re a police officer 24-7, 365 days a year. It’s part of who they are.” But this sentiment that all officers are being categorically excluded is one of the biggest misconceptions about Black Lives Matter’s demands, says Williams.  “What we’re doing is trying to make sure that everyone in the community feels safe and feels welcomed. As long as [officers] come not in uniform, they’re welcome to be there. How else would we know that they’re cops?” she says. Williams says Black Lives Matter is not trying to tell officers — especially LGBT officers — they can’t come to Pride, but the group is telling them they can’t represent their occupation. She says officers in uniform are a threatening symbol for members of black and other minority communities.  “Imagine what that would be like when you’re trying to celebrate and that symbolic representation of physical, mental, emotional violence is not only holding the flag but is taking up space in that celebration,” Williams says. Williams says in the wake of Tuesday’s meeting she’s been receiving a huge amount of love and support. She says Pride Toronto’s membership showed overwhelming support, and for the board to go against the wishes of its members would be detrimental. “If Pride decides to not follow through with the demands, as always we’ll see what the community wants to do and move from there,” she says. “There’s always a plan.”

Lesbian refugee says she’s relieved to still be in Canada, at least for now

20 January 2017 - 9:19pm
“I’m happy. So happy,” Angela says, two days after authorities halted her deportation at the last minute. The 21-year-old lesbian was scheduled to be deported on Jan 18, 2017, after Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board denied her request for asylum here. Angela is from West Africa. Xtra agreed not to publish her last name or her specific country of origin because Angela says being lesbian or gay is a crime in her home country, and she fears that if she’s forced to return there she’ll be arrested, assaulted or even killed. Just 24 hours before she was scheduled to be deported, Angela was granted a stay of removal, allowing her to remain in Canada and appeal her case. “When I got the news I was relieved,” she says. “I wasn’t scared anymore of going back home.” But Angela’s future is uncertain. The reprieve does not mean she can remain in Canada permanently; it only provides her lawyer and advocates time to prepare her case for a judicial review. Her advocates say that her last hearing failed to consider crucial evidence — a newspaper article published last summer in her home country that publicly outed her and, they say, put her in danger. “I fear going back to my country because the LGBT people in my country they are not treated fairly. I’ve seen what is happening and I’ve heard what’s been happening there,” Angela says. “Back home they call it something like ‘jungle justice.’ You never know who attacks you because once people know you are a lesbian, they keep attacking you from every corner.” She says that in 2015 when photos surfaced of her with her then-girlfriend, Angela’s father was arrested and taken in for questioning because the police did not believe she was actually out of the country. That was how he learned his daughter is a lesbian; they have hardly spoken since and he cut her off financially. “My dad has refused to pay my fees [for school],” she says. Angela came to Canada in 2014 as an international student and began studying business administration at a college in Vancouver. She describes herself as creative and hopes to one day open a hair salon or maybe a dress shop because of her interest in fashion design. She has been trying to navigate Canada’s immigration system with the help of her lawyer and advocacy organizations like Rainbow Refugee and the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture. She reports regularly to the Canada Border Services Agency, and it was during one of these routine visits last week that a CBSA officer suddenly informed her she was going to be deported. “He started telling me I need to leave Canada as soon as possible. I told him, ‘How do you expect me to go back when I’m scared of dying?’” Angela says this is when officers detained her, citing concerns she would not show up for her deportation. She was placed in detention for four days until her lawyer secured her release. “I have never been in such an area before. I’ve never had handcuffs on me before,” she says. “I didn’t feel that was right. I felt like a criminal.” During this time, Angela’s lawyer sought a stay of removal. Her advocates met with MP Jenny Kwan who, in turn, appealed to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen to intervene. Though a spokesperson from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada could not, due to privacy laws, confirm whether Hussen intervened, Kwan credits Hussen for the stay of removal. As for Angela, she can rest a little easier after a tumultuous week, knowing that at least for the time being she does not have to return to her home country. “I would just like a normal life, to go back to school because I love to go to school,” she says. “I just want to go to school and live a normal life like anyone does.”

Netflix and stress: The lesbian movie night dilemma

20 January 2017 - 6:19pm
Netflix and Chill is the budget “date” idea of the century. Though gettin’ down and dirty while a movie plays in the background is nothing new, coining a phrase makes it all the more official. With this in mind, you’re planning to invite a lady over to watch a movie. You’ve met a couple times, been on a few dates, and just want to have a relaxed evening at home. A seemingly foolproof idea — the movie night is a timeless crowd pleaser.  Or so you thought. You see, I once had the naive idea of watching a film on a second date. Just a wee baby dyke at the time, I found myself cuddled up in a dorm in front of a dimly-lit laptop. In an attempt to seem sophisticated, I cued up the movie Boys Don’t Cry.  Hoping to come out of the viewing enlightened and maybe looking a little sexy, I was instead reminded that on the contrary, girls do cry as I sobbed grotesquely into a pillow. This happened time and time again, a year later with If These Walls Could Talk 2 and eventually with Rent.   The Great Rent Catastrophe (AKA, the cautionary tale) The Great Rent Catastrophe (as I like to call it) is a memory emblazoned into my dating history. Picture an acne-ridden 19-year-old whose thrift shop wardrobe could rival the likes of Betty White. I was lean, keen and ready to date anyone with a pixie cut within a 200-mile radius. I’d invited a girl to spend the day with me, and eight hours later we were still inseparable. We eventually went back to my house, where she suggested we watch Rent.  As an avid musical viewer, I was excited to see one that featured all three tenets of a quality show: queers, bohemia and Idina Menzel. I settled in for the long haul, cuddled up in a stranger’s arms. Of course, Rent is devastating. Your favourite character dies, reprisals get increasingly somber, and the curtain closes just as you’re reminded that life continues whether or not your community is in shambles. By the end of the show, I was blubbering like a hormonal preteen reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, a cacophony of cries escaping my mouth resembling that of a seagull in an oil spill. Bodily fluids cascaded from my facial orifices, coating the front of my date’s blouse.  Needless to say, that relationship had an untimely ending.    Films and TV series that won’t make you cringe, cry, or break up So how does an unassuming lesbian looking for love find the perfect film to watch that’s not going to make you nervous sweat or ugly cry? The first step is to begin rifling through your mental catalogue of films. In some ways, there’s the pressure to watch a queer-oriented film that features your favourite celebrity heartthrobs. If you’re looking for something to “set the mood,” this is an absolute must. On the other hand, it can be both painful and uncomfortable to watch two hours of straight actresses having the most ridiculous sex scenes (I’m looking at you, Blue is the Warmest Colour). Speaking of sex, you’ll want to avoid media that could be too overtly sexual. You just met this woman, and you haven’t quite taken that next step. Two hours of Shane’s drug-infused orgies from The L Word may give your new beau the wrong idea. The final thing to cross your mind is the potential for tragedy. Queer-oriented films are absolutely riddled with doom and gloom. After an inevitably clunky coming-out montage, the main character almost always dies or gets fired and you’re left with a strangely sexual cautionary tale. Nothing ruins a date quite like a blunt reminder of the silver screen’s complete disapproval of your sexuality.  Now, you may be thinking I’ve gone a bit far with my analysis. After all, I am known to be a buzzkill every now and again. Unfortunately in this case, I find myself speaking from first-hand experience. But fast-forward a few years (and several Netflix and Chill trial-and-errors later), after a never-ending reel of trauma, tokenism and downright bad writing, I was on the hunt for a list of criteria to decipher good films from disappointing ones. Essentially, I needed a Bechdel Test for queer inclusion, and I found just that. In order to pass GLAAD’s Vito Russo test, a film must, Feature an identifiably queer character. That character must be multidimensional with a life outside of queerness. The character in question must also be vital enough to the plot that their disappearance would be grounds for upheaval. For my own criteria, I might add that all featured queer characters must have a conversation for more than 30 seconds that does not revolve around discrimination or homophobia.  Since finding a movie that fits these guidelines sounds a bit farfetched, I thought I’d do a bit of research for your next dating escapade. Here are three possible fits:    Carol (2015) [[asset:video_embed:308857 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_credit":["StudiocanalUK\/YouTube"]}]] As most reviews would indicate, the movie Carol is breathtakingly gorgeous. I’ve never seen such an honest portrayal of love and uncertainty between two women. With a sprinkling of delicate pauses filled with lust, and an overtly gay storyline, this movie does not disappoint.  There are so many pieces of this film that make it unique. Carol skips the dreaded yet predictable turbulence of the Hollywood coming-out story. The characters are confident, thus the audience is easily swept into the magic of the era. Impending tragedy is handled in a calculated way that allows viewers to feel hope. The protagonists have a hand in their destiny as opposed to being pawns for peddling a spiteful agenda. Sexual components of the story are much-anticipated and appropriate in length, curtailing objectification.  This film is perfect for a cozy date on the couch. It’s sexy, empowering, and has an unbelievably strong cast that any pop culture novice would be able to recognize. My date and I were completely entranced by the characters, the costumes and the more . . . sultry scenes (sorry, mom). Disclaimer: if you make your partner watch this film 15 times, it has the opposite effect. I would especially caution against trying to make them dress up as Carol for Halloween . . . or on other occasions.    Pride (2014) [[asset:video_embed:308854 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_credit":["FilmIsNow Movie Trailer\/YouTube"]}]] If you’re looking for something a little lighter, Pride is a feel-good masterpiece. This movie illuminates a queer history with which many Millennials have never engaged.  Based on a true story, Pride follows the creation of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, an advocacy group for those affected by the British miners’ strike in the 1980s. The whole film begs the question, what’s gayer than a movie about unions and queer resistance? As a date night note, this is a great film for a pair of sapphists who aren’t quite ready to go down sexcapade lane. It has a wholesome storyline coupled with a tale of impressive perseverance.  My date and I saw this film in a theatre full of teary-eyed Baby Boomers. We left with a fire in our hearts, a greater appreciation for each other, and a newfound respect for our queer predecessors.    The Fosters (2013–) [[asset:video_embed:308851 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_credit":["SEASKI101\/Youtube"]}]] On a completely different note, The Fosters is the perfect series to embark on with a new gal pal who may be sticking around for the long term. There are three seasons currently available on Canadian Netflix, all of which just keep getting better.  The show depicts Stef and Lena, a lesbian couple raising a mix of biological and fostered children. Their sexuality isn’t the focus of the show, but often comes into play to illuminate how queerness informs their daily lives. Though a family-oriented program, The Fosters portrays the ongoing intimacy between Stef and Lena in a heartwarming way. The Fosters is especially interesting because it explores youth sexuality beyond that of the typical primetime show. The only downside to this series is its ridiculous dose of drama. Picture a gay Degrassi: it might take three estranged parents, two car accidents and a school shooting to get a kiss out of the protagonists, but I’ll be damned if I miss it. Overall, Netflix and Chill may seem like a daunting scenario for a pair of lady lovin’ movie buffs, but finding the right balance of nuanced romance, sex and drama is possible. On the bright side, you may not even remember the film if the date goes well.

Will Vancouver Pride also ban uniformed police officers?

20 January 2017 - 12:16am
While Pride Toronto’s members voted to accept Black Lives Matter’s demands and keep uniformed police out of this year’s parade, Vancouver Pride organizers prefer a different approach. Andrea Arnot, Vancouver Pride’s director of events, says this city’s queer, trans and people of colour communities have a different history with police than communities in Toronto and other big North American cities. “I think it historically hasn’t been quite as violent as it has in Toronto and other places in North America,” Arnot says. “There are scars and wounds from times past and there needs to be acknowledgement on that, but I am a believer in hearing people and helping them work through any trauma from that past history and find a way to move forward and help them make changes that are positive.” Arnot says the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) sought a dialogue with the local chapter of Black Lives Matter after BLM Toronto held a sit-in at last year’s parade. Following the protest in Toronto, Vancouver police voluntarily reduced their vehicles in the parade and left their armoured car at home, Arnot notes. Cicely-Belle Blain, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Vancouver, agrees that the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is not the same as its Toronto counterpart, but says anything less than a full rejection of police at Pride does not go far enough. “We stand to the same call with Black Lives Matter regardless of the situation they’re in,” Blain says. “A lot of the experiences here of black people would obviously be different than somewhere like New York or Toronto, but the main purpose of Black Lives Matter is to stand against police brutality, so we cannot accept police involvement in the Pride parade, regardless of which city they are in, and given that Pride originates from political protest.” Arnot acknowledges that recent online polling and community consultation by Vancouver Pride has shown that police involvement is still a sore spot for some community members here. “I think we have to have more discussions,” Arnot says. “Nothing is set in stone, but we want to talk to the VPD about having fewer uniformed officers with weapons present.” “We don’t know yet what a compromise might look like,” she says, “but that might be one.” Blain says Pride is meant to be a celebration of marginalized communities, and “police don’t belong in that circle.” Black Lives Matter Vancouver would like to see Pride organizers take more responsibility, Blain says. “They are seeing it as having to maintain a good relationship with the police department. But historically the police have used violence and intimidation towards queer and trans people and I don’t think we can make exceptions. We would like to see further actions from the VPS in the next few months.” Blain says Black Lives Matter will not consider participating in or endorsing the Vancouver Pride parade unless uniformed police and vehicles are fully removed. Arnot says the VPS aims to boost representation of different marginal groups at Pride events in 2017, and will reserve space in the parade and provide funding for some marginalized groups to participate, rather than the previous first-come, first-served model. Vancouver Pride would also like to support events by and for community groups that may be underrepresented. “I think VPS is often viewed as a big corporate organization,” Arnot says. “We’re not; we are just 10 little staff even in our busy season, with a volunteer board, and we can’t do everything for everyone. People who have a certain interest or a certain life experience sometimes need an event that we just don’t have the capacity to do. So if they are already doing something, they are the experts on how to create an event to have safe space to express themselves, and we want to provide the resources to do that.”

Out in Toronto: Jan 19–25, 2017

19 January 2017 - 3:15pm
Thursday, Jan 19  Mandy’s Music and Madness Show The iconic, the inimitable, the talented, the loveable — have I hit my word limit yet? — Mandy Goodhandy hosts her very own variety show onstage. It’s got short interviews, sing-alongs, standup comedy and even an oboist. What does an oboe sound like? Come and find out. Takes place the third Thursday of each month.  9pm–midnight. 120 Diner, 120 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Friday, Jan 20 Michael’s Rock Birthday  Michael Erickson, one of the owners of the world’s oldest surviving LGBT bookshop, is celebrating his birthday and everyone is invited. DJ Nik Red spins ’70s and ’80s rock music at this rock-themed event. There are also cash prizes for the best ’70s and ’80s “rock outfits,” and some other prizes for stuff like dance moves. 9:30pm–2am. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.    House of Commons  DJ KLR, a fixture in the queer party scene, launches a super fun — possibly even bangin’ — dance party. This new monthly event is all about house music and a very mixed crowd. DJ Mavis spins the opening set for the inaugural edition. The party is set to take place on the third Friday of each month at a stylish and cozy lounge.   10:30pm–2:30am. Stori, 95 King St E.   Saturday, Jan 21 Women’s March on Washington: Toronto  A mixed group of people come together to protest the results of the recent US presidential election. This is one of many such events taking place across North America during Donald Trump’s inauguration. With nearly 7,000 people indicating on the event’s Facebook page that they will attend, this should be a large gathering. Noon–2pm. Queen’s Park. For more info, visit Facebook.   Cherry Bomb: New Year! New Queers! One of the city’s longest-running and most loved queer women’s dance parties is back for 2017. DJs Cozmic Cat and Denise Benson spin. Come early for some quiet board games, stick around for the booty-shaking. It’s geared for women, but everyone is welcome. Takes place the third Saturday of each month in Kensington Market.  10pm–3am. Round, 152 Augusta Ave.   Monday, Jan 23 Tipsy Knitting  We’ve come a long way since raves, haven’t we? These days, instead of waiting around for the secret location of the next drug party to be announced, folks are just getting lightly pissed and knitting. Yes, knitting. Or, well, any other quiet little project you want to work on is good too. Just sip some booze and work alongside some similarly-inclined individuals. 5:30–7:30pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church  St. 

Out in Vancouver: Jan 19–25, 2017

19 January 2017 - 12:13am
Thursday, Jan 19 Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017 Just when you thought it was a time to relax after the holidays, a trifecta of promoters, Celebrities, Cruisey T and our city’s own version of RuPaul, Tommy D, start up another round of drag queen battles for Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017. Hosted by Jane Smoker, this competition runs weekly until Thursday, Feb 16 and promises to be even more entertaining than last year. A few new-to-town queens are itching (not that way) to show what they’ve got. Hint: Get there early, it fills up faster than a drag queen can down a drink. 8pm. Celebrities Nightclub, 1022 Davie St. Cover $5.   Friday, Jan 20 Walkies As soon as I saw this event I could hear an older English person yelling, in exactly the voice you are hearing in your head right now, at their dogs. Trust me, I live with an Englishman and that is really how they sound. These walkies, however, are with the cute pups of VAN-PAH and their handlers. Join in for a night of hot cocoa and a walk to Britannia Ice Rink to skate your heart out and chase a cute pup around the ice. 6:30–9:15pm. Meet at Waves Coffee, 1858 Commercial Dr, then take a short walk to Britannia Rink, 1661 Parker St. Cost is $6 admission, $3 skate rental.   Gay Yoga Thank god there is no nude yoga running at the moment; nobody wants to see all the treats and meals of Christmas jiggling in front of your face. But here is a regular weekly class to get you into shape while still fully dressed, hopefully in something tight enough to keep everything in place. Summer is on the way and we guys all need to get the flexibility and circulation going in case of an after-yoga hook-up. This is an easy-going group without attitude, open to all levels. Please bring your own yoga mat, a towel and lots of energy’ 7–8:30pm. Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St. Sessions are free but in order to keep services for gay men sustainable they rely on your generous donations (most people give $5–10).   Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo I am not a big ballet fan but I am a fan of bulges in Spandex or Lycra bouncing all over the ballet stage, which is why I checked out The Trocks on their last swing through town in 2015. What I didn’t know until the curtain went up is that this is a crossdressing company, so the only bulge I got to see was mine from being shoehorned into a very narrow seat. That aside, it was still one of the funniest nights I have seen at a show. Don’t miss these ballerinas as they lovingly skewer such balletic favourites as Swan Lake, La Esmeralda and Don Quixote with grace, skill, silliness, and a lot of flouncy dresses. 8pm. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 630 Hamilton St. Tickets $29–129 on their website. Show runs Friday and Saturday, Jan 21.   Saturday, Jan 21 Out In Harmony: We Belong Together Mrs MacLavanie was my choir teacher back in elementary school. Believe it or not, I was adorable back then, and could sing. Plus, I was the normal height of a third grader. Thinking back on it now, I hated that teacher. In one song, “Edelweiss,” I had to perform a solo that has stuck in my brain and played over and over ever since at the most inappropriate times. Helpfully, it has been my go-to place when I don’t want to cum too fast. TMI, I know, but we all have that place. Out in Harmony, however, welcomes people of all gender identities and sexual orientations as they create a fun and safe community where all are free to be themselves and to stretch musically. No auditions or previous musical experience are required. Tonight their concert celebrates the need to feel you can belong, relax and feel safe, no matter where you come from. Sit back and let the music engulf you as you enjoy the evening. 7pm. Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 West 49th Ave. Tickets $15 advance at or $20 at the door.   Night Run: Black Light Party Well, it must be an omen from the gods. As I sit here writing this, Canada Post has kindly just dropped off the four neon jock straps I ordered. I hope my package doesn’t blind you. As usual, when DJ Gingerbear spins the sweat will be dripping and the men grinding as the sexiest go-go studs rock their glow wear. Joining the naturally glowing Gingerbear will be Producer/DJ Tommy K from Chicago, spinning some futuristic tribal-tech house mixed with soulful drums, sexy vocal tracks and future sounds.  9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 West Hastings St. Tickets $10 at or   Return To The Chair If you cross a stage, a chair, some of the best comedians and actors in town and host David C Jones, what do you get? A night full of skits and scenes like Helium Death Scene, When Your One and Only Is Two People and many more. A different type of night that does not happen often; try not to miss it. 7–10pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No Cover.   D G-Luv & Bikes 1181 does so many over-the-top nights I thought, sure, they could be doing spin classes with that little ball of energy DJ G-Luv spinning along with the bikes. Now I understand that Bikes is DJ and Producer Shawn Henderson, so although I won’t be getting any exercise I will be hearing great music, having a few cocktails and hopefully watching Riley and Thiago bartending. Life is good. 10pm–1am. 1181, 1181 Davie St. No cover.   Sunday, Jan 22 Whistler Pride 25 Twenty-five years of Whistler Pride. Over the years, that is a lot of parties, men, hot tubs, relationships, one night stands, drag queens, DJs, and chemicals — and I don’t mean Botox. But those are all the parts of a great week-long event, so who is to judge? The only thing I’m not sure there is a lot of is skiing, as my friends who go never seem to even get on the slopes. But I’m told the skiing and snowboarding is among the best in the world, if you’re into that sort of thing. This year’s headliners off the slopes include Kim Kuzma, a comedy night with Pam Ann, and a huge closing party featuring The Cube Guys, plus the Wild West Party, the pool party, the uniform ball, and more events. Whistler Pride runs until Sunday, Jan 29 so take a few minutes to plan out your events and get your tickets. Event times, locations and more info at   Whistler Pride Kick Off Whether you are heading up to Whistler for Pride or have to stay home and make money, tonight is the kick-off party where you can start your week. XY will be transformed into a frozen winter wonderland. Come in and get ready to head up the mountain, probably with a hangover but at least it will be cold enough to keep you alert. DJ Rafael Calvente will spin and there will be a performance by Bibi Souphresh. Remember, if the bartenders are down to their underwear, it’s not their fault; It’s cold in there. 9pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $10.   Shequel I don’t know how all that makeup stays on Alma B Itches as she runs from place to place shaking her booty. Tonight after a usually packed house at Sanctuary, she high tails it, sometimes not quite in a straight line, and does this show across the street. This week her guests are Dust and Amy Grindhouse. I’m sure there will be many more queens there, since highballs are half price after 11pm. 1am–late. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St, Cover $5 or free if you have your stamp from Legends that plays earlier in the night.   Queers & Beers: Winter Edition Just like ham & eggs, toast & jam and cereal & milk, what else goes better together than Queers & Beers? Since there is snow on the ground and a chill in the air, they are saying bye bye to the parking lot and moving to a new location across the street. Come on down for a thirst-quenching afternoon of meeting new folks, catching up with old friends and warming up with a nice frothy pint of the best beer (or cider) around. 5pm. The American Hotel, 926 Main St. Cover is sliding scale $7–15.   Monday, Jan 23 Flex Fit With Him Hands up, who is still doing their resolutions for 2017? That’s what I thought. I am right there along with you, so this class can be our salvation. Spring is on the way, and we are too old to keep calling it baby fat, unless you can have a 45-year-old baby. This weekly class combines muscle strengthening and stretching exercises such as push-ups, squats, yoga, basic Pilates, core exercises, and resistance band training. Bring a mat, towel and bottle of water.  5:30–6:30pm. Scotiabank Dance Centre, 6877 Davie St. For more information or to register, please phone 604.488.1001 or email More info at   Tuesday, Jan 24 Gay Speed Dating Where else can you meet 25 guys for three minutes each? And no, Syd, the slurp ramp at the bathhouse does not count. You will spend three minutes each with all 25 guys, one at a time, and then you will check for any messages left for you at the end of the night, so no face-to-face rejection. 7–9:30pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $25.   S’no Ho’s I love my psychic (or is that psychotic) powers. Without even looking this event up I knew already with a name like S’no Ho’s, it had to be Conni Smudge and Carlotta Gurl. I hear when they go up the mountain they strap a keg of tequila on Dell Stamp, like a rescue dog, in case they get lost or caught in an avalanche. This will be a night where Kamp will be King, or Queen. Dress up or dress down, this night is about having a gay ol' time. Come one come all, dancing until the wee hours is encouraged with DJ Andes on deck all night. 9pm–12am. Check for venue and address. Tickets $15 if no pass.

Canada won’t deport lesbian refugee, at least for now

18 January 2017 - 9:12pm
A lesbian woman facing imminent deportation from Canada will not be on a plane out of the country tonight, thanks to a last-minute decision to issue her a Stay of Removal. The move allows Angela, whose last name and country of origin have not been released due to safety concerns, to stay in Canada for now, as she and her lawyer appeal the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment that would have seen her deported. It’s not clear whether the decision was granted by a federal judge or through direct intervention by Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s new Liberal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. In an email to Xtra, a spokesperson from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says Hussen cannot comment on specific cases due to privacy laws. But NDP MP Jenny Kwan says she spoke with Hussen about the case yesterday, just 24 hours before Angela’s scheduled deportation, and he stepped in to make sure Angela was not sent home. “It was my understanding that there was intervention from the minister,” says Kwan, who is the NDP’s critic on immigration, refugees and citizenship. “He advised me he would intervene to ensure there is a stay of her proceedings so she could in fact go before judicial review.” “I thank the minister for that intervention and thank him for his action with this urgent case,” Kwan continues. “I think it bodes well for a new minister who came in and who’s responsive in that regard.” If Angela is deported, her advocates fear she’ll be imprisoned and physically harmed, especially since she and her girlfriend were outed a few months ago by a newspaper in their home country. Police have since apprehended her girlfriend and allegedly threatened and sexually assaulted her. Jordan says the previous risk assessment and deportation order did not take into account the newspaper article that outed Angela. Advocates from the Vancouver organization Rainbow Refugee, which assists LGBT asylum seekers, and the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture approached Kwan months ago about Angela’s situation and kept the MP abreast of the case as it developed. On Jan 15, 2017, three days before Angela’s scheduled deportation, Kwan says the group met at her constituency office and drafted a joint letter to Hussen. “In these instances we’re talking about life and death. So it’s not child’s play,” Kwan says. “It’s very serious and it comes with very serious consequences.” Sharalyn Jordan, a Simon Fraser University professor whose research focuses on LGBT refugee protection, has been helping to support Angela during this process and expressed relief and gratitude following news that the young woman would not be deported immediately. “We want to express our deep, deep appreciation and respect for the willingness of both Minister Hussen and MP Jenny Kwan to work together to protect the human rights of this woman and LGBTQ refugees generally,” she says. Jordan was not aware of a direct intervention by Hussen, instead citing a special hearing with a federal judge to decide if Angela would receive a Stay of Removal. But she wasn’t aware of the conversation Kwan says she had with Hussen; Jordan says she’s “very encouraged” by these talks. Still, this latest decision only buys Angela more time. “We want to stress this is not a long-term solution,” Jordan says. “Rainbow Refugee and VAST and all of us working with Angela will continue to be vigilant and work with her until she has full status, safety, and respect for her human rights in Canada,” Jordan says. The upcoming appeal and legal proceedings may keep Angela in Canada for another year. Angela came to Canada in 2014 as an international student and in 2015 applied for refugee status on the grounds that she faces threats of bodily harm and imprisonment if she were to return home. “We’re talking years of a young woman’s life in limbo, so we are continuing to reach out to Minister Ahmed Hussen to ask him to please grant her a Minister’s Permit, to allow this young woman to move on with her life, start focusing on work and school and the things a 21-year-old should,” Jordan says.

I braved Bangkok’s ping pong show

18 January 2017 - 6:12pm
Everyone who’s walked through the Patpong Night Market in Bangkok has likely been accosted by men shouting, “Ping pong show?” in their faces. Although apprehensive, my curiosity was always piqued by their calls as I visualized what exploitative horrors these shows might hold. Although I’d always been tempted to see for myself, I wouldn’t have gone alone — straight venues are a whole different thing.  I hadn’t made any real friends in Bangkok, nor have I had any real sex either, which was strange given how over-sexualized some parts of this city can be. Despite falling in love with Thai culture — and even more with the food — I was having trouble connecting with locals and tourists alike.  I was extremely happy when my lover, Ernan, finally joined me for a weeklong visit. I’d mapped out all my favourite street food stalls for him to try and neighbourhoods for him to see.  On the second night of his visit, I decided to give him a snapshot of Bangkok’s gay scene. We started on Soi Twilight, where he was mesmerized by the neon signs and the bustle of the hustlers, trying to get our attention. I then took him to Soi 4 where we sat and chatted over beers, deciding how we would spend the next week together.  Afterward, we took a stroll down Silom Road. When we passed the Patpong Night Market, a guy got in our faces: “Ping pong show?”  Ernan turned towards me, looking mischievous. “Let’s go,” he said. I was scared, but at least I now had company. “Fine, let’s do it,” I said.  The guy led us back through the bazaar to a building halfway down the street and up some stairs. We entered a seedy bar, which was dimly lit and rundown. There was a stage in the centre with three women on it — two in bikinis and the other wearing a skirt hiked up and bunched around her waist. She was barefoot and not wearing any underwear.   We were seated in the first row next to a straight couple. There were two more couples, and a large group of guys sitting to the side of the stage who were shouting and cheering. They closed the front door and the hostess handed balloons to the group of guys. She asked them to hold the balloons up above their head. The girl on stage with her skirt up got on her knees, bent over and inserted a dart into her vagina. She then fired it back out towards the first balloon, popping it. She fired another and another popping each balloon, one-by-one.   The place was thrown into a fit of cheers as this woman and her sexuality were reduced to a third-world carnival show for the amusement of the Western tourists. Ernan was unsettled, but he was the only person that seemed bothered by the show.  The hostess began handing out ping pong paddles. She gave one to Ernan and tried to hand one to me too but I declined. People looked over at me like I was ruining the fun, but I wasn’t going to participate.  There was a new girl on stage now, wearing a bikini top with no bottoms, carrying a bowl of ping pong balls. She sat on her back with her legs up and reached for one. They kept slipping between her fingers in the bowl like they were lubed up, maybe. When she was finally able to clutch one she popped it into her vagina.  She made a strange facial expression and grunted as the ping pong ball fired out towards the couple to our side. The guy swung the paddle, hitting the ball and it bounced off the bottom of the stage. The couple laughed.   The woman on stage kept inserting balls into her vagina and spitting them back out. One was fired at Ernan, and he swung for it, anxious, but missed. It hit his thigh instead, leaving a wet spot on his jeans.  I can’t imagine that this show was meant to be sexy. Are some Westerners so out of touch with the struggles of those in developing countries that they could possibly find this amusing? The whole thing was worse than I thought it’d be. Perhaps all the exploitation I’ve witnessed in the city had turned my sexuality off temporarily?  “I need to go,” I told Ernan. “This is too much for me.”

Pride Toronto members vote to keep police out of the Pride parade

18 January 2017 - 6:12pm
Pride Toronto’s members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of keeping police out of this year’s and future parades, and to endorse all of Black Lives Matter Toronto’s demands. The agenda for Pride’s annual general meeting (AGM) was initially set to focus on recapping last year’s highlights in its annual report and on a Q&A with prospective new board members. But members preferred to focus on Black Lives Matter and community concerns about accessibility, corporate sponsorship and anti-black racism. Here’s Xtra’s recap of the AGM, which took place on Jan 17, 2017. [[asset:image:308809 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Pride members vote during the Jan 17 AGM."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]]   How did Pride Toronto agree to all of BLMTO’s demands? Members Gwen Bartleman and Kami Chisholm asked Pride Toronto to officially endorse all of Black Lives Matter’s demands, “and commit to [it] in terms of practice, policy and funding priorities.” But the meeting’s chair said the agenda could not be amended. Any additions must have been added 60 days prior to the meeting, said the chair, an outside facilitator brought in by Pride to run the AGM.  But several community members said they didn’t receive notice 60 days prior to the meeting.  After Bartleman successfully challenged the chair’s ruling, a large majority of attendees voted to add Black Lives Matter to the agenda. Gary Kinsman, a long-time activist and a founding member of the Toronto Lesbian and Gay Pride Day Committee, said he was “strongly in favour of Black Lives Matter Toronto’s demands.”  [[asset:image:308812 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["\u201cStrongly in favour of Black Lives Matter Toronto\u2019s demands,\u201d says long-time activist Gary Kinsman at the Pride Toronto AGM."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Pride should not allow police in the parade due to their history of violence against various communities including black and indigenous communities, two-spirit people and trans folks, he said.  Police are still targeting men who have sex with men, he pointed out, citing the recent undercover sting at Marie Curtis Park. Pride’s co-chair Alica Hall maintained that Pride Toronto was sticking to its promise to Black Lives Matter. “We made a commitment to Black Lives Matter’s demands. We have not made any new contradictions,” Hall said. “Our goal is to elect five new members who will continue this work and our commitment.” After a heated debate, community members voted overwhelmingly to approve all of Black Lives Matter’s demands, including the one to remove all police floats or booths in all Pride marches, parades and community spaces.   During the Pride parade on July 3, 2016, BLMTO staged a 30-minute sit-in and asked that Pride Toronto sign a list of nine demands, the majority of which were to reinstate and fund programming as well as more hiring of queer and trans people of colour, and one asking for the removal of police from the parade. Hall and former executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed the list of demands, but the following day, Chantelois drew heavy criticism for saying that he only signed the demands to “make the parade move.” Chantelois later resigned on Aug 10. Three days after the parade, Jacqie Lucas, a volunteer team lead, resigned in protest over the way Pride handled the Black Lives Matter demands. In September, Pride Toronto’s communications manager Victoria Schwarzl left the organization for a job at another company. Removal of police from floats and booths has become a divisive issue within the LGBT community. It was heatedly discussed at Pride Toronto’s first town hall on Aug 30, when they announced that instead of removing police from Pride, they would leave the decision to a dispute resolution process. In September, they released a lengthy statement apologizing for wrongdoings, a history of anti-black racism and a lack of accessibility at the parade. [[asset:video_embed:308821 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_caption":["Pride Toronto had its first town hall on Aug 30, 2016 to discuss issues arising from last year\u2019s Pride."],"field_video_credit":["xtraonline\/YouTube"]}]] What is Pride doing about accessibility and ASL interpreters? Board members were grilled on the lack of accessibility at Pride, in particular when it comes to ASL. Several community members said that the board needs to have a relationship with the deaf community, and to hire more interpreters from diverse backgrounds.  Pride co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams said that finding interpreters for events is an operational decision made by Pride Toronto staff, not the board. “There’s a strong desire for Pride Toronto to be as diverse as possible in our hiring,” he said, adding that interpreters are chosen depending on who is available at the time.   How are Pride Toronto’s finances? Last year, Pride Toronto had 33 sponsors, all of which are returning for Pride 2017. These sponsors include major cultural attractions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum and Ripley’s Aquarium. Pride made $2,269,180 in sponsorships, an increase from 2015. Pride’s total revenue for last year totalled $4,409,478, compared to $3,104,906 in 2015. GlynWilliams said Pride 2016 brought in $600 million in economic spending to Toronto. However, community members expressed concerns over corporate sponsorship and their attempts to pinkwash for profit. “The banks are not our friends,” said speaker Kami Chisholm, telling the audience that some trans customers have had issues with TD Canada Trust, one of Pride’s long-time sponsors. [[asset:image:308824 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Kami Chisholm told the AGM that the true spirit of Pride has been diluted by corporate sponsorship."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Chisholm added that Pride should be more focused on returning to a more political, community-focused parade. “It flies in the face of everything we stand for in our communities,” Chisholm said. “It is not our job to fund the city’s economic development.”   Who’s leaving the board? Treasurer Chris Tremeer, co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams and Dana Suvagau are stepping down as board members.     [[asset:image:308827 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams (right) is stepping down from the board of directors. Fellow co-chair Alica Hall (left) will remain on the board."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Nick Lachance\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Who’s joining the board? This year there were 13 candidates for the five available spots on Pride Toronto’s board. Ten were selected by the board recruitment committee — Paul Bozzo, Sarah Cooper, Nicole Desnoyers, Susan Gapka, Hussain Haider Ali, Robert Hampsey, Elijah Monroe, Kevin Rambally, Maurice Tomlinson and Kenneth Tong.  Three members — Rolyn Chambers, Joey Fascio and Akio Maroon — were not selected by the recruitment committee but secured 10 signatures to be eligible for election to the board. Pride Toronto members voted to elect Akio Maroon, Sarah Cooper, Kevin Rambally, Nicole Desnoyers and Elijah Monroe as new members to the board.  When is Pride 2017? This year, Pride will take place from June 1–24, 2017.

Canada to deport lesbian refugee to country where being gay is a crime

17 January 2017 - 9:08pm
A lesbian refugee in Vancouver and the people supporting her are reeling from an imminent deportation order, which they say has provided them with little time to prepare an appeal. Angela, whose last name and specific country of origin in Africa have not been released due to safety concerns, came to Canada in 2014 as an international student and the following year applied for refugee status on the grounds that she faces threats of bodily harm and imprisonment if she were to return home. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada denied her application. However, in July 2016 a newspaper in her home country published an article that included Angela’s full name and that of her girlfriend. Angela’s advocates say the article incited homophobic violence against them. Sharalyn Jordan, a Simon Fraser University professor whose research focuses on LGBT refugee protection, has been supporting Angela during this process and says the publication of the article last summer has only heightened the danger Angela faces in returning to her country of origin, where gay or lesbian sexual orientation is a criminal offence. “What happened to her girlfriend is she was apprehended by police and they used the threat of criminal sanctions — imprisonment — to extort money and sex. They sexually assaulted her,” Jordan says. “So of course this is what [Angela] fears would happen to her.” Angela could not be reached for comment prior to publication. In the wake of the article’s publication outing her at home, Angela was granted a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), a process designed to ensure people being removed from Canada are not then sent to a country where they are in danger or risk persecution. However, according to Jordan and others involved in Angela’s case, the newspaper article outing Angela was excluded from evidence during this assessment. None of this was known by Angela, Jordan or the other parties supporting her until Jan 12, 2017, when, during a routine check-in with the Canada Border Services Agency, Angela was informed that her PRRA was unsuccessful and she was going to be deported on Jan 18. “This rushed timeline is blocking access to even the basic [process], which is the Motion for Stay of Removal which requires three full days,” Jordan says. “This is not normal.” Chris Morrissey, founder of the Vancouver organization Rainbow Refugee, which assists LGBT asylum seekers, says when Angela received the news she did not have her lawyer present and was not at all prepared. Morrissey says the PRRA decision had been made on Dec 15, 2016, but it wasn’t until almost a month later that anyone was informed. Morrissey says that in the 17 years she’s been working with LGBT refugees, she has never seen a case in which such a small window of time was provided between delivery of news about a PRRA’s rejection and a deportation date. “We’ve not seen anything like this with the inability to prepare her for the CBSA interview and the speed with which they decided they were going to remove her,” Morrissey says. At the time of publication — approximately 24 hours before Angela’s scheduled deportation — her lawyer is presenting her case to a federal judge seeking a stay of removal. In a press release, Rainbow Refugee and the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture appeal to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen for a Minister’s Permit that will allow Angela to remain in Canada. They are also calling on Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to intervene to ensure Angela is not returned to her country of origin, and that she has continued access to a fair legal process. The release also quotes NDP Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic Jenny Kwan, who says this “is a matter of life and death,” and echoes Rainbow Refugee’s call for a Minister’s Permit. “In 1993, Canada was amongst the first countries in the world to extend refugee protection to those fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Kwan says. “We know by deporting Angela, we are putting her in grave risk.” Morrissey says that for LGBT people in Angela’s country — whether or not they have been outed in a far-reaching newspaper the way Angela was last summer — the threat of persecution and violence is ever present. “In addition to what’s in the law, one of the things that can easily happen is people in the community, like groups of vigilantes, once they know that someone is a member of the LGBT community can — often times with impunity — will attack them,” she says. “That’s why she’s afraid to go back.”

Why gay pulps never made it to the shelves of mainstream bookstores

17 January 2017 - 9:08pm
Beginning in the late 1940s, books with gay subject matter (and often suggestive titles and cover art) sauntered for the first time onto the shelves of many drugstores, soda shops, dime stores and other such places across the US. The subject matter of gay pulp books was still taboo, but the books were available to those brave enough to take them from the rack. Among their more enticing titles are things like Summer in Sodom, Lost on the Twilight Road, Gaydreams, Skid Row Sweetie, Bad Boys, The Gay Rebels, The Price of Pansies, Queen of the Road, Rough Trade, Cycle Sadist and Leather Sucker. Considering some of the covers of gay pulps I’ve seen from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, I think it must have taken considerable chutzpah to purchase and read one of those books. I imagine that many of them found their way into dark hiding spots, to be later read surreptitiously and frantically before being thrown away to erase the evidence. Ian Young describes the rise of the gay pulps in the opening of his 2007 book, Out in Paperback: A Visual History of Gay Pulps. Trying to narrow down what gay pulps are can be a bit tricky. Gay pulps were mass-market (produced in large quantities), cheap paperbacks with gay subject matter. They were usually pocket-sized. They sometimes had titillating cover art (the covers being the best, and often only, way the publishers had to advertise the books). Like pulp fiction generally, the “pulp” part refers to the low-quality, wood pulp paper the books were usually printed on.  Beyond that, they could be just about anything. They spanned fiction and non-fiction. Nearly any genre could be a gay pulp. Some were reprints of older hard covers, others were tawdry or delightfully silly originals. You could find everything from serious political commentary to reprints of literary fiction like Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (first published, not as a pulp, 1948) to original pornographic novels like Leatherman’s Boy (1983).   Homosexuality has been a taboo subject in some eras more than others. Before the Second World War, the only exposure to the subject that most people in the US and Britain would have had was newspaper articles about court cases and scandals — not very encouraging stuff.  If an author was lucky enough to find a publisher willing to publish his gay book, he’d usually still find himself stymied by bookstores unwilling to sell it and libraries unwilling to stock it.  When the Second World War came along, reading and publishing underwent a significant change.  To supply troops with plentiful much-needed reading material, some publishers started to produce cheap paperbacks by the tens of thousands. By the time the war ended, these mass-market paperbacks were commonplace.  This type of book was often sold outside of traditional bookstores, in places that weren’t quite so fussy about what they sold, so long as they made money. Gay subject matter — which, in part because of the 1948 publication of the first Kinsey Report, was in demand — and this new type of publishing were a match made in heaven.  Gay reading material was widely distributed for the first time, suddenly becoming very accessible in the US and Britain.  Young says that many people’s important first exposure to gay culture would have been through reading gay pulps, or at least seeing their covers. He takes it further, suggesting that the rise of pulps aided in the growth of the homophile movement in the US in the 1950s and ’60s. With his analysis of cover art, Young studies how books changed decade by decade and relates that to the attitudes of the times. By the late 1990s, gay books were commonplace in the catalogues of big publishers and on the shelves of mainstream bookstores, and the gay pulps petered out almost completely.  What I find most engaging is the experience of those reading the earlier pulps for the first time — trying to put myself in the shoes of somebody in the ’60s or ’70s. Maybe it was the sex that made you pick one up. Maybe it was the politics. Maybe the possibility of a new identity. Maybe it was to feel less alone. And I imagine that it was scary, but very, very worth it. 

Brazilian murder, the gay 60s, and Chelsea Manning

17 January 2017 - 9:08pm
[[asset:image:308803 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence US President Barack Obama has commuted most of the remaining sentence of Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower behind an enormous 2010 leak of of military and diplomatic documents. Manning, who is a transgender woman, has served seven years of a 35-year sentence in a men’s military prison. Read more at the New York Times.   Brazilian mother confesses to murder of gay son A 32-year-old mother near Sao Paolo, Brazil has confessed to stabbing to death her gay teenage son. The mother has offered conflicting reasons for the killing, but the boy’s uncle says it was likely because he was gay. Read more at LGBTQ Nation.   Gambian president hangs on to power The notoriously anti-gay president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has declared a state of emergency to hang on to power, stalling after he lost a national election. Jammeh’s government previously blamed the loss on a gay plot. Read more from Reuters.   Photographs of the gay 60s Young photographer Anthony Friedkin documented gay life in San Francisco in the late 60s in a series of photos, now on display in New York. Take a look at some of them from Time Magazine.   LGBT groups join Women’s March on Washington American LGBT rights groups, including the National Centre for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, are supporting the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president. Read more at the Washington Blade.

Centretown Pub, one of Ottawa’s oldest gay bars shuts its doors

17 January 2017 - 9:08pm
After over three decades in operation, the Centretown Pub closed abruptly on Jan 15, 2017. The doors to the business were padlocked and an eviction notice was posted on its door.  “We have done this because you have defaulted on your obligation to pay monthly rent and additional rent, most recently on December 25, 2016, January 1, 2017 and January 8, 2017,” said the notice from Windle Law Firm.  The owners of the gay bar — which is the oldest in the city — had been trying to sell the business for about a year. Reports from last January found that the bar was listed for $399,000 and the building was listed for $849,000.  “Unfortunately, with many factors in play, such as rising operational costs and a steady decline of foot traffic amongst them, the struggle to keep up with obligations was very real and constant,” Centretown Pub posted on its Facebook page on Jan 17.  Xtra was unable to reach the bar’s owners directly for comment.  “I’m kind of surprised that it did close the way it did,” says Michael Deyell, co-owner of Stonewall Wilde’s, a local business a few blocks from Centretown Pub. “I know it was the first bar that I ever went to in the late ’80s. That’s kind of the bar I came out in.” Centretown Pub sits near the intersection of Bank and Somerset West Streets, which has historically been the heart of Ottawa’s queer community. But it’s been a rough year for queer business owners in Ottawa. Stonewall Wilde’s launched in October 2016 after merging two of the city’s oldest gay-owned businesses — the book and art store After Stonewall and the sex shop Wilde’s — to save them from a similar fate.  “It’s a shame, because it’s one of the iconic gay-owned businesses in Ottawa,” Deyell says about the bar. “It’s sad to see something like that close.”  Although there are two gay bars left in Ottawa, both are in the Byward Market instead of downtown. But there are signs that new life is being breathed into the city’s gay village.   At the end of March, Shawn Pudsey will be opening T’s Pub in a building across the street from Centretown Pub. “I think there’s still a space in the gay community for gay bars,” Pudsey says. “We hope to fill that space.”  However, Pudsey also says Centretown Pub will be missed in the community. “It’s always been our place to go,” he says about the bar. “It really feels like a death in the family.”  Although it recognized its closure marks an end to an era, the bar also said in its Facebook post that it would remain part of the city’s queer community. “We won’t abandon our community and the outpouring of support from many sources have shown that, indeed, our community is still strong and caring,” the post said.  “Although a chapter has closed in our community, don’t despair,” it continued. “Like any good story, there is always a new chapter at the end of an old one.” 

How one trans woman prompted Canadian jails to stop sorting inmates by genitalia

17 January 2017 - 6:08pm
Canada’s federal jails have told staff to stop sorting trans people by their genitalia, after a trans woman raised the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I did 36 years in the military; I’m a pensioner. I get to speak out now,” Teresa Windsor tells Xtra. On Jan 12, 2017, Windsor took part in a Kingston, Ontario, question-and-answer session during Trudeau’s tour of the province. She asked Trudeau about “what I consider torture of trans inmates” by housing them in jails by genders they don’t identify with.  “Will you do your best to make sure that trans women are put in a prison that’s more appropriate?” she asked. The Prime Minister said yes. “I’ll admit, I consider myself to be a fairly strong advocate for LGBTQ2 issues, and fairly aware of all the different pressures, and this isn’t one that I had ever thought of,” Trudeau said. “I will make sure we look at it and we address it and we do right in recognizing that trans rights are human rights and we need to make sure we are defending everyone’s dignity and rights in every way we can.” Windsor suspects her “nice, red Liberal shirt” drew Trudeau’s eye. Officials screened the audience’s seating arrangements, but not their questions, she says. Since at least 1999, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has sorted trans inmates who haven’t transitioned based on their genitalia. Until Jan 9, 2017, CSC’s “gender dysphoria” policy restricted gender-confirmation surgery to people who have spent “12 continuous months in an identity-congruent gender role” — but said only months spent prior to their incarceration would count.  After review, CSC updated its policy to allow jail time to count in those 12 months — but continued sorting “pre-operative” trans and intersex people by their genitalia for their jail placement. Three days later, Windsor took Trudeau to task about that policy, which she describes as “reprehensible.” The next day, CSC abruptly changed course. “CSC is reviewing trans inmate’s placement requests on a case-by-case basis,” wrote a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, calling the Jan 9 update “an interim policy.” “CSC is establishing a working group and will be consulting with stakeholders on an updated policy that will, among other things, be compliant with Bill C-16,” Scott Bardsley said in an email. Windsor, who hosts the community radio show Gender Talk Kingston, says she’s thrilled about the change. “I’m hoping that my word to Justin Trudeau wasn’t the only spark to get things changed. But it definitely had an effect,” she says. Windsor found it “extremely disturbing” that the jail ombudsman has seen a rising number of trans people choosing voluntary segregation, feeling unsafe in the general prison population. “It’s almost like Corrections Canada has made being transgender a crime within itself,” she says, adding that sorting people by genitalia goes against the spirit of Bill C-16, which would encode gender identity and expression in Canada’s human rights laws. “Trans women are women, even in prison.” Meanwhile, Xtra has learned that the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is suggesting a tribunal investigation into the former policy. In December 2015, the West Coast Prison Justice Society filed a human-rights complaint alleging the policy was leading to rapes of transgender inmates. The commission previously referred a similar case to its tribunal, which ruled in 2001 that the policy was discriminatory.  Jennifer Metcalfe, who is overseeing the litigation, says the complaint investigator finished his report the week of Jan 9, recommending it go before a tribunal. That means both the group and the government have a few months to submit responses. If they don’t reach an agreement, the government could face fines and orders to change its policies. “I think it’s pretty ridiculous to say somebody living their life in prison is not living their real life,” says Metcalfe, who has handled individual complaints for more than a decade. CSC houses all adult Canadians serving sentences of two years or more, representing about 40 percent of the almost 40,000 adult prisoners in Canada. The rest are in provincial and territorial jails, including people awaiting a trial or serving community sentences. Ontario and British Columbia jails have sorted inmates based on their self-identified gender since 2015.

Would you participate in a clinical trial just to access PrEP?

16 January 2017 - 6:05pm
“When there are potential benefits to a person participating in a study that could be health related — maybe there’s a study that’s studying a new intervention. We don’t know whether it works or not, but it really might, and the alternative is to not have access to it at all, it can be attractive,” says Dr Darrell Tan, an infectious diseases physician and investigator whose research focuses on clinical trials in HIV prevention. Well, it just so happens that there’s a study currently recruiting in Toronto to assesses whether a relatively new drug, Emtricitabine and Tenofovir Alafenamide (F/TAF), known as Descovy, is safe and effective to use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), even more so than Truvada — and I’m considering participating. I had to stop taking PrEP about a year ago when I started freelancing because I lost my private drug coverage. Sure, I’ve adjusted to the fact that I’m much less protected, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Without a doubt, I’d still be on PrEP right now if I could be. When I learned that they were recruiting for this study in Toronto, I thought that it was at least worth looking into. This isn’t that radical of an idea. My friend Greg enrolled in a clinical study for a few reasons, one of which was to access PrEP as well. At the time he didn’t know how to get it, so it seemed like the best way. The study he was enrolled in was called, PREPARATORY-5, of which Tan was the principal investigator. It was Canada’s first PrEP demonstration project, examining issues in implementing the pill it in the real world. It was great, according to Greg. He got free access to PrEP for a year and also they paid him $25 per visit. In Canada, PrEP is accessible to some people with private drug coverage, students, or those who are enrolled in the First Nations and Inuit Health Care plan. It is also relatively accessible for people in Quebec through the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). The maximum cost of PrEP with this government insurance plan would be $83.33 per month. Of course there’s also the Trillium loophole in Ontario, as discussed in Xtra’s video “PrEP Talk.”  “In Canada, although we pride ourselves on having a universal health system, a big glaring gap in that universality is pharmacare. That is just a reality that we are unfortunately faced with,” Tan tells me. And it’s not just an issue for those seeking PrEP. It applies for those in need of HIV treatment as well.  Sometimes newcomers to Canada don’t have health care coverage or drug coverage. In such instances, physicians may look to clinical trials that they’re eligible for to provide access the drugs that they need. Of course, this isn’t the only reason people enrol in clinical trials. Access may be an incentive, but so is interest; some may want to enjoy feeling like they’re contributing to decreasing the risk of HIV acquisition. Others may just want to know how the process works. There are many reasons. When considering a study, Tan explains that the key thing to understand is your motivation as well as the benefits of participating. You also need to understand the risks. Personally, I struggle with the idea of ingesting an unknown drug. Sure, I used to do recreational drugs in my 20s two to three days a week, but I seemed to have lost my nerve with age. So how do we know if these studies are safe?  “A big goal of big clinical trials is to get more data about safety. There’s no way around that problem,” Tan says. “You can’t know how safe something is in humans without first testing it in humans. It’s just not possible.” Depending on which phase the study is in, (typically ranging from one to four), you can get an idea of how much information there is about safety. The Descovy trial that I’m considering is in its third phase, so I’m less concerned. Plus, there’s also a lot already known about the side-effects of Descovy since it’s already approved for HIV treatment. Before a potential participant enrols in a study there are up front conversations to inform them of known and unknown risks. Tan also emphasizes that informed consent is a continuous process. Participants are asked throughout the study whether they wish to continue and can stop at any time. Upon further investigation, I learned that participants of Descovy’s prevention trial will be randomized. They’ll receive either Truvada and a placebo that looks like Descovy, or Descovy and a placebo pill that looks like Truvada. The way I see it is if I joined, I’d either be taking Descovy or Truvada. I’d still use a condom whenever possible, so I wouldn’t be any less protected than I am now anyway. If I feel sick at any point I’d stop.  No doubt it’s a reality that some Canadians are enrolling in studies just to be able to access PrEP. However, Tan is hopeful. In August 2016, the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC) recommended that Truvada as PrEP be reimbursed in Canada under public drug plans with two conditions.  First, that it’s provided through a sexual health program by someone experienced in the treatment and prevention of HIV. Second, that Gilead provides it at a reduced price. It may not make it through the negotiation process, and even if it does, access may vary. Still, it’s a step forward.

Yukon trans activists demand meeting with new territorial government

16 January 2017 - 6:05pm
A support group for trans people in Yukon released a letter Jan 11, 2017, demanding a meeting with newly-elected Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and several of his ministers. This comes after minister mandate letters released by the government showed no specific commitments to address long-standing grievances from the LGBT community. Trans people are not currently given explicit protection in Yukon’s Human Rights Act; they must undergo surgery to change their legal gender and do not have clear procedures to get funding for sex reassignment surgery under the territorial health plan.  The Yukon Liberal party made a commitment to review of all of the territory’s “legislation, policy and practice . . . to ensure the Yukon Government meets rules and social standards for LGBTQ non-discrimination,” in its election platform. After the election, new Justice and Education Minister Tracy McPhee told Xtra that amending the Human Rights Act and Vital Statistics Act to address trans peoples’ concerns were “already on the agenda.” But the mandate letter she was given by the premier makes no mention of specific laws and only repeats the campaign pledge to conduct a review.  That made members of the trans support group, All Genders Yukon, nervous about the government’s commitment to their needs, says organizer Chase Blodgett. “The Liberals had the weakest concrete commitments to our community in their platform, and people were afraid that they were going to see a repeat of the last two years,” Blodgett says.  Attempts to get clarification from the government about commitments and timelines for action haven’t gotten traction, he adds.  “Aside from committing to hold a review . . . They’ve made no commitments to us,” Blodgett says. “They’ve not made any efforts or attempt to respond to emails All Genders Yukon has sent nor have they asked us what our community needs.”  Blodgett says that the review is unnecessary because the government is aware of the legislative changes that need to be made.  “Sandy Silver was a vocal advocate in the previous sitting. These aren’t issues he needs to be briefed on,” he says. “I don’t understand why they can’t say we are going to ensure that the Human Rights Act is amended, we are going to ensure that the Vital Statistics Act is amended.” In an emailed statement, McPhee acknowledged receiving the letter and pledged to meet with the group.  “Our government is committed to having conversations on the concerns presented in the letter, and will be moving forward to arrange a time to meet with All Genders Yukon. The needs and concerns of Transgender, Two-spirit and Non-binary Yukon Residents are a high priority to us,” McPhee says. Additionally, when pressed about the laws on Twitter, Silver responded to Blodgett by pointing to a story in Xtra in which McPhee committed to making the necessary amendments.  While Blodgett acknowledges that actual changes to the law will take time to go through the legislative process, the need for action is urgent.  “What are we supposed to do about our basic health-care needs in the meantime? Health care can’t wait for a legislative review,” he says. “In the case of human rights violations, condoning it for even another day is a heinous act.”

Out in Ottawa: Jan 16–31, 2017

16 January 2017 - 6:05pm
Monday, Jan 16 Up Yours! The Anal Sex Workshop  Some workshops teach you how to use Excel. Others cover resumés and job interview etiquette. This one is about putting things in butts. This introductory workshop covers such topics as safety, toys, positions, lube and (amusingly) how to troubleshoot common issues. People of all genders and orientations welcome.  6:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St.    Thursday, Jan 19 Hard Cover Book Club  Michael V Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, drag queen, artist and occasional clown. In his first non-fiction work, My Body is Yours, he discusses and reflects on issues surrounding growing up as an insecure sissy in a small town. At this book club for men, attendees discuss Smith’s memoir over a few cups of coffee and some baked goods (PS, bring baked goods).  6:30pm. Centretown CHC, 420 Cooper St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Saturday, Jan 21 Baby, It’s Cold Out There  Long johns, onesies, long underwear, union suits, thermals — call ’em what you want, they’re kinda sexy. National Capital Leather Pride hosts a winter-appropriate bar night when men are encouraged to wear — and wear only — long undies. The party takes place on all four of the venue’s floors, with DJ Dan Valin spinning dance music on the second. Includes pants check (and coats too, I guess).  TBA. For more info, visit Facebook.   Thursday, Jan 26 Stonewall Wilde’s Men’s Night  The local queer book, art and sex shop hosts a laid-back social, showcasing products created by men, for men. That means refreshments and a gander at Jack and Joel Soaps, Pelt and Pine Bags, José Fontaine Leather and more. For men only, this is the newly-merged business’s first event of 2017. Those interested must RSVP to  6–8pm. Stonewall Wilde’s, 370 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Friday, Jan 27 Throb with KeV-J  This party is all about guys dancing and making out with their shirts off. So, if you don’t want to see that, then you probably shouldn’t come. Montreal’s DJ KeV J spins at this bash unabashedly geared toward queer men. It’s dark, it’s sexy and it has a rave feel. Billed as “Ottawa’s hottest boyz night,” the event happens once each month at different venues across the city.   10:30pm–2:30am. Kavali, 34 Clarence St.   Tuesday, Jan 31 Going Down: Fellatio  What makes a good friend? Is it moral support? Is it trustworthiness? Is it their ability to give brain-melting blowjobs? For those who want to be such a friend, this workshop is for you. It covers everything from basic anatomy to more advanced stuff. Everyone is welcome. Register in the store, on the store’s website, or call 613-789-4646.  6:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St.

How to really push back against conservative martyrs like that U of T prof

16 January 2017 - 12:04pm
It’s been nearly four months since Professor Jordan Peterson made headlines with his public declaration that he would refuse to compromise his grammatical principles by referring to individual trans students as “they” when requested. Prior to this, the University of Toronto prof made a career in studying the psychological effects of living under historical dictatorships, then went on to counsel professionals stressed out by politically-charged workplace codes of conduct. Out of this, he presumably came to equate refuting university pronoun etiquette with fighting Big Brother. Seeing an influential academic make a media event out of being rude to non-binary and trans students, queers pushed back hard. The results? Well, after a media tour, Peterson is supplementing his very-much-uninterrupted teaching income with a well-crowdfunded series of Youtube lectures that look like a curmudgeonly uncle got his hands on a degree and a copy of Powerpoint. Our pushback became his publicity. This is a familiar pattern. Cultural conservatives build a hill to die on and meet left-wing resistance. They do the rounds in print, TV, and funded websites to ironically claim that they’re being silenced. They get famous, make bank, push their agenda, or even get elected. Jordan Peterson. Sweet Cakes bakery. President Trump. While it’s absurd that our opponents now include rich and famous “martyrs” who mistake disagreement for discrimination, these people make a cultural impact. So we need a new game plan. Our old tools aren’t just ineffective, but often counterproductive. Where did we go wrong? Is this blowback for asking for too much too fast? Well, for our opponents, any small improvement within their lifetime is too much too fast. So, no, toning it down is a non-starter. Are we too out? Too loud? Some among the older generations still long for decades when Jane average didn’t grasp that queers existed next door, let alone voted for whichever bigot shouted the loudest about protecting her daughters from our equality. I’d rebut this politic founded on silence among the passable few — but there’s no debate to be had. This genie is out of the closet. So how do we stay out and proud, and kibosh professional bigots? Trying to shame them or shut them down can stoke their martyr complexes and flesh out their fans and their funds. Simply debating them only entrenches their views. What we can do is preemptively steal their fans. This sounds cool but it’s hard — this time we are the ones that need to change. I’m not going to preach that all of us left-wingers just need to patiently listen to any old Trump campaigner. Asking folks to indulge someone who’s midway to stripping you and yours of civil rights and full lifespans is an absurd request. But between those of us under the rainbow who live relatively safe lives, and our queer allies, we can poach the other side’s ambivalent fringe. Watch some Megyn Kelly, learn the worldview, and go talk politics. Or rather, “listen politics” — let them do most of the talking while getting a feel for what’s actually scaring them. Once you’ve empathized, slip in one or two ideas for them to chew on, like an anecdote about how a friend is afraid of physical violence if he goes back to his hometown or uses a public washroom. Do this right, come back in six months and they’ll often be spouting your idea to their friends. . . and you may be spouting some of their ideas to yours. Don’t worry, it makes you a better person. It’s easy to inflame rage against a distant and unmet other — right, left or centre. But if those of us who can do so safely can foster a sense of compassion and kinship with our opponents’ audiences, we will make (and become) allies where we never expected. And then we can all push back together.