Ottawa Xtra

Small victories, marriage quality, and ten million gay Americans

14 January 2017 - 5:55am
[[asset:image:308797 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Chinese transgender man wins lawsuit A transgender man in the Chinese city of Guiyang has won a small victory in court, after he was fired from his job for dressing in men’s clothing. The court said he was improperly fired, but did not say that it was necessarily because of discrimination. Read more at the BBC.   Most Germans support equal marriage While Germany remains one of the few Western European countries without equal marriage for gays and lesbians, a strong majority of Germans support same-sex marriage, according to a report by the country’s anti-discrimination agency. Even so, the report says, gay Germans still face regular discrimination. Read more from Deutsche Welle.   More Americans than ever are LGBT According to a Gallup survey, the number of Americans who identify as LGBT continues to rise. An estimated 10 million Americans are now LGBT, or 4.1 percent of the population, up from 3.5 in 2012. Millennials are far more likely to be LGBT than previous generations, at 7.3 percent.   Taiwan inches closer to marriage equality A bill in Taiwan’s parliament to allow same-sex marriage under the country’s civil code continues to gather momentum. It has now passed a preliminary review in parliament, and is supported by Taiwan’s president and ruling party. Read more at the Washington Blade.   Peru takes small step towards recognizing gay unions A Peruvian court has ruled that economist and gay rights activist Óscar Ugarteche can legally register his overseas marriage in Peru, a small step towards recognition of gay couples. The government has promised to appeal the ruling, and same-sex marriage is still illegal within the country. Read more at The Mary Sue.

Cannabis Culture accused of attracting anti-LGBT clients to Toronto’s gay village

13 January 2017 - 5:53pm
The smoke is beginning to clear following an online firestorm that appears to have spilled into the street — over a marijuana shop in the Church-Wellesley Village, with allegations it’s been attracting a clientele unfriendly to LGBT people.  On Jan 3, 2017, the Cannabis Culture shop on Church Street received a one-star public review on its Facebook page, alleging that some of its customers have routinely been making homophobic and transphobic comments, both in the store and outside, causing some LGBT community members to feel unsafe in the village. Three days later, someone splashed blue paint on the shop’s storefront. Joey Viola, who organizes FML Mondays each week next door at Flash, wrote the review, kicking off the controversy.  “When I had my patrons coming up to me and confiding in me that when they go outside for cigarettes or whatever they’re being harassed by certain loiterers that are outside next door, that prompted me to take a closer look,” Viola says. “Now I don’t see it to be [Cannabis Culture’s] fault, however, they are bringing in some clientele that are not necessarily down with the LGBT lifestyle.” Viola emphasized that he himself is a customer of Cannabis Culture and has no desire to see the store relocated or shuttered. He says his post blew up in a way that surprised him. “It opened a floodgate of people explaining how they felt just walking by there. How they choose to walk on the other side of the street, how they normally would go in there but they’ve spent some time in there [and] they’ve heard some snickering or being called a fag or a tranny and they’ll leave,” he says.  [[asset:image:308785 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Cannabis Culture is located in the Church-Wellesley Village."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Daily Xtra"]}]] The post, and a subsequent one by Viola the following day, caught the attention of owner Marc Emery, who contacted Viola and arranged a meeting for Jan 6. That morning, Cannabis Culture employees arrived to find someone had splashed paint across the front of the store.  Viola says his heart sank when he learned of the vandalism. He took to Facebook that day to condemn the act. “This is not how we’re going to make change,” he tells Xtra. “Anybody who thinks that’s okay is on the wrong side of this.”  Emery says the allegations of homophobia or transphobia associated with his customers came as a shock. Emery says Cannabis Culture has upwards of 1,300 customers coming through its doors every day and he estimates that close to half of them are part of the LGBT community. He says it was confusing to suddenly find his business linked to claims of homophobia, given his 30 years of support for queer rights going back to the censorship battles of Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto and Little Sister’s in Vancouver.  Emery, who is featured prominently in Albert Nerenberg’s 2005 documentary Escape to Canada, which examines the battles to legalize both gay marriage and marijuana, says he was hurt that LGBT opponents to his store’s presence in the neighbourhood don't stand in solidarity with the cannabis community, given the persecution both have experienced historically. “We’re still being arrested every day in Canada. We still haven’t had any equal rights for 50 years, the cannabis community.” While Viola and several online posters cite an alleged spike in gaybashings and assaults in the neighbourhood since Cannabis Culture’s 461 Church St location opened in September 2016, Toronto Police Service could not make a connection between violent acts and the area around the marijuana shop. But LGBTQ liaison officer Danielle Bottineau says there have been at least three attacks in the neighbourhood since Jan 1, 2017. Bottineau says she would have to meet with the police service’s crime statistics analysts to know whether there has been a spike in recent months, though. “I don’t know I can make a connection to Cannabis Culture,” she says. “In saying that, we’re putting together a meeting in regards to various stakeholders in and around that area to listen to their concerns.” Bottineau is not sure when the meeting will take place.   [[asset:image:308791 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mark Harrison is an employee at the Cannabis Culture located on Church Street. Owner Marc Emery (not pictured) estimates that of his 1,300 daily customers, over half are part of the LGBT community."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Daily Xtra"]}]] Kelly Kyle, chair of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area, says that while she has heard the allegations that some of Cannabis Culture’s clientele are not LGBT-friendly, the BIA has not received any complaints from member businesses.  “We always take the safety of our members and of people who visit the village and community to the utmost degree of seriousness. But there was a bit of a problem with drugs and aggressive panhandling before Cannabis Culture arrived,” Kyle says. “So it’s kind of hard to say if things have escalated because of their arrival. We don’t really think so, to be honest, because we haven’t heard much from the community.” Kyle says the BIA is actively working to raise awareness about aggressive panhandling and gaybashing, and plans to discuss both at the forthcoming meeting with Toronto Police Service. Noel Desjardins, a member of the LGBT community, has worked at Cannabis Culture’s  Church Street location since it opened and says people from all walks of life visit the store and embrace queer people. “Any homophobic [or] transphobic slurs I've heard were said by the same people who are often in [the park next to the 519]. Many suffering from mental illness and/or drug addiction,” he says. “Anyone who’s lived in the community long enough knows that there is nothing new happening here. The police do not patrol Church Street enough after hours. Walking to Starbucks at 6am in the village has always been a bit scary.” Desjardins says he’s been securing the premises himself, patrolling the lounge and area around the store. He says anyone “throwing hate of any kinds towards anyone” is asked to leave and is escorted off the premises and away from neighbouring businesses. “I’ve also been asking our patrons to not loiter in front of any of the other businesses. I'm happy to say that all our patrons seem to get it and I’ve had no problems,” Desjardins says. The meeting between Emery and Viola on Jan 6 was a positive one, according to both parties. “I have nothing negative to say about how they handled it,” Viola says. “I think it was impactful.” Viola, who says he does not speak for the community as a whole but did consult with a number of people before the meeting at Cannabis Culture, made four proposals: signage indicating the store is an LGBTQ+ safe space; some security checks on busy nights to ensure no one outside is causing trouble; hosting some LGBTQ events; and sensitivity training for staff.  Emery agreed to all of it.  “I mean, those kinds of things can only make business better. So I’m not averse to anything that makes people feel more welcome on the block,” Emery says. He invited Viola’s production company Mojo Toronto to host an event in the store. “We have shows, we have entertainment on Wednesday nights, and we have five other nights people are welcome to approach us for a show.” The shop had already been planning to decorate its interior with images chronicling moments in the gay rights movement, and this experience has spurred them to move ahead with that project, Emery says. “It’s going to be the coolest gay-friendly cannabis shop you’ve ever seen,” he says.

Class-action lawsuit proceeds on government, military purge in Canada

12 January 2017 - 8:52pm
Class-action lawsuits against the federal government’s purge of gay employees are proceeding, with increasing calls for an apology and compensation for fired ousted public servants. This month, staff in some federal departments have been asked to preserve written, printed and electronic documents. The request, seen by Xtra, asks public servants to store any communications from June 27, 1969, onwards that “relate to or refer to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” as well as employment records of people dismissed or harassed on those grounds.  Constitutional lawyer Douglas Elliott, who filed one of two class-action lawsuits in October 2016, says both are proceeding, with a court appearance scheduled Feb 10, 2017. “We have told the federal government that they should be producing documents that may be relevant to the case,” Elliott says.  Elliott says that Justice Department lawyers say they prefer a settlement to court-ordered compensation. “The discussions are at a very preliminary stage right now,” Elliott says. “We don’t know any of the details of what they’re prepared to do.” The Liberal government’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, MP Randy Boissonnault, wasn’t available for comment. “Our government is committed to working with the LGBTQ2 community to advance and protect their rights and address historical injustices they have endured,” Boissonnault’s constituency manager Brendon Legault told Xtra. Elliott’s suit involves federal public servants and military employees fired due to their perceived sexualities. His suit is paired to a Quebec suit, because that province uses a different code law. Meanwhile, Halifax lawyer John McKiggan filed another class-action suit on Dec 7, 2016 over discrimination of soldiers and military employees based on sexual orientation. “You hear these people’s stories, and it’s difficult not to be moved by how traumatic these experiences were,” McKiggan says. “Most Canadians, I think, have no idea that their government engaged in a concerted and systemic effort to discriminate, harass, intimidate and eventually terminate LGBTQ members” of the military and public service, he says. McKiggan says he’s had straight soldiers come forward saying they witnessed anti-gay discrimination at work and now want to help the case. Both McKiggan and Elliott expect all three cases to work together.  Elliott says he’s growing impatient, noting that outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry formally apologized on Jan 9 for his department’s discrimination against its LGBT employees. “Canada is taking quite a while to get its act together, compared with other countries,” Elliott says.  “We're moving in the right direction, but we’re moving at a glacial pace right now.”

How one play is including queer people in the conversation about sexual violence

12 January 2017 - 5:50pm
The Ghomeshi Effect, created and directed by queer artist Jessica Ruano, opens at The Gladstone in Ottawa on Jan 19, 2017. Choreographed by Amelia Griffin, the production combines dance with interviews conducted by Ruano with sexual assault survivors, lawyers, support workers, a parole officer and people who don’t understand the concept of rape culture. Ruano tells us more in this edited interview.   Xtra: What gave you the idea of exploring the national conversation about the Jian Ghomeshi verdict and sexual violence in a theatre production? Jessica Ruano: When the verdict came out, everyone seemed to have an opinion about it — whether or not he was guilty, whether the trial was conducted fairly or justly. People had a lot to say and for me, I feel that theatre is a way that I can explore ideas that are interesting to me, and this is a subject that is very dear to my heart. Why is talking about sexual violence important to you? The majority of people in my life have had some experience of sexual violence, including myself. I think many of us feel shame and embarrassment. If we see ourselves as intelligent, capable people, how could this have happened to us? The fact is that it happens to all kinds of people and you can’t say it affects just a certain demographic. What stood out most to you from interviewing people about sexual violence?  How much people apologize for things that happen to them. There were a number of people who apologized for telling their stories, even though I had requested them. You tend to think of ways you could have prevented it, but blaming ourselves is not terribly helpful. We need to look at why this happens in the first place. There have been people who have staunchly defended Ghomeshi, saying if you’re found not guilty in a court of law then that’s the end of it. What kinds of criticisms or concerns have you encountered from Ghomeshi defenders? On Twitter I had a lot of backlash about this show. People were upset about the title and I have said quite expressly that the show is not about Jian Ghomeshi. We’re not looking at him or his trial. We’re instead looking at the conversation that has arisen because of the trial. People are now speaking openly about sexual violence and that’s what I found interesting.  As a queer woman, how did you ensure that LGBT voices were included? I deliberately sought them out. It was important to me to interview queer people, people of colour, people of different ages, trans people and genderqueer people. Sexual violence does happen in same-sex relationships and that’s often not taken seriously.  It’s hard for any survivor to come forward, but is sexual violence even more taboo in the LGBT community? From the conversations that I’ve had, one of the things that has come up is that the queer community has to be a community because we have to stick together in important politics and rights. If there’s a person in the community who is doing a lot of great work in that respect but is also accused of sexual assault, then that can really divide a community. It’s almost like breaking up a family because the queer community has to be a family in order to get anything done and to feel like there’s a place to belong. There’s pressure to give the impression that everything’s fine and we’re not the awful stereotypes that people can come up with. That pressure on staying silent is that much more potent. Why did you incorporate dance into this piece? Sexual violence is very much about the body and I felt that you can’t always say everything with words. Words hit you intellectually and emotionally, but the physicality hits you viscerally, like in the gut. I think maybe people don’t take into consideration sometimes the seriousness and pervasiveness of sexual violence because all they hear is statistics and hashtags. Unless it’s being communicated to you in a way that you feel it in your body, then I don’t know if much is going to be done.

Out in Toronto: Jan 12–18, 2017

12 January 2017 - 11:50am
Friday, Jan 13 Puppy Love  I’d Tap That hosts a sexy, inclusive, performance-filled dance party on Toronto’s sassy Queen Street West. The music, a mix of pop, house, R&B and more, is supplied by DJs Dang Kids and Nate Nightcall. The entertainment includes something burlesque-y from Kelsey Slammer. According to billing, oppressive behaviour will not be tolerated at this bash. 10pm–midnight. The Beaver, 1192 Queen St W. facebook.com/idtapthattoronto    Skank Top: Black Out Party  With the lights turned low, guys in slutty shirts dance and flirt at this body-positive party. DJ Aeryn Pfaff spins and go-go boys shake it. The motto for the night is “body pride, not pride body,” so all shapes, sizes and colours are not only welcome but loved. A dark space is set up downstairs for, according to billing, “some slap and tickle” (which is like sex, but more British sounding).  10:30pm–2am. The Steady, 1051 Queen St W. facebook.com/tankskop  [[asset:image:308776 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Skank Top: Black Out Party is a body-positive party taking place on Jan 13, 2017 at The Beaver."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Evan Bergstra"]}]] Saturday, Jan 14 Board Games Night The Toronto Gaymers hosts its first board game event of the year. This edition of the recurring event has no theme; queer folks just choose a game (or several) from the group’s vast library of games and chill out with some dice, cards, small wooden or plastic figures — whatever. Bring friends. The venue sells alcohol, but there is no obligation to booze it up.  3–9pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. facebook.com/torontogaymers    Boner  You gotta love branding that gets straight to the point — no quibbling, no BS, just boner. Presented by Nigel March, this new, penis-themed monthly dance party includes a clothes check. Guys just strip down to whatever feels comfortable (which can mean wearing nothing at all) and dance and flirt (and who knows) to DJ Joshua Reid’s hot beats.  10pm–3am. Club 120, 120 Church St. facebook.com/bonergear  [[asset:image:308773 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Boner is the new penis-themed monthly dance party by Nigel March."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Nigel March"]}]] Trade with Christeene  According to billing, this dance party is very sex- and slut-positive — “Let’s celebrate our sexualities, our community, and all you gross whores for the first Trade of the year,” it says. The bash includes a performance by the inimitable Christeene, and music by DJs Phillippe and Scooter McCreight. Organizers say they won’t allow slut or body shaming, misogyny or transphobia.  10pm–3am. The Black Eagle, 457 Church St. facebook.com/getsometrade   Sunday, Jan 15 Bathhouse and Body Works: Dottie Dangerfield and Nancy Bocock Drag performer Dottie Dangerfield, billed as a “meat curtains provocateur,” is one of the headliners at this queer bathhouse night. In addition to the usual play areas and spa facilities, the evening also includes Axel Blows pole dancing, DJs spinning, and something called “Sybian Jenga” (it appears to be Jenga played on a massive, rideable vibrator). Everyone welcome.  7pm–3am. Oasis Aqualounge, 231 Mutual St. oasisaqualounge.com [[asset:image:308779 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Drag performer Dottie Dangerfield is headlining at this event, held on Jan 15, 2017, at Oasis Aqualounge."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Dottie Dangerfield"]}]]

Out in Vancouver: Jan 12–18, 2017

11 January 2017 - 8:49pm
Thursday, Jan 12 Rainbow Soup Social It’s that time of year where I get to guilt you into things. Some of you had a good Christmas, plenty of good food, drinks, friends, all of the best things. But some of you are not as lucky, and this time of year every support group needs help. Find the one that works for you at any number of places like qmunity.ca or checkhimout.ca, just to name two. This particular group, run by the Health Initiative for Men, invites you to make soup weekly that is provided to queer people and their allies. And if making soup isn’t your thing, find something that is, you will feel great afterwards. 5–7pm. Gordon Neighbourhood House, 1019 Broughton St, register at register@checkhimout.ca. More info at checkhimout.ca   Friday, Jan 13 It’s Just Drag I know some of you think that a three-hour drag show can be just that: a drag. But tonight Tommy D brings us a TFD production, with all the bells and whistles that go along with a top-performance extravaganza with more than 30 performers. Not only has he snagged Roxxxy Andrews and Naomi Smalls from RuPaul, but from what I hear every queen in the city has been vying for a spot in what promises to be one of the classiest nights in one of the best spots in town for this kind of show. Hosted by Joan-E and Shanda Leer, you’ve got your money’s worth already. Grab your date and dress to impress. 8pm. Commodore Ballroom, 868 Granville St. Tickets  $30–50 at ticketmaster.ca. Info at facebook.com/events/1735240636799430/   Full Length Feature: The End? Have Carlotta and Gingerbear done it again? Have they ravaged every dancer and stripper that has dropped gear at the “O” and now have to move on? Come down tonight for what could be The End. Carlotta Gurl hosts for one last kick at the can along with Peach Cobblah and Isolde N Barron. DJ Gingerbear will be spinning and VJ’ing the night away and legendary Lola is your bartender du jour. If the night is moving — hopefully closer to the Village — I will keep you informed! 9pm. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5. theodyssey.ca   Saturday, Jan 14 Rainbow Bowling LGBTQ Event I can just see my friend Sydney laughing his ass off when he sees I’ve written about a bowling event. I used to bowl. In fact, I was in the Chicago Gay Games for bowling, but that was at the end of my career when I wasn’t having as much fun, though it got me into the Games. My team did great, me not so much, and when the bowling was all done I “accidentally” let go of my ball on the hill beside our hotel. As far as I know that 16-pound ball still lives at the bottom of that canal. Tonight is a fundraiser for Rainbow Refugee and teams will consist of six members. Bring your team, or they will assign you to a team so nobody misses out. There is a bar, concessions, a bowling-themed costume contest and door prizes, and you get to help out a great support group. 7–11pm. Old Orchard Lanes, 4429 Kingsway, Burnaby. Admission $20. facebook.com/events/1103189363082550/   Vancouver Men In Leather Social & Pump Kink Night What better night to hit the VML gear night and social? You can meet and greet and get tuned up with a few cocktails before sticking around for PJ’s Pump Kink event: a full night of leather, gear, kink, fetish, men and fun. I am going to have to break out the leather cleaner after this one. Anyone know of a good DNA remover for gear? 8–11pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. $5 cover after 9pm. vancouvermeninleather.ca   Bulge Probably not the best name for a night after a few weeks of Christmas binging, but fortunately for us the bulging they are looking for is a little further south of your belly. Be proud and show off the jock or harness that is itching to get out of the closet. No jockstrap? No problem, as everything looks much bigger compressed into a thong. Dance your naked ass off to beats of DJ J Warren (NY) and enjoy hot music, hot men and hot, sweaty bulges begging to be touched and set free. Brought to you by out of town Man Upp Events 9pm–3am. The Hindenburg, 23 W Cordova St. Tickets $7 at eventbrite.com and at door if available. manupp.net   Wild Fruit Not to be outdone by all the men’s parties this weekend, the women have one of their own and trust me a lot more goes on at this party than you think. Sexy women dancing their faces off to DJ Nathalie, in one of the classiest nightclub spots in the Village. Low lights, lots of snuggle nooks, an outdoor area above street level, filled with plants and a clear view of the stars for the romantically inclined. Just don’t knock over my martini. If you are having a special night they even offer table service, just check online for contact info. 10pm–3am. Playhouse Nightclub, 1240 Thurlow St. Tickets $10 at Little Sister’s, 1238 Davie St or at flygirlproductions.com   Sunday, Jan 15 Search For Miss Gay Latina BC Caliente Nights announces its search for Miss Gay Latina 2017, starting tonight and continuing on Sunday, Feb 19, to find the best to represent the Latinx LGBT community for a year. Winner takes home a cash prize of $500 and a throne on the Latin LGBTQ Community's Pride float. Now that I know there is a throne, I may just have to compete. It’s the bathing suit competition I may need a lot of help with. 10pm–3am. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. $5 cover after 10pm. facebook.com/events/704542109701060/   Monday, Jan 16 Condom Party I hate to burst your blown-up condom bubble, but Santa did not leave all those travel packs in your stocking. Your significant other or BFF is nice to look out for you, but those were all freebies given out by HIM and now it’s time to pay it forward. Tonight is condom-packing night where condoms and lube are packaged into tight little containers for the next round. If every condom user in the West End did one shift, we would have enough done for a year and then I would not be hassling you for the next 11 months, bargain! Plus you meet great guys and at the end of the night you get a tasty meal provided by one of the Village’s great eateries. 6–9pm. Health Initiative for Men (HIM) office, 1033 Davie St. checkhimout.ca   Queer Prov Does the audience laugh when the Queer Prov actors portray straights? I’m just curious because at an improv night I recently saw in Seattle, two of the guys were told to act gay and although I admit the flamboyance was over the top the entire audience was roaring. I’ll have to check it out sometime to see. Tonight boasts an awesome array of Improv-ers that will have you belly laughing most of the night no matter who they portray. Your host tonight is that tiny bundle of energy Josh Rimer. 9pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No cover. facebook.com/queerprov/   Club Combo One of the newer nights on Davie Street  at the sexiest lounge around. World. Grime. Dancehall. Weekly with Dolce & Cabanaboy (Prancehall). Try it out, you might just enjoy yourself. 8pm–3am. 1181, 1181 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/events/1823156221295382/   Tuesday, Jan 17 Join the Struggle With HIM Resolutions have started and mine have already have gone out the window. I already ate some chocolate and blew a guy at the gym. If I did drugs or smoked I would probably stick it out longer, but that oral fixation is always a killer. If you resolved to quit smoking and need a bit of a push, this meeting is for you. Working with the Lung Association of British Columbia, this is an informative session about options for quitting smoking and advice on beating cravings, getting through withdrawal, and staying smoke-free for good. Whether you need quick answers or step-by-step support, all available options will be presented. 7–8:30pm. HIM Office, 1033 Davie St. no charge but for more information, or to register, email register@checkhimout.ca  or call 604-488-1001. checkhimout.ca   Steev & Oli’s Magic Mic Night Before you get your panties in a bunch, Channing Tatum is not coming to town, although I have heard the microphone they will use tonight is an exact replica of his penis. Comedian Steev Letts and Oli Maughan are calling all comedians, musicians and performance acts to share their new open mic night, starting tonight. Pros, amateurs and first-timers all welcome, sign up is at 7pm. 7–11pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/events/1330277723689999/   Wednesday, Jan 18 Bear Hump If you didn’t get enough bear meat in your diet over the holidays, here is your chance to catch up at a mid-week gathering of furry men and the guys that want them. Yes, it is true that some of the muscle bears are too big for the towels and just have to go without, but it is a curse they have to bear. Look away if you can, but I doubt you will. From tourists to regulars, there is something here for everyone. Get a room and spend a week here and you will think you died and went to heaven, you just may need a wheelchair to leave. 3–9pm. Steamworks Baths, 123 W Pender St. Weekday rates start at $13.  Steamworksbaths.com

OUTtv joins the Netflix generation

11 January 2017 - 2:49pm
Canadian LGBT cable channel OUTtv will shift its focus to a Netflix-style online subscription service, after being bought by a Vancouver investment firm.  The cable channel will remain in place until at least 2020, says incoming CEO Brad Danks, but the company’s main asset will become OUTtvGo, a $4-a-month streaming site available, for now only in Canada.  “It’s a transformation that needs to happen,” Danks says, citing a sagging cable broadcasting market and a new generation of customers accustomed to Netflix and YouTube. “We felt the timing was right.”  Vancouver’s Stern Partners, the owners of the Winnipeg Free Press among diverse other holdings, won permission from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to buy a majority stake in OUTtv at the end of December 2016. OUTtv’s previous owner and CEO — and husband of former BC NDP leader Joy MacPhail — James Shavick will stay on as a board member.  Danks says OUTtvGo will include much of the same programming as the cable channel, including every available season of OUTtv’s most popular offering, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Danks also says he hopes the online library will grow to include more shows for young people, lesbians and other groups who were underserved by the cable channel.  OUTtvGo will not deliver adult content; Danks says there’s no point competing with the vast array of adult videos online, and a porn-free collection will make it easier to work with tech partners such as Apple TV and mobile app stores.  OUTtv first launched in 2001 as PrideVision TV, one of the world’s first 24-hour gay cable networks. Its slow growth was marked by an ultimately victorious fight with Shaw Cable, which made it deliberately difficult for viewers to see the channel. OUTtv has been owned in part by a number of different investors, including briefly by Pink Triangle Press, the parent company of Daily Xtra. 

Muscle worship at Tawan Bar (Part 2)

11 January 2017 - 2:49pm
I was visiting Tawan, a muscle go-go bar in Bangkok when I concluded that I’m officially into sthenolagnia — I’m aroused by the demonstration of strength or muscles. Although I’ve been struggling with the level sexual exploitation that I’ve seen in the city, I may have been naive to think that the men who work at Tawan couldn’t possibly be vulnerable to it at the same degree. Most of them are in their 30s, and some in their 40s, and they are so big that they gave the appearance that they could mop the floor with you,  Sex work is prohibited in public places in Thailand, so for the most part traditional brothels have been replaced by “entertainment” venues like go-go bars, and pimps have been replaced by managers. It’s technically legal to sell sex in a private place like a hotel room, which is why these go-go bars work the way they do.  The soliciting that happens in these places is not legal, however. As a result, owners and workers of such venues must make payments to corrupt police officers and local officials to keep them going. Police abuses are widespread and some use fear of arrest to extort bribes or free sex.  One of the guys in Tawan sat in a chair to my side, and put his left leg up, slouching like a bad boy in only a speedo. He began scrolling through his phone, aimless and bored. He had massive arms, and a beaded necklace resting on his large, round chest. His body was covered in tattoos. He looked over at  me with a subtle nod, then looked back down at his phone and scrolled some more. He was in his 40s and carried a harsh history in the creases of his face. Between his muscles and mean look, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he could take care of himself, not like some of the younger guys I’d seen on Soi Twilight.  This isn’t to say that he couldn’t get hassled by cops. He just struck me as less of a target because of his age and build. Another guy in a speedo sat next to me who looked just as tough. He introduced himself and asked questions like where was I from and what was I doing in Thailand.  “Nice muscles,” he said, squeezing my left bicep. I laughed because they were half the size of his. I worked out several times per week, even since I’d arrived in Bangkok, but I have the sort of body that just doesn’t get very big, regardless of the amount of time I spend at the gym. I’ve never been able to gain muscle like these guys, but I’ve always wanted to. All the guys on stage suddenly got off it and the lights went out. “Welcome to My World” by Jim Reeves started to play through the speakers. Three stocky guys entered the stage wearing only masks and long red capes, although one of them wore just sunglasses in lieu of a mask. Their outfits were a cross between Spanish bullfighters and guests from the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut. They did a cute dance number, moving in unison (or at least trying to), flipping their capes back-and-forth. They would press their capes against their crotches to accentuate their erections since they were naked underneath.  After dancing around for a little bit, they removed their capes. They were already wearing condoms and maintained their erections as they danced about. Surely they had popped some Viagra earlier.  They started giving each other blowjobs with condoms. They then simulated fucking through a sort of rhythmic dance, without actually penetrating one another.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the show. It was silly, to be sure, but it was playful too and was all in good fun.  Whether a sex worker is old, young, muscular or skinny, advocates in Thailand have emphasized that they’re doing it out of necessity, not desire. I think that can be said for a lot of sex workers, even in Canada. I’ve known people who have gotten into it because they fell on hard times. It happens. What bothers me about Bangkok’s sex scene is the problem they have with human trafficking and underage sex workers. No matter how liberal one’s view is towards prostitution, this is unacceptable.   Looking around Tawan though, that’s obviously not a problem. It’s just stocky and muscle men, which is perhaps that’s why I’m so comfortable with the place.

Why this gay man may be barred from saving his ailing grandfather

10 January 2017 - 2:46pm
Kody Carlson’s grandfather desperately needs a liver donation, but a homophobic Health Canada policy could prevent the young gay man from saving his grandfather’s life. A December 2007 decision by Health Canada bans all men who have had sex with another man in the last five years from donating an organ, unless they apply for and receive an exemption from a physician. A similar ban on gay men donating blood was reduced in 2016, though it too still blocks donations from men who have been sexually active with other men in the last year. Carlson, a 26-year-old New Brunswick man, says he discovered the organ donor ban after his grandfather’s doctor said he needed a liver donation, and that a young, male relative would be the ideal donor. Living donors of livers are common in Canada; only a portion of the donor’s liver is removed and it can grow back. According to the Canadian Blood Services website, “there are not enough deceased liver donors to meet the need for liver transplants in Canada” and donating to a known recipient can help the recipient move up the long waiting list for a transplant. But in order for Carlson to donate his liver, he would have to receive an exemption from his grandfather’s physician, after discussing with his grandfather the supposed risks of receiving a transplant from his gay grandson. Carlson is already out to his grandfather but says “it’s unfortunate that in 2017 in Canada, being gay means that when your grandfather is ill, you end up having to discuss your sex life with him.” Carlson hasn’t yet applied for the exemption but is stressed to think he might be rejected because of homophobia. “We’ve mostly been talking about it within the family, so we haven’t reached the point where we’d need to send in applications to see who’s eligible,” he says. He says his family will consult the physicians in a few months to assess whoever is willing to donate. “When the call came to me, I realized that it’s possible I could be blocked from donating because of these discriminatory policies,” he says. Carlson says he is very close with his grandfather and has fond memories of spending time with him as a child. “He’s a carpenter in Nova Scotia, and he’s the funniest person I know and just a joyful person to be around,” he says. “I remember spending hours with him in his carpentry shop and he would show me the different tools he had. He had this big tractor that he would take everywhere, and me and my brother would always go on. “He’s from a very rural community, and he’s constructed the majority of the houses in his community. As we drove we would pass by all the houses that he’d built.” Both Health Canada and Canadian Blood Services deny that the current policy is homophobic. Spokespersons from both organizations told Xtra that gay men can still donate organs, provided that recipients and their physicians give their informed consent. In practice, all donor information, including known risk factors, is presented to organ donation programs, who can decide in concert with patients if they will accept the donation. Carlson has tried to connect with Health Canada and Canadian Blood Services but says their “responses have been unhelpful.” “They say it’s not a homophobic policy because it’s not discriminating against gay people because gay people can sign up to be donors — it’s just men who have sex with men that are banned, which is a laughable comment,” he says. In the 2015 election, the Trudeau Liberals campaigned on a promise to end the blood donation ban on men who have sex with men. However, their campaign was silent on the issue of organ donation. The government has not yet eliminated the blood donor ban either. Andrew MacKendrick, a press secretary for the Minister of Health, told Xtra that the government will rely on scientific evidence when considering changes to the current bans. “Our government is committed to scientific and evidence-based decision making, and it is our expectation that alongside other donation policies, organ donation will reflect this commitment,” MacKendrick says. Canadian Blood Services and Health Canada are scheduled to begin consultation on ending the blood ban this month. Carlson says a reduction in the organ donor ban from five years to one — to match the current blood donor ban — isn’t a solution. “A reduction isn’t enough. It’s still homophobic and my grandfather doesn’t have a year for me to remain abstinent,” he says.  

Unique Vancouver sex club is closed, at least for now

9 January 2017 - 8:46pm
To the rhythm of a bass beat reverberating through concrete walls, three women are wrestling in lingerie on a raised dais. A naked woman with a riding crop casually swats at the flanks of a well-muscled man, himself busy giving a vigorous blowjob to his friend suspended in a black nylon harness. On the couch in the corner, a woman pulls her rainbow stockinged knees to her purple-tipped hair to accommodate her date’s face between her legs, while an apparition in black latex and demon horns parades past, collared and leashed companion in tow. Through it all dodges Zoll Ruskin, the co-owner of 8x6, brimming with energy even though it would be his last night running the club. After three years, Ruskin closed 8x6’s doors on Oct 29, 2016. But he promises his dream of a play space to unite Vancouver’s sex-positive, kink and fetish communities is not over. He’ll be back, he says, and soon. The club “was monumental in galvanizing the sex-positive community in Vancouver,” Ruskin says, insisting that despite the closure, 8x6 was a successful experiment. He says he’s proud to have hosted such a variety of sex-positive groups, from men’s masturbation circles to swingers to PLUR, the burner fetish sex-positive party that closed out the club’s schedule last year. “The model wasn’t perfect,” he admits. “It’s hard to create a business plan when you’re blazing a new trail. You can’t really predict how things are going to go.” Ruskin says he closed the club because of inconsistent revenues and an unsustainable business model, but most importantly because of problems with the space, a refurbished parking garage at Haro and Denman Streets where floods and plumbing problems forced the last-minute cancellation of some events and required frequent repairs. He says he’ll announce his next project early in 2017. For now he’s hanging on to the club’s most prized asset: a private member’s club licence from the City of Vancouver. The rare licence gives the holder the privilege to advertise liquor sales and sex parties at the same time, serve drinks later, and host dancing all night. Ruskin opened 8x6 with his business partner Peter Pavlovic in the summer of 2013 in the location that once housed the historic Denman Station Club. For a year they survived in a legal grey zone, licensed awkwardly as a fitness club. Then, in the fall of 2014, The National Post published a breathless editorial about 8x6 hosting masturbation parties within blocks of a school and a library, and deriding Vancouver for its permissiveness. The city responded by tacitly backing 8x6, giving them a coveted private club licence and telling the Post that whatever happened inside was “not our department.” Despite the end of 8x6, Ruskin says there is still plenty of community support for a sex-positive venue, and that he has had nothing but good relationships with the police and the city. “Really at the end of the day it was: do we continue going around in circles like this, or do we make a decision to close and start 2.0,” he says. 

Would you take an injection if it prevents HIV?

9 January 2017 - 8:46pm
The first clinical trial for a long-acting injectable drug that could prevent the transmission of HIV began last month. The purpose of injection is similar to using Truvada as PrEP, but instead of taking a pill daily, the anti-HIV drug, cabotegravir, is injected once every eight weeks with hopes that it will prevent the spread of HIV.  The study, called HPTN 083 sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, is to evaluate a revolutionary new injectable that could address the challenges some people may face around taking Truvada without fail every day. I understand why it might be difficult for some people to adhere to a daily pill regimen, but for me it was never a problem. During the year and a half that I was on PrEP, I rarely forgot to take a pill. I set an alarm on my phone and scheduled it on my work and home computer calendar. Fortunately, my life was relatively routine so it was easy enough to remember.  Though even I slipped up occasionally. The first time that I forgot to take a pill was when I was on vacation in New York. I spent the night with someone I met at The Black Party and didn’t get back to my hotel until mid-afternoon the next day. My alarm had gone off on time that morning when I was with the guy, but by the time I got back to my room I forgot to take it.  I bought a pill box the very next day and I didn’t forget to take my Truvada much after that.  Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that PrEP be taken daily — and I advocate that 100 percent — research shows that taking Truvada even four times a week is still 96 percent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. When taken every day, Truvada is considered more than 99 percent effective.  Admittedly, some people may have trouble taking a pill daily, or even four times a week — a point that one AIDS organization seized upon to hammer Truvada. “The bottom line is that people won’t adhere and take the pill,” Michael Weinstein claimed when he spoke to BuzzFeed in 2014. Weinstein is the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and has become quite infamous for his anti-PrEP stance. “That’s what studies have shown. If this catches on as a public health strategy, that means there are going to be people who will take Truvada irregularly and some will be infected, and some develop drug resistance.” In 2015, AHF published a campaign in gay publications and magazines nationwide titled, “The War Against Prevention,” which was an attack on PrEP. POZ and AHF then had it out after POZ fact-checked the ad. AHF’s ad had chosen to focus on one poll in particular which claimed that 95 percent of the members of The American Academy of HIV Medicine were concerned their patients wouldn’t take Truvada daily. POZ pointed out that — in the same survey — 79 percent of doctors polled said they were very likely to prescribe PrEP to someone with an HIV-positive partner, and 66 percent would prescribe it to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of contracting HIV.  Adherence is a concern for any drug, they also noted; not PrEP in particular. AHF responded to POZ’s fact check by fact-checking POZ’s article. It quickly became a tit-for-tat.  Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on with PrEP, I’d hope that news of cabotegravir, if it proves successful, would settle any adherence concerns, and would add yet another tool to the arsenal in the fight against HIV.  “It is essential to develop multiple effective HIV prevention modalities so the most vulnerable populations have a choice of preventive options,” the study’s protocol chair, Raphael J Landovitz, told News Medical. Having even more options that suit the habits of all people makes us that much stronger. Between condoms, treatment as prevention (TasP), PrEP and now potentially cabotegravir, we’re certainly getting somewhere. And the proof is in the pudding. The number of new HIV diagnoses in the United States dropped nine percent from 2010 to 2014, which means that we’re doing something right.  The clinical trial for the injectable drug will be held in eight countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa and will enroll 4,500 men who have sex with men, and transgender women who have sex with men, who are at high risk of contracting HIV and who are 18 years or older. Unfortunately, the results aren’t expected in 2021 so disagreements about adherence will likely continue. Sadly, I’m almost certain that even if the injectable is a success, Weinstein and others in the anti-PrEP camp will not be satisfied. They’ll likely continue to push back against such innovations, seemingly out of concern that they may dismantle condom culture. I don’t want to lose condoms as an option either, but with 39,513 people diagnosed with HIV in the US in 2015 alone, it seems important to embrace all the tools we have available to us, condoms and new innovations alike. When new innovations come our way, why not keep an open mind and focus on their benefits rather than their deficits, in an effort to one day end this epidemic for good.

Hipsters, gaydar and the year in porn

6 January 2017 - 11:39pm
[[asset:image:308767 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] 2016 in porn Teens are down! Step moms and MILFs are up! Faux incest is the trend of the decade! Australians love lesbians! Read more on this years porn habits from Pornhub’s Year in Review.   STI rates rise for California PrEP users A large study on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis users in California has shown a rise in the other STI infections among users. New HIV infections remained at zero, however, and researchers believe the rise in STI rates may be because lower-risk participants dropped out of the program. Read more at POZ.   Don’t know who’s gay? Blame hipsters At the New York Times, Krista Burton can’t tell who’s a lesbian at the farmers market anymore because hipsters have stolen all of the lesbian aesthetic.   2017 will be the year of bathroom bills After North Carolina and South Dakota courted national outrage last year with bills preventing trans people from using the bathrooms of their choice, six more states are following suit in 2017. Read more at Time.   Gambian government blames gay coup for election loss After losing an election, Gambia’s energetically anti-gay government, led by President Yahya Jammeh, has rejected the results, citing voting irregularities. Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper published an editorial accusing gay special interests of planning a coup. Read more at the Washington Blade.

Charge dropped against UBC Pride flag burner

6 January 2017 - 8:39pm
The woman accused of burning a Pride flag at the University of British Columbia last year won’t be going to trial after all. Brooklyn Marie Fink was scheduled to stand trial for mischief in March 2017, but Crown prosecutors suddenly dropped the charge against her on Dec 6, 2016. Though Fink pleaded not guilty and asked the court to dismiss the charge against her, she admitted to burning the Pride flag when she appeared in court last May. But it was an act of political protest, she insists, not a crime. Fink says she burned the flag to object to a non-UBC flag hoisted on the UBC flagpole; that it was a Pride flag was particularly galling since, as a transsexual woman who wants nothing to do with transgender activism, she says LGBT politics are ruining her life. Crown prosecutors dropped the charge against Fink after deciding the likelihood of convicting her was low. Charges are only approved if prosecutors think there’s sufficient evidence for a conviction and if the prosecution is considered in the public interest, spokesperson Dan McLaughlin explained to Xtra in an email. If prosecutors decide at any time during a case that its likelihood of conviction has dropped, they can stop the proceedings. “That is what occurred here,” McLaughlin says. After Fink burned the flag, some UBC students said they felt unsafe. “This is a suspected hate crime of intentional destruction to a very publicly important symbol for the LGBTQ+ community,” the UBC Pride Collective said in a statement last February. Asked how the Crown responds to the students’ suggestion that it was a hate crime, McLaughlin declined to comment. The charge was initially approved and the case prosecuted, he notes, but since it’s no longer before the court it would be improper to comment further on the allegations, he says. Asked if the flag burning was a political statement or a crime, McLaughlin again declined to comment. Since the charge has been dropped, it would be inappropriate “to speculate as to the motivations for the incident or attempt to characterize the incident further,” he repeats. The UBC Pride Collective did not comment by posting time on the Crown’s decision to drop the charge. Fink declined to be interviewed for this story but in an email exchange with Xtra said she won her case when the Crown dropped the charge. Fink indicated in the email that she’s trying to resume her studies at UBC but says the university is still evaluating her application and demanding another psychological assessment (which she intends to challenge). Last May, Fink told Xtra she was still waiting to hear if the president of UBC would expel her completely or readmit her with or without conditions, after a non-academic misconduct hearing earlier that month. At the time, she was prohibited from entering the Point Grey campus. A UBC spokesperson declined to comment on Fink’s enrolment status now, or the outcome of her misconduct hearing, for privacy reasons. In a Jan 3 email to Xtra, Fink threatened to sue UBC and the Ubyssey newspaper for defamation, harassment and “the loss of ability to live life as a female.” She alleges they discriminated against her because of her political beliefs. “I am confident that I will win and collect damages,” Fink writes. “I identify as a heterosexual woman. Let that sink in. Now Google my name and read all the slander and libel about ‘confessed arsonist,’ ‘transtrender,’ and ‘describes herself as transsexual.’” “I’m not going to slink into the darkness,” she continues. “I’m not going to kill myself. I am going to end the evil political revolution of Herbert Marcuse and be a leader for my people; whether the postmodernists like it or not.”

How I became an unsuspecting Master (Part 2)

6 January 2017 - 11:36am
Until now, my experience with guys who want to be dominated has nearly always involved a significant amount of advance negotiation. Spontaneous bondage is a rare occurrence for me.   “Hmm . . . okay,” I say. “And what do you want to do with Master?” “Whatever Master wants,” he replies. As I’ve said in previous columns, the sub-bottom incapable of articulating his needs is one of the most challenging clients to deal with. Regardless of what he’s willing to say, he’s most likely got quite a specific fantasy in mind.  But if you’re just guessing, the odds of nailing it are going to be slim. You rarely get more than one shot at these things. So if you fail to deliver the first time, it’s unlikely you’ll get a second chance. Despite the challenge presented by these situations, you gradually develop ways to test the waters and hopefully get as close to your client’s potential desires as you can, without veering too far into the weeds in the process, thereby killing the buzz. I shift a little closer to him and rub his nipples gently through his T-shirt, then grasp them hard and twist. “You like that boy?”  He jumps a little bit.  “Sir,” he says. “Sir, I need a moment.” I release his nipples and he exits to the kitchen. I hear drawers opening and closing, followed by the unmistakable sound of some sort of drug being snorted He returns a minute later, as if nothing has happened and takes his place on the couch next to me. He sits silently, waiting for me to do something. I take his nipples in my fingers again and squeeze. He offers no visible reaction. I’ve dealt with many clients who take drugs during sessions, both with and without my knowledge. It doesn’t bother me but I always want to know what they’ve done so that if there’s a problem, I can respond in the right way. “What did you take when you were in the kitchen, boy?” “Cocaine, Sir.” “Have you done it before, boy?” “Yes Sir. I do it with sex, Sir.” “Does it make you feel good?” “Yes Sir. It helps me relax, Sir.” Entering into an SM scenario without advance discussion is never a good idea. But doing it when substances are involved is even worse. Aside from not knowing how well he’s able to manage his intake, I also have no idea how it will affect him physically or psychologically.  If you’ve spent any time around people doing cocaine, you’re likely aware it tends to turn them into arrogant assholes. It’s like a temporary ego boost in powdered form. Whatever you believe in the moment is 100 percent right and everyone around you is interested in hearing your opinions.  It’s an odd drug choice for someone intending to be submissive.  He still hasn’t given me any guidelines, so I decide to move forward with baby steps and suggest we relocate to the bedroom. The bed is covered with a black plastic sheet, with restraints positioned on each corner. A long and low-sitting dresser has an array of different sized dildos, a box of gloves, several bottles of lube and, what I realize after closer inspection, is a collection of different sized metal sounds.  An array like this isn’t normally shocking. But here it stops me in my tracks. A random meeting in a bar that led to me being here — and yet he clearly had this whole setup arranged before he left the house.  Did he go out to the bar hoping to find a spontaneous Master?  There’s also the issue of the sounds. In case you don’t know, sounding as it’s called, is a kind of sex play that involves inserting metal rods into the urethra.  It seems scary at first, but assuming you’re using rods specifically designed for this purpose, it’s actually quite safe. As far as I know, that is. I’ve heard about it before, but up until this point I’ve never experienced it first-hand. He’s been standing motionless as I’ve been surveying the room, his eyes trained on the floor. He doesn’t give any indication of what he wants to do, but I’m assuming that all of the items laid out are available for inclusion in the scenario.  I grab his nipples again through his T-shirt and twist them hard. He doesn’t flinch, and keeps his eyes on the floor.  “Take off your clothes,” I say. “Yes Master,” he says and begins unbuckling his jeans.  He doffs his T-shirt to reveal a chubby belly that overflows past his waistband. He slides his jeans off and stands there in his white Fruit of the Loom briefs.  “Everything,” I say, delivering a sharp slap to his ass. He slides his briefs down to reveal a fat ball sack and cock that’s so big I emit a little gasp when I see it. I move closer to him, grab his balls and squeeze them hard in my hand. He flinches ever so slightly, but not nearly enough for the amount of pressure I’m imposing.  “There’s a lot of stuff here, boy,” I say. “What would you like to use?” “Whatever Master wants.” I release his balls, turn to the dresser and pick up one of the sounds. “Master would like to use this on you,” I say. “Yes Master,” he says. “May I go to the kitchen first?” I nod and he departs to top up his buzz, while I begin lubricating the sound . . . 

Out in Toronto: Jan 5–11, 2017

5 January 2017 - 2:32pm
Thursday, Jan 5 Teenage Kicks The young Miklós, who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, plans to run away with his best friend Dan. But his plans are dashed when he learns Dan has a girlfriend. And that’s just the beginning of his troubles. The Australian film Teenage Kicks has its Canadian premiere as part of the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival’s More Play Screening Series.  7:30pm. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St W. insideout.ca   Friday, Jan 6  Toronto Her Winter Party  The dating app Her throws a queer dance party in Toronto’s village. It’s a night of music, art and celebrating unique identities. The tunes are supplied by DJ Chiclet (electro-funk and disco) earlier on, and then hey! dw (bouncy British beats, live drums and deep house) later in the evening. Includes a fun photo booth.  10pm–2am. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com    Hardcover: A Bookshop Disco  This dance party invites folks to shake their groove thing like the well-read disco divas and/or studs that they are. Taking place in Glad Day Bookshop’s new location on Church Street (formerly the Byzantium bar and restaurant), the bash features DJ Orange Pekoe spinning “highly danceable” disco, Motown, funk and pop.  10pm–2:30am. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Saturday, Jan 7 Toronto Queer Slowdance: Divas Edition  This recurring event is all about slow dancing (with the occasional super-fast song thrown in). It typically draws a large and varied crowd of people enthusiastic about swaying gently while clinging to strangers. This edition focuses on “diva slow dance classics” and the suggested dress code is fabulous and inspired attire. 10pm–2:45am. Dovercourt House, 805 Dovercourt Rd. For more info, visit Facebook.    Sunday, Jan 8  Bowie’s Birthday: Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars  In celebration of the recently-departed David Bowie’s upcoming 70th birthday, here’s a night of screenings for the true fan. Those who arrive early watch a variety of footage of Bowie from the BBC. This is followed by a screening of Bowie’s final, 1973 performance as his Ziggy Stardust alter ego. Includes such songs as “All the Young Dudes,” “Moonage Daydream” and “Space Oddity.”  8–10pm. The Royal Cinema, 608 College St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Tuesday, Jan 10 Sing With Us Are you just bursting with enthusiasm and don’t know where to put it? Then you are wanted by Singing OUT, the queer community choir. Those interested in potentially signing up can check out this rehearsal that’s open to the public. All welcome. No audition required, no experience required. Just make sure you love to sing and dance before joining.  7pm. The 519, 519 Church St. singingout.com [[asset:image:308764 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["On Jan 10, 2016, attend Singing OUT\u2019s rehearsal at the 519 to sign up to be part of the choir. No experience required."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Michael Rajzman"]}]]  

Out in Vancouver: Jan 5–11, 2017

4 January 2017 - 11:31pm
Thursday, Jan 5 Lights Out Whether we want to admit it or not we’ve all added a little extra poundage over the holidays. For the bears it is never a problem but for the otters, twinks, gym rats and others it can be a major issue until the tiny paunch they perceive as life threatening has disappeared. Fear not paunchies, this anonymous night is for you – don’t let the bears have all the fun. Lights get turned down so low you wouldn’t recognize your own dad in the room. Trust me, nobody is going to be grabbing anything above the waist unless it is to bend you over faster.  4pm–4am. Steamworks Baths, 123 W Pender St. Weekday rates start at $13. steamworksbaths.com/vancouver/events/   Shower Power  Occasionally, especially at resolution time, I like to be a metrosexual type of homo. Not the political views or the fashion sense but a cleaner, well groomed, regularly washed type of gay that will look for the same in a bed buddy. That usually happens just once, in January, mostly at a night like this, watching buff, clean, hairless studs (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not usually for me). My senses kick in and I revert to the pig you all know and love that is at the other place across the village, trying to climb on top of whatever hairy bear is ready, willing and able.  9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5. facebook.com/events/290956241306929/    Friday, Jan 6 Full Length Feature Fridays One of the more popular dance nights in the gay universe does not take place in the Village, but have no fear fellow gays: you can still get there by a 15-minute transit ride from your usual hub. That little ginger bundle of fur, DJ Gingerbear, who you may have seen DJ’ing in a towel at some weekly steam-filled events, not only brings you great tunes and even remixes those tunes with video displays. Throw in a few performances by Carlotta Gurl, special guests and a few sexy go-go boys and you’ve got a party going on.  9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5. facebook.com/events/290956241306929/   Saturday, Jan 7 Puppy New Year As a child every Christmas I hoped for a puppy but alas it never happened. Now some odd number of decades later, I find myself wishing the same but these pups are much better than the small furry ones I used to want. Check out this event and you will see why. Pups of all shapes, sizes, ages and versatility will be playing all over the bar, sniffing, rolling, humping and looking for belly rubs. As an added bonus for this session they have teamed up with Vancouver Rubbermen so there will be rubber pups along with rubber bondage gear and rubber clothing for you to try out if you are so inclined.  2–5pm. The Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover. https://www.facebook.com/events/691166014392575/    Gay Music Bingo A lot of you can relate to this: you go to Gay Bingo, have a few cocktails, get your dabber out, a few more cocktails and then you turn back into the party animal of high school. You are dabbing your face, your buddy’s arm, hitting on the queens or the DJ that you know puts out, and now a week later you are ashamed to show your face there until the dust has settled. Why go without your bingo fix when you can take a road trip to where nobody knows you and have the same great night all over again? This bingo night has music, great prizes including cash and a dance party afterwards. Best of all you can stay at the same place and sleep it off and nobody will be the wiser.  7pm. The Stage, Bellevue Hotel, 32998 1st Ave, Mission. Cover $5. facebook.com/groups/outinchilliwack/    House On Fire For those of you wondering where Ryan Steele and Amy Goodmurphy have been lately, I did some research and found out they swapped bodies. Now we will really see which one is really funniest — my money is on Amy, but is that new Amy or old Amy? Tonight you can check them all out along with some of the top improv and sketch comedians, as this new monthly night takes hold. Tonight’s headliner is Colin Sharp with hosts Brian Cook, Cameron MacLeod and lots of improv guests.  8pm. Fortune Sound Club, 147 East Pender St. $10 cover at door. facebook.com/events/216592992126483/    Sunday, Jan 8 Primetimers If you woke up New Year’s Day and the hangover from the night before lasted until Wednesday, father time may be catching up. If that feels like a crushing statement, this is the group for you. You may not have to go out to pasture just yet but if you are looking to slow the pace join this group for a wide variety of activities: bridge, brunches, afternoon coffee, dining out, lunches, monthly meetings, movie nights, pot lucks, theatre, concerts, walks, day and overnight excursions, and holiday celebrations. Today is their monthly membership meeting, a great place to get all the info you need.  1:30pm. West End Community Centre, 870 Denman St. Fees are $30 per year single, $45 couple. vancouverprimetimers.wixsite.com/vancouverprimetimers/events    Legends Celebrate old-school glamour and celebrity impersonation with one of the city’s classiest drag queens, Jaylene Tyme, along with guest hostess Ilona and this week’s feature performer Raye Sunshine. You have not experienced anything like Jaylene’s renditions of Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, just to name a few. The perfect setting for that first date you have after New Year’s Eve.  8–11pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $5.   https://www.facebook.com/events/1271726502870830/      Monday, Jan 9 Looking For A Great Orgasm: Women Only Growing up I always knew when my dad hit the right spot for mom — I could hear all the way down to my room in the basement and the next day our menu would change. No longer was I eating fried baloney, egg and chips for a Tuesday dinner. I was eating steak and baked potato or prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, if it was a multiple. Always wanted to high-five dad over the table but it might have given away how much I could hear and spoiled my new eating plan. Ladies, have you ever had an orgasm that makes your whole body shake and your toes curl? Want to learn how to have one? This evening is a woman’s guide to self-pleasure that includes all the details from the basics of getting started to more advanced tips and techniques. Knowing your sweet spots will enhance your lovemaking with your partner too. Join in for a fun evening whether you’re exploring your sexuality for the first time or you’re an experienced pair of hands looking for a few new tricks. 7:30pm. The Art Of Loving, 369 W Broadway. Registration, $25, online or at 604-742-9988. artofloving.ca/seminars/seminar-topics/how-have-a-great-orgasm    Get Stumped Looking for a night of side-splitting laughter usually at your own expense, or at least mine? You will be surprised at how much you do or don’t know about general knowledge, music, trivia, games and even movie clips. Host Richard Romano Carlsen will lead you down the hilarious path to your own destruction, or maybe you will be Trivia King of the night.  7:30–10:30pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. No cover. junctionpub.com/    Tuesday, Jan 10 Pleasuring Prostates: Live Demo Guys, I have found you the perfect sexual Tuesday night to be out as a single. This event will start off your night as you learn to basically finger your ass the right way. In this live demo-based workshop by Redrobin, they'll be exploring anal and prostate play on men. You can expect to hear about safety, toys and tools, getting over fears and shame, methods, tips and tricks for solo play and partnered play. To hell with getting on a guest list, how do I get to be the model for the live demo?  7:30pm. The Art Of Loving, 369 W Broadway. Registration, $25, online or at 604-742-9988. artofloving.ca/seminars/seminar-topics/pleasuring-prostates-live-demo   Del Wants Your Body Well now that you have attended the Prostate Demo, listed above, and you have been fingered so many times you will hump a traffic cone, what do you do next? Del Stamp has the answer for you. After all the Friday nights you have gone to PJs and watched the bears and boys in the shower stall and have bragged that you could do better, here is your chance to put your meat where your mouth is. Do you want to show off what you’ve got? Do you want to get up and shower in front of a room full of men to showcase that weapon between your legs? Do you want to make some extra cash? Then here you go as the Pumpjack, Junction and Steamworks crew are looking for strippers and go-go men. Send in your application to del@steamworksonline.com and auditions are tonight. Del, if you need a judge here I am! 8pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover. facebook.com/thepumpjackpub/?fref=ts    Lights  A new night that sounds like a lot of fun. An hour of improvised sketches from the hottest improv comedians in the city. From the brilliant and sharp to the absurd and messy, the rule is simple: never been seen before. After the mess that was 2016, comedy is the way to go for 2017. LIGHTS! 7:30–10:30pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $5. facebook.com/events/1026141390831668/    Wednesday, Jan 11 Next Generation LGBTQ Speed Datiing I know a lot of guys that are into smells, body smells to be precise. Pheromones are one thing I can get into, but a jock that hasn’t been washed in four years is a different matter altogether. It will drive some guys wild with an instant erection, and others won’t touch it with a meat fork. To each their own, but a new night of matchmaking based on your smell is a new one even for me. Researchers says that scent, including pheromones, but mainly MHC genes, play a big part in what makes people feel attracted to each other. This one of a kind event promises a night of adventure and new discoveries. Crazy, yes, but what do you have to lose? All you have to do is bring yourself plus a T-shirt that fits one of the following scenarios: you’ve slept in it for two to three nights, or you wore it to the gym that day, or you wore it all day — as long as there’s no deodorant, perfume or cologne on the T-shirt. 7–9pm. Nandos, 828 Davie St. Tickets $29 at eventbrite.ca More info at facebook.com/events/734141990067324/

Muscle worship at Tawan Bar (Part 1)

4 January 2017 - 5:30pm
According to Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, sthenolagnia is when one is aroused from the demonstration of strength or muscles. That includes muscle worship.  I am a sucker for a big chest and arms, although I prefer a gut to a six pack any day. The hairier the better too, which I think means that I’m into muscle bears. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been turned on by guys who are bigger, stronger and older than myself. I’m learning that Bangkok isn’t the best city to be in if you’re looking for this type of guy. There aren’t any leather bars, where you’d typically find them, and the only bear bar in the city closed earlier last year. When I learned that there was a muscle go-go bar called Tawan near the neighborhood of Silom, it piqued my interest. I read some reviews about Tawan online, which seemed to be the best way to find out about obscure venues in the city. One guy wrote, “To me, it is a bear bar, not a muscle bar! The guys there are terrible!” Someone else added, “The muscle men are fat (off season, they told me) and most are in their 30s and some look over 40.” Bears? Over 40? I didn’t need to read any further. It sounded hot — maybe after all this time I had finally found my spot in Bangkok.  Despite the customer review, Tawan still promotes itself as “a centre of muscular men in Thailand.” It’s located a few blocks west of the majority of the other go-go bars on Soi Twilight, the gay red-light district. For Tawan to be so removed from the others on Soi Twilight (which features younger and skinnier men), it seemed kind of fitting given the demographic of the guys. When I approached Tawan, I was hounded by the host who kept telling me to come in. “I am,” I said, to assure him, but he acted paranoid as if I might veer off to another bar.  “I’m coming in, I said.” He led me through the bar, between the stackable chairs that were lined in rows like at a cheap wedding. He sat me under a series of hot air balloon lanterns hanging from the ceiling — it was all very low-tech, like it was decorated from a dollar store.  To really drive home the muscle theme, an old chest press machine and cross trainer sat a few steps away from the stage.  The place was getting busier, presumably for the 10:30pm show. There were two shows nightly, and the other was scheduled for half past midnight.  With the exception of a couple of Westerners, the majority of the patrons in there were Asian. It confirmed my suspicion that most Westerners don’t come to Bangkok for muscle boys and bears, but rather for the young men of Soi Twilight.  The waiter took my order. “Just a beer,” I said. He brought me a regular sized bottle that cost 400 baht, which is the equivalent of C$15. I looked at the bill twice to make sure that I’d read correctly (I’m on a writer’s budget). You generally pay 100–150 baht (roughly $4–5) in most places in Bangkok. “This better be good,” I told the server. I didn’t leave a tip. There were three guys on stage doing bodybuilder contest poses. One of them was doing a front bicep pose with his gut sucked in, and the one next to him was flexing his back with his elbows pushed ahead of his torso. The final guy was flexing his triceps out to the side, which defined his shoulders and chest. With the number pinned to their speedos, you’d think that they were competing, but they were just warming up for the show.   Although the posing was silly and kind of creepy, I found the guys to be extremely attractive. With the exception of the triceps guy, who was young and ripped, the other two weren’t overly muscular, not like professional bodybuilders. They were more muscular and stocky, but I didn’t mind in the least. They had big arms and chests, with guts too, as did a lot of the other guys there were like that as well, built like tanks.  Whoever had written those two reviews online were being far too harsh because honestly, this was heaven (minus the cost of drinks). Many of the guys in Tawan were the sort that you wouldn’t fuck with — so hot!  It occurred to me then, that yes, I am definitely into sthenolagnia, without a doubt . . . 

How same-sex samurai stories made gay love beautiful in Japan

3 January 2017 - 8:29pm
Stories help define us as individuals, a community and a society. I’m always amazed how homosexuality flourished in places that, to us, seem discriminatory or homophobic. Covering the 2016 Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade, and general attitudes towards Japanese LGBT people, writer Philip Brasor wrote about how Japanese media have “always been essential to the reinforcement of these stereotypes.”  In the past, media outlets would obscure participants’ faces, the excuse being to protect participants’ privacy, but as Brasor suggests, it also “relieved viewers of the burden of having to acknowledge people who weren’t with the program, so to speak.” No need to worry about checking your attitude if your doctor, or neighbour, or family friend is queer or trans. Funny that same-sex love, at least male homosexuality, was once not only celebrated, but a cultural pastime. Published in 1687, Nanshoku ōkagami, or The Great Mirror of Male Love, was a book of 40 short stories by Ihara Saikaku.  This was at the height of the Tokugawa period when merchant classes, while still considered lower social status than farmers, were enjoying greater wealth that gave them access to prostitutes, urban pleasure quarters, art and popular fiction — the four were often interlinked. To these chōnin, “townsmen,” the assumption was that romantic and sexual love was to be found outside of the institution of marriage. By this point in Japan’s history, monastic and samurai traditions of age-based hierarchal relationships legitimized homosexuality, so a culturally legitimized “cult of sexual connoisseurship” developed around adolescent boys without any stigma. The latter half of Saikaku’s collection focuses on relationships with men and young kabuki actors, but it’s the samurai tales that interest me, one in particular, called “Implicated By His Diamond Crest.” The love story starts with Shimamura Daiemon, a 27-year-old samurai, renowned weaponist and engineer; a masterless samurai devoted to his family.  Daiemon attends a firefly viewing party near the outskirts of town near a statue of Buddha said to be carved by Kūkai (posthumously known as Kōbō-Daishi), the founder of Japanese Buddhism — rumoured to be the man who brought homosexuality to Japan — where he anonymously foils an intrigue, saving the reputation of a young samurai named Haruta Tannosuke. As it turns out, the man attempting to implicate Tannosuke in the poisoning plot (foiled by Daiemon) is a spurned admirer — the evidence given to Tannosuke anonymously by Daiemon allows him to identify the schemer, but the younger samurai lies to save his spurned lover from punishment.  Tannosuke was renowned for his girlish beauty, confounding everyone that, at the age of 15, he had not yet taken a lover, as was expected. The young samurai tries to discover the identity of the man who had saved him, but a year goes by and he can only pray they’ll meet. The two eventually cross paths by accident on a spring walk, and they start to weep together, Tannosuke out of graciousness, Daiemon upon realizing that he had worried Tannosuke with his anonymity. Saikaku explains, “As they wept there together, a strong attraction developed between them. Without ever exchanging formal vows of love, they became lovers.” However, to avoid discovery, Daiemon crosses the river behind Tannosuke’s house for their assignations. One fateful evening, Daiemon goes to the river bank, and, save his sword, strips naked and wades through the deep water, almost washed away. At a nearby teahouse built on piers over the river, a group of samurai are partying it up, but they don’t notice him because of the weather: “One moment the moon’s light would fill the sky and the next moment be obscured by clouds, not unlike our unpredictable human lives,” a beautiful nature metaphor, if a bit heavy handed on foreshadowing. Daiemon makes it, only to find his young lover has just woken from a nightmare. “He pressed Daiemon’s wet body against his and took him inside,” Saikaku explains, adding, “Daiemon had soon forgotten all his sorrows.” Pillow talk reveals that Tannosuke had dreamt that his lover had drowned and even just remembering the dream makes him weep again — there’s a lot of sexy weeping in this story.  Daiemon calms the boy by saying, “When we cannot see each other for a long time, at least we can meet in our dreams. Nothing could be better as far as I’m concerned.” A naked Daiemon returns to the river, but this time the partying samurai notice him. They think he is a large bird and they draw their arrows and fire on him. Daiemon is struck in the side, but manages to make it home where he leaves a garbled message to make it look like “he had lost his mind and manfully committed suicide.”  Why is this preferable to the truth? When Tannosuke rushes to his dead lover’s side the next day, he is shown the arrow by Daiemon’s family, marked by a symbol of the samurai who shot the killing blow. He instantly decides to take revenge on the mistaken samurai. During one of his daily visits he brings the samurai, the two fight to the death, and Tannosuke is buried in Daiemon’s tomb. “There will never be another heart as true as Tannosuke’s,” the story concludes. What does this tragic and somewhat silly story of two samurai have to do with Tokyo Pride, you might be asking yourself. My answer: narrative control.  Saikaku’s story was a piece of popular fiction written for average, horny Japanese men, the equivalent of a gay guy watching Queer As Folk, maybe. At that point in history samurai were, after all, little more than courtiers and bureaucrats. Paul Gordon Schalow, translator of the first English version of Saikaku’s short stories, writes that, “the attitude Saikaku showed towards samurai in Nanshoku ōkagami was dictated by his desire to create an idealized vision of male love.” At some point it was not inconceivable for two men to love each other, certainly during the Tokugawa period of 17th-century Japan, when Saikaku’s stories are likely set, with the tragic but romantic outcome that they’d end up together in death as in life. This is a far cry from Japan today, which is steeped in conventional gender norms, according to Brasor’s report — not at all helped by a history of Christian missionary work and prudish post-war Western influence.  I’m not saying I want Japan to return to boy-fucking, but through much of their history same-sex love was not only beautiful, but idealized, thanks in part to stories like these.

Out in Ottawa: Jan 4–12, 2017

3 January 2017 - 2:28pm
Wednesday, Jan 4 Queer Trans Youth  The holidays can be a difficult time for many people, especially those who are depressed or anxiety-ridden, so this peer-led support group helps queer and trans youth (no older than 25 years) get the encouragement they need. It’s a safe space focused on discussion and fun activities.  7–10pm. Kind Space, 222 Somerset St. kindspace.ca   Tuesday, Jan 10 The Big O!  Start the year resolved to have bigger, better and more frequent orgasms. This workshop is all about giving women tips and techniques for having multiple orgasms, G- and P-spot orgasms, bigger orgasms, and more, more, more orgasms. Includes discussion of the available toys and tools. Everyone welcome. Registration required. For more information, contact education@venusenvy.ca. 6:30–8pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St. venusenvy.ca    Wednesday, Jan 11 Sing With Us Tired of Grindr? Why not join a choir instead! The Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus is looking for new members. So long as you can sing, want to meet new people and identify as male, you’re welcome to join. No audition is required — just sign up and start preparing for the spring concert. This low-pressure event is designed to introduce people to the choir and give them the opportunity to sign up.  7–9:30pm. Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist, 154 Somerset St W. For more info, visit Facebook.   Thursday, Jan 12 Queer Cooking Club  Armed with cooking accoutrements of various descriptions — whisks, rolling pins and measuring cups perhaps — men gather to prepare a meal. One of Centretown Community Health Centre’s (CHC) Gay Zone events, this casual cooking class is a great way for men to learn a little more about cooking and to socialize with other guys. For more information, contact david@aco-cso.ca.  5:30pm. Centretown CHC, 420 Cooper St. For more info, visit aco-cso.ca/gayzonegaie.   Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars Book Launch  Kai Cheng Thom launches her exciting first novel, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir about a girl (who happens to know kung-fu and is a pathological liar) runs away from an oppressive home in search of love and sisterhood, and ends up in a vigilante gang of warrior trans femmes called the Lipstick Lacerators.  7:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St. venusenvy.ca

Milo, kilts and Finnish ice cream

3 January 2017 - 2:28am
[[asset:image:308758 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Publisher defends Milo Yiannopoulos book deal Simon & Schuster publishing company is on the defensive after signing a quarter million dollar book deal with Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay man and prominent “alt-right” online troll. Yiannopoulos is known as an ardent Donald Trump supporter and for getting kicked off Twitter for harassing actor Leslie Jones. Read more at the New Yorker.   Why is it so hard to study lesbians? New York public health researcher Marybec Griffin-Tomas spent months failing to recruit 200 lesbians for a health study, all while easily finding 800 gay men to participate in another. Lesbians, she says, have not been conditioned to participate in health research, putting the community at greater risk.   India opens first trans school The first six students have enrolled in a school for transgender children in the Indian state of Kerela. The school, where classes are also taught by trans teachers, is for children who have dropped out of school due to stigma. Read more at Gay Star News.   Kilt lawsuit plaintiff commits suicide The man who lost a five year long lawsuit against the San Diego police over an arrest for nudity while wearing a kilt has been found dead in a suspected suicide. Will X Walters argued that he was unfairly targeted as a gay man for wearing a kilt while nearby women wore thongs on a beach. Read more at the Daily Mail.   Cambodians charged for saying the king is gay Three Cambodians are on the run from police after they edited the head of the nation’s king into a gay porn scene. There is no specific law against insulting the king in Cambodia, but the constitution calls him “inviolable.” Read more from Metro.   The strange case of the Finnish icecream joke British presenter Richard Hammond seemed to make a tasteless and offensive joke on an episode of Grand Tour when he said he doesn’t eat ice cream because he’s straight. What seemed like homophobia, however, turned out to be a complex in-joke slipped in by Finnish writers. Read more at The Sun.  

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