Ottawa Xtra

Canada asked to take in more LGBT refugees after Trump ‘Muslim ban’

2 February 2017 - 7:02pm
Canada’s federal government is facing calls to take in more LGBT refugees, amid the so-called “Muslim ban” south of the border. At an emergency debate in the House of Commons, NDP member of Parliament Randall Garrison asked the government on Jan 31, 2017, whether it would “take specific actions to facilitate asylum for LGBT citizens of the seven countries” that were banned from entering the United States. On Jan 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bans citizens of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the US, regardless of whether they hold a visa. It also includes restrictions on refugees. That means Canada should take in more at-risk people, Garrison said during a debate that lasted more than five hours. “Perhaps the most at risk are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens of the seven countries banned. In all seven, homosexuality is illegal,” he said. “While only three explicitly have the death penalty, in all seven, death sentences are carried out by militias under Sharia law, and sometimes also by families as so-called honour killings.” Garrison noted that immigration officials deemed “members of the LGBTI community” one of four priority groups in the Canadian government’s ongoing airlift of 39,000 Syrian refugees. But it’s never been clear how many LGBT people arrived, or whether they had adequate support. Newly-appointed immigration minister Ahmed Hussen did not say whether his government would boost its intake of LGBT refugees in light of US policy, despite Garrison asking him twice in Parliament. “We’re engaged with our American counterparts to make sure that the implications of the executive order are closely monitored,” Hussen said during question period on Feb 1. “We’ll continue to be a country that opens its hearts and its doors to those fleeing war and persecution.” According to data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), LGBT people seeking asylum from the seven countries named in Trump’s executive order have a high acceptance rate in Canada — though few make claims.  Here are the numbers of inland asylum claims filed with the IRB from 2010 to 2015 as “sexual orientation and gender identity.” The data excludes resettled refugees who arrive through UN or private sponsorship. [[asset:image:308951 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Data obtained by Xtra shows that people seeking asylum from the seven countries in Trump\u2019s executive order have a high acceptance rate in Canada, though few make claims."]}]]  

Why is Canada only now accepting more LGBT asylum claims?

2 February 2017 - 4:01pm
Canada’s acceptance of LGBT asylum seekers has climbed after a controversial 2012 clamp-down on claimants from so-called “safe countries,” according to data obtained by Xtra. Documents released through the Access to Information Act reveal that Canada approved 69 percent of asylum claims classified as “sexual orientation and gender minorities” in 2015, compared with an average of 61 percent in the preceding four years.  Meanwhile, the number of people making SOGI claims has only slightly risen, with 1,286 claims decided in 2015 compared with an average of 1,132 in the preceding four years. The documents cover asylum claims classified as SOGI and processed between 2011 and 2015. The data only includes Immigration and Refugee Board decisions on inland claims; it doesn’t include Canada’s intake of sponsored and non-sponsored refugees who arrive through the United Nations Refugee Agency. The Immigration and Refugee Board stresses these are rough numbers because some refugee claims involve more than one category, and some refugees are granted asylum for a reason other than the main category under which they had filed a claim. “Claim-type categories are generic and are the ‘best fit’ for each case given the available categories,” the tribunal said in its data release. The data sorts claims by the year they were adjudicated, though many claims have taken years to be decided, while some are appealed. Sean Rehaag, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School has researched refugee claims for years. He says the success rate of SOGI claims dwarfs other categories like political refugees or persecuted religious minorities. “That suggests that there’s widespread persecution against LGBT claimants and that the Immigration and Refugee Board is recognizing that,” he says. “Frankly, it reflects the reality of rampant homophobia in many countries around the world.” Rehaag notes SOGI claims are “notoriously difficult to adjudicate” because claimants often spend their lives hiding any proof of their sexuality before being asked to prove it to a stranger. “It’s an incredibly fraught and difficult process,” he says. “And the fact there are hundreds of people who are going through this process every year is really an indicator that we need to make sure that those processes are fair, and that the processes are not relying on stereotypes about sexual minorities.” [[asset:image:308948 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Data from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on accepted and rejected SOGI asylum inland claims between 2011 and 2015."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Francesca Roh\/Daily Xtra"]}]] ‘Safe’ countries Even as the rate of approved asylum requests jumped from 38 to 59 percent since 2011, the number of people arriving in Canada to claim asylum has dropped by a quarter (from 12,905 claims in 2011 to just 9,537 in 2015). The drop coincides with the former Conservative government’s 2012 decision to maintain a list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), which curtailed the appeal rights for refugee claimants from countries deemed to have a functioning justice system and human rights. There are currently 42 countries on the list, which the governing Liberals plan to alter. While the previous government said the list cracked down on “bogus” refugees who had their claims thrown out, advocates and researchers say it instead imposed difficult timelines on vulnerable claimants. Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, says SOGI claimants have been particularly affected by the DCO list. “Generally, they’re going to be from countries where there is a democratic government in place, where there isn’t an outright conflict happening,” Dench says. “Even though there may be generally peaceful situation and rule of law, that may not extend to people who are sexual minorities or people facing gender persecution.” While the data shows fewer claims and higher success rates among the claims made, Rehaag pushes back against the idea that the new system has weeded out false claimants, because the SOGI success rate remains high. “During the same period when our former government was talking about abuse of the refugee-determination system, there were large groups of refugee claimants, including LGBT refugee claimants, who were succeeding at a very high rate,” Rehaag says. “I think there’s a lesson there about being careful of applying stereotypes about claimants.” In his November 2015 ministerial mandate letter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked then-Immigration Minister John McCallum with establishing “an expert human rights panel to help you determine designated countries of origin.” Just four months later, the Federal Court restored DCO claimants’ right to an appeal. But it’s unclear whether the government will change the list, which was last updated in October 2014 under the previous government. Trudeau’s mandate letter to new Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, posted Feb 1, 2017, contains no mention of the DCO list. Dench notes that the DCO system isn’t improving time frames, according to both a March 2016 IRB evaluation and an April 2016 immigration department report. “Rather than improving the DCO list, it should be simply eradicated,” Dench says. “It’s not working; it’s not serving the purposes that were intended.” Differences for bisexuals and trans people The data shows huge fluctuations in success rates for the four SOGI categories: bisexual, gay, lesbian and "Varied/Other.” That last category jumps from 50 to 79 percent success, and includes trans people and other identities like genderqueer, intersex and South Asia’s Hijra and Kothi minorities. In each year, lesbians have a higher success rate than gay men by two to nine more percentage points, though they account for one-third as many claims as gay men. Rehaag notes that in all five years, bisexual claimants had a lower success rate than gays or lesbians.  “Why is it that bisexuals are being disbelieved at a higher rate than other types of sexual-minority claimants?” Rehaag wonders. “That tracks onto other social phenomenon, where bisexuality is a sexual orientation or identity that is treated with a rate of skepticism more broadly than others.”   Variations by country  The data reveal trends for countries with crackdowns on queer people, though not always as expected. Russia, which banned “homosexual propaganda” in 2013 and saw a rise in LGBT hate crimes, had a steady climb in SOGI claimants from 34 in 2011 to 53 in 2014, but just 19 claims in 2015. The numbers shift even more dramatically for Uganda, where lawmakers passed a 2014 law to execute gay people (the bill was watered down to life in prison, and remains suspended under a constitutional court challenge).  The number of SOGI claimants from Uganda jumped from 17 in 2013 — with just a 59 percent success rate — to 45 claims in 2015, with 76 percent success. In 2011, 30 of the 35 asylum claims from Uganda were approved. Many countries also show a large year-by-year fluctuation, both in terms of SOGI asylum claims made and approved. . For example, Albania, Venezuela and Zimbabwe each had the highest success rate in one of the five years, holding a 100 percent success rate with more than a dozen claimants — but all three of these countries also showed a success rate of two-thirds or less in other years, according to the data. The data also includes rare cases of LGBT refugees from countries with codified protections of LGBT people. Israel, whose government promotes itself as a bastion of queer rights in a hostile region, saw two successful gay male asylum seekers in 2011 (Palestine is listed as a separate region, and had one successful claim in 2014). France also saw one successful gay male claim in 2012. But Dench says not to read too much into small numbers. “Sometime issues of nationality are kind of obscured because of family members with different nationalities," Dench says, citing the example of people whose children have US citizenship though the parents were born in another country. “There are a lot of things that could be going on in a particular case.” Per capita, the countries that send the most LGBT refugees to Canada are Caribbean islands such as Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia and Jamaica, as well as Namibia and Albania, which consistently produce SOGI refugees every year.

Out in Toronto: Feb 2–8, 2017

2 February 2017 - 1:01pm
Thursday, Feb 2 Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience  To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, Cree visual artist Kent Monkman tells the story of Canada while in the guise of his drag alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Monkman’s first major solo exhibition at this location includes paintings, drawings, sculptural works and historical artifacts. The story goes back well before confederation and includes a humorous and searing critique of Canada’s colonial past and present.  Runs until Saturday, March 4. Art Museum at the University of Toronto, 15 King’s College Cir. [[asset:image:308939 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["\u201cThe Daddies\u201d is one of Cree artist Kent Monkman\u2019s works at his new exhibition, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, which runs until March 4, 2017 at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Kent Monkman"]}]] Spark: Friends and Allies Night  Spark, The 519’s trans youth sports program, hosts a multi-sport night for trans youth. While this weekly event, which takes places in a local gym, is typically only open to trans, genderqueer, gender fluid, two-spirit, agender, non-binary and gender questioning folks between the ages of 16 and 29, this edition welcomes allies as well (within the same age range). For more information, contact  6–8pm. Central Neighbourhood House, 349 Ontario St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Friday, Feb 3 Butch Femme Salon: Splash! Butches, femmes, machos, bois — everyone can be themselves at this party. Hosted by drag king Titus Androgynous and burlesque performer Belle Jumelles, this edition of the recurring event has an aquatic theme. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as mermaids, sea creatures, divers, sailors — you get the idea. The evening begins with a low-key salon, followed by some performances and then dancing later on.  9pm–midnight. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St. [[asset:image:308936 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["This aquatic-themed edition of Butch Femme Salon takes place on Feb 3, 2017, at Buddies."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Greg Wong"]}]]   Wimmin: A Queer Rock and Roll Dance Party  This queer rock and roll dance party features music by only female and “gender-expansive” rockers. That means music by the likes of Patti Smith, X-Ray Spex, PJ Harvey, The Cliks, Hole,  Janis Joplin, Slits, Bush Tetras, Thao, Le Tigre, Garbage, Against Me! and many more. Everyone is welcome to attend, but as billing for the event says, “queers to the front.” This will be the last Wimmin party for a while, so get your fill while you can.  10pm–2am. Holy Oak, 1241 Bloor St W. For more info, visit Facebook.    Hardcover: A Bookshop Disco Dance among some books at one of Church Street’s newest parties. Whether you’re a dancing queen or a book club princess, a disco diva or a gay pulp aficionado, DJ Orange Pekoe invites you to get down with your bad self to a soundtrack of disco, funk, Motown and pop. Welcoming the whole community, this takes place at Glad Day Bookshop’s new and improved location in the village.  10pm–2:30am. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:308942 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["DJ Orange Pekoe spins at Hardcover: A Bookshop Disco, on Feb 3, 2017, Glad Day Bookshop."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy DJ Orange Pekoe"]}]] Sunday, Feb 5 The Jeni Show  Anyone who’s spent any amount of time at the Statler’s or the Toronto Fringe Festival knows that local luminary Jennifer Walls loves to talk, sing and watch Chelsea Handler. Now she’s combining those elements and launching her own onstage variety show in the Village. This edition’s guests are performance artist Kit Boulter, TV personality Allison Mang and radio producer Megh Walls-MacBurnie.  6–7:30pm. 120 Diner, 120 Church St.  [[asset:image:308933 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Jennifer Wells hosts her own onstage show on Feb 5, 2017, at 120 Diner."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy David Kingsmill"]}]]  

Out in Vancouver: Feb 2–7, 2017

1 February 2017 - 9:59pm
Thursday, Feb 2 Lights Out Find a date before Valentine’s Day by groping around in the dark until you find something you fancy. It may not be covered in chocolate, but I can guarantee you can eat until you are full — and not a calorie in sight. This weekly night is infamous for its low lighting and frisky men. If you’re shy, you’ll emerge a champ. 4pm-4am. Steamworks Baths, 123 W Pender Street. Rates start at $15.   Friday, Feb 3 Taboo I met a couple of men — on separate nights — and they turned out to be the best one-night stands I ever had.  This show is a perfect cover for those not quite out of the closet (or quietly bisexual). While their girlfriends look at all the hot men, so can they. This annual three-day show has all you want to sexually enhance your life — bondage, virtual reality porn, ass competition, the Body Heat All Male Review, and of course, the giant penis painter himself, Brent Ray Fraser. Yes, he is painting. Check out the website for the full schedule.  Tonight 5pm-12am, Saturday 12pm-12am and Sunday 12pm-6pm. Vancouver Convention Centre, 999 Canada Place. Admission $20 per day.   Bitch Please It’s hard to believe that Alma Bitches is the numero uno bitch at the House of Bitches. She’s so sweet and demure. But that is day-drag Alma; Alma at night is a whole different story. This is her group’s first pop-up event, featuring Ilona, Rich Elle, Eva Scarlett and Jo Duree — probably not a show to take your grandmother to, unless granny used to be a madam. DJ G-Luve brings the stability back and keeps you dancing all night, so drop by and get in on the ground floor of a new event. 9pm-3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $5 all night.   Britney X Britney If Adam Dreaddy hadn’t left us for Montreal — and blocked most of us on Facebook — we could flog a show about pre-shaved-head and post-shaved-head Britney Spears that would drive him crazy. A night full of Britney doing what she does best, and you wont even see her lips move so it’s just like being at her concert. Come dance to all her hits, drink some Britney cocktails and bet your friends whether Britney, aka Carlotta Gurl, shows up and does a few flash shots that Brit is famous for. 9pm-3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Free entry but must register online for guest list at More info at   Peach Cobblah Live I know what you’re thinking. She’s always live. That may be true, but sometimes she’s so polluted they just prop the Peach up in a corner while Isolde sits behind and does the hand movements. Seriously, she’s one of the hardest working girls, entertaining us for what seems like six nights a week — and flawlessly at that. Tonight if you want a taste of the Peach you must travel across the strait. Peach Cobblah, along with the legendary Gouda Gabour and Mr Gay Vancouver Island, Persi Flage, will make you glad you made the voyage. 11pm-2am. Paparazzi Nightclub, 642 Johnson St, Victoria. Cover $8.   Saturday, Feb 4  Feb-Rubbery Who knew that a fetish event would be named after the way my mother always made chicken taste? Get ready as Vancouver Rubber Men invade Pumpjack with a whole lot of shiny, tight, slippery and boner-inducing invincible rubber. All I want to do is slide my hands all over it — and they usually let you — and then stand back as the rubber expands as far as it can. 2-5pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover.   Van-Pah Mosh Time Pumpjack is an equal-opportunity event provider. While rubber occupies the back, puppy play is at the front. Watch the puppies sniff and play all over the bar. A mosh is an opportunity for pups and their handlers to get together and socialize. Come on out to romp, socialize or just explore. 2-4pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover.   WESA Registration Who’s ready for some ball play? No, not the hairy ones. Smooth, unwashed and stitched ones, so yes, baseballs. It’s that time of year to act upon what you always say: “West End Slo-Pitch Association is great, I’m going to join a team next year.” Get cracking because teams fill up fast. The season runs from the end of April to the end of July or early August. Meet a crazy number of people and get some exercise while you’re at it. Today is the first day of online registration followed by a welcoming party later in the month. For information and registration form, visit   XY: onyx Not only is this a hot night of entertainment in a classy nightclub with stunning bar staff, but it also has a hidden hottie. DJ Landon James is one of those sultry, sexy, quiet DJs with a body that could be in GQ, or at least Scruff — and he plays great music to boot. Tonight, Coco Klein is in the house ready to knock you on your ass with one of the fiercest drag performances you’ll ever see. Don’t take my word for it, just go. Hands off the DJ, if you can. 9pm-3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $5.   Sunday, Feb 5 Kegger Sometimes you just need a quiet place to have a drink and reflect on your life. This is not that place. With a muscle piggy on the poster you should have guessed. A great spot to have drinks, rub up against shirtless, hairy, hot, handsome men and hear some of the city’s best DJs. Nick Bertossi, Robyn Graves, Mumbles and even Del Stamp rotate weekly. FYI, Del is usually one of the hotties you are rubbing up against.   1pm-late. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover.   Imperial Crown Prince & Princess Ball These days you can’t tell royalty from common folk in the village because of the slew of pageants. Add in all the drag queens who wear tiaras and my head starts to spin. Tonight your hosts are Princes 45, Shayne and Norman, plus Princesses 45, Glitteris and Berlin. Yes, that’s right, a pair of each. I’m completely confused and hopefully I figure it all out before the ball. The theme is Flashback to the ’80s, so expect a preppies-meet-mullets type of occasion. 8pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Cover $5 for the Dogwood Monarchy Society.   Sanctuary & The Shequel With all the shows Alma Bitches does, it’s a wonder anyone else gets any gigs. Get this: she has two on the same night and on the same block. Start off at 1181 for Sanctuary with Alma’s first-born Ilona joining in. Time to dust off your Sunday best and head to the new church on Davie St. Then head up the block a bit to XY where Alma and her entourage tear it up again until the wee hours. Sanctuary 10pm. 1181, 1181 Davie St. Shequel  12am, XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover is free at 1181, $5 at XY unless you have your Legends stamp from earlier.   Monday, Feb 6 G-Spot Time to get down to business with the female version of the prostate — that elusive g-spot. In a cozy, comfortable atmosphere, they will show you expert finger techniques, discuss positions and toys, as well as cover the anatomy of this exquisite pleasure centre. If you’re curious to see one and watch a woman ejaculate, there’ll be educational video clips available and handouts to take home. There’s your Monday night taken care of. 7:30pm. The Art of Loving, 369 West Broadway St. Workshop $20. Register at     Tuesday, Feb 7 Dirty Little Secrets We all have them. Disgruntled exes expose them, while some slip out after too many cocktails. At this event, you reveal them voluntarily — anonymously, of course, except for the heavy sweating and tell-tale, red-faced person in the audience who thought this was a bad idea. Write it down, toss it in the jar, and watch a cast of top improvisors explore the possibilities with every secret they pull and act out on stage. 7-9:30pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. No cover. $5 a secret in the jar.   Dirty Pots And Dirty Pictures If you’ve ever seen my husband, you know this just means doing the dishes at our place. Get dirty at the Gallery of BC Ceramics at a night of erotic photography by Ryan Rose and sexy ceramics by the Potters Guild of BC. Rose takes it all off for his nude self-portraits that blend campy aesthetics with sincere gender subversion. He’ll pose live with guests in a steamy and scandalous photo opportunity. Capture the moment forever with pics that could ruin your future. Warning: First three rows will get wet. 7-11pm. Gallery of BC Ceramics, 1359 Cartwright St. No cover.

Why I went back in the closet while travelling to India (Part 1)

1 February 2017 - 9:59pm
I was sitting at the back of a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Pushkar, India, having mediocre dal, naan and chapati. As I ate, I chatted with my new friend Heather, who was sitting back there too. I’d decided to just say hello, which I never really do. Turned out she was from New Zealand and had been traveling for a few weeks with her partner but was now on her own.  We spoke in code about our sexuality for some time before realizing that we were both queer. Personally, my apprehension to disclose was due to some strange experiences I’d had during my first few days in India. Funny that the first person I’d met in this small and somewhat out of the way town would be a lesbian traveller, since I hadn’t met a single openly gay guy yet in India. I’d started my trip through India two weeks earlier in Jaipur, getting myself reacquainted with the chaotic beauty that I’ve always loved about this country. I headed to Pushkar next, which was less chaotic and more enchanting. On my first day there I walked along the holy lake, passing devout Hindus bathing in one of the ghats and throwing flowers in the water. Up above, on the street around the lake, the hippies roamed the bazaars on foot and scooters, dressed like it was 1969, like we were in some mystic time warp. I chose India specifically to see these sites. It was much more of a cultural trip for me, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also hoping to hookup, particularly after my dry spell in Thailand. Maybe I could meet a local who could also show me around — or something else?  That didn’t happen. Not in Jaipur anyway.  The reason for my failings during the first leg of my trip really boiled down to, in my opinion, India’s regressive laws surrounding homosexuality. In 2009, the Delhi High Court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized consensual homosexuality, was unconstitutional. But four years later, the Supreme Court overruled the High Court, ruling that only Parliament can change the law. As a result, the Supreme Court declared that the 2009 ruling was legally unsustainable and homosexuality was criminalized again.  [[asset:image:308927 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["A travel warning for queer people in India."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Mike Miksche\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Since then, several prominent openly LGBT Indian celebrities have publicly petitioned against the law and there have been repeated efforts to decriminalize it with no such luck. I asked Heather about her experience in India as a lesbian. She admitted that she’d been playing it “straight” for the sake of safety and even told one guy, who’d been harassing her, that she had a husband. I found myself playing somewhat of the same charade, which was strange for me. I’ve been out to my family and friends since my late teens, so going back into the closet seemed as regressive as the laws in India.  By playing straight, I knew that it was also inhibiting my chances of meeting other gay men too, but I was in a foreign country. I didn’t understand the customs so I needed to be careful. Despite that, I did attempt to be as honest as I could be so that I wasn’t a complete phony. When asked by locals if I was married, I said ‘No,’ and when they asked why I’d just say that I had no interest. Same went for having children — it just wasn’t my thing. I never mentioned Ernan though. Or the fact that I was gay.  Before I’d arrived, I learned that there were no gay clubs or bars in either city, which wasn’t a huge surprise, though I had also read about a park and a garden in Jaipur where guys go cruising. When I tried to log back onto (which is owned by Xtra’s publisher Pink Triangle Press) at my hotel to get all the details, I found the site was blocked because it was categorized as “porn.”  I gave up on that idea, but didn’t completely attribute it to being a gay site. It said “porn” not “gay.” And maybe it was just the hotel that blocked it, not the government of India.  When I went on Scruff, I got a disturbing warning: “The country you have recently entered has laws that criminalize sexual acts between consenting adult males. Persons convicted of such acts may be subject to one or more of the following: Life imprisonment.” [[asset:image:308930 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Scruff gives users a gay travel advisory for countries that criminalize homosexuality."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Mike Miksche\/Daily Xtra"]}]] Holy shit!  The warning went on to explain that one should exercise caution when sharing details with members as well as when meeting people from here.  This was at the start of my trip. This is why I spoke in code with Heather at first. The last thing I wanted to do was spend life in an Indian prison . . .

Canadian government to review use of gender information on identity documents

1 February 2017 - 12:55pm
A recent human rights settlement involving the merits of using sex and gender markers on identification documents is being described as a landmark case that has prompted a federal government review. Toronto trans activist Christin Milloy filed the case with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in January 2012, after making a number of unsuccessful attempts to update the gender information on her social insurance record through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).  “Their practice was to record a gender designation by copying the sex designation from a birth certificate, and that created problems for me because my gender identity did not match my sex designation,” Milloy explains. She says the ESDC wanted her to produce an updated birth certificate, which she did not have, that reflected the gender marker she uses.   The settlement, reached earlier this month, means that ESDC’s procedure will be updated to make providing sex and gender information optional. Those who decide to disclose their gender will have at least three options to choose from — male, female, and a third alternative — when answering a sex or gender question. ESDC will also be included in an imminent government-wide initiative to review the collection of sex and gender data. “What we got is exactly what we sought,” Milloy says. For her, that means an acknowledgement that it is “inappropriate to collect and store a sex designation, and it is inappropriate to use a gender designation for identification purposes.” She recognizes, however, that the ESDC may require anonymous demographic data, including sex and gender data, for planning and evaluation.   Milloy’s lawyer barbara findlay (who does not capitalize her name) says the case’s outcome signals the first time a government has recognized that collecting gender marker information can be discriminatory, unless it’s proven to be necessary. “That’s a huge thing because it’s a recognition that gender should be treated like race, or sexual orientation, or any of those other personal things,” she says. “Certainly it’s important to collect information about the demographics of a situation or the country, the workplace, the province, the city, whatever, but it’s equally important to not make people out themselves in order to collect that information.” Findlay says it is especially important not to have gender designations on any document that an individual has to carry and produce. She is also representing a group of eight complainants who are pushing BC’s Vital Statistics Agency to allow for gender-free birth certificates. The complainants, including the Trans Alliance Society of BC, filed the first complaint with the province’s human rights tribunal in November 2013. A hearing is set to take place in the coming months.   The case, and the use of gender markers overall, is not without debate within BC’s trans community. Those in favour of the removal of gender markers argue that mandatory inclusion of gender on primary documents doesn’t serve any useful purpose and could cause harm by forcing people who are non-binary or gender variant to have gender markers that do not match their identity. Others in the trans community feel such markers are a validation of the battles they fought to gain recognition of their gender identity.   Natalie Babin-Dufresne, the director of communications for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, says the outcome of Milloy’s case was informed by the principle that all levels of government remove gender markers on documents wherever possible. Babin-Dufresne stresses that this was a settlement, not a decision, so it cannot officially set precedent, but it should influence similar cases. “What it will do is inform or encourage the federal government and other government departments, provincially perhaps as well, to maybe change how they approach gathering data,” Babin-Dufresne says. “It might also open up avenues in terms of providing a third option, in addition to male and female.” Findlay agrees that the settlement does not set official precedent, but says it should provide influence. “It certainly is persuasive.” In Saskatchewan, a complaint has been filed challenging the collection of gender data on all government documents. Another federal complaint has also been filed with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to remove gender markers from Canadian passports.  Babin-Dufresne says the commission will be monitoring the government-wide review. “What’s important to take away from this, is that this is a step in the direction of trying to allow people to choose, that they don’t have to choose between a service and providing personal information,” she says. “It’s allowing people to have more control over something that’s very personal.” In Milloy’s opinion, the settlement should have an immediate effect on all similar cases.   “I’m extremely hopeful that this will set a precedent for them, where the government is going to cooperate with the notion that in the 21st century we don’t need gender as an identifier,” she says. “We certainly should not be considering the physiological sex of an infant; that shouldn’t follow someone around for the rest of their life on a card that they have to carry and show.” She says she’ll work with other activists to watch the federal review very closely. “It really is the next frontier of queer rights, in my opinion.”

Out in Ottawa: Feb 1–15, 2017

1 February 2017 - 12:55pm
Wednesday, Feb 1  Asexuality 101: A Piece of Cake! What is asexuality? What’s involved in dating an asexual person? How do other identities intersect with asexuality? What challenges do asexual people and their partners face? This workshop covers the basics (and perhaps a little more than that) of the much-misunderstood topic of asexuality. The discussion centres on what asexual people have said about their experiences. Everyone welcome. 5–6:30pm. Algonquin Students’ Association, Pride Centre, B-102, 1385 Woodroffe Ave. For more info, visit Facebook.   Saturday, Feb 4 The PepTides at House of TARG  Edgy pop group The PepTides returns to a local hangout for a night of neon hair, funky soul music, pinball and (for some reason) perogies. The music of this Ottawa-based group is a bunch of styles all mashed together and it’s great for dancing. The concert also features Les Petits Fours, a seven-piece band that’s all about French pop and Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot and other hip stuff.  9pm–midnight. House of TARG, 1077 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Tuesday, Feb 7 Long-Distance Relationships Workshop  Relationships are hard enough, but when you throw in living in a different city — fuhgeddaboutit. This workshop is all about how to make it work — because it can be exciting when it does. It includes discussion of relationship structures, expectations, communication and how to have long-distance sex. Register online or call 613-789-4646. For more information, contact  6:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St.   Thursday, Feb 9 Non-Heteronormative Valentine Craft Night  Valentine’s Day and its paraphernalia are usually aimed at monogamous, straight — and, let’s face it, boring — people. It’s kind of a letdown for the rest of us. Hosted by the Feminist Twins, this all-ages event is an opportunity to come together with other queers and craft a card or gift that reflects your gender, orientation or relationship structure. Some supplies are provided, but feel free to bring your own. 6:30–9pm. Kind Space, 222 Somerset St W. For more info, visit Facebook.   Wednesday, Feb 15 Sexual Liberation? with Ignacio Rivera  This workshop aims to, as billing puts it, “dissect the concept of sexual liberation, freedom and privilege — specifically how it interacts with race, class and gender.” The facilitator, Ignacio Rivera, is a performance artist, activist, writer, filmmaker, lecture and sex educator, and has experience working on issues affecting trans people. Direct any questions or comments to 7:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St.

Reverend Brent Hawkes acquitted of all charges in sexual assault trial

31 January 2017 - 6:52pm
Reverend Brent Hawkes has been found not guilty in a sexual assault case that stretched back more than 40 years to Hawkes’ days as a high school teacher in Kings County, NS in the 1970s. Hawkes, a longtime and influential leader of Toronto’s gay community and recipient of the Order of Canada, was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault and one charge of gross indecency. One of Hawkes’ sisters clapped and laughed in relief as Judge Alan Tufts rendered the not-guilty verdict on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017. “In the end, it is not clear what happened in the bedroom that evening 41 years ago. It is easy to speculate, but that is something that is not permitted here,” Tufts said in his written decision.  “I acknowledge that there is a likelihood or even a probability that some sexual activity happened in the bedroom, possibly between the accused and [the complainant]. For the reasons I expressed above, I am not convinced of that beyond a reasonable doubt. For that reason the accused is found not guilty.” Tufts concluded that while the complainant’s testimony was compelling and vivid at first examination, he found frailties within the story and significant inconsistencies with the other witnesses. “There is a strong possibility that [the complainant] reconstructed and recreated and possibly embellished this event over time, as a result of memories that came to him later on,” he wrote in his 59-page ruling.  The identity of the complainant and two other witnesses are protected by a publication ban. During the six-day trial in November 2016 the complainant testified that Hawkes had forced oral sex with him in a trailer when he was 16 years old. Hawkes categorically denied that any sexual activity had taken place. Outside of the courtroom, Hawkes read a brief statement expressing his relief and thanking his husband, family and supporters, but did not take any questions, saying he needed to leave for the airport. Hawkes’ defence lawyer Clayton Ruby was absent during the reading of the verdict. Toronto lawyer Doug Elliott was not involved in the trial but spoke to the media afterward, criticizing the Crown for charging Hawkes without sufficient evidence. Elliott chaired a support fund for Hawkes, which he says raised more than $100,000 in donations to cover legal costs. “There’s a lot of people in the community who are very grateful for the human rights work that has been done by Reverend Hawkes over the years,” Elliott told the media. “It was our view from the beginning that this case should have never been brought to trial.”

Can we curb HIV transmissions by purchasing generic PrEP online?

30 January 2017 - 9:50pm
In Canada there were an estimated 16,020 people living with HIV who were undiagnosed in 2014, as well as about 2,570 new infections. That’s slightly down from the estimated 2,800 new infections in 2011, but still a cause for concern. But now there may be some signs of hope from across the pond. Four sexual health clinics in London, UK, recently saw a significant decrease in new HIV infections among gay men, and some believe that it was due to people buying PrEP online.  This success has been largely attributed to some DIY activists in the UK and websites like PrEPster and I Want PrEP Now. They offer comprehensive information on how to buy and use generic versions of PrEP, as well as things to do before and after you start taking it. Some Canadians have already been importing generics. So can we expect similar results here?  One site, Davie Buyers Club is doing great work by providing information on how Canadians can access generics, though he focuses on the Vancouver area. It offers an in-depth step-by-step tutorial on how to get PrEP for about $75 Canadian per month. However, the difference between the UK and Canada is that you can’t actually have them shipped to your home since PrEP generics have not been approved by Health Canada. While Health Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency will allow you to import three months worth of PrEP, you have to carry it across the border yourself it with a copy of your prescription. So how does one get access?  According to Davie Buyers Club how it works is that you first need to get a prescription from your primary care provider so that you can order them online and import them back to Canada. You next need to get a mailbox in the United States so that you have an address to ship them to. They’re legal there because they’re FDA-approved. Davie Buyers Club provides a list of other parcel receiving services in the US depending on where you are in Canada. You then order, wait, and pick them up when they arrive. I spoke to “Davie,” the creator of the site, who is a front line health care worker in the capacity of a doctor, nurse or a nurse practitioner (to protect his identity, he cannot specify).  Davie admits that this method benefits those who have some risk with moderate to high means, since you need a car, a passport and no prior criminal record to get PrEP this way. Those who are high risk with low means may not find this approach accessible, especially if you don't live near a border. “Having to go to another country to receive your medications is a significant barrier,” he says. A personal concern I have with this method is possible interruptions in access due to issues with shipping or at customs, which can happen when ordering online. A recent cohort study in northern California showed a rise in STI rates amongst PrEP users, though the STIs are a cause for concern, what actually got my attention was that two people in the study contracted HIV during periods when their insurance lapsed, interrupting their access. Although their interruption was due to issues with insurance and not ordering online,what this tells me is that even if access changes, risky behaviour may not. “There is always — hopefully a very small — but some level of uncertainty and I feel like it’s my job to describe the process as best and as clearly as possible, to make people follow the process to make it go as smoothly as possible,” Davie says. “I start my webpage with a disclaimer that there is an element of risk to this.”  Many may feel that ordering generic drugs online is questionable because the drugs may contain the wrong ingredients, they may be counterfeits or have toxic additives, or they may be past their expiration date. Obviously, finding a reliable source is essential. I Want My PrEP Now only lists PrEP suppliers with first-hand accounts from people they know who claim that the sales process was straightforward and reliable. The drugs have also been tested by customers.  In 2014, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that Davie's website recommends, announced that it received tentative approval for its generic version of Truvada by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an antiretroviral. Apparently it meets all safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality standards for marketing. Last year, one sexual health clinic in central London tested drug levels of users who purchased their PrEP online from various sources; there were no counterfeits found, a promising result.  Whether to begin generics is ultimately a decision that one must make, either with the help of a primary care provider, or on their own. Though it may seem radical or even dangerous to some, the apparent success in London was because gay men defied medical advice and ordered generics anyway. So will Canada also see a decrease in HIV transmission cases thanks to buying PrEP online? “I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” Davie says.  Perhaps the only hope for PrEP to make an impact is to have it publically funded nationwide. Currently in Canada, only Quebec residents, people with private drug coverage that covers PrEP, students, and people who are enrolled in the First Nations and Inuit Health Care plan can access PrEP. The Canadian Drug Expert Committee recommended that Truvada be reimbursed, but one of the conditions is that Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead, provides the drug at a reduced price. Whether Gilead will do so remains to be seen.

Seven reasons Mary Tyler Moore’s on-screen persona made her a gay icon

30 January 2017 - 9:50pm
When Mary Tyler Moore passed away on Jan 25, 2017, at the age of 80, there was an epic outpouring of grief and gratitude for the actress and author. Moore’s main legacy was the beloved sitcom that bore her name, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran from 1970–77. Most regard it as a feminist landmark, a show in which a self-assured single gal in her 30s was more interested in her rewarding media career than in landing a husband and popping out kids. Legions of women fans credit the show’s central character, Mary Richards, with inspiring them, including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Tina Fey, Hillary Clinton, Rosie O’Donnell and Katie Couric. Winfrey often tells the story of being a young ambitious TV reporter who was hell-bent on getting a job at WJM-TV, the place Richards worked — a station she later realized was fictional.  [[asset:image:308897 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Oprah tweets about Mary Tyler Moore after the news of her death."],"field_asset_image_credit":["@Oprah\/Twitter"]}]] It has been said that every woman of a certain generation identified with Mary Richards. And, I would argue, every sensible gay man.  As a kid, I sat transfixed watching Mary Tyler Moore reruns. The ensemble was unmatched, as was the genius writing, and there’s no doubt my choice of journalism as a vocation was influenced by Mary. And I always thought there was something distinctly queer about my association with her. Apparently, I’m not alone, as journalist Michael Musto and designer Isaac Mizrahi agree. What follows are seven reasons why I hail Mary as as much of a gay icon as a feminist one.   One of the greatest gay episodes, ever In season three, writers hatched one of the funniest and most clever entries in the show’s 168-episode run, “My Brother’s Keeper.” The scheming Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) tries to set her brother up with Mary. But Ben (played by openly gay actor Robert Moore) takes a shine to Rhoda (Valerie Harper), much to the horror of Phyllis, who had a notorious hate-on for her upstairs neighbour.  [[asset:video_embed:308900 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_caption":["\u201cMy Brother\u2019s Keeper\u201d"],"field_video_credit":["Willie Nelsen\/YouTube"]}]] Spoiler alert: the punch line occurs when Rhoda reveals to Phyllis why she couldn’t possibly be Ben’s type: “He’s gay,” she blurts out, to audience screams and frantic applause.  “Oh, what a relief,” Phyllis gasps back.  The episode was revolutionary for the way in which it treated a character’s being gay nonchalantly, and the fact that it actually provides comfort to Phyllis. When I interviewed Harper in 2006, she identified the episode as one of her favourites.  “When I said that line, “He’s gay,” we got the biggest laugh ever on that show . . . I mean, this was the ’70s, long before Will & Grace or Ellen; there really weren’t gay characters on television back then. The audience laughed and cheered for over a minute. They had to take most of the audience response out for the broadcast cut. It was amazing.”  Intriguing fact: Robert Moore was best known as a director. He had directed the first staging of the legendary gay play, The Boys in the Band and later directed episodes of the MTM spinoff Rhoda, including the wedding episode, one of the highest-rated TV shows in history.   Mary was living the term “chosen family” before it was coined While Mary’s parents popped up in a few episodes, she was an only child and soon found that her workmates provided a different kind of support. Her surly boss Lou Grant (Ed Asner) clearly served as a father figure, while chief writer Murray (Gavin Macleod) and narcissistic anchor Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) were unruly siblings. In the final episode — widely regarded as one of the best series finales in sitcom history — Mary tells her workmates, “Thank you for being my family.”   The lesbian subtext to the trio of Mary, Rhoda and Phyllis Why were Rhoda and Phyllis so often at each other’s throats? In his 1993 book, Making Things Perfectly Queer, pop culture theorist Alexander Doty argued there was a lesbian subtext running through the show, and that Phyllis and Rhoda were competing for the affections of Mary. It may seem like a leap, but Leachman was amused when I asked her about the theory in 1997.  “I think Phyllis would have been dying to know what it would be like to be with a woman,” she told me, “but would have died never knowing.” [[asset:video_embed:308903 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_credit":["Rob Copperfield\/YouTube"]}]] Singles, unite! For women, the pressure to get hitched and have kids remains epic. After having played the dutiful, if ditsy, wife to her hubby on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the ’60s, the very idea that Mary would remain single for almost the entire run of her own show was in itself radical.  [[asset:image:308906 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show, in 1961."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Classic Films\/Flickr\/Creative Commons"]}]] There were plenty of disastrous dates (though she did once get to go out with the stunning cult actor John Saxon), but Mary didn’t seem to mind. She was content with herself, had a rewarding career and appeared immune to the pressure to conform to a ’50s standard. As Nora Ephron wrote of Mary’s single status in Esquire, “The important thing was that Mary Richards didn’t even seem to care.” This will seem even more relevant for queers today, given that the legalization of same-sex marriage in many Western states has led to a rush to the altar. Seven seasons of Mary should stand as an ongoing reminder that happiness comes in all relationship statuses.   The wardrobe Mary rocked whatever she wore, from mini-skirts to go-go boots to hip belts and an array of divergent hairdos. She turned the WJM newsroom into a runway, ready for work while looking like a fashionista. Sissydude has compiled many of Moore’s best looks, as she portrays Richards and other characters. [[asset:video_embed:308909 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_credit":["Entertainment Tonight\/YouTube"]}]] The apartment Mary had the most kick-ass flat in the history of TV homes. A sweet balcony, a kitchen behind a stained-glass sliding window and open-beamed high ceilings helped to create one of the greatest bachelorette pads ever. Despite the space, Mary’s parties never quite worked out; in fact, they were disasters. Alas, in season six, Mary would move into a far less interesting high rise, but we still have the memories. [[asset:image:308912 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mary\u2019s first apartment."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Screengrab via Mtmepisodes\/YouTube"]}]] In a 2009 episode of her talk show, Oprah had the set elaborately recreated, where the cast reunited. Hell, even with a fold-out couch for a bed and having to live in front of a studio audience, I still want to move in there. [[asset:image:308915 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mary moves into her new high-rise apartment."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Screengrab via Mtmepisodes\/YouTube"]}]] Mary was good, in a great way Perhaps the defining characteristic of the show was the way it perfectly reflected the character of Mary herself: kind, loyal and patient, Mary Richards was the person you wanted to be.  Even if you couldn’t be quite as good-hearted as Mary was, the show suggested you should at very least try. Even the characters who were set up as foils to Mary’s good nature — the self-aggrandizing, pompous Ted, the self-obsessed, manipulative Phyllis, the scheming nymphomaniac Sue Ann — were all granted a basic humanity by the end of each episode. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was defiantly optimistic, and that was no small feat in ’70s, which were not the happiest of times in America. The Kent State shootings, the Vietnam War, Nixon’s resignation under threat of his impeachment — all unfolded during the show’s run.  [[asset:image:308918 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Mary and her friends."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Screengrab via randythecomputerman\/YouTube"]}]] At the time, one sociologist suggested MTM was revolutionary because, “if I’m stoned, it’s the only show that doesn’t make me feel like committing suicide.” That the writers could sustain such an uplifting spirit while never careening into extreme sentimentality is one of MTM’s crowning achievements. Whenever I’m feeling down, I view an episode, and watching Mary get exasperated (which were her best moments) over not enough servings of veal at a dinner party, bursting into laughter at an inappropriate moment during a funeral, or trying to avoid a landmine while navigating through the wonderful world of dating, never fails to raise my spirits.  In fact, I credit a few VHS tapes full of MTM episodes as one of the main reasons I made it through the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s. (I wore those tapes down until they were threadbare.) Given the current situation we now face — the most reprehensible US president in living memory — I would strongly suggest we keep MTM episodes at the ready, in those moments when we desperately need to rejuice our batteries. After all, in the worst of times, we still long to have a good laugh while being reminded that good people do indeed exist. We need Mary now more than ever.

Executive orders, legal limbo and segregated prisons

30 January 2017 - 6:50pm
[[asset:image:308894 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Reports of anti-LGBT executive order Word from unnamed White House officials suggests that Donald Trump’s new executive is planning to roll back Barack Obama’s workplace protections for LGBT federal workers. Such an order could allow federal contractors to fire LGBT workers, or descriminate against LGBT clients.   Iranian on gay cruise thrown into legal limbo Meanwhile, a gay Iranian chemical engineer living in the United States was unexpectedly thrown into an immigration crisis due to Trump’s earlier executive order against immigrants from certain Muslim countries. Maysam Sodagari was on a gay cruise, and was concerned he would not be allowed back home, but eventually did get back through immigration because he has a green card.   Refugee exclusion hurts LGBT cause While President Trump claimed that banning Muslims from the United States would protect LGBT people, gay refugees are some of the hardest hit. The Centre for American Progress and the Advocate both report on how Trump’s order could cut off hope for queer Syrians seeking refuge.   Thai prisons move towards segregation for LGBT inmates The Thai prison system is experimenting with a system of segregated incarceration for LGBT inmates. Thousands of prisoners have volunteered for the separate quarters, reports Deutsche Welle, to avoid homophobic violence.

Three ways BC NDP leader John Horgan’s answers to LGBT issues impressed me

28 January 2017 - 12:42am
I may not have recognized John Horgan before he walked into our makeshift studio on Jan 24, 2017, but the man I met impressed me deeply. The leader of BC’s NDP party had joined us to participate in an hour-long Facebook live interview dedicated to our community. His handlers had wasted little time in accepting our invitation — even when I told them the interview would be conducted by two of my favourite drag queens. Not a squawk. His team embraced the opportunity to take our community’s questions, and quickly confirmed a date and time. Of course, as the candidate with less name recognition in BC’s upcoming provincial election this May, Horgan had reason to accept our invitation. Still, I hope his opponents are just as open to engaging with the LGBT community’s questions, concerns and feedback. From the outset, I was struck by Horgan’s apparent humility and sincerity. He arrived right on time, with just one assistant in tow, and quickly fell to chatting with our interviewers, Isolde N Barron and Peach Cobblah. His tone didn’t change when the camera started rolling. Watch our full Facebook live interview with John Horgan, above. (Angelina Cantada/Daily Xtra) The role of government is to help others, Horgan said. He’s been fortunate in his life and wants to pay that forward so all British Columbians can live comfortably. “And when I see bullying, when I see discrimination, when I see hate — I want to resist that,” he said.  If elected, his NDP government would use provincially-owned land to develop co-ops and affordable housing units, introduce $10-a-day childcare, eliminate MSP premiums, raise the minimum wage in BC and reopen Riverview Hospital to support people with addictions and mental health issues. All predictable NDP promises, but certainly consistent with my own personal view of the role a government should play. And then we delved into some specifically queer issues.   Like his stance on PrEP accessibility: “It’s a mystery to me,” he said of the BC Liberals’ apparent reluctance to cover the costs of Truvada as PrEP for people who want the pill to protect themselves from HIV transmission. “Because whenever we can find ways to make people’s lives safer, why wouldn’t we invest in that?” “Give people the medical devices that they need to protect themselves,” he said, “and you’re going to reduce costs over time.” Quebec pays for PrEP through its provincial drug plan — “I don’t see why British Columbia wouldn’t.”   And his plan to get all school districts in BC to pass LGBT policy: It’s a question of resources, Horgan said, when asked how an NDP government would get the 10 percent of school boards who missed the recent deadline to pass LGBT policy to comply. “We just need to make it mandatory and we need to make sure that the resources in the Ministry of Education are there to assist school districts in getting to this objective,” he said. “It’s clear that that’s where British Columbians want to go, it’s consistent with our human rights views of the world and how we want to be inclusive — why can’t we make sure that we get to that last 10 percent?”    And his take on the government’s role in resetting cultural norms now that discriminating against trans people is officially prohibited in BC: “The good fortune that we have in British Columbia is that now [trans rights are] enshrined,” he said. “It’s unequivocal and it’s undeniable.” “You can disagree with it, but it’s still the law of the land. So you have to abide by that.” “Where does the state then change people’s bias?” he asked. His threefold answer impressed me: Remain vigilant to ensure the hard-won rights “are always front and centre.” Give people the freedom to believe what they want but make sure they face consequences if they cross the line from thought to discriminatory action, so over time you can modify their behaviour. And educate everyone from a very young age to embrace a society of inclusion. “We, as the state, have a responsibility to educate, and that starts in the school system. When it becomes second nature, commonplace, you don’t think about it — that’s what we want in our society,” he said. “But you can’t get there by the state forcing people to think a certain way. That leads then to resistance, and the response is Trump.” “So how do you make people understand? You ensure that they don’t violate other people’s rights. They can hold those opinions — we can’t change people’s opinions, we can’t impose our will on their thoughts — but we can impose our will collectively on their behaviour. And that’s the critical part.” The Horgan I met that night seemed intelligent, reasonable, thoughtful and sincere. I could see him as premier. But it’s only January, and I have yet to sit down with his opponents. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has already expressed his willingness to be interviewed by Xtra, and I’m hoping that Liberal Premier Christy Clark will do the same. Are you listening, Christy? Call me. The queens are waiting.

How I learned to love being a Daddy

27 January 2017 - 6:42pm
It was just going to be another hookup. He was more than ten years my junior, with dark hair but pale skin — a cutie off BBRT. We didn’t chat much online beforehand; it was pretty straightforward: I top, he bottoms, all bareback.  Jacob was just as cute as his profile pics when he arrived, though very shy, and we went straight into the bedroom. I pinned him down, stripped off his clothes, made out for a while, then flipped his legs up over my shoulders and began to fuck him. I looked down on him, his eyes shut, as he moaned — I figured my cock was doing the trick. He didn’t say anything until, after about four minutes, he blurted out, “Yes daddy.” My eyes widened.  I continued to fuck him and, for some reason, those words hadn’t made me soft. In fact, the words “yes son” kept running through my head until I finally came. He got dressed and left. I’d heard younger homos call older guys “daddy” before. But it generally didn’t seem like a fetish. I always saw it as akin to calling someone a bear, an otter, a cub or a twink. It was simply a playful word used to describe an older guy in the gay scene.  I’d only ever been called daddy once before. It was by a flirtatious younger guy I knew out on the scene. It had actually made me deeply uncomfortable because he was into me sexually as well — what am I, some pervert into incest and kids? I don’t think so.  But for some reason, I didn’t feel that discomfort with Jacob. A couple of weeks later, I received a text while I was out shopping. Jacob wanted to come over again. We arranged it for a couple of hours later. But I had to ask him one more thing.  “So, you know that word you called me last time during sex?” I texted him. He replied that he was really embarrassed about it. I told him, “No, please don’t be embarrassed. Actually, I was wondering if you could call me that some more this time.” He replied with a smiley face and “YES!”  It seemed obvious that it was a fetish he didn’t like to be open about it, but now that the cat was out of the bag and I was into it, he was excited.  He called me daddy a few times as we had sex. I was starting to kind of like it but I still wasn’t sure this was a fetish of mine yet. Unfortunately, that was the last time we hooked up, so I wasn’t to figure that out for a while. Around a year later, I started chatting with a younger guy on Grindr, and I mean younger — 18! I don’t think I’d hooked up with anyone that young since, well, I was that young.  Our first hookup almost didn’t happen. We had arranged a time for me to come over after work and I texted him when I was about to leave. The boy asked if I could bring over lube and condoms. I told him I had lube on me but that I don’t use condoms. He told me he always uses condoms the first time if he doesn’t know a guy. Usually that would put a stop to any potential meetup for me but, for some reason, I still wanted to see this boy. Maybe it was because I was super horny at the time, or maybe it was because I was excited to meet up with an 18 year old. So I told the boy I could come over and we could have some fun, just no anal, and he was up for it. I got to the boy’s home about 30 minutes later and we went into his bedroom. He was a chipper little guy. Skinny, milky white, shorter than me, rosy cheeks, a big smile, and funky dyed hair. We made out, got naked, and started to suck each other off.  At one point, I held him down with my hand gently around his neck. The boy moaned. So I decided to squeeze a little harder. The boy moaned louder. This was a kinky little guy!  I smacked his butt. The boy moaned. So I started spanking him harder and his moans got louder. After a little while, we both came. “I noticed you seem to like it a bit rough,” I said. He grinned and nodded. I told him he needed to come to my place next time — I’ve got quite the toy collection I could use on him. He was very pleased. Over the next couple of days, I probed him a bit more by text to see what he was into. Getting tied up? Check. Getting gagged? Check. Getting spanked and flogged? Check. Me pumping him full of cum? Check. The boy came over another couple of times and, oh my, could that kid take a beating. His milky white skin turned bright red every time.  Then one time, as we lay naked in my bed, me spooning him, he turned his head around and asked me what he should call me. I flipped the question around and asked him what he thinks I’d like to be called. It was about to turn into 20 questions. Master? Ya, that would be okay — can you think of anything else? Sir? Sure, that’s okay — can you think of anything else? His eyes widened and with inflection and a big smile, he asked, “Daddy?”  “That’s a good boy.” And that’s how it happened. I now had a boy. I told him to be a good boy and that daddy was going to use his ass. This conversation had made me rock hard.  While we were still spooning, I took my hand, grabbed my cock that was still lubed up from our earlier fuck, pushed it up against his hole and slid it in. I began telling him what a good boy he was for letting daddy use his hole. He’s a loud guy and he moaned loud enough that it was almost certain my neighbours could hear. I began thrusting into him harder and deeper and he screamed, and I mean screamed, “Daddy, daddy, give me your cock.” I asked him if he wanted daddy’s seed in him and he screamed, “Yes daddy, I want your seed.”  Well, that set me off like a volcano. We regularly met up over the next eight months, until his term was over at university and he went back home for the summer.  I became less interested in flogging him and stuck more to the daddy-son fetish with him. For many, those two can go hand in hand. But I began to realize that didn’t work for me. I began to learn that I was aroused by this incest role play but I couldn’t associate it with violence. I determined it was likely to do with my upbringing — while I had been physically disciplined as a child, it was never harsh and I just could not associate parents and their kids with violence. I preferred to be affectionate with him during these scenes, if also firm and forceful.  How, though, could I associate sex with parents? I’ve yet to figure that one out. If you’d asked me a couple years earlier if this could’ve turned me on, I would’ve said, “Hell no.” But as I delved deeper into the fetish world, I was becoming better at disassociating reality from fantasy. It was playful. It was fun. This didn’t mean I had some deep-seated desire to molest my children. In fact, it was quite normal, since many of our erotic memories stem from our childhoods. It also gave me the opportunity to be both nurturing and in control — two strong aspects of my personality. Call me the benevolent dictator of the bedroom.  When the boy returned to Vancouver after the summer to begin his next term, we met up a couple of times. However, I think we both realized things had run their course. As sexually exciting as it had been, we lived very different lives and had very different interests. The relationship wasn’t going to develop into something deeper beyond friendship and sex. I definitely still think of him fondly, though, and am grateful he helped me become comfortable with this sexual fantasy of mine.

Police investigating three alleged assaults in Toronto’s gay village

27 January 2017 - 3:40pm
Toronto police are investigating three alleged early-morning assaults in the Church-Wellesley Village from earlier this month. All three alleged assaults took place at the intersection of Church and Maitland Streets. Brandon MacKinnon told Xtra that he was attacked by two men at around 2am on Jan 4, 2017, after he and two friends left Flash, a Church Street nightclub.  Two days later, police say they received calls about two separate assaults in the area. Constable Matthew Scarlino, who is in charge of the investigation, told Xtra by email that both callers gave “a vague but similar description” of the group involved on Jan 4. Allyson Douglas-Cook, a Toronto police spokesperson, said in an email that the early-morning attacks on Jan 6 both appeared to be unprovoked. According to Douglas-Cook, the alleged victim’s injuries were not serious in nature, and paramedics were called but the victims did not need to go to the hospital. Toronto police are considering the possibility that all three assaults were carried out by the same group of people. Scarlino says that the police have not been able to find any video of the alleged perpetrators.   January 4th incident “They were clearly looking to beat up someone,” MacKinnon says of his alleged interaction with the group on Jan 4. MacKinnon, who was dressed in drag at the time, says that he was followed and hit by two men after a verbal altercation. Codey Margeson and Chelsea Dowie, who left the club with MacKinnon, say they were walking towards Church and Maitland Streets when a group of men heckled MacKinnon. “I can’t remember specifically what they were saying, but they were trying to instigate something,” Dowie says. “And Brandon said, not even that loudly, ‘whatever, bitches.’” Dowie says that the men then started screaming at MacKinnon while following them down Maitland Street.  According to the three of them, the group of men cornered MacKinnon in front of an apartment building. “I went up to the step, and then I turned around and they were in front of me, hitting me,” MacKinnon alleges. “I knew that it was just going to get worse, so I jumped in front of Brandon,”  Dowie says. “And I’m unfortunately only five-foot-four, and they were able to reach over me and they punched him in the face.” Dowie called the police, and says that one of the men threatened them before running off. “At one point, the leader said to us, as they were leaving, ‘we’re going to be back next week to finish you,’” she says. MacKinnon, who had moved to the Village the day before the attack, walked away from the incident with a black eye and cuts on his face. “I’m kind of glad it happened to me and not someone else by themselves because it could have gone a lot worse,” he says. Other men told Xtra that they were heckled by a similar group while dressed in drag that night. Matt Coccia says that he and his boyfriend were saying goodbye to friends near Church and Alexander Streets when a group of men started yelling “fish” at him. “And I thought nothing of it, and then they started yelling more things,” he says. “Like ‘you’re going to go home and fuck that faggot.’” Ryan Boa says that he was walking north on Church Street a little bit before 2am when a group of men began to heckle him, yelling “hey girl” and “hey baby,” and even chased him after he got into a cab. Scarlino says the group is not suspected in connection with any other incident since. While no arrests have been made, the incidents are still under investigation.

How I became an unsuspecting Master (Part 3)

27 January 2017 - 3:40pm
As I’m lubricating the sound, I glance over at the clock and realize I’ve only been here for 20 minutes. We haven’t talked about the length of the session, but given the wad of cash he threw down, I should probably stick around for a couple of hours, at least if I want to see him again.  I survey the array of toys laid out on the dresser and realize that I’m probably going about things in the wrong order. Sounding shouldn’t be the beginning of the scene. It should be the climax. He returns to the room silently and stands naked in the same spot as before, his eyes on the floor. I turn to him and grab his nipples again. I squeeze them, twisting in a way that must be causing pain, but he doesn’t flinch. Along with reducing his inhibitions, the coke is probably impeding his pain receptors.  Besides the sexual spread he laid out in advance and his declaration that he wants a Master, we haven’t discussed anything about his desires or his limits. Given that his judgment is likely to erode further as he gets higher, I decide now would be a good moment to initiate the conversation. “So,” I say. “What would you like Master to do you?” “Anything Master wants,” he replies. “Anything?” “Yes, Master. Anything.”  I twist his nipples even harder, and lean in closer to him. “You like that boy?” “Yes, Master.” “So Master can do whatever he wants to you?” “Yes, Master.” I press my lips to his ear. “If anything gets too much for you, and you need Master to stop, you will say the word ‘red.’ Do you understand?” “Yes, Master.” “And if you say anything other than that, Master won’t stop what he’s doing.” “Yes, Master.” The pressure I’m putting on his nipples still hasn’t produced much of a response, so I release them slightly, dig my nails in and twist again. He stiffens but doesn’t pull away. I continue to twist, watching his eyes, looking for a hint that he’s going to give in and call ‘red.’ But his nipples seem almost impervious to pain and I can feel my fingers beginning to cramp, so I decide it’s time to change tactics and release him. He lets out a gasp and his body relaxes a bit. It wasn’t that he wasn’t feeling it — he was just working hard not to show it. I glance down at his cock, which has softened a bit but is still partially erect. I grasp it, jerking gently, feeling it harden in my hand. “You feel good boy?” “Yes, Master.” “You like what Master is doing to you?” “Yes, Master.” “Would you like Master to punish your balls boy?” “Yes, Master. If you want, Master.” “Would you like to go to the kitchen again first?” “Yes, Master.” I release his dick and he shuffles out to top-up his high.  When he comes back, I instruct him to lie on the bed spread-eagle and I attach his wrists and ankles by the restraints. I take the case off of one of the pillows on the floor and pull it over his head. I give each of the restraints a tug to see that they’re secure and then lean in close to his ear again, speaking through the fabric. “Master can do whatever he wants to you?” “Yes, Master.” “Good boy,” I say, patting the top of his head. The moment once a sub has been restrained and blindfolded is often a good point for me to take a break. He’s obviously not going anywhere and forcing someone to wait in darkness, not knowing what you’re going to do or when you’re going to come at them is an excellent means of psychological manipulation. I decide to use it as an opportunity to check out the rest of his place. The bathroom betrays the same college guy aesthetic as the rest of the apartment. A mildewed blue shower curtain partially obscures a bathtub that hasn’t been cleaned for months. A toothbrush and a razor lie next to the sink. The medicine cabinet is empty save for a stick of deodorant and a canister of shaving cream. A stack of sports magazines sit in a rack opposite the toilet. He hasn’t told me a single thing about himself, and it suddenly occurs to me that I didn’t even bother to ask his name before we left the bar. He’s obviously big into sports and uninterested in interior design. But besides that, I have no idea who he is as a person. I walk back into the living room, glancing into the bedroom as I pass, just to make sure he’s alright. He’s still exactly where I left him obviously, though his hard-on has subsided. The kitchen is tiny, galley-style. There are three cases of empty beer bottles stacked next to the refrigerator and a box of Raisin Bran on the counter. It’s surprisingly clean, but that’s mostly likely because he never eats at home. I walk cautiously back into the bedroom, my socks silent on the floor. Standing next to the bed, I watch his breathing, wonder what’s going through his mind. His dick is soft now and but still big. I’m debating between two options with how to proceed.  A glance at the clock shows we’ve been here just under an hour, so I decide to go for stretching things out. I spit silently in my palm and grasp his dick. His whole body stiffens slightly as I begin to stroke him. He’s hard in less than 30 seconds and I release the shaft, continuing to tease the tip with one finger. After about a minute, I drop my hand to my side and count silently to 30 before giving the shaft a few more strokes. I pause again, this time for about 10 seconds, then haul back and deliver a hard slap to his balls . . .

Out in Toronto: Jan 26–Feb 1, 2017

26 January 2017 - 9:36am
Thursday, Jan 26  Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience  To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, Cree visual artist Kent Monkman tells the story of Canada while in the guise of his drag alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Monkman’s first major solo-exhibition at this location includes paintings, drawings, sculptural works and historical artifacts. The story goes back well before confederation and includes a humorous and searing critique of Canada’s colonial past and present.  Opening reception 6:30–8:30pm; Exhibit runs until Saturday, March 4. Art Museum at the University of Toronto, 15 King’s College Cir.   The Stars Reach Out to PWA  In honour of Chris Edwards, who was known for his charity work, a slew of local queens — Amanda Roberts, Sofonda Cox, Bunny Leblanc, Devine Darlin, Jada Hudson, Michelle DuBarry, Donnarama, Jade Elektra, Teran Blake and Sylvia — perform a heel, wig and lash-bestrewn concert for a good cause. All proceeds from the event will go to the People With AIDS Foundation.   9pm. Blyss, 504 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.    Friday, Jan 27 Hutch and Friends Comedy  Comedian Paul Hutcheson hosts a standup comedy show which, if the event billing’s imagery and name are any indication, is probably cowboy-themed. Hutcheson, a veteran of many Pride comedy shows at Buddies in Bad Times, is joined by Chantel Marostica, Nile Seguin, Hoodo Hersi and Stephen Sharpe for an evening of giggles, laughs, chuckles and whatever word describes how cowboys laugh (guffaws?).  8pm. The Steady, 1051 Bloor St W.    Kings and Classics  Here’s a rare chance for new drag kings to get their start. The inaugural edition of Spencer Munny and Pretty Riikkii’s new recurring event includes performances from both new and seasoned kings, and a special musical number by Ivory. The performance segment of the night is followed by mingling and dancing to the music of DJ Johnny B Goode. To perform at future events, contact  10:30pm. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. [[asset:image:308878 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Spencer Munny (left) and Pretty Riikkii\u2019s (right) new recurring drag king even takes place Jan 27, 2017, at Buddies."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Johnny B Goode and Stefanie Monroe"]}]] The Original Fly Nightclub’s 18th Anniversary  It’s a night of old school gay clubbing in honour of Fly’s 18th anniversary. Appropriately, the legendary DJ Barry Harris (the singer, songwriter DJ and remixer who gave us such hits as the best-known dance remix of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay”) supplies a soundtrack of Fly classics from 1999 to 2014 for you to dance your highlights off to. DJs Mark Falco and Shawn Riker are also spinning. 10:30pm–4am. Fly 2.0, 6 Gloucester St.    Saturday, Jan 28 Toastr: Mostly ’80s  Finally, an excuse to wear a velour leotard or a jeans that for some reason have stirrups (or whatever people wore in the 1980s). This dance party for queer women is all about music from the decade that gave us Gremlins and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. DJs Sticky Cuts and Dawn Big Canoe spin old school stuff, sprinkled with some new stuff. It’ll be an evening of classic house, rock ‘n’ roll, reggae and more.  9:30pm–2am. WAYLA Bar, 996 Queen St E. [[asset:image:308881 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Toastr\u2019s hosts a Mostly \u201980s dance party for queer women on Jan 28, 2017, at WAYLA Bar."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Chantelle Wright"]}]]  

Out in Vancouver: Jan 26–31, 2017

25 January 2017 - 9:35pm
Thursday, Jan 26 Lesbians Who Tech Geeks whom I know — and respect immensely as they fix my computers — are always asking me to take them along on nights on the town so they can meet people. But are they really going to enjoy a bear in a shower, or naked men dancing around a bathhouse? Of course not.  They’d be hooking up the TVs to surround sound. Here is a night for queer women in tech — geeky or otherwise — that has been meeting in 35 cities for almost 5 years. 6-8pm. Kingstone Taphouse, 755 Richards St. Suggested donation $15 at   Vancity Street: BOI Culture BOI Culture has a single mission: “A soul doesn’t have a gender, masculinity doesn’t belong to ‘men’ and femininity doesn’t belong to ‘women’.”   I may have to crash the show to see what I’m missing. A night of fashion that features street-style vendors, local acts and runway sets from a variety of local shops and designers. DJ Skylar Love spins the tunes. 8-11pm. MIA, 350 Water St. Free admission with RSVP from   Bratpack Season 3 I am a creature of habit, or so I’ve been told. There are nights where I go to events and couldn’t tell you one thing that actually went on because I was too focused on the bartender, the DJ, the go-go man —or if it’s a good night, all three. This is one of those nights. Trust me, check out the DJ. The trashy party girls you’ve watched through seasons one and two are back and have blossomed into full-grown women (still trashy, thank god) and are as entertaining and funny as ever. Jane Smokr, Jem, Gia Metric, Valynne Vile, Kendall Gender, Synthia Kiss and DJ Nick Bertossi are on the performance card. 11pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Cover $6.   Friday, Jan 27 Do Si Do I’m not much of a country music dancing machine. If I twirled someone, they’d probably take off like one of those flying spinning tops and land on the pool table. But I love to watch the newbies and the experts mix it up. Come by and check out the line dancing lesson before the night really gets going so you don’t feel embarrassed about your moves. 8pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover.   Man Up: Fallen Icons of 2016 I love Man Up parties but I try to remain sober and aware or I could get into an embarrassing situation as these are some of the most realistic kings you’ll see onstage. Tonight is a tribute to some of the greatest heroes of modern music and pop culture, from Prince to Natalie Cole and many more, with a special tribute to Aaliyah. Ponyboy hosts, and DJs T and She helm the playlist. 9pm-2am. The Cobalt, 917 Main St. Cover $8 before 10pm, $15 after.   Eye Roll: Another F@&*#ing 90s Party I thought I was going to get away without listing Peach Cobblah, but not a chance. I mention that woman so many times I should be married to her instead of my husband. Do you miss flip phones, frosted tips, fanny packs, sparkle eye shadow, nude lips, unisex everything and Kate Moss ads? Then tonight is for you. You’ll be transported back in time to the 1990s, and there may even be a streaker or two. Peach Cobblah, Valynne Vile and the hottest staff in town are on tap. 10pm-2am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Cover $10.   Saturday, Jan 28 Mistresses Of Illusion It wasn’t that I was too cheap to go to Whistler for a week of sex, snow and debauchery. My husband would probably shoot me for going for a week. And anyway, without his support, how could I phone in sick every day of Pride ski week. The next best thing is to go to Chilliwack and have a night out with the secret group of drag queens coming from Vancouver to do a show at the only gay spot in the area. I’m sure it’s just as easy to get lucky with a stranger there, and I can turn off the heat in the room, open all the windows and pretend it’s Whistler at one-tenth the price. Join me? 8pm. Wilde Oscar’s, 45886 Wellington Ave, Chilliwack. Tickets $10 advance or $15 at door.   Revenge Of The Popinjay This is a new one for me: an experimental rap-horror show where the star struggles to cope with the loss of his sister while uncovering a frightening link between himself, his boyfriend and an elusive gay rap star/serial killer who targets heterosexuals. I have to admit the promo pic of the guy in his underwear motivates me to check out the performance, part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. 9pm. The Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main St. Tickets $22 at 604-449-6000 or More info at   Dare To Bear I am total voyeur and I love to see guys in underwear, jocks, harnesses — essentially, any event that doesn’t require pants. I like to think that Pumpjack gets me and all the nights of go-go men, shower bears, gear night — and of course the famous Underwear Night — are just for my benefit. Don’t be shy and try it sometime. There’s always somebody who wishes they had your body instead of theirs. Hell, you can have my body anytime, just book in advance. 9pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. Cover $5 after 9pm.   Snowball 25 Snowball is an appropriate name for the closing party of a gay Pride weekend in the snow, although I will stay silent if ever asked if I have partaken. Judgements, you know.  I think Whistler will be too cold for snowballing — the sexual version, that is — but this closing party will be off the hook. The Cube Guys and DJ Bret Law will hit the spot after you’ve snowboarded, swam, fallen in love more than a dozen times, and lusted a couple of dozen more. For those interested in checking it out, tickets are still available. 10pm-4am. Whistler Convention Centre, 4010 Whistler Way, Whistler. Tickets $98 at   Sunday, Jan 29 The Sleepy Girls Show A new night in an old venue is always an adventure. Dust and Amy invite you into their bedroom where they do what girls do in their bedroom. I can hear the hum of the vibrator already. Come enjoy the nostalgia and experience being 16 again with them and their guests Kendall Gender and Jane Smokr. DJ Girl Fieri will throw down the tracks to keep your feet tapping. It’s also a restaurant, so if you get peckish, dinner is 8:30pm. 9:30pm-12am. Displace Hashery, 3293 West 4th Ave. Cover $10 at door.   Monday, Jan 30 B Roll: Sex And The City I don’t even have to look at the listing or poster to know who will play Samantha. Carlotta Gurl will be your sexy tramp of the evening as B Roll presents Sex and the City. Hang onto your man and have some fun. Cosmos are the drink of the night and Jimmy Choo is the footwear to be seen in. Host Jane Smokr will keep everything in line. 9pm. The Penthouse Nightclub, 1019 Seymour St. Tickets $10-$15 at   Del’s Extended Weekend Between a full-time job, being in and out of town on DJ gigs, promotional work, cock inspector for Pumpjack, Junction and Steamworks and being as horny as a 16-year-old, of course he can start up a new weekly night. I want whatever keeps him going. Who am I referring to? Del Stamp, natch. Duh. 11pm-3am. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. No cover.   Tuesday, Jan 31 New Beginnings New year, new beginnings. The median age of the guys who show up for this group is 21 so I’m not sure they are the ones who could use the new beginning. Where’s the group for my new beginnings? Mpowerment discussion nights are a place where young, gay, bi, and queer guys can come together and learn about themselves, each other and our community. All guys who like guys and their friends are invited. 6:30-9pm. Mpowerment Headquarters, 205-568 Seymour St. Free event.   Strapping It On: Live Whether you are straight or gay, every woman has a man in her life she’s wanted to bend over a table, plow into, and hear him scream for a change. Still, I admit I know a couple of guys who also use strap-ons for double penetration if there’s only one partner around. Redrobin leads this workshop and demo. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation or role, this kind of play can be pleasurable for everyone involved, and they’ll show you how with a female model and live demo. Best date night ever. 7:30pm. The Art Of Loving, 369 West Broadway. Cost $50. Please pre-register a day before as the group is popular.

Why I didn’t have sex in Bangkok

25 January 2017 - 9:35pm
The gay scene in Bangkok is made up of many go-go clubs, spas and bars. Between the local men and the surplus of tourists, it can feel like the options are endless for hooking up. Coupled with the underlying sexual current that energizes many of the city streets, you’d think I’d be having sex every night of the week. About a month before arriving in the city, I’d spent some time on Scruff trying to get an idea of the men I might encounter. There were more local guys than I would’ve thought and in my mind, I was going to have a shit load of sex — and then some.   But the reality is, I haven’t had sex once outside of Ernan’s visit.  I knew that the sex trade was a big thing in the city but I didn’t expect it to upstage the gay scene in Silom so much. Of course there’s more to Silom than just prostitution, but when you’re sitting out on Soi 4, surrounded by elderly men coupled with young Thai guys, it becomes overbearing after a few weeks. One night I headed to Soi 4 for a night cap and was seated next to a guy in his 70s who was entertaining a young Thai man. He tried to communicate with him in English, but neither of them could speak it very well, so they used hand gestures.  The older guy didn’t seem to mind though. He was groping his young buddy nonstop, and kept kissing him on his face and neck awkwardly as if he had never kissed someone before. The poor kid looked embarrassed and trapped.  Witnessing such experiences made visiting this Soi that much less appealing. I’d put Bangkok’s sexuality on the same level of intensity as Berlin — it’s out there and in your face, and though there are some perverts in Berlin, they seem to find each other. It’s consensual and it works. But with the prevalence of sex trafficking and underage workers in Bangkok, it’s just exploitative and disturbing.  Following a string of raids throughout Thailand, the police shut down a massage parlour last year and arrested more than 100 sex workers. Fifteen of them were underage. There are an estimated three to four million migrant workers in Thailand who are being trafficked for labour or sex.  Though the sex industry mainly caters to local men, the city is full of tourists who want sex but don’t seem concerned about where it’s coming from. The ignorance is off-putting too, and I started writing tourists off because any that I’d meet seemed like they were there for the young Thai men. Someone who would make vacation out of fetizishing and expoitation isn’t very interesting to me, or sexy in any way. These transient visitors weren’t an option any longer.  When you’re using hook-up apps like Grindr or Scruff, some of the local guys are on there are soliciting massages (and more) so you never get away from it. Just when you think you’ve met someone who likes you, they name a price, which is disheartening. I stopped using these apps, but even after that I couldn’t stop second-guessing the intentions of locals and was always on guard. Instead of cruising, I started exploring the city itself, outside of Silom. I went through each neighbourhood, one-by-one, visiting monuments and temples along the way. I sought out weekend markets and bazaars, and learned to take the river boat with Ernan as a means of transportation to get from one side of the city to the other. I was slowly being seduced by Thai culture. I was replacing sex with food as well, as I started to eat at local spots in the parts of Sathon where no other tourists would go. I became adventurous with the fare, eating from any street stall that seemed appetizing. Often, I wouldn’t even know what I was putting in my mouth. The further I strayed from Silom, the more I appreciated what Bangkok had to offer. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s first female tourism minister has vowed to end the sex industry in the country. She claims that tourists don’t come for the sex but rather for the beautiful culture. Though I’ve witnessed quite the contrary, I can’t help but applaud her. From what I’ve seen, the sex industry is a total buzz kill.  At the same time, with so many sex workers in Thailand, cracking down on this industry seems problematic from an economic standpoint, not only for the people who depend on the cash but for the economy as a whole. The police claim that they’re looking to prosecute venues that employ illegal and underage workers. The problem is that we’ve already learned that police are abusing their power by using fear of arrest to extort bribes or sex. Why would that change now? Maybe the real solution lies in legalization? I can’t say for sure. I’m neither living in poverty nor am I a sex worker. I’m not Thai either, but what I do know is that what I was seeing was ugly — and a complete turnoff.  Thankfully, Ernan visited me so I got me some lovin’ and it felt good. And Tokyo is on tap for February. I’ll be staying a few blocks from Eagle there . . . there is hope yet.

Toronto police demonstrate inclusiveness by Tasering man, making HIV-phobic comment

24 January 2017 - 9:32pm
Well, that was quick. A week after the membership of Pride Toronto overwhelmingly voted to ban official police floats from the Pride parade, Toronto police were caught on film engaging in offensive and suspect behaviour just a few blocks from Church-Wellesley Village. CityNews released a cellphone video on Jan 24, 2017, of Toronto police repeatedly kicking and Tasering a man while he’s lying on his stomach while restrained by two officers. The incident occurred this morning near Dundas and Church Streets. Two other officers tell a witness filming the incident to stop recording or they’ll seize his phone as evidence. And to top it all off, one of those officers warned bystanders that “he’s going to spit in your face and you’re going to get AIDS.” According to The Eyeopener, the man being arrested had punched one of the officers and kicked out the window of a police cruiser. But by the time the video starts rolling, the man is already on the ground. During the arrest, officers threaten to seize the cellphone of the man filming the incident because he claimed to be a witness. And then it got really weird. “He’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS,” says one of the officers. “Stop recording or I’m going to seize your phone as evidence and then you’re going to lose your phone.” Xtra has reached out to the police for comment, and will publish their full response when we hear back. But until then, let’s break this down a little bit. The video clearly shows a man who is restrained and is not at that moment a threat to anyone, even if he had been earlier. A cop uses a dangerous weapon (remember, Tasers can kill) to make the man “relax.” The same cop kicks him in his buttocks in a way that doesn’t appear to have any legitimate purpose. And then there’s the cops threatening to seize a witness’ phone. There is no obligation for witnesses to hand over their recording devices to the police. There is no law in Canada that prohibits people from openly photographing police. A police officer who says that you must hand over your phone for merely taking a photo or filming is lying. As for the AIDS comment, there is so much here that is wrong. First, you cannot transmit HIV through saliva, and you certainly can’t transmit “AIDS.” But the comment is also revealing. As far as I can tell, there are two possible reasons why the police officer would make such a statement. Either he was aware of the man’s HIV status, and was casually revealing it to a witness. But according to a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, police can only reveal a person’s HIV status after they’ve been formally charged with a crime and if it’s for a “consistent purpose.” Clearly neither of those conditions were satisfied in this case. The alternative, and in my opinion more likely, reason is that the officer was profiling the man being arrested for his assumed sexual orientation, race, sex work or drug use. In any other workplace, that kind of comment would get you fired. The issue of police inclusion in the Pride parade was the rare issue that united the editorial boards of the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. And it should be noted that many members of the LGBT community have been making good faith arguments for continued police participation. But if the Toronto police continue to engage in this kind of behaviour, in full public view, accompanied by intimidation of bystanders and despicable, serophobic commentary, they shouldn’t be surprised that some people don’t want to be marching beside them.