Ottawa Xtra

Doctor Who, clerical errors and Marlowe's murder

31 March 2017 - 2:18pm
[[asset:image:309377 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] Census switch-around The US Census Bureau appeared to almost decide to count LGBT people in the 2020 census. Then it changed its mind. Was it just a clerical error, or a politically motivated decision to erase LGBT statistics? Read more from the Atlantic.   Mariela Castro hints at Cuba LGBT reforms The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro has hinted that LGBT rights reforms may be in store for the country in 2018. Official state media have not yet mentioned the proposed reforms. Read more from the Washington Blade.   Marlow murder mystery A document from a 16th century police informant, soon to go on display from the British Library, suggests that legendary playwright Christopher Marlowe may have been murdered for calling Jesus gay.   Doctor Who gets gay companion The next season of British sci-fi show Doctor Who will feature a gay woman as companion to its titular character, the BBC has announced. Rumours also suggest the main character may soon be replaced by a woman for the first time in the show’s history.   Austrian LGBT groups oppose marriage equality Some LGBT activists in Austria are counterintuitively opposing the country’s proposed marriage equality law. They argue that the current civil partnership law is far more modern and well-written than the law on marriage, and that they don’t want marriage until the laws are updated. Read more from Gay Star News.

Out in Ottawa: April 1–15, 2017

31 March 2017 - 2:18pm
Saturday, April 1 Manajiwin: LGBTTQ+ Fitness space The gym is one of the most intimidating places — especially for people from marginalized communities. That’s why Kind Space and Odawa Native Friendship Centre provide an exercise space for queer people. Folks can get workout tips from on-site volunteers (if they want), and work out in a pressure-free environment. This takes place every Saturday. 5–8pm. The Odawa Native Friendship Centre, 250 City Centre Ave, Bay 102.   Thursday, April 6 Stonewall Wilde’s Spring Fling  Stonewall Wilde’s welcomes spring and the public with an evening of mingling (complete with sweets and punch) and shopping. The two-level shop, the product of the recent merger of After Stonewall and Wilde’s, sells everything from LGBT books to one-of-a-kind works of art to sex toys and gear. RSVP required.  6–8pm. Stonewall Wilde’s, 370 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook [[asset:image:308593 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Stonewall Wilde\u2019s spring fling event takes place on April 6, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Trevor Prevost"]}]] Saturday, April 8 Double PROMdemnity/Film Noir PROMdemonium  This film noir and prom-themed dance party is billed as “Ottawa’s radical, community-oriented, gender-bending, bike-loving, enviro-humping, queer-diggin, slow dancing, big dress wearing prom.” In other words, it’s pretty inclusive. It features DJs Halpo and Seiiizmikk spinning tech house, R&B, dancehall and more. Direct your questions and concerns to   9pm–1am. Allsaints Event Space, 10 Blackburn Ave. For more info, visit Facebook    Tuesday, April 11 Going Down: A Guide to Fellatio What makes a good friend? Is it moral support? Is it trustworthiness? Or it could be brain-melting blowjobs? For those who want to be just such a friend, this workshop is for you. It covers everything from basic anatomy to more advanced stuff. Everyone welcome. Registration required. The venue is accessible.   6:30pm. Venus Envy, 226 Bank St.    2017 OQSL Registration Night  This is a chance for sporty folks to register to play in the 2017 season of Ottawa’s LGBT softball league. Open to people of all genders, the league’s season runs from May to September (with games taking place on Fridays and some Saturdays). For information about registration and the $100 fee, visit  7–9:30pm. Royal Oak, 188 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook   Wednesday, April 12 Day of Pink Gala  Each year, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity honours those who have fought against bullying and discrimination. The event features a reception and award ceremony, and this year’s award winners are Jori Jean Hodge, Susan Gapka, Kelly Dear and others. To RSVP, visit website. The venue is accessible.  5:30–8pm. Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park, 1015 Bank St. For more info, visit Facebook. [[asset:image:309368 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The Day of Pink Gala takes place on April 12, 2017, at the Horticulture Building."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Chris Fournier"]}]]  

How one gay Toronto rugby team is making sport more inclusive

31 March 2017 - 11:18am
Kevan Hannah is one of Muddy York’s newest members. While he grew up competing in individual sports like swimming and fencing, he never played on a team sport and harboured strong reservations over attending the team’s pre-season practices that are open to the public to join. “I was nervous as hell. I was actually aware of Muddy York’s open practice back in January and I was like, ‘yeah, I’m going to go to that, I’m going to go to that.’ And I kind of chickened out because I was intimidated for a few reasons,” Hannah says. “One is that I didn’t know what to expect from a rugby team. I expected it to be really rough, maybe a bit machismo and I wasn’t sure if I’d fit in or not.” By the time Muddy York held its next open clinic in June for potential members, Hannah had steeled his nerves. “By the end of that practice, when everyone was going out for drinks, I fully felt that I was already part of the team, having known all these guys for maybe three hours,” Hannah says. “They were extremely welcoming, really went out of their way to make me feel I was just as much welcome and part of things as people who had been playing for years.” The Toronto Muddy York rugby club has been welcoming cisgender gay men, trans men and their allies to participate and compete in the team sport since 2003. The team prides itself on its diverse membership and actively encourages members of all skill levels and body types to participate in the club. Muddy York competes against other teams within the Toronto Rugby Union and hosts its annual Beaver Bowl tournament for both local teams and teams from the International Gay Rugby Association. [[asset:image:309374 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Toronto Muddy York in a pre-game cheer at the 2016 Beaver Bowl."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Dave Scrivener"]}]] The club also competes internationally in the bi-annual Bingham Cup, one of the world’s largest rugby tournaments. The Bingham Cup is hosted in rotating cities across the globe, including New York, London and Sydney. Muddy York is currently raising funds to compete in 2018’s Bingham Cup in Amsterdam. One of the draws for many Muddy York members is the social aspect of the club. The team often has post-practice drinks at Pegasus on Church, the team’s main watering hole, and there are formal and informal social activities like team fundraisers and karaoke nights year round. Jesse Miller recently moved to Toronto and says he joined Muddy York as a way to connect with the community, build confidence and meet new people in the city. “I didn’t really have that many people I knew in Toronto in the first place, so I was pretty nervous,” Miller says. Like Hannah, he says he felt instantly at home. “Even by the end of the practice, I knew for sure that I wanted to play on the team,” he says. “I felt completely included, and like I definitely belonged on the team, and the guys made me feel completely welcome.” Since its formation, Muddy York has welcomed queer and trans men of all backgrounds. It also encourages participation from queer-friendly straight men. The club fosters a supportive and non-judgmental environment for its members and focuses as much on camaraderie and team-building as it does on the sport of rugby. Omar Aljebouri is the president of Muddy York and says players on the team are quick to learn the ropes.   “I still remember my first practice with Muddy York and it was really transformative,” Aljebouri recalls. “You just walk into the gym and suddenly all these people you’ve never met before are so friendly and they want you to be a part of the team and they want to show you the sport.” The team, which has approximately 60 members, is open to players of all skill levels and hopes to continue to expand its membership. “Everyone understands that 75 percent of the guys joining the team have probably never played the sport before,” Aljebouri says “Keeping that in mind, all these barriers that are embedded in people’s minds are all broken down, and people are finally themselves so they can comfortably learn and play. People actually grow very fast within an environment like that.”

Richmond inches toward protecting LGBT students

30 March 2017 - 11:17pm
For a moment, Nathan Lee thought the Richmond School Board wasn’t going to take his advice. Then the board’s trustees voted to support LGBT students in their Vancouver suburb by creating a new, stand-alone sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) policy on Feb 20, 2017. “Honestly, it felt amazing,” Lee says. “I was slightly surprised. I didn’t think that in Richmond, BC, in our socially-conservative city, that our school board would be open to it.” Lee, who runs Steveston-London Secondary School's Rainbow Club, says life as a queer student at his high school is traumatic. Younger students don’t feel safe in an environment where lockers are vandalized with slurs, he says. He particularly remembers the time a substitute teacher suggested conversion therapy to Rainbow Club members. Now discredited, conversion therapy aims to cure people of their gayness. “This teacher proceeded to make some very hurtful remarks suggesting that we all search up a leading conversion-therapy advocate, and also suggested to one of my members that same-sex relationships were not okay,” Lee recalls. If a policy educating teachers, staff and students had already been in place, this may never have happened, he says.   That’s why he and a recent Richmond graduate, Kaylyn Munro, petitioned their school board last November to urge trustees to introduce a new policy that specifically educates district members about sexual orientation and gender identity in their schools. Richmond's superintendent, Sherry Elwood, agrees that it's important to have such a policy, not only to support students and staff within schools, but to prepare all students to act positively in the world. “More importantly, all of our students, including SOGI students, need to feel supported inside of their school environment and within the school culture that they live in.” Still, Elwood doesn't expect the policy to be developed until this fall at the earliest. “In the case of big-picture issues like this particular one, your best practice is to do it thoughtfully and to take the time needed,” Elwood suggests. James Chamberlain, a vice-principal in Vancouver and a longtime gay-education activist, says Richmond’s SOGI policy is already overdue. Richmond has been “non-existent in terms of any leadership whatsoever on LGBTQ issues,” says Chamberlain, who started his teaching career in that school district in 1992. He hopes the policy will bring changes to curriculum, educate students and parents, provide resources to teachers and increase support and counselling for students. As Richmond begins work on its new stand-alone LGBT policy, the district has yet to comply with an order from the provincial government to add explicit protection for LGBT students to its existing anti-bullying policy. Richmond missed the Dec 31, 2016, deadline set last September by the BC minister of education, Mike Bernier. Richmond school board trustee Debbie Tablotney says the school board started revising its existing code of conduct in 2015 to add new language to protect students and staff from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, consistent with the language in the BC Human Rights Code. But, she says, these changes take time. “Policy is not done overnight, and you don't want it done overnight, because you want it to be right and to be there to guide you. It's important to really be careful,” Tablotney adds. “We've made the change,” she says. “It's just the actual final approval of the document that we're seeking.” Tablotney hopes the board will approve the changes to the code of conduct by June 30. As for the new, stand-alone policy, Tablotney says it would add an extra layer to the government-required protection from discrimination — focusing specifically on “education and awareness and understanding.” But discussion of both the stand-alone policy and the mandated policy update has not been without controversy. According to Global News, a group called Parents Care publicly voiced concerns that a SOGI policy might convert straight students. “It is possible. If it’s a life choice, it is possible,”  Parents Care group member Colleen Howu told Global News. Lee says one opponent also claimed at the Feb 20 school board meeting that the policy would alienate Muslim refugees. “Come on, stop blaming others,” he counters, dismissing the claim. “Stop hiding your own bigotry and hate by blaming some other culture — like really?” Chamberlain also rejects the “faith-based or cultural-values” argument, saying it “doesn’t hold water” in public schools in 2017. “People can believe whatever they want to in their homes, but schools need to be accepting of LGBTQ students,” he insists. “It's time for change.” “There will always be people who are opposed to SOGI policies but in this day and age, they are the minority, and human rights and safety for every student are not negotiable,” he says. Xtra’s attempts to reach members of the Parents Care group to request comment were unsuccessful. The next step for the stand-alone SOGI policy is public consultation.

Toronto councillor wants to enforce bylaw that could shut down almost every LGBT club

30 March 2017 - 8:16pm
Toronto isn’t the town from Footloose yet, but it’s getting close. City councillors are looking at potentially cracking down on nightclubs that operate without a nightclub licence, which includes most, if not all, LGBT clubs in Toronto. Nightclub licences are rarely given to venues outside of the Entertainment District, meaning that clubs in Church-Wellesley Village, West Queen West, Little Italy and Bloor St West could be fined or shut down on a moment’s notice.  In March 2017, the licensing and standards committee asked the head of Toronto’s licensing department to report on the issue in April. “There are operators that are circumventing the licensing process by applying for a restaurant licence and then at night taking away the restaurant chairs and operating illegally as a night club,” says Councillor Jim Karygiannis by email. Karygiannis, who presented the motion, is also the co-chair of the city's municipal licensing and standards committee. “There are examples when looking at these establishments websites and they are packing people into small spaces and that could be dangerous.” Currently, there are only 40 venues in Toronto that have a nightclub licence, the vast majority of which are in the Entertainment District. None of these venues regularly host LGBT events. “If a venue is outside the area where they cannot apply for these licences then they should not be carrying on an inappropriate venue,” Karygiannis says. “On the other hand, we should look at expanding these venues outside the entertainment district in order to look after all the communities which want to have entertainment facilities.” Karygiannis urged anyone with concerns to get in touch with the licensing and standards committee. Noel Gerry, a lawyer who represents bars and clubs in Toronto, says that city bylaws make it almost impossible for nightclubs to follow the rules. “The issue is you actually have to have zoning for a nightclub, and that’s virtually non-existent,” he says. “It’s pretty much restricted to the Entertainment District.” The only option that nightclub owners have is to try to change the zoning bylaw in their neighbourhoods. “And that’s an extremely difficult thing to do,” he says. “It’s time consuming and expensive, and usually the local city councillor would oppose it.” Venues operating without a nightclub licence can be fined thousands of dollars or even be taken to court and shut down for up to two years.  Kelly Kyle, the chair of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area, says that she hopes the city is willing to work with businesses instead of fining them or shutting them down.  “I would hope that they would have some compassion and work with the establishments that are here that may fall under that umbrella,” she says. Kyle believes that having nightlife outside of the Entertainment District is essential for LGBT Torontonians.  “I do think that it plays a vital role for the community to have a safe place,” she says.

Out in Toronto: March 30–April 5, 2017

30 March 2017 - 5:16pm
Thursday, March 30  Jack Charles V The Crown A child of Australia’s Stolen Generation, 70+ year old queer artist Jack Charles has lived as an addict, actor, cat burglar, been in and out of prisons in Australia. He recounts this extraordinary life in Jack Charles V The Crown, spanning years of Australian social and political history. Runs until Saturday, April 8, various showtimes. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St.   The Book of Mormon When two young Mormon missionaries travel to Uganda to spread the so-called good word, they find the locals preoccupied with more important matters — AIDS, famine and warlords. Written by the creators of the cartoon South Park, this musical comedy mocks The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, April 16, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W.  [[asset:image:309188 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The Book of Mormon runs until April 16, 2017, at the Princess of Wales Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Joan Marcus"]}]] The Bodyguard When bodyguard Frank Farmer starts protecting superstar Rachel Marron from a stalker, they both get more than they expected — in the love department. Based on the movie of the same name, this musical includes Whitney Houston power ballads and shirtless male backup dancers. The venue is mostly accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, May 14, various showtimes. Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St.  [[asset:image:309185 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The Bodyguard runs until May 14, 2017, at Ed Mirvish Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Paul Coltas"]}]] Friday, March 31 Disgrace at the Gladstone  It’s that time of year again — the time when fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race get all weird and excited at viewing parties in bars across the city. This particular live screening party for Season 9 of the show is hosted by Allysin Chaynes and Champagna Enemea, two members of the inimitable drag troupe House of Filth. Takes place every Friday.   6:30–10pm. The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W. For more info, visit Facebook   Hutch and Friends Comedy  Paul Hutcheson hosts a standup comedy show which, if the event billing’s imagery is any indication, is probably cowboy-themed. Hutcheson, a veteran of many Pride comedy shows at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, is joined by comedians Jess Beaulieu, Ingrid Hansen, Ali Hassan, Kathleen Phillips and Chris Robinson for an evening of chuckles and guffaws (or however cowboys laugh).  8–9:30pm. The Steady, 1051 Bloor St W. For more info, visit Facebook [[asset:image:309350 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Paul Hutcheson hosts a standup comedy show on March 31, 2017, at The Steady."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy David Hawe"]}]] Yohomo: First Party  Yohomo, the new online publication dedicated to the promotion of LGBT culture and nightlife in Toronto, throws its first-ever dance party. DJs Phillippe, Diego Armand and Das Hussy spin classic house vibes all night long. Includes special giveaways. The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or the accessible washroom door).  10pm–3am. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook [[asset:image:309353 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Yohomo, the new Toronto publication promoting LGBT events and culture, has its first dance party at Glad Day on March 31, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Michelle LeFade"]}]] Monday, April 3 Mesmerized Comedy Hypnosis Show Las Vegas-trained hypnotist Brandon Dean’s performance is a surprising, intriguing and sometimes goofy peak into the subconscious mind. During his show, Dean calls adventurous (or perhaps foolish) volunteers up on stage and guides them through an entertaining journey into imaginary environments for the amusement and delight of the audience. 8–9:30pm. Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen St E. For more info, visit Facebook [[asset:image:309356 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Hypnotist Brandon Dean\u2019s performance takes place at Red Sandcastle Theatre in April 3, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Ethan Han"]}]]  

Out in Vancouver: March 30–April 4, 2017

29 March 2017 - 8:15pm
Thursday, March 30 Dining Out For Life As if my partner and I need another excuse to leave the oven off and go out for dinner — have you seen the size of us? From Whistler to White Rock and across the Lower Mainland, Dining Out for Life’s restaurant partners will contribute 25 percent of their food sales to A Loving Spoonful, who provide free, nutritious meals for people living with HIV/AIDS. Grab a few friends and make this a day to remember. Lunch and dinner at over 60 participating restaurants. Check for info and a full list of eateries.    Friday, March 31 Cloud 9 Before you get all excited, like I did, thinking the Empire Landmark is finally throwing a gay night at the revolving Cloud 9 restaurant before it’s torn down, sit back down. Hell has not frozen over. This Cloud 9 deserves much more of your attention: the 9th anniversary of the Man Up show, one of our community's longest running queer parties. Man Up began as an effort to revitalize the once vibrant local drag king scene, and tonight this party celebrates everyone for supporting the artists, creating the space, dressing for the themes, shredding the dance floor, giving the feedback, and looking ahead together. 9pm–2am. The Cobalt, 917 Main St. Tickets $15 at and at   Kink V: Fetish Nights Since I don’t really like walking around in kink or fetish wear on the streets — as if a six-foot-eight bear covered in latex is going unnoticed — the closer a kink party is to my condo the better. This is about as close as you can get. This is a PLUR kink-based LGBTQ and straight-friendly event, so please come open minded. When you arrive, you will be asked to show the door mistress exactly what you are wearing or planning to wear. The dress code is strict: The more wild you dress, the more at home you will feel once you step in the door. Dungeon space, gear check, gear slaves and even a performance by the Borg Queen will make this a night to remember. 9pm–3am. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. $15 before 10pm, $18 before 11pm, $20 after.   Surprise Bitch The last time someone said this to me I was looking up a hunky man’s kilt from the floor. The surprise was that the shy fellow was wearing boxers — a complete waste of effort. This night, however, is a function of the House of Bitches as they host their second pop-up event. With a list of bitches, also known as performers, from Surrey to the West End, there is bound to be something you like, or at least something to bitch about. Just be careful, since the head bitch is none other than Alma B Itches, and she will be more than happy to let you have it. 9:30pm–3am. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. Cover $5 at the door.   Wet & Wild: Rubbout Meat & Greet It all starts early this afternoon with the Rubbout Meat & Greet from 3–8pm. Pick up a weekend swag bag — no Gingerbear Todd I don’t mean you — put on wristbands and have a few loosening-up cocktails. Come back later for Shower Night and then the Rubber Dance Party. I love virgin shower night, and tonight there’s a virgin for us all to watch. Sometimes they are like deer in headlights, and sometimes things are so hard they rip through their shorts. Tonight is a special pre-Rubbout Wet & Wild, so don’t blow your load over the first showeree, or the second, or the third. There are two more nude studs from the Rubbout Crew to show off their meaty parts. Music is provided by that magical DJ who can make a dick disappear faster than your mother can unbutton her overalls, DJ Del Stamp. 10pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. Cover $5.   Saturday, April 1 One Love Wedding Show With three weddings under my belt, I think I’m a bit late for this show. But, for all you others that are hoping he or she will pop the question, maybe this will give a shove in the right direction. Plus, there’s even a chance to win your wedding. At One Love Wedding Experience, they don't simply promote diversity, they celebrate it. People are people and love is love. They support same sex marriage and have collaborated with suppliers who support and mirror the same philosophy. Witness a live wedding ceremony, fashion show, prizes and even a DJ spin party. 11am–4pm. Roundhouse, 181 Roundhouse Mews. Tickets $20 each at and if you go early there may be a Groupon attached for 70 percent off.   Gear Swap Funny story — and no it was not me — names shall be left out to protect the innocent, right James? I know a guy who went to last year’s Gear Swap for the first time and got so turned on by the used leather he spent $225, took it all home, and played alone with the leather so long he missed the Rubbout Party all together. Now that is dedication. Every year this gear swap just gets better and better. This year is no different. Bring your gear in the morning, sell it at the swap, and find some new gear you just must have. Intake is 11:00am until 1:00pm so bring your gear then if you want to sell it. Sales start at 1:00pm. 1–5pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. Cover $2 but free for Saturday night ticket holders and wristbands.   Drag Show at The Stage Coronation may be gone for this year, stop cheering, but that Miz Adrien is still going strong in the burbs and is taking her show all the way to Mission, where men are men and queens get extremely lucky I hear. Tonight Join the Miz and her friends for a heart stopping show followed by dancing until late. Who knows, there may be a cowboy whose boots are going to be under your bed tonight. This is a bar show, so there’s room for everyone. Doors 7pm, show 9pm followed by dancing. The Stage, 32998 1st Ave, Mission. Tickets $10 advance at or $15 at door.   Trivia Night Fundraiser I know you thought I was going to do all the listings and not have a Peach Cobblah moment, but not so fast. She never stops, and does she even sleep? Tonight she is quizmaster and co-host alongside Nicole Yeasting, but I bet Nicole won’t get to say a word with our old doll running the show. This is a fundraising night to benefit the Vancouver International Children’s Festival Hospital Program, an amazing outreach group that brings the festival to children receiving treatment or in care. Grab a team and prepare to answer questions about sports, music, logos, books, movies, and more. Prizes will be awarded to the top team. A raffle and silent auction will also be happening, as well as a cash bar and snacks for an excellent cause. If you can’t make the night, please feel free to donate at 7pm. Loungeworks Showroom, 130 West 4th Ave. Tickets $22 online   Stand Up, Stand Out Why stay at home and fall for your friends’ April Fools pranks all night? Get out and have fun at someone else’s expense, probably mine, at the April Fool’s Edition of Stand Up, Stand Out, a mix of local comedians hosting an LGBT open mic. Hosted by Steve Leets, Vancouver’s Funniest Amateur Comedian 2016, along with Fatima Dhowre and a dozen or so guest comics. There will also be ASL interpreters for the show. 8–10:30pm. XYYVR, 1216 Bute St. Tickets are available online at or at the door, with a sliding scale of $10-$15. Contact the hosts for PWYC tickets or other accessibility info at   The Queen Of Ireland One of the best drag names around, Panti Bliss, aka. Rory O’Neill, just happens to be an outrageous, scandalous, intelligent and eloquent queen in the best possible ways, and is regarded as one of the best in the world. Over the last few years, Rory has become a figurehead for LGBT rights in Ireland, and since the recent “Pantigate” scandal, his fight for equality and against homophobia has become recognised across the world. The Queen of Ireland is a documentary film that follows Rory’s journey from the small Mayo town of Ballinrobe to the world stage. There will a reception before the film. 9–11:30pm. Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. Tickets $10 advance at or $15 at door.   Rubbout 26 Gear & Play Party And so, it begins. If you hear squeaking around town, it’s just the latex covered thighs rubbing or the skin-tight leather pants being broken in as every leather, rubber and latex-loving man is out this weekend at the longest consecutively running men’s fetish event in North America. If leather and fetish are your thing and you can’t find it this weekend, you might be a closet straight. Tonight, go down underground to a party for all gear enthusiasts, leather, sports or whatever your fetish, with the rubber men from all over the world. If you have no gear, naked or a jock will be just fine, but no street clothes, please. 10pm–2am. Underground, 1022 Davie St. Tickets $45 at the door or included with Rubbout Wristband. If you still want to play and you’re not worn out, your wristband or ticket stub will get you into Steamworks after 1:30am. Full schedule of events at     Circo Disco I have to admit I was excited because I thought this was a combination of circus and disco, kind of a Saturday Night Fever Cirque De Soleil. But I was wrong; it happens sometimes. This is an official fundraiser for the HIM Transitions program, a daring collaboration of cabaret troupe, nightlife character performance art, live performance, lip-sync performance, DJ music programming and drag, where costume and choreography meet uninhibited hedonism. The music will be a sensory journey of house and disco from around the world, including deep, vocal, progressive and tribal house brought to you by DJs Mike Cross and Idris Hudson. Geekenders performers will perform live numbers from their rendition of Rocky Horror Picture Show and a Stormtrooper Burlesque. 10pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Admission is by donation to HIM and Geekenders. Suggested donation is $10, pay what you can.   Monday, April 3 Trans Supper Club PACE Society, a Vancouver peer-driven organization that provides support to sex workers, will be launching the Trans Supper Club, a weekly meal program and drop-in service for transgender, two-spirit, and gender-diverse persons on the city’s Downtown Eastside. The program will be situated within PACE's larger program of support services, which includes case management, peer counselling services, and transgender-specific programming. This new program will also operate in conjunction with PACE Society’s Gender Self-Determination Project, which assists trans people in the Greater Vancouver Area with legally changing their names and gender markers on government identification.  5-7pm. PACE Society, 148 W Hastings St.   Flex Fit with HIM OMG! Spring is here, so Pride is right around the corner. How many of you have even used that gym membership you signed up for Jan 2? This weekly group will transition you into it, combining muscle strengthening and stretching exercises such as push-ups, squats, yoga, basic Pilates, core exercises, and resistance band training. Bring a mat, towel and bottle of water because you will sweat. All levels are welcome, so drop by and drop the winter weight. 5:30–6:30pm. Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St. Free class.     Tuesday, April 4 Pleasuring Prostates: Live Demo Now, I like my prostate as much as the next guy, but a live demo of one being rubbed is a little over the top even for me. I would almost go just to see who has the balls — well I guess those would be pushed aside — to lay back and get probed while a group looks on. This is an intriguing class for those who have never experienced the pleasure of a prostate massage. You will ejaculate like a 16-year-old, I promise. Take a chance, you may see me after all. 7:30pm. The Art Of Loving, 369 West Broadway St. Class $50 please register in advance at   Wednesday, April 5 Connect With Him: Surrey Out in Surrey and finding it hard to meet guys as friends? The Health Initiative for Men (HIM) provides a wide variety of weekly activities, presentations and workshops for guys of all ages. Come on in and find out what events are happening each week. 7–8:30pm. HIM Surrey, 220-10362 King George Blvd, Surrey. Free group.

Toronto city councillors threatening to cut Pride funding for excluding police floats

29 March 2017 - 5:15pm
A city councillor wants to see Pride Toronto’s funding cut if it doesn’t include police floats in this year’s parade. John Campbell, a councillor from the suburban ward of Etobicoke Centre, plans on introducing a motion next month to cut off the $260,000 grant that the City of Toronto gives to Pride each year. “There’s a lot of police officers that are members of the gay community and I know that they were certainly bothered by what happened,” he says.  Campbell’s motion is reminiscent of the constant efforts to defund Pride between 2010 and 2014, when Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was marching in the parade. The motion imperils the relative financial security the organization has achieved in the past few years. The motion asks for a review of city policies to determine if Pride is breaking any of them, and for the organization to reaffirm its “core value of inclusivity.” Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto, says that the festival will go on, whether or not they receive funding from the city.  “We do intend on continuing our festivities regardless of what happens at council,” she says.  Campbell objects to the tactics used by Black Lives Matter Toronto during last year’s parade, and says that BLM forced Pride Toronto to adopt positions it would not have taken on its own. But Pride Toronto’s decision to exclude police floats with uniformed officers was initiated by and approved by the membership of the organization at a January 2017 meeting. “We think that a proportion of our membership raised concerns that were legitimate to that proportion of our membership,” says Nuamah. “We see our main goal as bridge-building and getting us to a place where we can develop a set of actions that reflect what everybody needs.” The grant money is one part of a broader set of supports and services that the city provides to the festival, including police protection. According to Nuamah, the Toronto Police Service will continue to donate its services to the festival, despite the increasingly contentious relationship between the two organizations. “For this year’s festival, they have utterly committed to providing all of the support necessary to ensure that the festival is safe and that festival goers are safe,” she says. “They’ve been nothing but positive and reassuring with us about working with us to find our way through this.” So far, approximately seven councillors have told Campbell that they would vote to cut Pride’s funding, including Mark Grimes, Justin Di Ciano, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Stephen Holyday, Jon Burnside, Michael Ford and Giorgio Mammoliti, according to CBC News, which broke the story. Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Shelley Carroll have spoken out against the motion. Campbell declined to comment on what he thought about the Black Lives Matter movement or if he believed that the police continue to subject black Torontonians to increased scrutiny and violence. “Do those abuses still go on? I’m certainly in no position to say they do or they don’t,” he says. “If somebody is saying they’re going on, then I have to assume they’re going on.” But he says that “belligerence” isn’t the right way to solve the issue. When reminded that Pride Toronto is an outgrowth of protests that includes riots, Campbell says that the gay community had good reason to be angry then. “They were receiving belligerence,” he says, but he declined to compare the experiences of the LGBT community in the 1980s to those of black LGBT Torontonians today.  “If that’s what they say, then that’s probably the case,” he says. “But then I think banning the police, kicking out the police and putting up barriers is probably not the right way to go about it.”

Drag DJs and top 40 for bottoms

29 March 2017 - 2:15pm
Power bottoms rejoice! Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has you covered with its cheekily named queer dance party, Top 40 for Bottoms. Don’t worry, tops don’t get charged a different cover at the door or anything, although that’s a marketing tactic we could get behind — or rather, in front of. Featuring those queer anthems we all know and love and different DJs each week, a new take on what defines top 40 is offered for each installment of the event, keeping the music roster fresh for each chapter of Top 40 for Bottoms. Now, you may be asking yourself: how does one go about crafting a playlist for bottoms, exactly? As much fun as a continuous loop of “Don’t Want No Short Dick Man” and “Push It” would be fun, there’s a lot more to it. To get to the bottom of it, Xtra got in touch with one of the DJs from the event, Regina the Gentlelady, and it turns out that the key to a great playlist sure to please any bottom that listens to it can be summarized in one word — Britney.   [[asset:video_embed:309341 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_caption":["Seriously, who doesn\u2019t love Britney?"]}]]   Well, they actually play a lot more than just Britney Spears, but really, do you need more (Gimme more, gimme more) than that? Well, if you did for some crazy reason, expect to hear all of the big divas of pop at this event. Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Fifth Harmony and Beyoncé will all be making their way through the playlist. Did we mention Britney? Because if we didn’t, Britney Spears will also be playing. Britney.  [[asset:video_embed:309344 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_video_caption":["In case you missed us mentioning Britney Spears."]}]]   If you’re lucky enough to be attending the event when Top 40 for Bottom’s resident DJing drag queen Regina the Gentlelady is spinning, make sure to go say hi to her at the DJ stand at the top of the famous Buddies staircase. She’s always open to requests and is down for making the event extra campy by playing what you want to hear. Maybe leave the Lana Del Rey for another day though, she’s gotta keep those energy levels up for the crowd. Featuring an in-drag DJ alongside a drag queen performance definitely changes the atmosphere of the event overall, making the space more fabulous, fun and above all else, queer. Honestly though, what event isn’t improved by a drag queen? It’s a simple truth that drag queens make everything better. Fact. And Buddies delivers on this promise with your favorite top 40 music accompanying these queens week after week, there’s even a rumor going around that they’ll be playing some Britney Spears at this event as well, so there’s that too! Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has always been a cornerstone of Toronto’s queer culture, promoting inclusiveness, accessibility, and of course, a good time — with Top 40 for Bottoms being no exception to this rule. Buddies offers a warm and welcoming environment to anyone looking to get weird with some top 40 regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and to those who can follow the one posted rule on their website: “Don’t be a jackass” — easy enough! Hopefully douches are still on the OK list, though. If you’re ready to Break Free, be a Dangerous Woman, get in Formation and get to Work (Work, Work, Work, Work, Work) then this is the place to do it. So do some Kegels, grab your favourite top and head down to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for its next installment of Top 40 for Bottoms.

Non-binary pronouns, lesbian smokers and the gay whisperer

29 March 2017 - 2:14am
[[asset:image:309332 {"mode":"full","align":"center"}]] AP Stylebook to include gender neutral “they” The stylebook for the Associate Press, the US’s principle news wire service, now accepts the pronoun “they” for gender non-binary people. Not everyone is happy with the entry, however, as it directs journalists to avoid using singular “they” whenever possible. Read more at CBS News.   US Study: Lesbian teens twice as likely to smoke A study of teenagers across the United States concluded that teenage lesbians were more than twice as likely to smoke cigarettes as straight girls, while gay boys were no more likely to smoke than straight boys. The researchers said stress was likely to blame for the pattern. Read more from Reuters.   Canadian Conservative candidate won’t apologize for gay comments A spokesman for Canadian Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost says the politician is “not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing” and won’t take back comments opposing “the gay lifestyle.” Read more from the National Post.   Veteran lesbian journalist sues former employer for age-discrimination Sixty-seven year old lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb is suing her former employer, the owner of the Los Angeles queer newspaper Frontiers, for age discrimination. Ocamb was allegedly kicked out of the company to make way for a younger “millennial” voice. Read more from the Advocate.   Lawsuit: New York police targeted gay men for masturbation charges A class-action lawsuit brought by two men in New York claims the city’s police targeted men they perceived as gay for spurious public masturbation charges. One officer who was particularly good at entrapping men was allegedly referred to as “the gay whisperer.”

This group wants to throw a rival LGBT parade that includes cops on the same day as Toronto Pride

28 March 2017 - 5:14pm
After eight months of heated debate over Toronto’s Pride parade, a group of Torontonians is now asking for donations to throw its own parade — one that would include the police and take place on the same day as Toronto Pride 2017. Billed as the Unity and Inclusion parade, the organizers intend it to be an alternative to Toronto’s Pride parade, which recently decided not to let uniformed police officers march in this year’s event. The organizers — Bryn Hendricks, Colton Evans, Adrian Cornelissen and Christopher Thorn — sent out a fundraising letter on March 15, 2017, asking for donations to help fund five complaints on behalf of Toronto police against Pride Toronto at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal as well as costs associated with the parade. “Although we are not organizing an entire festival, organizing a parade also has financial costs including permits, applications and other printing and general expenses,” the letter reads. The letter asks supporters to deposit donations to an RBC account or as an Interac e-transfer. “Once the police and law enforcement are welcomed by Pride Toronto, any remaining funds will be donated to them,” it reads. Unity and Inclusion Toronto declined to comment. “We appreciate you reaching out to us, however at this time we are not prepared to make a statement,” Evans told Xtra by email. Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto, says that she recently met with two members of the organization and had a constructive conversation about police involvement in the parade. “We think it’s important that as Pride Toronto we have dialogue with this group, and that we continue to work together to work through some of our issues,” she says. Nuamah says they didn’t discuss the possibility of the group organizing a separate LGBT parade. “They are members of the community who are able to organize what they would like,” she says.   The organizers object to a decision made by Pride Toronto’s membership to accept all of the demands made by Black Lives Matter Toronto during their sit-in during the 2016 parade. “Pride Toronto indicates their mission, vision, and values are those of inclusion and that are meant to be welcoming and uniting of everyone,” the organizers’ letter reads. “Banning the Police is contrary to these values, and it remains our belief that Pride Toronto’s decision to accept the demands of Black Lives Matter is not acceptable.” A Facebook event had been created for the Unity and Inclusion parade, with the date set for June 25, the same day as the Toronto Pride parade. The event was deleted on March 25. “Unity & Inclusion Toronto invites you to celebrate with us and over 1 million people at this year’s Unity & Inclusion Parade on June 25, 2017,” read the event page. “Please join us for one of the world’s largest inclusive cultural events in the Canada and the world.” While the group also called for the Toronto police to conduct a formal review “similar to the Truth & Reconciliation Commision [sic],” the brunt of their criticism has been aimed at Pride Toronto. On March 15, the same date as stated on the fundraising letter, Unity and Inclusion Toronto protested outside of the Pride Toronto offices. Both the letter and the Facebook page included a logo that includes a six-pronged symbol that is a copyright of Pride Toronto. The group’s logo has since been changed to a similar, but more distinct symbol.

LGBT Canadians now eligible for current and retroactive tax break on reproductive treatments

28 March 2017 - 9:41am
The federal government has made LGBT families and single people eligible for the same tax break on reproductive treatments that only people with infertility conditions could previously access — including for services dating back to 2007.  The March 22, 2017, budget also set a $3.6-million budget for the government’s advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. Currently, the medical expense tax credit covers 15 percent of treatment fees that cost more than either $2,268, or three percent of an individual’s net income — whichever is lowest. For the year 2017, that tax credit will now available for “single individuals and same-sex couples.” One cycle of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments costs roughly $10,000, meaning a single person who underwent IVF could save $1,500 in taxes. The change to the credit starts in 2017, and applies for the previous decade. That means people who had fertility treatments in 2007 can ask for a re-assessment by the end of 2017, and a 2008 treatment could be counted if claimed by the end of 2018. “Ending discrimination for families is a good measure,” says Angella MacEwen, a senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress.  This year is the first federal budget formed through a gender-based analysis, and MacEwen says the tax credit illustrates the importance of that approach. “It really sends that message about what a family is.” Meanwhile, the federal government pledged $3.6 million for a new secretariat to assist MP Randy Boissonnault, the government’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. This money will go towards staff hired by the Privy Council Office, suggesting the government will hire staff through a public process, instead of as political appointees.

Two trans people say they were mistreated by Service BC staff

27 March 2017 - 9:40pm
Two trans people in northern BC say employees at Service BC offices in Prince George and Prince Rupert misgendered them and treated them poorly. Alexis, who asked Xtra not to publish her last name for fear of discrimination, says she went to the Service BC office in Prince George to legally change her name and gender designation on her birth certificate, when she was repeatedly misgendered. She says the employee referred to her as male, and called her by her “dead name” despite repeated corrections. ”She didn’t really care how many times I corrected her, she just kept calling me male,” Alexis alleges. “When I asked to use the washroom there, she tried to make me use the men’s washroom, which was awful. I’m really not comfortable in there.” Alexis was born outside BC, which required the employee to make additional phone calls to clarify information. While on the phone with other offices, the employee continued to refer to her as male, Alexis says. “It’s not like I’m asking for the world here — just don’t misgender me for an hour and a half straight when I corrected you five or six times,” Alexis says. That’s a “flat-out insult.”   “You’re sitting there invalidating a process that I have bled for, that I have fought for — my identity,” she says. [[asset:image:309323 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Alexis, who asked that her last name not be published, says her experience with Service BC was \u201cinvalidating.\u201d"],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy of Alexis"]}]] She says the problem seemed to extend to more than just the employee who served her, as other staffers also ignored the new information she submitted. “I was trying to change my ID but everything they were going off of was my old ID; they really didn’t pay much attention to what was on my forms,” Alexis says. “I think I would have had that issue with everybody.” She has yet to file a formal complaint with the Service BC office. Krystal Vandenberg, president of the Northern Pride Centre based in Prince George, says a second trans person recently told her about a similar experience at a different Service BC office. As a result, Vandenberg made a Youtube video on the subject. Vandenberg says the second complainant, who wishes to remain anonymous, also reports being referred to by the wrong pronouns and name at the Service BC office in Prince Rupert, while changing their name and gender marker on legal documents. The complainant’s repeated attempts to correct staff went unheeded, Vandenberg notes.   “I think it’s a lack of training; I also think it’s the climate we live in,” she says. “Prince Rupert and Prince George are both in Northern BC, obviously, so there does tend to be conservative values. I’m not saying people are purposely being transphobic,” Vandenberg adds, “but they just might not have the education about trans rights and trans issues.” She says she would like to see front-end workers have specialized training in trans rights and trans issues. “It’s really not that hard to respect people’s pronouns and names; it’s a simple process.” For many people, making a complaint at the office where they were mistreated can be problematic, Vandenberg points out. “It’s that re-traumatization.” She says she has spoken with the Prince George office but was told they’re unable to process a complaint without the complainant coming forward. She says she would like to see the office accept advocacy on behalf of a complainant as a legitimate form of notice. [[asset:image:309326 {"mode":"440px_wide","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Krystal Vandenberg would like to see Service BC staff get more specialized training. "],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy of Krystal Vandenberg"]}]] “In Northern BC, outing a trans person — outing a trans person anywhere — is extremely dangerous,” she warns. According to the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, which oversees Service BC, staff are trained to treat all citizens with respect and dignity. Still, no new changes have been made to Services BC’s procedures following last July’s amendment to the BC Human Rights Code, which now explicitly includes gender identity and expression in the list of grounds protected from discrimination. In a statement, Beverly Dicks, the assistant deputy minister responsible for Service BC, says employees are already offered sensitivity training through a certified course, must take an oath of employment, sign standard of conduct statements, and take a privacy course to maintain client confidentiality. “Every client is expected to be provided with a safe environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. No client should ever feel they are receiving less than that when they are at one of our offices,” Dicks says. She invites Alexis to contact her directly about her experience at the Prince George office. “I would like to extend my sincere apology to our client and hope to get the opportunity to resolve her concern and to ensure Service BC takes the steps necessary to ensure this does not occur again,” Dicks says. Alexis says she worries that others may have to deal with similar treatment. She began transitioning a year and a half ago and says the process of changing documents is difficult enough as it is. “Things can be very discouraging,” she says. “It’s an insult to my existence, is how it felt.”

Drag Queens are taking over Big White

27 March 2017 - 6:39pm
For Sasha and Sparkle, the first drag queens soon to set heels on powder up at Big White Ski Resort for the inaugural Peak Pride, nippier weather won’t prevent them from being any less fabulous. The two are pioneers of drag culture in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Sasha created the area’s first drag show, Embodiment, and the pair will now be hosting the three-day Pride festival, from April 7–9, 2017. Xtra caught up with the duo to talk about life as a drag queen on a snowy mountain, and how to improve your chances of getting laid at the inaugural Peak Pride. “The truth is, drag is so hot. When we are up there, we’ll be taking our clothes off,” Sasha laughs. According to Sparkle, figure skating tights are your best bet when the temperature drops. “They make it look like you have bare legs, but you’re still warm. And also, because I don’t shave my legs because I’m a lazy queen.” Lazy wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind to describe the pair. Sasha and Sparkle will play hostesses throughout the festival from the opening reception to the closing Sunday brunch. In between, the two will be busy co-hosting other events, such as The Freestyle Party following the opening reception, which will feature a drag performance by gender-bending performers Thanks Jem and Rose Butch. Saturday will see the opening of Peak Pride’s beer garden on the hill, followed by a downhill-ski parade. Everything culminates at the Wipeout Party, which promises special appearances by Alyssa Edwards of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars–fame. By then, attendees should be ready to wind down at the VIP Chatters Brunch to nurse their Pride hangovers. [[asset:image:309305 {"mode":"media_image_style_width_728px_","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["The queens are hard at work preparing."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Peak Pride"]}]] “Rehearsing drag for Sunday [brunch] will be tough, but at least we can drink,” Sasha laughs. “Alcohol is key to staying so fierce on the mountain,” Sparkle agrees. “A little liquid confidence goes a long way.” Since Peak Pride will mark a first for Big White, a bit of liquid confidence might come in handy to shake away some nerves and meet some new faces. If you happen to be in search of some love on the mountain to keep warm, the queens have some advice. For those open to the idea of exercising, Sasha suggests a proactive approach. “Just chase him right down!” she laughs. For anyone less inclined towards a mountainside sprint, Sparkle’s “tips for dick” are to just let love come to you. “Spread ’em wide, honey, spread ’em. You know how people choose to show [just one feature like their] chest, arms, or legs? Just show it all. Just wear a speedo and if people ask, just say, ‘I’m trying to get laid, that’s what I’m doing!’” Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to Pride, she says. Both queens are hopeful the introduction of Peak Pride will pave the way for more events in the BC Interior. Peak Pride co-producer Peter Breeze agrees. He’s been promoting events for 10 years, but says the festival at Big White is nothing like some of the smaller-sized events he’s worked on before. Inspired by  Kelowna local Dustyn Baulkham’s  idea of holding a winter Pride, Breeze partnered with him to bring the mountaintop celebration to life. Breeze says it’s all about working towards a larger goal of expanding Pride culture beyond metropolitan cities, a vision that Sasha and Sparkle wholeheartedly support.

German redemption, soccer stars and vocal discrimination

25 March 2017 - 6:36pm
[[asset:image:309281 {"mode":"full","align":""}]] Germany to overturn convictions for homosexuality The German government has proposed a bill that would overturn convictions for homosexuality under Paragraph 175 after the end of the Second World War, between 1949 and 1969, when homosexuality was finally decriminalized. The bill would also offer compensation to victim of the law. Read more from The Guardian.   Taiwan high court hears equal marriage case A 14-judge panel of Taiwan’s highest court will hear a case arguing that the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. An equal marriage bill is also working its way slowly through Taiwan’s parliament. Read more from the BBC.   Megan Rapinoe forced to stand during anthem A new policy from the US Soccer organization will force lesbian soccer star Megan Rapinoe to stop kneeling during the national anthem. That doesn’t mean she’ll keep quiet, though, she tells The Guardian.   Anti-trans bus hits the road, is promptly vandalized A bus hired by American conservative groups to roll around New England promoting an anti-trans message was promptly vandalized in New York City. The bus, named the “Free Speech Bus” by supporters, was painted with messages saying that sex is immutable.   Study: Voices matter in employment A new study in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour shows that straight male employers were more likely to pick men whose voices were more “masculine” for employment or higher salaries. Researchers say the study shows potential discrimination against gay men in the job market. Read more at the Washington Blade.

The two-spirit artists breaking down the colonial narrative for Canada 150

24 March 2017 - 6:35pm
After years as a tribal councillor with the Siksika Nation, Adrian Stimson’s life changed when they took the plunge and applied to art school. “I sort of asked myself that question, as I’m sure we all do, ‘What is it that I want to do when I grow up?,’” says Stimson, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they” in tribute to the Siksika language, which Stimson says has no gender-specific pronouns. A residential school survivor, Stimson says art helped them deal with the trauma of that experience and the history of living on reserves. “It allowed me to unpack and work through some of those issues that I faced while going through residential school, and the racism within the general public and the world, to create art that hopefully speaks to challenging a lot of those notions,” they explain. Stimson is curating UnSettled, the visual arts portion of this year’s Queer Arts Festival.  After seven years as QAF’s artistic director, Shaira (SD) Holman decided to hand over this year’s festival to two-spirit curators and artists to coincide with Canada’s 150th year since Confederation.  “It was really important for the festival as a whole, rather than being a settler organization, to just step back and give over the entire curation,” Holman says. QAF’s director of development, Rachel Iwaasa, says two-spirit curation is important because showcasing two-spirit art isn’t enough. “We're working with indigenous partners so that it's not up to us to decide what constitutes an authentic indigenous, two-spirit representation,” Iwaasa says. “It's important to us that we’re not the voices represented in the publicity.” Stimson has curated the works of 17 established, novice and deceased artists for UnSettled in a bid to bring together and honour those who have been part of the collective history and being of two-spirit people.  Stimson hopes the artists’ work will challenge multiple narratives, including settler and heteronormative accounts. “I think it’s something that two-spirited artists do naturally and I think they continue to do.”  [[asset:image:309269 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Adrian Stimson, curator of this year\u0027s QAF visual arts exhibition, UnSettled."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Adrian A Stimson"]}]] The work of Coast Salish and Stó:lō artist Raven John, whose ancestral name is Exwetlaq, will also feature at the festival. John says working as lead sculptor on Four Faces of the Moon, an animated short film, helped them through tragedy last year. “It really is life-saving,” John says. “One of my aunts was murdered last year around February and it was a huge blow to our family. Having someone so close be added to this gross list of missing and murdered indigenous women was really hard for me.” As a younger artist, John says they were interested in making “unreal worlds real through film.” Working on a feminist, indigenous film with a mostly indigenous and femme crew was “really life-affirming” in the midst of loss and the uncertainty of whether there would be justice for their aunt, John says. “It gave me an outlet to know there's something better coming, there's something better to strive for.”  [[asset:image:309275 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Raven John\u0027s painting, Two-Spirit Transformation Blessing, will be featured in UnSettled."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Raven John"]}]] Classically trained cellist Cris Derksen applauds Holman and Iwaasa for stepping back while indigenous artists take the curatorial lead. Derksen, who uses music as a way of criticizing appropriation and reconciling their own identity, will perform their Juno-nominated album Cris Derksen’s Orchestral Powwow at the festival. Derksen says classical music has appropriated a lot of indigenous work. “As  a classically trained indigenous human, I feel like this is a time that we can step up and say, ‘Hey, these are our songs, these are our stories, let us tell the story.’” Noting their Cree and Mennonite heritage, Derksen says the album is a means of  reconciling the various facets of their background and bringing them together in a way that allows the indigenous voice to be “heard loudly and respected.”  [[asset:image:309272 {"mode":"full","align":"center","field_asset_image_caption":["Classically-trained cellist, Cris Derksen, will be performing their album Cris Derksen\u0027s Orchestral Powwow at this year\u0027s QAF."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Cris Derken"]}]] Most chamber music has a conductor, Derksen observes. “I think it's time that we listen to the aboriginal people first, so the beat of the drum dictates our show.” John says that two-spirit inclusion needs to go beyond this year's festival. “We need to address our histories, and one thing that I would love to see change in the arts community in general is that we don't have to have an Indigenous or two-spirit exhibition,” they say. “We end up having women's shows or queers shows or Indigenous shows or, in this case a two-spirit show, and as important as it is to increase awareness, we need to be included in other exhibitions.” Holman says she’s committed to two-spirit inclusion beyond 2017. “We don’t know yet that we have the funding  but we’re hoping to mentor more young queer, POC [people of colour], and especially two-spirit people in these kinds of positions so that it’s not just, ‘Oh yeah, 2017 we did this,’ and then we just moved on.”

Out in Toronto: March 23–29, 2017

23 March 2017 - 6:31pm
Thursday, March 23 More Play Screening Series: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  A screening of the classic psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? When a suspicious car accident leaves actress Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) in a wheelchair, she is left in the care of her resentful, increasingly unhinged sister Jane Hudson (Bette Davis). The film screening is preceded by a twisted drag queen performance. The venue is accessible. 7:30–10:30pm. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St W. For more info, visit Facebook.    Gag by Pansy Ass  This fetish and gay culture-themed art exhibit features pieces produced by Pansy Ass Ceramics. For a few years now, Pansy Ass Ceramics’ Andy Walker and Kris Aaron have been producing china and other knick-knacks with a provocative, silly, raunchy twist. It’s a bit like your grandma’s tea cup collection if she were a leather daddy or John Waters enthusiast.  Runs until Saturday, March 25. DAIS, 1196 Queen St W. For more info, visit Facebook.  [[asset:image:309236 {"mode":"full","align":"","field_asset_image_caption":["The Gag exhibit by Pansy Ass\u00a0runs until March 25, 2017."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Pansy Ass Ceramics"]}]]   The Book of Mormon When two young Mormon missionaries travel to Uganda to spread the so-called good word, they find the locals preoccupied with more important matters — AIDS, famine and warlords. Written by the creators of the cartoon South Park, this musical comedy mocks The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The venue is accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, April 16, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W.  [[asset:image:309188 {"mode":"full","align":"null","field_asset_image_caption":["The Book of Mormon runs until April 16, 2017, at the Princess of Wales Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Joan Marcus"]}]]   The Bodyguard When bodyguard Frank Farmer starts protecting superstar Rachel Marron from a stalker, they both get more than they expected — in the love department. Based on the movie of the same name, this musical includes Whitney Houston power ballads and shirtless male backup dancers. The venue is mostly accessible (visit website for more information). Runs until Sunday, May 14, various showtimes. Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St.  [[asset:image:309185 {"mode":"full","align":"null","field_asset_image_caption":["The Bodyguard runs until May 14, 2017, at Ed Mirvish Theatre."],"field_asset_image_credit":["Courtesy Paul Coltas"]}]] Tuesday, March 28 Tell Me Something Good: What I Wish I’d Known For this edition of the recurring dirty storytelling event, the theme is: what do you wish you had known, sex-wise? Ten to 15 volunteer storytellers stand up and share their fun and naughty stories to a less-than-innocent crowd. This event is sponsored by Come as You Are. The venue is mostly accessible (there are no buttons to open the front door or the accessible washroom door). 7:30–10:30pm. Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. For more info, visit Facebook.   Wednesday, March 29 The Return of the Superlady  An Ontarian lady superhero is tired of fighting both evil and her neurotic family and longs to return to her true home. This comedic play features a woman-on-woman love story and is written by Toronto’s Katie Ford, whose previous work includes writing the film Miss Congeniality. This new work stars Tracey Erin Smith, Christopher Sawchyn, Caitlin Driscoll and Savoy Howe. Runs until Sunday, April 2, various showtimes. The Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen St E.

Out in Vancouver: March 23–29, 2017

22 March 2017 - 9:31pm
Thursday, March 23 TransGathering Community Roundtable TransGathering has a long history of providing support, services and connections to the trans community in our city. Anyone who identifies within the trans community, including friends and family, is welcome to come discuss the group’s needs and direction. The group would specifically like to extend an invitation to trans-identifying black, indigenous and people of colour communities. 5–7pm. Britannia Community Services Centre, 1661 Napier St.   Queenmunity: A Fundraiser For Qmunity Jane Smokr, as usual, is leading the pack; and what a pack it is. A plethora of queens and kings are gathering for a common purpose: to support Qmunity, BC’s queer, trans and two-spirit resource centre. Hosted by Dee Blew and Dust, with tunes by DJ Maxwell Maxwell, the night will come alive with performances of all kinds. With this many queens all in one place there is bound to be a bit of drama, so don’t wait to hear about it around the water cooler. Join in the fun tonight and support a great cause, the growing need for accessible mental health and well-being resources. 9pm–12am. Celebrities, 1022 Davie St. Entrance by donation, minimum donation $7.   Whatever Pool Party After Hours Anything after hours always gets me into trouble, and with “Whatever” in the title I’m bound to lose a few bits of clothing. Doing that at this event would probably get me 10 to 20 in the big house, however, and I don’t mean Joan-E’s place. This event is for the 13–18 LGBT crowd only. Once the pool has closed for the evening the fun really gets going at this after-hours, all-bodies swim which features a water slide, lazy river, hot tub and an inflatable aquatic obstacle course. Please note that parents, guardians, youth workers and other adult allies are welcome and will have access to a comfortable waiting area and refreshments. 10:30pm–12:30am. West Vancouver Aquatic Centre, 2121 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. Photo ID is needed for entry to this free event.   Friday, March 24 Sissy Boy If you think back a few decades ago to when this event took place at the original Odyssey, you may remember how successful and fun it was. Unfortunately, I’m too young to have been there but, luckily for all of us, Carlotta Gurl was, and she’s bringing it all back. Jules was the original DJ and, although he left us a few years ago, there is a smaller, hairier and gingerier DJ taking his place. DJ Gingerbear Todd will provide the tunes for dancing and performances by Mina Mercury, Mandy Kamp, Miss M, Alabama and the old doll herself Carlotta Gurl. It’s a night of bumping mixes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s with some sassy and sultry performances by the queens who reigned over the city then. 9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 W Hastings St. Cover $5.   Saturday, March 25 Coronation 46 Ball The night is finally here! It’s like the Oscars for drag queens, but without Jimmy Kimmel. If you are looking for pomp and circumstance with a few drag performances thrown in, then this is the night for you. Between the introduction of every court in the free world, and more speeches than Trump at a KKK gathering, you’ll have more than enough time for chit chat with your friends in the audience. One of the highlights this year is De De Drew’s 37-year walk, which is about how long it takes to get through the crowd to the bar. If you have never been to a coronation, you should go at least once or lose your gay membership card.  5pm—late. Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright St, Granville Island. Tickets $45 in advance at Top Drawers, 809 Davie St and Little Sister’s 1238 Davie St. $55 at Door.   Shaping Sound Under the artistic direction of Emmy Award winner Travis Wall, and co-created with Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson, this electrifying mash-up of jaw dropping dance styles and musical genres is brought fully to life on stage by a dynamic company of contemporary dancers. The men formerly associated with So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars bring their considerable acumen and choreographic charm, infused with a refreshing intelligence, into a smart blend of television, stage and screen dance. An evening not to be missed. 8pm. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 650 Hamilton St. Tickets $51–$93 at or online at   Loli*Pop: Weeaboo Trash Whenever I see this event I think of the 1960’s hit “My Boy Lollipop,” which always sounded like a gay theme song to me. Come join Ilona and Coco, along with their special guest Dee Blew, to celebrate iconic anime and some of your favourite J-Pop and K-Pop stars. Performances by Anna May, Sherrie Blossom and the big Lollipop himself, DJ Del Stamp. Let them show you how to suck one the right way. 9pm–3am. The Odyssey, 686 West Hastings St. Cover $5.   Divine: Drag Disco Party Get ready for a new Studio 54-style vintage drag and disco party, and bring your furs and skin-tight pants. The headmistress of throwbacks — and throwing a few back — Shanda Leer will host alongside Jef Leppard and Trevor Risk, as well as majestic drag hostesses Cinnamon Winters and Poison Apple. Come dance to disco and extended dance hits the way the sleazy and the bourgeois danced decades ago. 10:30pm–2am. The Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main St. Cover $12 at door.   Sunday, March 26 Vancouver Art and Leisure Pop Up Market The Vintage Handmade Society, in collaboration with Vancouver Art and Leisure, presents a spring market for everyone. Take a look at products including skincare, art, jewelry, pottery, candles, clothing, blankets, vinyl, a tarot booth, live painting and more. 12–6pm. Gallery 1965, 1965 Main St. Admission $2.   Kegger Afternoon Had enough of drag shows and coronation chit chat? Just want an afternoon of hot, sweaty men and a DJ who knows how to party? This is the place to get it all: beer, booze, butts and Bertossi. Can’t go wrong with a combination like that. 1pm. Pumpjack Pub, 1167 Davie St. No cover.   Sleepy Girls 3: Bad Influences Trust me, you do not want to fall asleep at the Sleepy Girls show. Between Carlotta Gurl, Alma B Itches, Sherrie Blossom and Rogue, you don’t know who will be on what part of you when you wake up. If you open your eyes and see a deep, dark tunnel, don’t worry, that’s just Carlotta taking a seat. What corrupted your innocence? Who was involved? Come listen to stories about corruption and general teenage debauchery, told through the art of drag. 8:30pm–12am. Displace Hashery, 3293 West 4th Ave. Cover $10 at door.   Monday, March 27 Answer Me How many guys, when they were young, used to watch wrestling to jerk off at the hot guys getting beat up. Hmmm, looks like just me. Here is a perfect night to put all that useless information to work for you: a night of classic wrestling trivia. WWF, WWE, RAW, WCW, in a room full of men and Shanda Leer. Five rounds with five questions each, no more than five people to a team, and the team with the most points will win first prize, the second team gets second prize, and you get where they’re going with this. 7–10pm. The American, 926 Main St. No cover.   B-Roll: Toy Story The girls are getting sacrilegious with B-Roll’s take on one of the greatest shows of all time, Toy Story. Drag out the box from your parent's attic and get ready to play with your favorite childhood memories, before they’re tainted forever. I can’t wait to see who has a woody. I mean, who is Woody. 9pm–1am. The Penthouse, 1019 Seymour St. Tickets $10 advance online on Facebook or $12 cash at door.    Tuesday, March 28 Anal Play For The Ladies Okay ladies, men can’t be the only ones getting down and dirty. I know you’re interested as well, and here is your chance to find out. Can women enjoy anal play? How do you get started? Presented by Robyn, this workshop and demo will explore anal play for women, and how to help everyone involved have a great time. And yes, there is a live demo. 7:30pm. The Art Of Loving, 369 West Broadway St. Tickets $50 and register online at   Peach Cobblah’s 150th I know after a long weekend of drag the old doll can look 150, but this is actually Peach Cobblah’s 150th Shame Spiral Show. I know, can you believe that sweaty, foul-mouthed, middle-of-the-road train wreck former baddest bitch of East Van turned West End sellout has done her little Tuesday atrocity 150 times? But it’s true, so come on down and celebrate, because you know every queen in town is going to show up and turn one out. 10pm–3am. 1181, 1181 Davie St. No cover.   Magic Mic With all the political Trump-Russia ridiculousness going on, one good thing to happen this year is the comeback of comedy and amateur nights. Come in and turn off your brain. You never know what’s going to happen, so just let it. Hosted by Steev Letts and Oil Maughan, with a roll of comedians, musicians and performance acts. Sign up starts at 7:30pm and pros, amateurs and first timers are all welcome. 7–10pm. The Junction, 1138 Davie St. No cover.   Wednesday, March 29 Slacks Join roommates Jackie and Taylor and their wacky friends as they navigate life, love and other stupidities in these new episodes of Slacks. Written and directed by Jacqueline Korb. Starring Jacqueline Korb, Taylor Stutchbury, Leigh Burrows, Kiri McGuire and Tara Wilson. 8pm. Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Dr. Tickets $18 at the door or online at Show runs Wednesday, March 29 until Saturday, April 1.

Why it may be time for me to kill Mike Miksche (Part 2)

22 March 2017 - 6:31pm
“Your uncle read your column,” my mother said as I watched her stir the lentil soup in the kitchen. “He asked me if I knew the sort of life you lived and whether I read your writing.” My mother was now learning who Mike was — intimately it seemed. But when she mentioned my uncle also knowing the details of my sex life, I blushed red and wiped the sweat from the creases of my forehead. I could only imagine the stories circulating among my extended family.  I began forming my response to her in my head, ready to defend myself. I have nothing to hide! Who cares what anyone thinks anyway?  “I told your uncle that I had read everything that you’d written,” my mother continued. “And I said that if I hear anybody saying anything bad about you, I want nothing to do with them.” I was dazed by the words as I watched her stirring the lentil soup. The metal spoon made a hypnotic sound as it scratched the bottom of the pot. I wanted to respond but felt like I might cry if I even tried to open my mouth. She was extremely close to her family so I knew those weren’t easy things for her to say, to come to my defence. She had never done anything like that before. I just continued to watch her with admiration. Coming out was as difficult as one might expect, given my upbringing. I came from a Muslim, Lebanese household; I used to pray five times a day, went to the mosque on Fridays and would fast every year during Ramadan.  Through a lot of sweat and tears, I eventually found common ground with my parents and we learned to respect one another. I’ve now been out to my family for 18 years.  However, being “out” is one thing; my family reading my column about sex culture and public sex was a whole different thing. It was an entirely new second coming out.  I didn’t think that this coming out needed to be as explanatory as the first; if I died and my mom never found out that I went to sex cinemas and dungeon parties, I would’ve been cool with that. The pseudonym was great for this reason; I could maintain privacy and anonymity — or so I thought.  With the post-9/11 tension, writing under a pseudonym was also a way for me to distance myself from the whole Muslim, Lebanese thing, which has always felt heavy. As with many major religions, homosexuality isn’t seen favorably by Islam. Also, although there is some hope for the future, homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon. I didn’t feel guilty about abandoning my religion or ethnicity because I felt like they had abandoned me by not accepting who I was. It had felt easy for me to turn my back on them.   As my mom continued stirring, she laughed, explaining that she hadn’t actually read any of my work because she feared it wasn’t “mom friendly.” I confirmed that it probably wasn’t, so she asked that I let her know if I ever do write something more appropriate for her to read. For me, it not only meant that she cared about me, but cared about what I was doing with my life and my work. And my uncle? He told her he’d continue to love me no matter what I did. Not all my family was like him though. I slowly learned which ones disapproved by realizing which ones had unfriended me on Facebook.  After that initial falling out with my family over my sexuality early in my gay adult life, I learned that I didn’t need the approval of others to be happy with who I am. At the same time, I had always been close to my extended family growing up before coming out, so I’d be lying to say that it wasn’t nice to have the acceptance from my uncle. My mother jumped onto another subject after that, but ever since that afternoon I’ve thought a lot about our conversation. It made me second guess whether I actually needed to choose between my ethnicity — which I’d always felt had rejected me — and my sexuality, or whether it was even healthy to do so. My Lebanese and gay identities had always felt mutually exclusive, but maybe I was wrong. Although my allegiance is still to the LGBT community, I also find it necessary to stand up for people like my mother or uncle; progressive Muslims and Lebanese folks who have become the targets of the populist movements happening all over the Western world. In doing so, I’m coming to realize that I can be Canadian, Lebanese and gay all at the same time. The more I allow these three pillars of my identity to merge, the more my pseudonym, Mike Miksche, feels unnecessary. One of these days I’ll have to kill poor Mike off, but it’ll be the most fabulous death because I owe the guy a lot.

Community One’s rainbow grants have helped power queer programs and services in the GTA since 1980

22 March 2017 - 12:31pm
Since 1980, the Community One Foundation has been funding vital services and programs in LGBT communities across the Greater Toronto Area, including the Durham, Halton, Peel and York regions. Previously known as the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal Foundation until 2008, Community One has been instrumental in shaping the economic and cultural landscapes of the populations it serves by providing grants to underfunded groups and individuals. The foundation’s rainbow grants provide funding and support in the areas of health and social services, research, education and advocacy, as well as and arts and culture. They are are tailored to meet the needs of underrepresented populations within Greater Toronto’s LGBT communities and are also accessible to groups and individuals without official charitable status. Community One now hopes to cast a wider net and attract a greater number of applicants for its grants before the April 7, 2017, deadline. Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto (NEW) is a settlement agency that provides support and resources to immigrant women and their families and was a rainbow grant recipient in 2016. The funds allowed the non-profit to hire 20 youth to research and design a queer-positive curriculum for its free English language program. NEW’s executive director Maya Roy says the rainbow grant allowed the organization to facilitate a positive space for queer youth and made the organization attractive to other donors. “The idea was that we would hire self-identified queer, newcomer youth to develop a curriculum for our [English as a Second Language] school that we have. It allowed us to fundraise matching money,” Roy says. “So, when a community funder like Community One says they believe in you, then other people get interested and excited about the project, especially about having queer youth actually write ESL curricula.” NEW was able to offer the new recruits intensive training in communications and research, providing them with important job skills. “It was pretty amazing in the sense that I wrote the grant and got it out of the way and they just took the ball and ran with it. I came back for the graduation dinner and was listening to the young people talk about how important it was to have these kinds of spaces.” Roy says. “They also went to Glad Day and the [Canadian] Lesbian and Gay Archives to get a sense of how we are documenting our history and our community.” Throughout its decades-long history, Community One has not only provided crucial funding to community heavyweights like the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Black Lives Matter and the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, but has also focused on funding individuals and groups who face further marginalization within LGBT communities across the the Greater Toronto Area. Community One board member Steven Solomon says focusing on community groups and individuals who continue to face financial obstacles is part of Community One’s mandate. “In terms of queer, trans, ethno-specific agencies, we’re looking to support their efforts to meet the needs, again, of a variety of diverse populations within populations. From health and social services to arts and culture,” Solomon says. “So, looking at the diverse communities within communities, that’s what we do.” Rainbow Grant applications are open until April 7, 2017. Registered charities or groups trusteed by a registered charity are eligible for foundation rainbow grants, available for up to $7,500. General rainbow grants are available for up to $1,500 and are open to groups or individuals without charitable status. The RBC community rainbow grant, created in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, is available to a registered charity for up to $10,000.