Gay Living TORONTO
Simple Winter Looks All Guys Can Pull Off Beat the Cold with Hot Toddyâ€™s
Top Gay Movies for the Holidays
A Brief Lesbian Encounter Man Crush
DEC 2016 / JAN 2017 GayLiving.ca | 1
Photographer: Kareen Mallon
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O T E V O L U O Y E S O H T D TREAT YOURSELF AN THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. G IN Z A M . A U G O Y IN H R T O E F M E V A SO H E W S A E ID T IF G T A E R G E H T L L E ON IN AND SEE A
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GayTORONTO Living ISSUE #4 December 2016 / January 2017
firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Matkai Burmaster
HEAD OF PHOTOGRAPHY Adam Zivo
LIFESTYLE EDITOR Andrew McArthur
EVENT PHOTOGRAPHERS Adam Zivo Alex Roberts Brian Lawrence Greg Rola Sarah Nesbitt
COMMUNITY COLUMINST Joey Viola WOMENâ€™S COLUMNIST Sarah Nesbitt
DESIGNERS Matkai Burmaster Revel Papernick
DIVERSITY COLUMNIST Andre Goh ON THE COVER Phil Mahar by Adam Zivo
Gay Living Magazine Toronto is published 6 times per year by Plexik Creative Inc. DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Alex Roberts CREATIVE DIRECTOR Matkai Burmaster PUBLISHER Plexik Creative Inc. 1-888-979-4525 plexik.ca TO ADVERTISE IN GAY LIVING MAGAZINE Alex Roberts 1-888-979-4525 ext. 4505 email@example.com
GayLiving.ca @GayLivingMedia 4 | Gay Living Magazine
SPECIAL THANKS Chris Veight Unsplash
QUEER CHOICE AWARDS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017 THE AWARDS CEREMONY @ THE 519
Hosted by Adamo Ruggiero
the After Party With DJ Hector Fonsecca
CEREMONY AT 8:30PM $15 ADVANCE
AT THE MEN’S ROOM Tickets on sale Dec 15
$20 AT DOOR Proceeds support The 519.
11PM-LATE $20 ADVANCE
AT THE MEN’S ROOM Tickets on sale Dec 15
$25 AT DOOR
VOTING ENDS DEC 31 QueerChoiceAwards.ca @QueerChoiceTO GayLiving.ca | 5
Get Well Soon, World Joey Viola
Resident Community Columnist @joeypurple With 2016 coming to end, it may be hard to look back at this year with enthusiasm, especially when we’re seeing legitimate safety concerns for anyone who isn’t a Christian, White, Cis-gendered, Straight male living in the Western World. Following Donald J. Trump’s presidential election victory, there is a genuine worry about digression for LGBTQ civil rights. North American minorities have been subject to the highest level of prejudice I’ve seen in my 30 years here on Earth and this all feels like a bad dream we cannot wake up from. Throughout the United States of America, across the pond in the UK and Europe, and yes, here at home in Canada, LGBTQ and/or POC communities have been subjected to a new wave of verbal, physical, and sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. The truth is that prejudice is alive and well, it always has been, and it’s the - dare I say - boisterous encouragement from President Elect Donald J. Trump that has white supremacists (and minority bandwagoners like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Carson) making racist, sexist, and homo/xeno/transphobic people feel comfortable with expressing their intolerance (and in many cases, bigotry). They’re loud and proud about it; hate speech is too-comfortably running rampant. Hundreds if not thousands of hateful and discriminatory acts have been reported and/or shared online in 2016. Here at home in Canada, an Ottawa elementary school saw a brick wall defaced with a swastika and the Klu Klutz Klan symbol. It was also in Ottawa we saw the ATG (Anti-Gay) group make headlines when a member publicly wore a t-shirt promoting his “gang” that read “If you’re gay, Do not approach me, I’ll kill you”. Toronto has had its fair share of controversy and prejudice this year as well: the divide of a community at Pride following the Black Lives Matter demonstration, the “Project Marie” Police crackdown on men “soliciting sex” in an Etobicoke park, and Anti-Trump protests (one met with a Pro-Trump rally), just to name a few. With so much negativity surrounding us, its important to stay vigilant and aware. Take precautions. And remember that we are all more alike than we are different. Especially as a community. If
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faced with hate, remember the urge to hate back will be irresistible. Resist it anyway. Fight hate with love. With education and tact. Knowledge is power. And if you’re being cyberbullied, so is the block button. Echoing the #ArtistsForJustice movement, I’d like to share an updated poem I originally wrote in January 2015. I find to be as relevant now as it was then, if not more so: Oppressed and distressed On the verge of obsessed We get up, get dressed But get treated as less 2016 and the struggle is real From Ferguson to Syria Orlando and Nigeria Equality seems surreal It’s a global issue we’re passed only a tissue “Move on” you have to just deal Fighting everyday for what they steal Minorities, Majorities, Authorities One love should be the priority Yet we’re segregated and masked Even killed by the stacks - true facts Learning to coexist It won’t happen overnight But with love in our hearts One day we won’t have to fight Treat one another with respect We ALL deserve it We won’t have to riot in the streets Black Lives Matter, it’s time everyone learns it Gay Straight Lesbian or Bi What we do is on our own time Visible minorities shamed on the bus & Gays being beat in the streets is unjust Born Gay, born Black, born Arab or Jew, Nobody’s fates are up to you We are a human family, dysfunctional at best Loving thy neighbour is the ultimate test
Rekindle the Romance with a Gay Holiday Movie
Rent (2005) Matkai Burmaster
Professional Actor • Editor-In-Chief @ThatGuyMatkai Athough I may be a sucker for romance, I’m also an actor, which means that my soul has an embedded love for great films. And, like many of my queer brothers and sisters, I prefer movies that feature LGBT characters in a positive way. Of course, I win the lottery when I find amazing romantic films about LGBT people in love. Here are some of the top three gems that I have found over the years that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside when the snowflakes are falling.
Make The Yuletide Gay (2009)
I am starting off my list with my all-time favourite queer holiday movie that my partner and I watch every year together snuggled up on the couch. The story is about a young gay man, played by Keith Jordan, who goes home for the holiday only to find out that his boyfriend (played by Degrassi star and host of the Queer Choice Awards, Adamo Ruggiero), whom his parents think is his roomate, decided to surprise him and join him for Christmas. Hilarity ensues and in the end, he must decide whether or not he will come out to his family at Christmas and tell them who is boyfriend truly is.
Although not often cosnidered to be a holiday movie, this is a fun film that has some wonderful queer characters and some entertaining music and it technically includes Christmas and New Years in the film (twice!). The film, based off the longstanding Broadway musical of the 90s, follows a group of friends as they struggle to pay rent and yearn for acceptance at a time when HIV & AIDS was rampant and the death toll was significant. Depending on your age, this could either bring back memories or it could be an entertaining way to get a glimpse into what your LGBTQ brothers and sisters before you had to endure. Plus, its a movie that your straight friends won’t mind watching with you.
Breakfast with Scot (2007)
This Holiday gem is one of my favourites and I also think it does a lot for showcasing LGBT parents. I wrote about gay fathers in the previous issue, and it seems that gay parenting is on the rise in our beautiful community. It tells the tale of a gay couple who must provide for a peculiar young child, Scot, whom doesn’t adhere to most of societal norms. It’s a film that celebrates individuality and being yourself in the face of adversity.
Shared Rooms (2016)
This brand new film is about a tribe of friends as they celebrate the holidays. There’s a nudist couple, a couple who wants to have kids, and a guy in love with his roommate. This film is more about friends and love than it is about family, which is somewhat refreshing as it brings a new idea to what a holiday movie can be. Don’t expect a super deep movie (although there are some great thought scenes between the nudist guys and the fathers-to-be); it’s a light-hearted film filled with a plethora of cheesy gay moments to watch with your buddies or your sweetheart.
How to Find Gay Films
LGBTQ films are often less popular than mainstream films and therefore it can sometimes be hard to find. The following are great resources to find gay films to watch.
Adamo Ruggiero & Keith Jordan in Make The Yuletide Gay
• Dekkoo is the “Netflix” of Gay Films. You can stream unlimited films for $10 per month. • FilmDoo is an OnDemand service that lets you pay to rent films for online viewing. • TLA Releasing releasing has a large selection of gay DVDs to rent or buy online.
Featured Photo by Greg Rakozy. Film still by Guest House Films.
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Fashion & Style
Simple Winter Looks All Guys Can Pull Off Model: Stephen Price Photographer: Adam Zivo Stylist: Julie Thomas
Just because itâ€™s Winter, it doesnâ€™t mean you have to hide away and hibernate because you can no longer wear your beach clothes and Pride garb. These effortless looks are easy for all guys to pull off in just a few minutes and will have you looking (and feeling) like you are ready to tackle the world. The key to staying warm and looking great this Winter is by layering pieces, wearing items that fit you well, and choosing colours that work well with your skin tone.
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T he Classic Shirt - Eddie Bauer Pants - Harry Rosen
T he Chill
Jacket - Joe Fresh Sweater - United Colours of Benetton Pants - H&M
T he Coy
Shirt - Chaps (vintage) Pants - Leviâ€™s (vintage) GayLiving.ca | 9
Food & Drink
Beat the Cold with Hot Toddy’s
and definitely soothes a sore throat. This is the one cocktail that is ‘doctors orders.’ Although, do show some restraint, the Hot Toddy is NSFW.
Sommelier • Lifestyle Editor I may be alone in this, but I love this time of year. It’s dark early, the air is chilled and at night the streets seem much brighter. There’s a romance to this time when everyone is bundled up and always in the pursuit of staying warm. While scarves and gloves are among my favourite wardrobe accessories, I prefer to keep warm from the inside-out. Enter, the Hot Toddy. Warm boozy cocktails that are so pleasant when the air turns bitter and fireplaces move from campfire pits to indoor hearths. Ask 7 bartenders how they make a Hot Toddy and you’ll get 7 different recipes. That’s the beauty of it, it’s versatility, and you can really make it your own. After consulting many recipes, I decided upon this one from my friend and bad-influence drinking buddy Tania. Use this recipe as a base formula and then experiment with different combinations. Me, I often swap Collingwood whiskey for the Spice Box which will give it less spice and more of a clean toasty vanilla flavour. Lot 40 is a great rye that is agreeable in cocktails but if you only have Wisers or Crown Royal, that will do fine. The Hot Toddy, although a cold weather favourite is also at its heart medicinal. The combination of dark sprits, lemon and honey makes short work of knocking out some of your common cold symptoms
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Perhaps my favourite hot cocktail is the Blueberry Tea. Blueberry tea is suspiciously lacking in blueberries. I will not comment on this oversight as it’s beyond me. However, Grand Marnier’s orange and cognac infusion paired with amaretto’ nuttiness and earl greys bergamot florality makes for one of the most appetizing warm beverages one can imagine. It’s at once soothing and energizing, the perfect after dinner libation. Sweet, but powerful. If you have the time and you really want to indulge, I’ve included the below recipe for what is basically a hot version of a dark and stormy. This recipe is compliments of my friend mark, who went full-blown research and development on this drink. Mark is one of the cities most accomplished bartenders, a lover of jazz music, and at approximately 5 years my senior, he has a hairline I’d kill for. Like most cocktail recipes, think of this as merely a starting point. Measurements are intentionally vague and you should substitute ingredients based on what you have in the home and have fun with it. Embrace the cold weather ahead. Unless you’ve got a place to retreat to in the south you’re stuck here like me. Maybe it’s the eight years I spent in remote northern Ontario, but there are always little hacks to get you through this season, and none are more fun or socially oriented than consumption of Hot Toddy’s. Pair these recipes with roaring fires and rousing games of strip poker and it’ll be spring before you know it!
Try oneof our delicious Hot Toddy recipes. CLASSIC TODDY 1.5 oz Lot 40 Rye 0.5 oz Spice Box spiced whisky 0.5 oz lemon juice 1 cinnamon stick 1 star anise 3 cloves 1/2 orange wheel 1/2 lemon wheel Top up with hot water Add honey to taste
DARK & STORMY • Lightly toast spices (star anise, cinnamon, walnuts, dried chipotle) • Add cloves to a whole lemon. Basically you push the cloves into the lemon skin until the whole lemon is clove-studded • Peel and chop pear into large pieces • Chop ginger • Add all ingredients into a pot with pear juice, just enough that ingredients are mostly submerged • Add preserved pear and the juice it is bottled with, a few generous spoonfuls • Bring the pot to a boil and skim the top layer of sludginess that surfaces. The goal now is to reduce this mixture
BLUEBERRY TEA 1.0 oz Grand Marnier 1.0 oz Amaretto 1 cinnamon stick 1 orange twist Top up with Earl Grey tea
Tell us what you think
Post a photo of your Hot Toddy on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag @GayLivingMedia
• Once reduced to half or less of its original volume of liquid, let simmer for an hour and then turn off the stove and let sit covered overnight. Be sure to remove the clove studded lemon to avoid too much bitterness. What you are left with the next day is the base for your Hot Toddy. Warm the the pot but do not boil. Ladel into a glass mug and add the booze of your choice. I would recommend a dark or spiced rum, or perhaps The Kraken, a rum both dark and spiced. If the heat level isn’t to your liking, there is a fantastic ancho chile liqueur available at LCBO called Ancho Reyes. This can be added to the pear and spice mixture directly or sparingly in each mug.
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Phil Mahar @philnordykd
FOR WORK Men’s Sales Associate at Nordstroms ZODIAC SIGN Leo
“ Well, here’s the thing... ”
HOBBIES Singing, dancing, and drinking beer CELEBRITY DATE Conor McGregor IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY Invest in properties around the world AN IDEAL DATE Going to an Italian restaurant GUILTY PLEASURE Chocolate Chip Cookies DREAM BOYFRIEND A guy with a job FEELING SEXY IN My harness YOUR HERO My best friend Steph DREAM VACATION Backpacking through Europe. FIND HIM AT The Black Eagle
Wanna be the next Man Crush?
Use hashtag #SteamworksManCrush on your sexy Instagram and Twitter photos and you could be Toronto’s next heartthrob! Photography by Adam Zivo adamzivo.com
Presented by GayLiving.ca | 13
COMING AUGUST 2017
fetishfairtoronto.com @fetishfairto 14 | Gay Living Magazine
Queen on Fire
Ala Mode the time. I feel like that’s what makes me different.
What or who inspires you as a drag queen?
Photo & Film Professional • Head of Photography @AdamZivo
How did you get into drag?
It was actually during a fundraiser for a local chapter of an international organization called the Imperial Court System. My friend and fellow drag queen Dusty Balfour was finishing up her year as head of the Toronto chapter, and as a fundraiser she gathered some of the boys in the village and turned them into Queens for the night. We then competed. It was hilarious. I lost miserably, but it was fun and for a good cause.
How has the meaning of drag evolved for you over your career? When I first began performing it wasn’t nothing more than that, I just wanted to hit the stage and dance around in a cute outfit. As I’ve aged, and with the help and wisdom of many great Queens like my drag mother Candice Kelly, I’ve learned that I’m not only an outlet for those who do not have one or are just not ready to fully express themselves yet -- we queens as a sisterhood are looked to for guidance. I’m glad in this day and age to have other great activists, like the ones who fight for trans and minority rights, standing beside us. At the end of the day it’s the responsibility of every person in this community to stand up and stand together.
What makes you different as a drag queen?
Every queen I come across is different in her own way, but I’ve always believed in the idea of paying it forward. Kindness was always shown to me throughout my life and it always gave me such a positive disposition and a sense of fearlessness. Have you ever experienced an act of great kindness? Remember how it made you feel? My thought is why wouldn’t you want to share that feeling all
Photography by Adam Zivo
Joy. Plain and simple. If I can bring a smile to someone’s face, I’ve done my job.
What do you see yourself doing with drag in the future and why?
This is a tough one. Drag is always changing and evolving. I always want to be there evolving with it. Many people forget that it is an art form, therefore it is objective. I love the idea of seeing what drug will be like twenty years down the line and how it will have affected me and my drag.
What were your most memorable performances and why?
Honestly, they don’t know it, well I guess they will now, but my two biggest idols in the drag community are Devine Darlin and Scarlett BoBo, strictly because they are unapologetically themselves. I remember the first time I got to perform with each of them. I remember everything about those shows. The craziest thing is that these two amazing Queens are now two of my closest friends! I love them like sisters.
What are the greatest obstacles you’ve overcome through or as a result of drag?
Being able to look myself in the mirror and be happy! Drag has allowed me to see places and meet people who have changed my life. From the girls in Ottawa who taught me it was okay to cry on stage because there would be a bottle of root beer float vodka waiting at the house (thanks Jill), to places like garage, Woody’s, and the MoJo boys at FML who showed me how great I could be, and my lifelong friends who are always there when I need an ear, and the trailblazing queens I’ve met and befriended on the Court Circuit. This community is capable of great things and I am so proud to be a part of it.
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Home & Finance Everyone Can Invest
Private Markets vs Public Markets
Investment & Diversification Professional If you have been looking for respectable returns on your investments, the last decade has probably been quite disappointing. The stock market has been volatile, mutual fund fees are expensive and interest rates have remained low for years. Chances are that you may be looking for different investment products that can offer predictable, high returns. Mortgage investments are a great alternative for investors who want to take advantage of the continuing Canadian real estate boom and receive a strong return on their investment. Mortgage investments offer an opportunity for the average investor to get involved in commercial real estate and larger residential development projects. Investors may reap the financial benefits of passive mortgage lending without having to be an expert in the real estate market. Historically, mortgage lending has been dominated by the big banks who have the ability to loan real estate developers the large sums of capital required to finance the construction of real estate developments. The average individual investor simply could not participate in these investment schemes. With mortgage investments however, investors can come together in the pre-construction phase to finance highly profitable real estate development projects. A Syndicate Mortgage is an instrument that combines the funds of numerous individual investors to create one single mortgage. Rather than one large institutional investor financing a real estate development, individual investors collectively act as the developer’s lender. The minimum investment in a syndicate mortgage for a single investor is $25,000. Property developers will typically use the collective loan for the soft costs to build new homes, town homes, custom homes, condos and commercial property. As an investor in a syndicate mortgage, the investor will receive a return in two ways. Firstly, regular interest payments will be made
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while the project is in progress. This allows for consistent investment income. With Landmark Capital’s development projects, investors will typically receive interest payments of 8% to 12% paid out monthly or quarterly. With the current low interest rate climate, and market volatility these projected returns are difficult to match. When the specific development project is completed and the developer in some cases has sold the units, the principal balance will be paid back to the investor plus the deferred lender fee. Depending on the specific project, the investor’s capital may be returned very quickly. Landmark Capital’s approach is to invest in projects that allow for capital to be returned within two to four years. Syndicate mortgages may therefore be the solution to your overall disappointment with the investment climate in the last decade. Carefully vetted syndicate mortgage products that target promising and profitable real estate developments can serve as an alternative to low interest rate products and the volatile stock market. A syndicate mortgage investor will gain the benefit of diversification. An average investor with only modest means to invest can access the lucrative real estate development industry. The advantage of pooling your investment with other investors means that you can share in the financial benefits of pre-construction lending. As well, unlike mutual funds, syndicate mortgages do not involve expensive management and administrative fees. Such fees can significantly reduce the value of an investor’s returns. With the prevailing low return environment. A syndicate mortgage product allows investors to retain a greater portion of their return through lower fees. Finally, an investor in a syndicate mortgage does not need to develop extensive expertise in the area of real estate investing, making it the perfect passive investment. With their numerous advantages, syndicate mortgages are promising investment product for investors who are disenchanted with traditional investment products. If you are looking for a an alternative investment vehicle, a syndicate mortgage may be right for you.
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A Brief Lesbian Encounter “You don’t wear this in public do you?!”
Resident Women’s Columnist It’s laundry day and as a lesbian who teeters in between a lipstick and a chapstick lesbian (more on that later) I always get looks and sometimes comments about my skivvies. What it boils down to? Men’s briefs are more comfortable, better made and not covered in lace, flowers and they’re not PINK! A few years back, a drag queen friend had forgotten her lady panties. She was wearing a dress for her next performance and wanted to look ‘appropriate.’ I lived close to the bar and she asked if I could run home and fetch a pair of my underpants for her to borrow to wear under her dress. I started to laugh, lifting my shirt slightly with one hand and pulling up the waistband of my briefs. “Chrissakes! You’re such a lesbian!” She replied, laughing as well and she resigned herself to the fact she was going panty-less for the next number. I wish the larger underwear and bra manufacturers would design underwear and bras in superhero print! I’d buy stock in Indiana Jones branded bras. Over-the-shoulder Boulder Holders. Get it? Women’s underwear doesn’t have to be pink and covered in lace, or look like a beige torture device. I’m not of the lipstick lesbian ilk. The dresses, the heels, the bags, the hours in the bathroom, the lacy bras. I’m neither the chapstick lesbian, a term coined in the 90s by Ellen Degeneres. Which pretty much describes a soft butch, of casual dress, jeans/slacks, and usually doesn’t wear makeup. I’ve said it before, but I’m more of a, “I can’t find my lipstick” Lesbian. I put on makeup if there’s somebody to impress or if I have an extra 20 minutes to spare. There’s no middle ground. If I can’t be bothered, I won’t, as the drag queens say, bother to ‘put on a face.’ This also covers things like dresses and heels. I used to own one dress and I was quite proud of that fact, until one of my GBFs (Gay Best Friend) found it in my closet and confiscated it.
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It was a long flowing polyester number. A blue and white ‘crinkle cotton’ sundress with a scoop neck and no shape. “I wore it to my brother’s wedding, my grandmother’s wake and best part is I can wear sandals with it and I don’t have to wear heels.” I said proudly. My friend’s face was aghast. “You didn’t! I’m burning it!” He squeaked. It was my own, ‘What Not To Wear.’ Moment. It got donated during a needed closet clean and I now one two dresses. Both simple, one little black dress with a scoop neck and a belt, a little red dress with a v-neck and a belt. Yes, I know. Scandalous! I don’t wear them to the bar as a general rule. I like being comfortable and so jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers are my go-to. Plus wearing dresses usually requires heels and seeing that I sprain ankles while wearing sneakers, putting me on my tiptoes is never a good idea. I usually get the bad idea to buy a pair of heels when I’ve been hired to photograph a gala or a wedding. ‘I’m wearing a dress, I should wear heels.’ I tell myself while trying on each death-shoe at the Payless. I wobble around the store a bit, decide to buy them and then end up wearing my flats I had rolled up in my camera bag. Heels are good in theory. Unless of course you don’t want drastic motion blur as when the photo is snapped and I’m hurtling towards earth. I admit, I do own one pair of heels, Doc Marten heeled boots and if you’re gonna wear a dress, punk rock is never a bad way to go. Then there’s Sport Dykes: Loud, into sports and can commonly be found at sports bars glued to SportsNet and doing shots with her team-mates. Depending on where you live there’s the elusive Country Dyke. She usually crushes on Martina McBride, wears more flannel than most, and depending on geography, is most likely sporting a mullet. And while Gay men have tops and bottoms, Lesbians have Studs and Pillow Queens, but like the fluidity gender and sexuality spectrum there is always room for change there’s definitely no right way to be a lesbian. My only advice? Wear comfortable underpants.
Photography by Nik MacMillan
Diversity & Inclusion
Equality, Power & Priviledge
Diversity & Inclusion Professional Last year I embarked on a personal journey to acknowledge, identify and learn about my privileges as a man. And in that time, I have come to understand that being a man offers lots of opportunities and access that women, trans, and others don’t get. I learned that being a taller man gave me more opportunities and access when compared to shorter men, women, trans and others. My privileges don’t end there. There are many more – like my ability to speak English with only a tinge of an accent, my ability to write in English, my opportunities to have attended undergrad and graduate schools, my decent looks, my physical abilities … the list goes on and on. In short, I have been gifted with many privileges and competencies, and I now look at the world and others around me using this lens of privilege. I have been humbled by how fortunate I have been and how much of these privileges carry power. I also learned that while I have so much to be thankful for and so much good that has happened in my life, I have also experienced marginalization, subjected to differential treatment, and challenged because of my other characteristics. As a gay Asian man who is an immigrant, labels are placed on me that ‘other’ me. Firstly my orientation keeps me at a distance (while shrinking, still at a distance) in most cultural traditions. I am not the husband with the wife and kids. I am not the man living with his heterosexual family in the suburbs, or in a tradition home. I have to constantly out myself in social and professional situations. When asked if I am married, I say I am separated. And usually the next question is if I have children and who do they live with? The mother or me? In today’s society, hetero normative narration is still the assumed reality. While I may not be asked if I am gay or straight, I am assumed straight first before I am assumed to be gay. This ‘othering’ is like a reminder that I am not part of the norm, that I am different from most people. My Asian-ness is also a barrier. In almost all social events, I am one of a few non-white individuals in a sea of Whites. Whether it is an LGTBQ event or a straight event, I am always reminded that I look different. Not so much that anyone would comment on my
Photography by Olu Eletu
Asian-ness, but conversations always come around to where am I from, “No, which part of the world is my background?” There is more to me than my Asianness, “my mystique”, my “sexy eastern charms” or my “beautiful black hair”. That I am Asian, I have fewer privileges in the LGBTQ world and in the world at large. The default in Toronto’s LGBTQ communities continue to be gay white men. Whether it is assumed leaders, role models, ideal gay male or ability to attract other gay men; gay white males continue to be the assumed ideal. And I have been shouting for decades that this perception creates unspoken hierarchies of individuals and communities in our LGBTQ communities. And yet, the silence (whether agreeing with me or disagreeing with me) is always louder. Another privilege that is denied to me is my immigrant status. While I have lived in Canada for over three decades, it continues to play a role in how I am ‘othered’. Never intentionally and never in a mean way; just a reminder that I am not a ‘real’ Canadian. And this topic comes up over and over again. While I am proud of my heritage and culture, these are not the only things about me. On rare occasions it is I who brings up my heritage, my place of birth and my culture. More often than not, I am asked “Where was I born”, “Where do I come from”, “Which part of Asia am I from”, or my favourite, “You have such exotic features, I wonder where they come from?” Sometimes, I have clever answers to these questions, but mostly, I try to ignore them and turn the questions around. It is difficult to get someone who has not experienced a lifetime of being ‘othered’ to understand how demeaning, frustrating and belittling it can be. It is never the overt comments or gestures that are difficult to deal with. It is the constant, subtle, and inaccurate assumptions that have created a lifetime of barriers for me, a gay Asian man. In love, I am ideal if only I were white. In work, I am ideal if only I were straight. In social settings, I am ideal if only I really, really knew what it is like to grow up in Canada. When our communities talk about equality, equity and inclusion, it is difficult to see myself as part of that equation. In most cases, women and men like me are after thoughts, to be included but not really! Our voices are assumed to be the voices of ‘those people’, and not the voices of all the people in our communities. And so it begs the question, “How inclusive is our LGBTQ communities of the diverse voices, perspectives and opinions if we continue to see and make our default leaders gay white men?”
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wish to change body type. Transsexual is simply the fact, as male or female entities, probably from birth, the person feels they have been in the wrong body. In essence, they feel nature has screwed up.
Ask Jeff How Do I Support my Trans friend?
Jeff Reynolds Psychotherapist
Brady, 17, asks
“I have a friend who told me that he is trans (is go-
ing to become a girl) and I want to know how to support him. It seems to be very hard time for him and I’m wondering what I can do to help him through it. I’m gay and I think it’s why he came to me for help.” Hey Brady, It is often said sex is a matter of the body, while gender occurs in the mind. I admire your strength and fortitude as a friend. Your warmth and compassion will be the first building block to help him/her in journey. Now you only say ‘trans’ and ‘going to become a girl’? Transsexual is different from transgender. A transgendered person might be, say, a hockey player who feels he plays a better game wearing panties underneath. Enjoys being whatever gender he/she is but gains freedom and contentment by exploring their other side (Watch the movie ‘Tootsie’ with Dustin Hoffman, and you will understand what I mean). Gender is not a sexual act but a state of emotional/ mental well-being. All people have a male and female side to them. Identification of being straight, gay, lesbian, etc. all are based on who we enjoy sex with. Female to male, male to male, female to female. There is no
I am going to take the ‘wants to be a girl’ as he/she wanting to physiologically change from male parts to female. (Depending on where in the transition he/she is, your pronoun use will be important to her). The worst thing will be her frustration at how long the transition takes. I make the conclusion she has already consulted with a good doctor, therapist, support group (if not these steps should be first on agenda). Help her to seek additional resources (check The 519 Community Centre for group references). Last and most importantly, be informed. Read up, ask, and research what exactly it takes to go from a male body to female body. She will need help in not only the physical hormonal but mental and emotional changes. Sex changing is a very step by step process, involving a TEAM of people. Your job here is NOT to be her doctor, group, etc. Don’t answer questions that need a professional hand. Don’t be her therapist. Your job here is to encourage, calm, and lighten the journey while, at the same time, basically holding her hand through the bad parts to the better. I’m smiling. You are gay. By far you understand being true to yourself is the peace and happiness of being finally whole. Go with her to look at new clothes, tell her the best cut of hair that suits her, accessories, etc. Help her have fun as her new self! Lastly, empathize, but also maintain your own life. Don’t get eaten up by hers. There is a saying I use to remind myself to be a good therapist while helping people. Hopefully you will follow it: Help her get the train on the right track, BUT DO NOT get in the train with her! Well Brady, hope this has helped you in some way to help your friend – and you. Cheers, Jeff
Have a question to Ask Jeff?
Email your question along with your first name and your age to firstname.lastname@example.org 542 Church St (416) 519-9302 fresh-burger.com
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