JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2018
CANADIAN LGBTQ ARTISTS POISED TO DO BIG THINGS IN 2018 A GLOSSARY OF LGBTQ+ TERMS YOU SHOULD KNOW
RUSSELL TOVEY IS PLAYING GAY AND PROud 1
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January / February 2018
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PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo FASHION DIRECTOR Danyl Geneciran SENIOR WRITER Paul Gallant CONTRIBUTORS Maxwell N. Burnstein, Alexis Coronado, Josephine Cruz, Christian Dare, Colin Druhan, Adriana Ermter, Ruth Hanley, Courtney Hardwick, Karen Kwan, Orlando Lopez, Lynn Lu, Herson Nebaya, Anton Patdu, Michael Pihach, George Pimentel, Heather Pollock, Al Ramsay, Robin Reynolds, Jumol Royes, Argie Salango, Adam Segal, Doug Wallace, Ashley L. Williams, Casey Williams DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS MANAGER Bradley Blaylock CONTROLLER Jackie Zhao
January / February 2018
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After a long, controversial mail-in vote ended with overwhelming support, the Australian Parliament voted to officially legalize marriage equality on December 7, 2017. The historic vote made Australia the 26th country to legalize gay marriage
issue 80 January / February 2018
06 | They’re Called The Balm For A Reason Thicker than your average lotions and creams, hardworking multi-purpose balms are your winter skincare staple
07 | Nothing But Love For Call Me By Your Name Critics and audiences continue to applaud the exquisite gay coming-of-age film
12 | Our Stories On Our Terms Each member of the LGBTQ community has a story, but every individual has the right to decide for themselves whether or not it needs to be told 13 | Moving For Love Can our relationship survive a move to a new city? 15 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit
Hollywood career outside of the closet 28 | The Most Gag-Worthy Moments From The Cast Of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 Looking back at the “charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent” that was brought to the Drag Race stage 30 | Beyond Intimate A rare encounter with Canadian photographer Christopher Sherman 44 | Hollywood’s Sexual Predators Remind Us of a Scary Reality There’s something about growing up LGBT that puts us at a much higher risk of being sexually exploited
08 | Get Healthier Now 5 simple to-do’s to become a healthier you
16 | A Glossary Of LGBTQ+ Terms You Should Know Labels matter. So make sure you’re using the right one
09 | Ontario Limits Criminal Prosecutions For HIV Non-Disclosure Good news for people with undetectable viral loads
18 | Hanging Out In The Conservative Closet Spending time outing ‘closeted’ homophobic right wingers actually does more harm than good for ‘The Cause’
09 | 50 Shades Of…What? BDSM is a growing interest, thanks to books like Fifty Shades of Grey—but what is BDSM?
20 | In Sync With Synchronicity What it is, how to harness it and what role “meaningful coincidences” play in our lives
10 | Extreme Cowboy Pickups Yeehaw! Full-size pickup trucks that look good, and work hard
21 | Canadian Artists To Watch In 2018 A handful of the LGBTQ artists poised to do big things in the new year
34 | BLOCK ROOM The colourblock trend has been around for a while—but lately it’s been cropping up in creative new ways
24 | Russell Tovey Is Playing Gay And Proud The actor continues to take on gay roles— and to prove you can have a successful
40 | SURREAL SZECHUAN Bold. Spicy. Over-the-top. Szechuan-centric styles leave a lasting impression
11 | Be Ready For The New Year Here’s how to get your finances in order for 2018
46 | Island Pride The inaugural Caribbean Pride dishes out men, margaritas and mermaids in the Dominican Republic 50 | FLASHBACK A gay anthem entwined in thoughts of death and departure is born
l o o k ing g o o d
They’re Called The Balm For A Reason
Thicker than your average lotions and creams, hardworking multi-purpose balms are your winter skincare staple By Adriana Ermter
We’re Canadians, proud of our manners, thank you very much; our Rocky Mountains, great lakes and rolling prairies; our beerpong-worthy loonie and toonie; and our ability to tough it out (in Sorel boots and Canada Goose parkas, of course) through months of winter’s snow and ice. Regulars at outdoor ice rinks, on cross-country trails and down black diamond slopes, you’d think our layers of plaid flannel and wool mittens would keep us immune to dry skin. They don’t. “In the winter, the biggest skin adversaries are a drop in humidity, the wind and the cold temperature,” affirms Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist and the founder of DKL On Avenue in Toronto. “Inside, our biggest problem is forced-air heating. All of these factors contribute to transepidermal [through the skin] water loss, and flakier or drier skin.”
January / February 2018
With all of our frosty bluster and frozen delights, parched, raw, irritated red skin is the Canuck norm and remains our winter downfall. It also explains our obsession with balms.
Sometimes referred to as salves and almost always waxy in texture, most balms are a mixture of oils, waxes and butters. Once emulsified between your palms and rubbed onto your face and body, or even your hair, both your epidermis (the outer surface layer of your skin) and dermis (the inner layer of your skin, which you can’t see or touch) easily absorb the formulations. Typical ingredients include antioxidants, panthenol and glycerine, which moisturize the skin without leaving an oily residue and work to heal cuts and scars. Arnica, madecassoside and peptides cool, soothe and tighten, providing relief from psoriasis, eczema, bruises, stretch marks and even burns. Humectants and emollients—like honey, vitamin E, petrolatum and salicylic acid—lock moisture into the skin, particularly on calloused areas like palms and feet. “Honey was commonly used by the Egyptians for its antibacterial benefits to help with wound care not only for its rich occlusive properties, but for the vitamins and amino acids contained,” adds Veeder. And fan favourites—such as shea concentrate, beeswax, aloe vera, coconut oil and cocoa seed butter—nourish, hydrate and protect.
Thicker than your average lotions and creams, hardworking multi-purpose face and body balms are a winter skincare staple. “All balms are geared towards helping compromised skin,” says “They form a protective barrier on top of the skin to decrease tran- Veeder. “They are multi-tasking, transformative treatment products sepidermal water loss and to hydrate the skin,” explains Dr. Kellett. that simplify your beauty routine. No wonder the words healing and Cleopatra is attributed to have used the first incarnation (circa 40 care are so commonly associated with the idea of a balm.” BC), slathering herself from head to toe in a concoction made of beeswax, olive oil and animal fats…and rumours still swirl about Use these favourites from head to toe all winter long: Burt’s Bees original formulation for lips (does it truly contain earwax?). The current popular balms are favoured for quick-fixing Captain Blankenship Anchor Balm, $28.50, available at Sephora everything from chapped skin, cracked hands and dry elbows and stores heels, to healing eczema. La Roche-Posay Cicablast Baume B5, $16, available online at www.laroche-posay.ca “One of balm’s best qualities is that it’s one-size-fits-all,” says Glossier Mint Balm Dotcom, $15, available online at www. Mark Veeder, co-founder of Farmacy Skin Care in New York glossier.com City. “It can address a variety of skin concerns and issues on all Farmacy Sleep Tight Firming Balm, $63, available at Sephora stores skin types for all ages, including infants with irritated bottoms Farmacy Honey Savior All-in-One Skin Repair Salve, $44, or diaper rash.” available at Sephora stores 6
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
fi l m
Nothing But Love For Call Me By Your Name Critics and audiences continue to applaud the exquisite gay coming-of-age film
Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star in Luca Guadagnino’s gay triumph
Call Me By Your Name has been receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and is now one of the favourites to win the Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars.
Guadagnino, who directed I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015), sees Call Me By Your Name as the conclusion of a trilogy, although its links with its predecessors are tenuous: the first film involved a wild affair, the second a charged summer in an Italian villa.
The universal praise for the coming-of-age film is undeniably warranted. Luca Guadagnino’s film, which adapts André Aciman’s 2007 novel about precocious 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falling in love with his father’s 24-year-old graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer), is truly exquisite.
Despite the intended connections, Call Me By Your Name is a film that stands on its own and is blazing a gilded path to the Oscars. At the time of press, the two actors have earned nods from the HFPA, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Film Independent Spirit Awards, while the film itself has landed on year-end lists from the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review — two key Oscar foretellers.
The film takes place in the early 1980s in a charming Italian village and charts Elio and Oliver’s relationship, which develops haltingly at first but then burns brightly. “What do you do around here?” Oliver asks Elio while touring the village where he will be living for the next six weeks. “Wait for the summer to end,” the seemingly bored Elio says. “And what do you do in the winter? Wait for the summer to come?” Oliver shoots back. The line only gets a chuckle from Elio, but that line captures the initial mood of the two characters perfectly.
Another Oscar predictor? In December, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated both stars for Golden Globe awards. Chalamet was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, while Hammer was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. The film was also nominated for Best Picture in the Drama category. The film’s much-praised director Luca Guadagnino missed out on the Best Director nomination.
It’s a beautiful story about the power of first love—one that stays with you long after you leave the cinema. More importantly, it’s also a story of queer love and genuine attachment that isn’t tinged with death and tragedy.
If Call Me By Your Name makes it to the Oscars and wins Best Picture, it would be the second year in a row that an LGBT-themed film nabbed Oscar’s biggest prize, following on from Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight’s slightly befuddled triumph in 2017. 7
H E A L T H & W E LL N E S S
Get Healthier Now 5 simple to-do’s to become a healthier you By Karen Kwan
January / February 2018
Sometimes following all those resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle can seem like a huge task. Committing to working out regularly is, of course, good for you, but getting yourself to the gym or outside to exercise several times a week calls for a big shift—even just getting started can be a major hurdle. While you most definitely should set big goals and commit to improving your well-being, taking baby steps can also put you on the road to success. So we’ve rounded up some top health experts to get their tactics. Tackle one suggestion until it’s become part of your regular routine. Then move on to adding the next one. Before you know it, these steps will be a habit, and you’ll be reaping the reward: a healthier lifestyle. 1. Eat more fibre Besides keeping you regular, getting enough fibre in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Men under 50 years old need 38 grams daily (women need 25 grams every day). Toronto-based holistic nutritionist Pamela Santaluce has two super-simple ways to incorporate more fibre into your diet. Top your yogurt, oatmeal or salads with two tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily; this comes up to four grams of dietary fibre (and also four grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3s). Or do as she does, and have bran cereal for breakfast (her fave is Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran). 2. Replace your plank exercise with a hardstyle plank “Planks are terrific, as they do not require any equipment and can be made more challenging with slight variations to the movement,” says Jennifer Lau, personal trainer and principal of FitSquad Training in Toronto. She suggests swapping five minutes of planking with a 10-second hardstyle plank. “It’s far more effective as it demands complete full-body maximum tension.” If you’re doing it right, it’ll be difficult to hold for more than 15 seconds, she adds. How to do it: Begin on the floor with your forearms under your head and wrists slightly ahead of your eyes. While maintaining a neutral neck, push your heels away from your head 8
and screw your shoulder blades down. To activate the movement, squeeze your glutes as hard as possible, flex your quadriceps and pull your elbows towards your toes. 3. Get 30 minutes more sleep We know, you lead a busy life. But you’re not very productive when you’re exhausted. So set a goal to go to bed earlier, suggests Santaluce, who is also a personal trainer. “Try heading to bed at least a half-hour before your usual time until your body gets accustomed to it,” she says. Once you commit to doing that, you may find it so rewarding to wake up feeling more refreshed that you’ll feel motivated to make it another 30 minutes earlier, until you’ve reached a healthy and manageable number of sleep hours for you. 4. Drink two litres of water every day Your personal hydration requirements are based on both personal needs and your activity level; however, a good guideline, according to the Mayo Clinic, is eight cups of water a day. Heather Gardner, fitness pro and founder of Tribe Fitness in Toronto, recommends her personal trick to drinking a minimum of two litres daily: she has a 30-minute commute to work each day, and drinks one litre on the way to work, and the second litre during her commute home. “It’s a kickstarter for me. I like to divide up my day as a quantifier, setting the goal for at least one litre before lunch and one litre afterwards.” 5. Add a little… Once you’ve gotten into the healthy habit of drinking one litre of water during your morning commute, add a squeeze of lemon to it. “It’s excellent for your metabolism, digestion and for cleansing,” says nutritionist Aly Shoom. Alternatively, she recommends incorporating more cinnamon into your diet. “It helps to balance blood sugar, helping you feel more satisfied and preventing cravings,” says the Toronto-based recipe developer. She suggests sprinkling some onto fresh fruit or adding it to your smoothies.
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
Ontario Limits Criminal Prosecutions For HIV Non-Disclosure Good news for people with undetectable viral loads
have had to both wear a condom and have a suppressed viral load to avoid prosecution for non-disclosure.
Ontario says it will be restricting criminal prosecutions of HIVpositive people who do not disclose their status to sexual partners. The decision comes after the federal government released a report stating that a growing body of evidence shows there is no realistic possibility that an HIV-positive person could transmit HIV if they are on antiretroviral therapy and have had a suppressed viral load for six months.
The province’s attorney general and health minister announced that going forward, Ontario Crown attorneys will no longer be pursuing criminal cases against people who have had a suppressed viral load for six months or more.
Until now, a person who is HIV-positive in Ontario could be charged with aggravated sexual assault—one of the most serious crimes under Canadian law—for not disclosing their status before having sex, and be registered permanently on the sex offender registry, even if their partner didn’t contract HIV. An HIV-positive person would
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Health Minister Eric Hoskins have said in recent years that medical treatment for HIV has advanced significantly to the point that it can be a chronic but manageable condition, and the province’s laws should reflect that.
50 Shades Of…What? BDSM is a growing interest, thanks to books like Fifty Shades of Grey—but what is BDSM? By Ashley L. Williams
Do we have your attention yet? Simply put, BDSM is a variety of erotic practices including bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. The foundation of BDSM is the act of trust: trust from the Submissive, knowing that the Dominant will take care of them. It is an outlet of gaining power and trust for the Dominant, and seeking arousing thrill and praise for obedience for the Submissive. Healthy D/S relationships are extremely important—so before you become involved, here are a few things that you need to know!
The honest policy is the best policy Unless it’s determined beforehand that the Submissive wants the experience to remain a surprise, an introduction to the equipment should be made before anything gets started. They should take a good look around so they can get a feel for what is in store for them. This allows them to voice any concerns, or change their mind before playing. Use this time to also go over any rules that either participant may have once entering a scene. But remember, rules shouldn’t leave any room for interpretation; all rules should be precise and achievable. Discuss rewards and punishments.
Communication is key When a scene is complete, aftercare is just as important as the play Having thorough conversations about comfort zones, limitations, itself. Sometimes, scenes are hard…they can drain both of you. things that you may or may not be interested in doing together, Being part of a good D/S relationship means that you take care of and having consent to play out a scene, are all super important one another. Dominants should make sure they have all of their before becoming involved. Be aware of any triggers a person may Submissive’s favourite comfort items close by, and then reassure have; this can ruin a scene, and the overall experience. If you are them with a cuddle, and soothing conversation. the Submissive, it’s important to know that you hold all the cards. Submission is a gift, not a power the Dominant is entitled to. The Take-away notes Submissive should never feel obligated to do something they are Dominants: not comfortable with. • Respect boundaries and comforts, and remember that communication is everything. If you are the Dominant, pay attention to detail.You should • Give and take; know when to praise and when to punish. be prepared before any scene starts; be consistent. Have your • Leave your day’s frustrations at the door, and always play with Submissive select a safe word that they can use at any time to a positive mindset. Your Submissive is not your punching bag. end a scene. If you’re going to have them restrained and unable Submissives: to speak, they should also have a safe action. This could be a snap • Not everyone is a good Dominant; know who you’re getting of the fingers, or something that you’ll have to look for—but pay involved with. attention, because this could be the line drawn between a healthy Both: D/S relationship and an unhealthy relationship. Remember, your • Pay attention to detail, reaction, movement and safety. • TLC is important. You both deserve it. Submissive is putting all their trust in you to take care of them.
ASHLEY L. WILLIAMS is an essential part of the team at Seduction Love Boutique, being one of two main contributors to the Toronto stores’ marketing department as well as a dedicated sales manager. Seduction has proudly served the community since 1998; follow it on Instagram: @SeductionTO
Extreme Cowboy Pickups Yeehaw! Full-size pickup trucks that look good, and work hard By Casey Williams
There are sexy little urban cowboys who look hot in their chaps…and then there are real-life cowboys who live extreme lives requiring chaps. It’s the same with pickup trucks: some are designed to primp and pose, while others revel in their hard work. Here are four of the latter:
Ford F-150 Raptor Constructed of military-grade aluminum, the Raptor is formidable. It starts with a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine delivering 450 horsepower, and continues to the Terrain Management System that automatically adjusts four-wheel-drive for varying conditions. FOX shocks, wider track, skid plates and long-travel suspension have made it a winner in Baja. If you want extreme cowboying, the Raptor delivers. Base price: $68,899
GMC Sierra HD All Terrain X Just its name sounds menacing, but it has the cojones to back it up. You can get the All Terrain X with a 6.0-litre V8, but go embrace diesel with 445 horsepower and 910 lb.-ft. of torque. Want to tow a condo on wheels? A boat or classic car? No problem! Black 18-inch wheels, body-colour trim, underbody shield and Z71 off-road suspension set it apart. Choose Black Onyx or Summit White paint—glistening with LED lights. Base price: $68,263
January / February 2018
Nissan Titan XD Snow Plow Winter is a real drag, but it helps to have a friend like the Titan XD with the Plow Prep Package. It comes fortified with a 390 horsepower 5.6-litre V8 engine, or Cummins turbo-diesel V8, and plows can be fitted to all body styles. The package includes a heavy-duty suspension. Even without the plowing, Titan XD is an impressive truck with near heavy-duty capabilities within a body deftly designed and luxuriously equipped. Base price: $37,250
Ram Rebel Equal parts Power Wagon and Lil’ Red Truck, Ram Rebel is for the flamboyant and adventurous. Ram’s crosshair grille is replaced by a blacked-out version with “RAM” strewn across. The faux twin-snorkel hood, 17-inch wheels and blacked-out trim add allure. A 5.7-litre HEMI V8 that bellows 395 horsepower, skid plates, height-adjustable air suspension and four-wheel-drive carry it anywhere. WiFi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keep you connected. Base price: $55,195
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews IN MAGAZINE to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
m o ne y $ t y l e
Be Ready For The New Year How to get your finances in order for 2018 By Al Ramsay and Orlando Lopez
Canada’s celebration of its 150th anniversary has now drawn to a close and there is lots to look forward to in 2018 and beyond. Before you know it, it’ll be summer again, and we will be knee-deep in Pride events across the country. A year in review would suggest that 2017 started with much uncertainty but ended positively for the financial markets, the real estate industry and the overall Canadian economy. Because our economy does change from time to time, it is very important to adapt your financial strategies to determine whether a defensive or offensive approach should be adopted. Approach the new year with optimism, while acknowledging potential headwinds. We continue to recommend that you make a plan and stick to it. That plan will depend on a number of factors, including your stage in life. For many, the question for 2018 will be whether to increase their assets (go on the offensive) or reduce their debt (defensive strategy). No matter what you are aiming for, remember: your life plans should drive your financial plan, not the other way around! Trends for 2018 A continuing trend that will impact Canadian households is the rising interest rate—it was increased twice in 2017 and is expected to increase further. This is one reason you may see many Canadians focusing on debt reduction. Tracking helps with planning In our article in the previous issue (November/December 2017), we recommended the use of credit cards such as the TD Cashback or TD Aeroplan card instead of cash, to take advantage of all the benefits they offer during the holiday season. A great complement
to that is the TD MySpend app, which reduces the heavy lifting when it comes to tracking your expenses, because it is essential to have historical data when making a budget. This app sorts all transactions from your bank accounts and credit cards into categories, and highlights when you are spending above or below your average. Accelerate debt pay-down You may have multiple credit products such as a mortgage, a car loan, line of credits and credit cards. So, which one should you focus on if you want to increase payments? A rule of thumb is to focus on those with higher interest rates, smaller balances, or flexible lending terms such as a line of credit (in case an emergency comes up and you need some of that cash back). In other words, have access to credit but get rid of your debts. It all depends on your personal situation. If you have very little savings and investments, for example, then it’s best to start by creating an emergency fund before getting aggressive with your debt repayment. Make 2018 a success Without good implementation, good plans are just that—plans. We have all made fantastic New Year’s resolutions in the past—and we’ve all been there when “the wheels fall off” because we didn’t execute our goals properly. (I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for the past five years!) If you don’t want to suffer the same fate, it’s best to create some accountability for yourself. Meet with a certified financial planner who can create a customized plan based on your unique circumstances. You can start by doing your homework and complete the simple and easy-to-use Self-Discovery tool on TD’s Financially Fit site: https:/readyforyou.td.com.
AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s national manager, LGBTA Business Development, and leads a team of expert advisors dedicated to serving the LGBTA community. For more information or to book a meeting, he can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @AlRamsay_TD. ORLANDO LOPEZ, TD Wealth Financial Planner, is a member of Al’s team of expert advisors supporting the LGBT community.
P r i d e at w o r k
Our Stories On Our Terms Each member of the LGBTQ community has a story, but every individual has the right to decide for themselves whether or not it needs to be told By Colin Druhan
January / February 2018
“What did your parents say when you told them you’re gay?” is just one of the many intrusive questions a lot of gay and lesbian people are accustomed to getting, sometimes from complete strangers. Even within the LGBTQ community, many bisexual people have to confront biphobic lines of questioning about whether their orientation is legitimate, genuine or “just a phase.” Some trans and non-binary people can feel as though their lived identity is not recognized and accepted when they are asked questions about their bodies, medical history or other personal details. Answering questions and telling one’s personal story of coming out or facing discrimination can help guide the questioner to a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQ people, but it’s important to remember the emotional toll this type of sharing can take. “Personal stories of community members are useful for education and advocacy—they can be used to highlight an issue of concern, to make the case for certain policies and to galvanize support,” says Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian charity that helps LGBTQ people escape state-sponsored violence around the world. “It is important, however, that these stories are not exploited, and that there is sign-off from the participants [before the stories are told].” The power of personal stories was made clear on November 28, 2017, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly apologized 12
for the direct and systemic discrimination perpetrated against LGBTQ people by the Government of Canada. Martine Roy’s advocacy over the past few decades, along with the work of many others who faced discrimination, contributed to the Prime Minister’s statement. Roy has been talking about her story since the early 1980s, when she was dishonourably discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces for being gay, despite two years of loyal and effective service. She says that sometimes people need to see how emotionally taxing discrimination can be before they can grasp how it impacts people on an individual basis. “The Prime Minister did read our stories before delivering the apology,” she explains, “to give soul to the story.” Christine Newman, civilian co-chair of the Toronto Police Service LGBTQ2 Community Consultative Committee—the first trans woman to hold the position—uses personal experience with transphobic violence to educate others about the importance of creating inclusive spaces, hoping her stories will change people’s behaviour. Newman, a long-time advocate for LGBTQ and mental health issues, as well as a writer and lecturer, cautions that this might not be the best route for everyone with a story to tell. “You can end up re-traumatizing yourself when sharing those experiences,” she says, but adds that “too many people are dying” for her not to do anything. Sometimes people want more detail than she is willing or able
to disclose, a feeling many LGBTQ people can identify with. In such cases she recommends providing inquiring minds with some perspective, saying, “My story is solely my story. I am not a spokesperson for the community.” It’s important to provide a broader picture that includes statistics such as the extremely high occurrence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidality among trans people, she says. The statistics are known all too well by Giselle Bloch, a Toronto Pflag board member who runs a peer support group for parents and caregivers of trans youth that is hosted by Central Toronto Youth Services. She uses her personal story of being a parent with a trans child to help parents confront their own transphobic biases and prejudices so they are better able to support their kids. “Is it difficult? Yes, sometimes,” says Bloch, but to her the struggle is outweighed by the reward. “When more parents support their trans kids, we hope to have fewer kids dying of suicide, fewer kids getting kicked out and ending up homeless—that’s why I speak.” Bloch maintains that this type of sharing, however, is not the only way to make an impact. She says it’s up to individuals to choose whether their personal stories will play a role in their advocacy work. In some cases, “every time they share, they are reliving their trauma,” she explains. She says it’s up to each individual whether or not they want to include personal experiences when talking to
others about transphobic discrimination and violence, “and if they don’t want to, that should be respected.” To her, it’s about controlling the situation. If a community member is asked to speak publicly, but the questions at the event are different than were discussed or are not related to the topic at hand, she hopes people can find the strength to say, “You know, this is a question you shouldn’t be asking.” Making those limits clear, even on an individual basis, can sometimes be as impactful as answering questions directly and may help people to recognize their behaviour as overly intrusive or problematic. When it comes to cases of harassment and discrimination, curiosity is often not a legitimate excuse, and simply letting people know their questioning has gone too far can prevent them from making the same mistake with others. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment states that “questions or discussion about sexual activities” could be identified as forms of harassment, regardless of their intention. The Commission identifies similar behaviour as potentially problematic if it is directed at trans people about their personal characteristics or behaviour. Each member of the LGBTQ community has a story, but each individual has the right to decide for themselves whether or not it needs to be told.
COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employees to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.
Can our relationship survive a move to a new city? By Adam Segal
My partner and I have been together for three years and living together for the past year. He just got this amazing job offer, which would take us to a new city in the US from our home in Toronto. He works in a very competitive field, and this job would pay more money and definitely get him closer to his career goals. When he broke the news to me about the offer, I was so excited—but then the reality of getting uprooted began to hit me. He didn’t assume that we would go, but it’s clearly his hope. I’ve lived in Toronto all of my adult life, and if we move I would have to build a whole new group of friends and eventually find work as well. I see our futures together—we have something very special. I think this could be such a good thing for him and for us, but I’m also afraid that if he is thriving and I’m struggling to adapt, will I start to resent him? I’ve always wanted to experience a new city, but how can I know the relationship will survive the upheaval? —Bennet Dear Bennet: You are writing about one of those big crossroads moments that are almost always overwhelming and stressful. It’s really good that you are giving yourself a chance to flesh it out and sort through whatever pitfalls you can imagine. On the other hand, at a certain point you’ll have to go with a gut decision and trust that whatever challenges come your way will be manageable…not easy, but manageable. Your concern about possible resentment may be the most important factor of them all. If you are going to take this particular leap, you’ll have to decide now that if the move is difficult you won’t actively fuel your own resentment. That doesn’t mean that you won’t give yourself permission to feel sad or grieve the loss of
your time in Toronto—just that you won’t indulge any instinct to point fingers or construct a narrative whereby you are the victim of your partner’s selfish endeavour. The two of you are a family now. If you do decide to go along with this move, it has to be a collective effort and decision. If this migration ends up being a bust (for whatever reason), the two of you will have to figure out where to go from there. It’s tempting to lean into big changes like this with trepidation and pessimism, but there’s also a chance that this change could create a whole new chapter that is fruitful and exciting. Only you can know if you want to leap and see what happens.
ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
r e l ati o nships
Moving For Love
Stunning photographs. Support for community. An experience unlike any other.
January / February 2018
In support of
Image Credit: ESMAA MOHAMOUD, One of the Boys (The AGO Grange Library), 2017
O N the t o wn
Scenes From The Party Circuit By Michael Pihach
CGLCC Black and White Gala at Liberty Grand Toronto (Photos: Heather Pollock) 1: Elvis Lazaro, Claudio Pietramala, 2: Zachary Pendley, Mandy Rennehan, 3: Jully Black. Gourmet Food and Wine Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre 4: Cody Devilliers, 5: Athena Reich (as Lady Gaga), 6: Jake Hilman, 7: Matthew Calabretta, 8: Melanie Carr. The 519 Annual Gala at The 519 Ballroom (Photos: George Pimentel) 9: Suzanne Rogers, 10: David and Kate Daniels, 11: Alan Cumming, 12: Salah Bachir.
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A Glossary Of LGBTQ+ Ter ms You Should Know Labels matter. So make sure you’re using the right one By Courtney Hardwick
The language we use to talk about things like gender identity and sexual orientation has been slowly evolving for years, in part because of the willingness of LGBTQ+ individuals to be open about who they are and how they identify. The idea that each person’s sexual orientation and gender identity lies somewhere on a spectrum rather than as an absolute gay or straight/male or female has been around for a while, but younger generations are now accepting it as fact and embracing everything that comes along with that.
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Keeping up with all the new terminology isn’t always easy, but the main thing is to first and foremost respect any label individuals choose to give themselves. To make it a little easier, here are a few common LGBTQ+-related terms that you should definitely know.
A person’s concept of his or her own gender regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.
Someone who doesn’t develop any kind of sexual attraction towards another person until they have built a strong emotional connection with them.
A person who is attracted to all different types of people no matter what their biological sex, gender identity or sexual orientation happens to be.
Someone who experiences no sexual attraction to other people regardless of gender identity or sex. They might still want to find love and be in a relationship; sex just isn’t something they want or need.
The expected social behaviours that a culture assigns to what it means to be male or female. For example, women are supposedly emotional while men are stoic. Someone who is gender nonconforming does not adhere to the traditional expectations of their gender.
Although it used to be considered a negative slur, ‘queer’ has been reinvented as an umbrella term to describe the many different ways people reject binary gender and sexual orientation categorizations. If someone identifies as ‘queer,’ it simply means they are open to embracing identities outside the mainstream.
A culture bias that considers heterosexuality (being straight) the norm. For example, if you meet someone new and automatically assume they’re straight unless they tell you otherwise, that’s heteronormativity.
How we express our gender identities, and do and don’t conform to socially defined gender norms. This could include the way someone does their hair, how they talk, or the clothes they choose to wear. For example, a transgender woman might choose to grow her hair long and wear makeup to appear more feminine.
A transgender person who chooses medical intervention such as sex reassignment surgery and/or hormone therapy to physically change the sex they were assigned at birth.
The understanding that everyone has a number of overlapping identities—including race, class, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender—that inform the way they see the world and experience oppression and discrimination.
Binary The concept that sex is divided into only two categories: you’re either male or you’re female. On the other hand, someone who is non-binary does not identify as exclusively male or female, but rather as somewhere in between. A genderqueer person embraces more fluid ideas of gender; they identify as both male and female, as neither male nor female, or as another combination of the two. Similarly, gender-fluid people don’t identify exclusively with a single gender and are open to their gender shifting over time.
Transgender A person whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender woman is a person who was assigned the male sex at birth but identifies as female and chooses to live her life accordingly. Alternatively, a cisgender person’s gender identity matches up with the sex they were assigned at birth.
COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.
Hanging Out In The Conservative Closet
Spending time outing ‘closeted’ homophobic right wingers actually does more harm than good for ‘The Cause’ By Christian Dare
It’s a tale as old as time: a pro-family (a.k.a. anti-LGBTQ2) politician is caught with his pants down (or on Grindr) with another man. This isn’t the stuff of political dramas, or an episode of House of Cards. Rather, this is the new tradition for the American GOP and far right. Most recently, this is the story of Wes Goodman, a married Republican in the Ohio state legislature. He was known for his conservative family values and for voting down anything that smacked of equal rights or liberalism. Things were going pretty smoothly for Wes and his career. That is, until mid-November, when he abruptly resigned. Now, most politico-stars on the rise within the GOP don’t normally resign without apparent cause. But they do when they want to hide a secret. Unfortunately for Wes, it came to light that he was having sex with another man in his office at the state capitol. That’s correct: Wes was another case of a far-right man hiding parts of his sexuality that seemed to be in conflict with his politics. Yes, he was engaging in same-sex sex while engaging in anti-same-sex sex legislation.
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You could say that 2017 was a banner year for anti-LGBT politics and the ‘outing’ of those same politicians as gay. Before Wes Goodman, there was Ralph Shortey, who was caught for similar ‘misconduct’ in March last year. The then Oklahoma state senator resigned after being hit with child prostitution charges for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy. You could easily dismiss Goodman’s and Shortey’s stories as just two more notches in the GOP’s leather sling. After all, the far-right “pro-family” Republican Party movement seems to be populated with a long list of politicians, preachers and judges who lead the anti-LGBTQ charge while secretly having gay sex. It’s a classic boy-meets-boy story…where boy sells out other boy’s rights. But what is more interesting is how the media responds to it all—how they frame the story. The LGBT community and ‘liberal’ media will always jump on these stories and run with them. And the long list of Republican gay sex scandals will be rehashed every time new allegations emerge. We get it. The fact is that ‘closeted’ right wingers now seem 18
predictable rather than surprising. But every time we trot out the list of ‘secretly’ gay politicians, we also like to imply that those who are the most anti-LGBTQ (or homophobic) are always inherently closeted homosexuals. And that can be dangerous. Science says… Many of these ‘outing’ articles like to cite the recent slew of psychology studies suggesting that those who are the most homophobic are often also secretly gay. A pioneering study from 1996, by University of Georgia psychologists, had 64 young men watch gay and straight sex videos. They then measured arousal through changes in penis size as a way to gauge attraction levels. After several questions about attitudes towards homosexuality, they drew the conclusion that “homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.” Similarly, a 2012 study of 160 US and German college students published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that those who called themselves heterosexual, but admitted same-sex desires, were more likely to be hostile towards gay individuals than those who did not report such desires. The researchers isolated a “subgroup of participants”—more than “20 per cent of self-described highly straight individuals”—who “indicated some level of same-sex attraction,” and who were “significantly more likely than other participants to favor anti-gay policies; to be willing to assign significantly harsher punishments to perpetrators of petty crimes if they were presumed to be homosexual; and to express greater implicit hostility toward gay subjects.” The study concluded that “our research suggests that some who oppose homosexuality do tacitly harbor same-sex attraction.” Is our focus off-kilter? The problem with relying on studies like these is three-fold. First, the science is far from conclusive. The key word in almost all these studies is “some.” There is no way to prove that in all cases homophobes are secretly gay.
Second, the very act of focusing on the quasi science of suggesting homophobes are in fact gay men in the closet may in fact be undermining “The Cause.” Overgeneralizing in terms of LGBTQ people is exactly what many of us have fought against for years. Further, the very act of focusing on the ‘outing’ of these men puts the focus on their bedroom activities and not on the legislation they use to cause serious harm to LGBTQ peoples. On Twitter, comedian Cameron Esposito, herself a lesbian, has called out the media for being seemingly more interested in the salacious ‘homophobe caught having gay sex’ story than in the mistreatment of LGBT people writ large.
Thirdly, the very act of outing anyone should cause pause to those of us who have been outed in the past. When we simply call homophobic politicians ‘closet cases,’ we place the blame back on ourselves. We shift the responsibility for the marginalization of LGBTQ people from culture as a whole back onto the gay community. The very claim that self-hating gay men are holding the community back is the equivalent of telling any marginalized group that if they just believed in themselves more, there would be no discrimination. As queer writer Lindsay King-Miller wrote earlier this year, “Making fun of ‘closet cases’ only reinforces
homophobia” because it “underscores the idea that being gay is shameful and should be hidden.” When we publicly mock powerful homophobes as closeted, we also send a message to all closeted LGBTQ people in our communities that they are a joke in our minds. They learn that we do not have compassion for those who aren’t ‘brave’ enough to be out in this day and age, that their ‘context’ does not matter. I know the rationale is that “it’s only shameful because he’s ashamed of it”—that we are in fact mocking the secrecy, not the queerness. But we all know that’s just splitting hairs. We’re still making fun of someone because we think he might be gay. So next time we hear a breaking news story about a right-wing pro-family politician being caught up in a gay sex scandal, perhaps instead of turning it into a closet-case joke, we should help them embrace their ‘newfound’ sexuality. Welcome them with open arms and offer them LGBTQ support resources. Then follow up with, “Hey, that legislation you passed was fucked up. You need to fix that now. And, hey, those resources you just benefited from lost all their funding because of your past actions.” In the end, if we continue to partake in this closet-case punch line cycle, we are only furthering the idea that being LGBTQ is shameful and to be hidden. Further, it allows straight people to make “ha, he’s a closet case gay!” jokes that only reinforce our heteronormative social structures, and yet they will still claim that they are our allies.
What do you think? Let us know by reaching out to us on social media at: @INMagazineCA.
CHRISTIAN DARE is a freelance writer who spends his time between Toronto and New Orleans. He writes for numerous publications and is known for his writings on pop culture, lifestyle and design. He occasionally appears on daytime TV when not hunting for a great pair of shoes or design piece. 19
In Sync With Synchronicity What it is, how to harness it and what role “meaningful coincidences” play in our lives By Jumol Royes
Not too long ago, I started to think about revisiting a project I’d been looking forward to working on but that hadn’t panned out. I was going back and forth in my mind whether or not to follow up with the person in charge. Then, seemingly out of the blue, she sent me an email asking to meet so we could reconnect.
January / February 2018
Just recently, I was thinking about an interview I had done with life coach and spiritual blogger Jordan Bach, and how it had been a while since I’d seen one of his inspirational posts pop up in my inbox. A day or two later, a message arrived from Jordan reminding me that a miracle is an expression of love and that each and every one of us is a miracle worker.
negative—what we don’t want and what we don’t have—that is what will show up in our lives time and time again. Instead, we need to become more aware when we get stuck in a downward-spiralling thought pattern, so we can flip the script. It’s about shifting our energy and changing our thoughts, and the formula is as simple as: Ask and you shall receive. The key is to be mindful of exactly what it is we’re asking for.
We’ve all experienced similar situations. You’re thinking about a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, and suddenly they text or call. There’s that one book on your must-read list that keeps coming up in conversation. Just when you’re in need of a little extra spending money, an unexpected GST/HST credit is direct deposited into your chequing account. That’s synchronicity at work.
Stay present We’re constantly being bombarded with over-simplified clichés like “live in the moment,” so it’s no wonder we don’t take time to consider what they really mean. That’s unfortunate because clichés often contain a nugget of truth. Many of us fall into the trap of living our lives on autopilot and forget that all we have is this moment…right here, right now. When we aren’t truly living in the present, we’re bound to speed past the signs and miss the miracles happening all around us. We need to stay woke and pay attention. Our lives are always speaking to us, if we’re just willing to listen.
The Greek roots of the word “synchronicity” are syn (together) and chronos (time), meaning “together in time.” Psychologist Carl Jung is credited with coming up with the concept to describe the occurrence of coincidences that seem to be meaningfully related. But the textbook definition doesn’t tell the whole story. Much more than just a series of “meaningful coincidences,” synchronicity is divine guidance. It’s the universe’s way of pointing us in the right direction—or, as Oprah calls it, spiritual GPS. The best part of synchronicity is that it is always available to us. We just have to be open to it.
Let go and let the magic happen Surrender. It’s a word we often associate with giving up and bowing down in defeat, and I’ll be the first to admit, that doesn’t sound very appealing. So it’s time we rethink what it means to surrender. Surrendering doesn’t require that we give up; it asks that we give ourselves over to a higher power. The act of surrender has nothing to do with being bowed down in defeat; it calls us to rise up and connect with a greater purpose. There’s no fight involved in surrender, only acceptance. If we find ourselves struggling to swim against the current, maybe we need to work on letting go.
Mind your thoughts Our thoughts are an incredibly powerful force and they create our reality. If we endlessly ruminate and relentlessly focus on the
The next time you experience a moment of synchronicity, be grateful to have been reminded that life shouldn’t be resisted; it’s meant to flow.
Jumol Royes is a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.
Canadian Artists To Watch In 2018 A handful of the LGBTQ artists poised to do big things in 2018 By Josephine Cruz
It’s no secret that Canada is blessed when it comes to musical talent, and especially so with our supply of queer artists, musicians, producers and DJs. These are a few of the acts we’ll be keeping an eye on this year, representing a diverse set of musical genres—from techno to punk rock, folk to house, pop to Punjabi, and everywhere in between.
Partner The Instagram bio for this duo reads: “we’re funny but we’re not a joke/we’re gay but not for each other.” That short sentence tells you everything you need to know about the Sackville, N.B., natives who broke onto the scene with their 2015 viral hit “The ‘Ellen’ Page.” They are part ’90s flavoured, harmony-driven alternative rock (think Weezer and Veruca Salt); part self-deprecating, sarcastic teenage comedy; and 100 per cent unflinchingly and unapologetically queer. They just released their debut album, In Search of Lost Time, so it’s only a matter of time before Partner starts popping up everywhere.
Beverly Glenn-Copeland Beverly Glenn-Copeland first emerged out of the Toronto folk scene in the early 1970s—but he has seen renewed interest in his music thanks to a reissue of his 1986 album Keyboard Fantasies. Back then “he” was “she,” but Glenn-Copeland now lives as a male. His experimental, early-electronic music blends elements of lo-fi, ’80s synth-wave, art-rock-folk and more. Glenn-Copeland, who worked on Mr. Dressup for about 25 years writing music for children, still makes music and occasionally partakes in speaking engagements (recently at the Red Bull Music Academy Weekender in Montreal), where he shares the inspirational story of his life and career.
Maylee Todd Many artists style themselves as multi-faceted, but Maylee Todd stretches the boundaries of the label by dabbling in songwriting, production, film, performance art and design. Her music is just as complex, combining both organic and electronic forms and elements of genres as wide-reaching as boogie and bossa nova, psych-funk and soul. Her live show is where Todd shines, executing her unique brand of performance art with poise, grace, and a humour that you won’t soon forget.
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Kimmortal Hip hop is a space that has traditionally been dominated by hyper-masculine cisgender males, but artists like Kimmortal are slowly flipping the script and representing other “brown, nonbinary queerdos” like herself in this space. This Vancouver-based Filipino-Canadian rapper and singer/songwriter aims to be a voice for all POC (People of Colour), femmes, outcasts and diasporic bodies through her music, parties and initiatives like the SHE festival—a showcase of Indigenous, Black, mixed race and women of colour in word and music.
Obskur Music As the name suggests, Obskur is an indie record label and collective focusing on the more obscure, dark, underground flavours of techno coming out of the West Coast, with a specific focus on promoting female and femme-identifying talent. Founded by producer/ DJs Nomad Black (Vancouver) and Kloves (Calgary) in late 2016, Obskur has since helmed a steady stream of releases, and maintained a regular radio podcast that plays host to Canadian and international guests who are hand-selected for having music from the deeper dimensions.
Too Attached Including Too Attached in this roundup was cheating the system a bit, because not only do these bicoastal siblings produce and perform pop music as a duo, they also have individual side projects as well. Shamik is a producer, beatboxer, voice actor and photographer, and runs his own record label, Sensing Waves, in Vancouver. Vivek is an author and university professor, and released her solo album Part Time Woman, which is “an album by a brown trans girl *about* being a brown trans girl.” Too Attached also recently released “Love Is Not Love,” a song that confronts the phrase “love is love” and exposes the ways that language—even slogans that try to be positive—can erase and alienate communities.
LAL LAL has been at the forefront of the Canadian diasporic music scene since 1998. You simply can’t talk about their music without mentioning their political passions, and this Toronto-based duo is as renowned for their unwavering support for social justice movements—including issues facing Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) and allied communities—as they are for their dreamy brand of West Indian- and African-influenced electronic music.
Sikh Knowledge A Montreal native, Sikh Knowledge has called Toronto home for the last few years, and this producer/vocalist/DJ is perhaps one of the most diverse artists and humanitarians we’ve come across. He’s a speech language pathologist by day who volunteers his service at an LGBTQ2S centre in downtown Toronto; he also founded BuddyUpTO, a program that aims to pair people up with a “buddy” so they can feel safer while doing errands or travelling around the city. He plays many queer parties around the city, and his music— which sits on the experimental fringes of electronic, hip hop, dancehall and Afrobeat with a Punjabi twist—is incredible.
Wares Wares is fairly new to the Canadian music scene, having just dropped their first full-length, self-titled album in October. Helmed by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Cassia J. Hardy, Wares effortlessly dances between folk, skate punk and spacey rock and roll, with Cassia’s powerful vocals and colourful lyrical imagery tying it all together. The solo project turned three-piece band toured extensively around Western Canada in 2017; here’s hoping that 2018 sees Wares on many a festival stage right across the country.
JOSEPHINE CRUZ is a DJ, writer and music curator based in Toronto. She has done work for Complex, HYPEBEAST and Noisey, and currently hosts a show on London’s underground online radio station Radar Radio. Her other interests include palm trees, sushi, iced coffee and her Bengal cat Ackee.
DJ Relentless Originally from Tampa, Florida, and now making his home in Toronto, DJ Relentless is a bona fide icon in the ballroom scene and pioneer of “bitch tracks.” He has been DJing for the better part of 20 years in some of the most celebrated venues across America, including Sally’s II (as featured in Paris Is Burning) and New York’s famed Escuelita nightclub. His alter ego is Jade Elektra, legendary drag entertainer and performance and recording artist. And if that weren’t enough, Relentless is also a long-term HIV+ survivor and activist for ending HIV-related stigma.
CO V E R
Russell Tovey Is Playing Gay And Proud The actor continues to take on gay roles—and to prove you can have a successful Hollywood career outside of the closet By Christopher Turner
Tovey has taken on a long string of gay roles in recent years. He grabbed the attention of a lot of viewers with his portrayal of Kevin, Patrick’s (Jonathan Groff) adorable love interest in HBO’s gone-but-not-forgotten TV series Looking (2014-2015), and the critically acclaimed follow-up film, Looking: The Movie. But there were other gay roles…a lot of them. There was a brief but haunting cameo in Matthew Warchus’s LGBT-related historical comedy-drama Pride (2014), as well as a starring role in director Ben A. Williams’ debut, The Pass, a film about the relationship You can’t deny the evolution of Hollywood’s embrace of openly between two English football players and how their lives unfold gay actors and actresses in recent years, but it’s still safe to say over the course of a decade. Next he took on (and still plays) the that the Hollywood fame game for gay men and lesbians is tricky role of Harry Doyle, the confident, openly gay character on ABC’s and undeniably finicky. runway hit Quantico (2016–present). Most recently he grabbed headlines for playing the openly gay, Nazi-fighting superhero Ray So, in a time when homophobia in the entertainment industry is Tyrrell on Crisis on Earth X, the CW’s four-hour superhero TV still commonplace (even if it’s not so overt), it’s worth noting— crossover event that brought together characters from the CW’s and celebrating—those out actors who are playing the game, and four other superhero shows: Supergirl, The Flash, The Green Arrow winning. Russell Tovey is one of those rare working actors whose and Legends of Tomorrow. career is thriving. The Brit actor is everywhere these days, and he’s doing it as an out and proud gay man. There were theatre projects: earlier this year Tovey appeared alongside Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane in Marianne Elliott’s grand Fans will instantly recognize Tovey by his self-described “sticky- revival of Angels in America at London’s National Theatre, and out ears.” Did he ever consider having his ears pinned back? It’s a he appeared on Broadway in NYC as Rodolpho in Arthur Miller’s question he’s regularly asked, and the answer is… “No. I’ve never A View from the Bridge. felt anything apart from love for my ears. My eldest nephew’s got them now, and he’s so proud of them because he’s got his Uncle Despite recently scooping up all of the hunky gay roles on the small Russell’s ears. They’re my trademark.” screen and the stage, for most of his career Tovey didn’t play gay.
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Hollywood has always been difficult to navigate for queer actors, regardless of whether they choose to come out or stay hidden in the closet. While some actors—such as Zachary Quinto, Colton Haynes and Neil Patrick Harris—have found (and maintained) mainstream success, others, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, have watched their careers go up and down and up again. And then there are those like Rupert Everett, who claim that being out completely killed their chance at long-lasting Hollywood fame.
Of course, he’s more than toned abs and ears.
He grew up in Billericay, Essex, England, to parents who worked
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Russell Tovey on the red carpet at Odeon Leicester Square, London
all hours running a coach company. He reportedly had one of the highest IQs in his year at school, but he was easily bored and self-admittedly barely applied himself. He got in trouble, although never anything really that bad. He wanted to become an actor from an early age, and recalls spending one holiday binge watching movies and having the light go off. “Dead Poets Society was a big one, Home Alone, Stand By Me, Labyrinth, things like that. I thought the films were brilliant, but more than anything I wanted to be a part of them rather than just watching.”
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And so, he began his journey. At the age of 16, he enrolled in a performing arts program at Barking College in Romford, England…but then he was offered a part in a TV commercial. “They said, ‘If you take this we’re not going to invite you back [to the college], and also if you leave you’ll never work again.’ Anyway, I left.” The college, in East London, now cites him as one of its famous former students. Tovey first caught the eye of television audiences across the pond in his early 20s, when he appeared in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (2006), alongside Dominic Cooper and James Corden. Tovey was already out (he came out at age 18), and Bennett could easily have cast him as Posner, the token gay character who was infatuated with one of his fellow students.
But instead, Tovey was cast as straight boy Rudge, who spits out the memorable line: “How do I define history? It’s just one fuckin’ thing after another.” The clueless character led to more work and Tovey went on to appear in a handful of cult television shows, including the British version of Being Human, as well as The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Doctor Who and Sherlock. Playing straight followed him until sometime around his 30th birthday. “It wasn’t a conscious decision,” he says. “For so long, as a young actor, I had this anxiety about making sure I could get straight roles, and now I know that’s not necessary. The gay roles are the best for me. Being gay has made my career. “There’s not just one way to play a straight person, or one story to tell—there are a billion fascinating wonderful stories to tell with gay characters. A billion adventures to have.” Flexing around femmephobia Of course, Tovey’s relationship with the gay community hasn’t always been a smooth one. In 2015, he enraged the internet after making controversial remarks about masculinity in an interview with The Observer while he was promoting Banished, a series about 18th century British convicts who had been deported to an Australian penal colony.
Jonathan Groff and Russell Tovey at the premiere of HBO’s Looking: The Movie
During the interview, Tovey talked about how he bulked out at the gym after a homophobic attack (triggered, Tovey reasons, by his wearing a cardigan), and recalled his father’s reluctance to send him to a “theatre school” when he was in his formative years. “I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to,” he said at the time. “Where I felt like I had to toughen up. If I’d been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path.” The tone-deaf remark was one of several quips made in the interview that prompted a serious backlash on social media. Within days, Tovey expressed regret in a series of apologetic tweets. He said: “I surrender. You got me. I’m sat baffled and saddened that a mis-fired inarticulate quote of mine has branded me worst gay ever. “If you feel I have personally let you down, I’m sorry, that was never my intention,” he insisted, saying he was proud of his sexuality and of what the gay rights movement had achieved. “I’m proud to be who I am and proud for others. We’re in this together. I want you to know that whatever you think I meant, I didn’t.” Back to our regularly scheduled programming And so, the internet moved onto its next victim. Sure, you’ll still find an anti-Tovey crowd calling out his narcissism in the comments
section, but to be fair, he’s far from the first gay man to make a gaffe against the community. (Trust me... I could write you up a list of gay guys and their problematic statments that’s a mile long.) And, more importantly, his brush with controversy didn’t make him shy away from tackling gay characters and being open about his sexuality with mainstream audiences. In fact, he’s taking on more LGBT roles than ever. Looking ahead to 2018, Tovey has a lot on the horizon. He may not have ascended to the Hollywood A-list yet, but his career continues to get brighter, with more episodes of Quantico on the way. Tovey will also be revisiting his first foray into the world of superheroes when he reprises his role of Ray on the animated web series Freedom Fighters: The Ray debut on CW Seed. Despite the controversy, Tovey maintains he always knew it was important for him to be open about his sexuality. He once told The Guardian, “I love my personal life and having a social life. And I didn’t ever want to have to compromise. I could imagine being at this stage now and having skeletons in the closet, and you sitting here going, ‘So have you got a girlfriend?’ and me saying, ‘I’ve not got a girlfriend at the moment, I’ve not met the right girl, there’s a few people around.’ And in my head going, ‘I’m going back home to my boyfriend in five minutes.’” He pauses. “D’you know what I mean? I just can’t be arsed with that.” How can you argue with a statement like that?
CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.
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The Most Gag-Worthy Moments From The Cast Of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 Looking back at the “charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent” that was brought to the Drag Race stage By Bradley Blaylock
Get ready to lip-sync for your life, because a full roster of past contestants is going wig-to-wig for a third slot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame alongside past champions Alaska and Chad Michaels when the third edition of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars returns at the top of 2018 on VH1. From Mimi Imfurst turning a lip-sync into a contact sport to Alyssa Edwards’ entire persona, RuPaul’s Drag Race is filled with gag-worthy moments. Need a refresher before the spin-off competition series returns? Read on for some of the returning queens’ most memorable moments. Milk (Season 6) She does a body good, girl! Like many queens, Milk found her mark in the drag world post Drag Race, but that wasn’t before leaving a lasting impression on her many fans. As one of Drag Race’s first conceptual queens, Milk served many iconic looks from being pregnant, to dressing as male RuPaul, to walking the main stage with a beard (which later inspired Season 8’s runway challenge).
Aja (Season 9) Although many say Aja’s best moment was her outrageous and sinfully beautiful read of Valentina, “You’re beautiful, you’re a model, you look like Linda Evangelista,” there is one other moment that steals the crown. Contrary to popular belief, we think Aja’s top moment isn’t something she said, but her facial expressions throughout Season 9’s reunion show that stole the show. *Cue compilation*
January / February 2018
Bendelacreme (Season 6) Much like the Season 5 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jinxx Monsoon, this Seattle queen made a lasting impression with her campy personality. But it wasn’t until her performance as Maggie Smith in the Snatch Game that she stole our hearts. Not only was her makeup executed perfectly, her performance as the Downton Abbey star blew the judges and viewers away.
Chi Chi Devayne (Season 8) Gimme a nibble of that chicken neck, girl! Miss Chi Chi Devayne, who made a mark as the cheap queen in Season 8, impressed the judges and her fans by proving to be one of the fiercest performers to hit the main stage. Though it wasn’t until the black and white challenge that Chi Chi fully lost her marbles...literally. Up against Thorgy Thor, Devayne put her heart and soul into her performance, breaking her pearl necklace all over the stage. The jaw-dropping moment saved her from elimination. 28
Morgan McMichaels (Season 2) “The Bitch is back.” Known as one of the sassier queens from the series, Morgan has proven, both on and off the show, that she is a force of nature when it comes to lip-syncing. Not only does her dancing rival that of Kennedy Davenport, but her words are tight and her mug is beat. There was no exception during her lip-sync battle against Sonique in Season 2 to Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts,” where she came out on top.
Shangela (Seasons 2 and 3) Now appearing as a contestant on her third season of Drag Race, Shangela is no stranger to the functionality of the show. Along with her oddly addictive catchphrase “Halleloo!” Shangela’s top moment is none other than her fight with Mimi Imfurst in Season 3’s Untucked. After Mimi called her out for having a sugar daddy, Shangela went off on her iconic rant. “I don’t have a sugar daddy. I’ve never had a sugar daddy. If I wanted a sugar daddy, yes, I could probably go out and get one because I am what? Sickening!”
Thorgy Thor (Season 8) With her eccentric personality and eclectic style, Thorgy quickly rose to the top as one of Season 8’s fan favourites, but it was her jealousy of Bob The Drag Queen that left the audience gagged. Most likely due to editing, Thorgy seemed to become increasingly jealous and fed up with the wins of her NYC counterpart.
Trixie Mattel (Season 7) It’s no surprise that Trixie’s career blossomed post Drag Race, especially since her fans proved loyal after raising an uproar in response to her controversial elimination against Pearl. The beauty school dropout found popularity when she and Season 8 show-mate Katya teamed up for the blissfully funny web series ‘UNHhhh’ (which later was picked up by Viceland TV).
Kennedy Davenport (Season 7) Known as the dancing diva of Texas, Miss Kennedy Davenport is no stranger to slaying the runway. But this queen sashayed her way to a win in her iconic performance as Little Richard in Season 7’s Snatch Game. Not only was her makeup and acting hilariously on point, but Kennedy snatched the title of the first and only queen to win a Snatch Game dressed as a man.
Bradley Blaylock is IN’s marketing and promotions manager and a Toronto-based content creator whose appetite for Drag Race videos rivals that of pizza. Find him on Instagram at @bradleyblaylock.
I nte r view
A rare encounter with Canadian photographer Christopher Sherman By Maxwell N. Burnstein
The anonymous hold more power than ever, chronicling their experiences without bias. One of that army of the anonymous, Christopher Sherman, has operated as a guiding force in Canadian fashion over the past 15 years, his anonymity protecting the credibility of his invasive portraiture. “The greatest collaboration is between me, my camera, the film and the subject,” Sherman says of his reactionary analogue photography. Film portraiture that feels deeply intimate evades the construction of the self-chronicled on apps like Instagram and Grindr. Although they resemble sexual experiences, the vulnerability of these platonic encounters transcends pornography as a consensual photo-documentary.
January / February 2018
Diversity is a clear component of Sherman’s visual narrative. He confronts the traditional depictions of queer-positive body images, as racial and beauty standards are disregarded in the casting process. “Sherman has a great way of making anyone sexy, no matter their shape or where they come from,” says Oly Innes of Daddy Issues, who recently published a queer-positive zine with Sherman’s NSFW photography. Spike Jonze for American Vogue, Dries Van Noten in his studio, a portrait of Annie Leibovitz, collaborations with gender-bending designer Palomo Spain, to room service with Aurora James of Brother Vellies extend beyond the queer content resonating with audiences on Sherman’s Instagram. Sherman’s inception into high fashion followed regular contributions to global publications like FuckingYoung, Hello Mr, Gay Letter, Purpose and Perspective Magazine. Having already
worked with Vivienne Westwood, Pharrell Williams, James Franco, Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay Company, Sherman is now senior creative director at Indigo. He is an industry veteran you’re only now able to recognize. Sherman’s Instagram story (follow him at hellochristophersherman) can best indicate his location, as he has an exasperating schedule scaling the creative between Toronto, New York and the world. IN magazine acquired a rare sit-down interview with the force to discuss his process, rise to acclaim, upcoming self-driven book and exhibition. Why do you choose to take pictures using 35mm film instead of digital? When people are aware of a professional digital camera in an environment, they act very differently. They are prepared to model and put on a show for the camera. I only use point and shoot; you can’t change anything about the camera. You point, shoot and get whatever picture the camera decides to collaborate with you and produce. What is your relationship with Instagram, which acts as your live portfolio? My work is the anti-Instagram, or anti-instant. You have to get through a roll of 36-exposure, then go to your trusted photo store to have it developed—and nothing about this is instant. After being developed and scanned, you then have a window of time to mentally process the image you’re putting into the world. In this horror of instant gratification, it allows you time to spend with your work and decide what story you want to tell today.
Selections from Shermanâ€™s body of work
January / February 2018
How have you responded to the praise your photography is receiving online? I truthfully do not care about any of the things associated with Instagram success. I never took a picture for anyone but me. Men have been a leading subject matter in your work. Where did this interest come from? I originally started taking photographs of men because it was not seen. Sexy photographs of women in this nature are a dime a dozen. Where are the cool dudes in white underwear: the ones you think are sexy but not over the top? Looking at old ’70s and ’80s gay porn there was an innocence to them before every performer became aware of their own personal brand. I just wanted to take the pictures that I wanted to see. Casting a diverse range of body types and ethnicities, what do you look for in your subjects? It’s never been a conscious decision. I think the same is boring. I have days where I think six-pack abs are sexy, I have days where I think love handles are gorgeous, some days I’m inspired by pubic
hair or thick thighs. I don’t think life is very exciting if you’re only focusing on appreciating one kind of person. What process do you go through to cast your subjects? Very early on I had to beg friends to photograph them, naked or scantily clad. If you look at my very early work, it’s all dear friends. I was very lucky to have a few key people who saw the potential and vision in my work. Now it’s a lot of Instagram, email, conversations with people or meeting people on my travels that both capture my style of photography and your aesthetic. Are you intentionally confronting stereotypes of beauty and sex standards? I have never seen my work as evaluating or changing standards. I take the photographs I want to take. You will notice there are some people who are naked, in underwear and jumpsuits. It always has to be collaboration. I do not believe in projecting my idea onto someone else. Collaboration is brutally important. Do you see your photography as promoting queer values?
Selections from Sherman’s body of work
This is personally how I see sex and sexuality. I am a proud gay man, I always have been, and it was always a non-issue. The dialogue of sex in any form is exciting, challenging and exciting to have. I am a gay man, seeing this through a gay man’s fantasy and energy in life. In turn, it is a story of being gay and a gay perspective. You maintain a very private identity. Why do you refrain from interviews and being a public figure? I am not doing any of this for likes, follows or comments. I am taking photographs people understand, relate to and are inspired by. My photographs say everything I want to say. I am really uncomfortable doing interviews and talking about my work. It’s not natural for me. And it doesn’t interest me. As a Canadian working abroad, do you see a correlation between culture and the experiences these men take you on? The only things that I find separates us from the places I’ve shot—from Berlin, Mexico City, Cuba, Hollywood to Toronto—is distance. We are all living in a Kim Kardashian-West world. When it comes to ideas of sex and sexuality, the world is more connected then ever before.
Where do you see this cultural relationship with sex stemming from? The ideas, posture and movements of what is sexy and sexual is the same in Hollywood or Toronto. We can thank Calvin Klein for this. We’re raised on this iconography and imagery of what sexuality is and how we wish to express it. What can we expect from your recently announced exhibit and book? The project is called Thank you for Cumming, based on my favourite bag in New York City, and will be released in 2018. The spelling of ‘coming’ is intentionally changed. It’s focused on my work and collaborations with male subjects. This is still my most inspired and creative work to do with friends, models and people I am lucky to collaborate with. It is a way for me to give back—the proceeds from the works sold at the shows in Toronto and Brooklyn will be donated to local AIDS charities. This is part of the story of sex. There will also be an accompanying special-edition book, treated as artwork instead of mass distribution, with 100 copies to celebrate the collaboration.
MAXWELL N. BURNSTEIN is a Canadian artist and writer who has developed exhibits worldwide, done covers for Elle Magazine to Harper’s Bazaar, and contributed articles to V Magazine and VMan.
January / February 2018
BLOCK ROOM The colourblock trend has been around for a while— but lately it’s been cropping up in creative new ways Photographer: Robin Reynolds Fashion Director: Danyl Geneciran Stylist: Alexis Coronado Makeup & Hair: Lynn Lu Models: Iryna, Bridgette & Taehyun @ Elmer Olsen
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On Taehyun: Shirt: H&M Pants: Versace Jeans Shoes: Dolce & Gabbana On Iryna: Top: Mink Pink Peplum top: Banana Republic Skirt: Y-3 36
coat: Y-3 37
January / February 2018
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On Bridgette: Shirtdress: Gap Top: Mink Pink Boots: Aldo On Iryna: Top: Banana Republic Peplum top underneath: H&M Pencil skirt: H&M Boots: Aldo
Full look: Emporio Armani
On Iryna: Peplum top: Banana Republic Off-shoulder top: Mink Pink Circle skirt: Proenza Schouler Shoes: Aldo Belt: Stylist’s own On Taehyun: Half-zipped pullover: Gap Pants: Versace Jeans Blue gel (worn as skirt): Stylist’s own Shoes: Dolce & Gabbana On Bridgette: Blazer and skirt (worn as top): H&M Velvet skirt: Zara Full look: Tommy Hilfiger Shoes: Aldo 39
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Striped scarf: AYLA Sweater: UNITED COLORS OF BENNETON Aztec print top: WANKO Aztec poncho print: LANDMARK Bird print: BENCH Tribal print shorts: SPORTS ESSENTIALs Moss green pants: Stylistâ€™s own Suede boots: CARDAMS Fur accessories: ABLAZA Full look: Coach
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SURREAL SZECHUAN Bold. Spicy. Over-the-top. Szechuan-centric styles leave a lasting impression Photographer: Herson Nebaya Fashion Director: Danyl Geneciran Styling: Argie Salango Grooming: Anton Patdu Model: Dailos Ramos
Sweater: Ralph Lauren Pants: Dolce & Gabbana
F ashi o n January / February 2018
Sheer top used as headscarf: PARALLAX Sunglasses: Stylistâ€™s own Yellow sweater: MICKEY MOUSE Coloured lace top: AYLA Blue pullover: BOSS Textured blazer: WANKO Fur jacket: Vintage Dior Abstract print dhoti pants: AYLA Gold neckpiece: ABLAZA Chain bracelet: CARDAMS
Blue textured headscarf: EMERALD Paneled polo shirt: AYLA Tribal print tanktop: MIX AND MATCH Fur vest: Vintage Yohji Yamamoto Electric yellow neoprene jacket: SPORTS ESSENTIALS Red knitted pullover: BOSS Striped leggings: LANDMARK Reversible: CHICOS Suede boots: CARDAMS Wooded neckpiece and coin belt: ABLAZA Furball scarf: EDRICK PAZ Gold cuff: TORY BURCH
Shorts 3.1 PHILLIP LIM
Hollywood’s Sexual Predators Remind Us of a Scary Reality There’s something about growing up LGBT that puts us at a much higher risk of being sexually exploited By Paul Gallant
January / February 2018
In the past couple of months I’ve heard a few gay men—usually over the age of 45—suggest that they wished Kevin Spacey, or someone like him, had made sexual advances on them when they were teenagers. I take these comments as pure fantasy, like a claustrophobic’s declaration that he’d like to be an astronaut. These guys have retrospectively fixated on a moment they imagine to be pleasurable, with no thought about how traumatizing everything around that moment would be. It’s hard to imagine women being so blithe; they have to negotiate sexist shit every day of their lives.
This might start with the feeling when we’re young that there is normal sexuality and abnormal sexuality, and that perhaps, based on comparisons to our peers and role models, we fall into the latter category. Particularly for those raised in conventionally religious families, this divide can feel absolutely black and white. If you’re on the ‘wrong’ side, you’re damned by default, with no framework to distinguish homoerotic longings from being a menace to society.
I’ve written before about the joy and power LGBT people have Let me be clear: sexual assault is sexual assault, and no means in being able to create our identities and relationships as we see no. And unfortunately—as demonstrated by the rash of stories fit. The problem is that, especially when we’re young, there may of Hollywood sexual predation by the likes of Spacey, Harvey be other people who see this freedom as a vulnerability they can Weinstein and Louis C.K.—power seems to obliterate the need leverage. Already feeling like freaks, we may lack a sense of what for consent. But there’s something fundamentally different about a good romantic or sexual experience should feel like. As people how gay men, in particular, process these stories and experiences. who have had to discover our own sexuality—perhaps we failed to One of the great things about same-sex relationships is that notice that we were unconsciously gazing at someone in the locker they lack the gendered power imbalance that permeates straight room until we were mocked for it—we accept the possibility we relationships, sometimes to the point of toxicity. Men with men, and might unconsciously be sending out signals according to desires women with women, can be less fearful about how badly a sexual we don’t fully recognize in ourselves. experience might end up. Some might argue that men, including gay men, are simply wired to more easily shake off unwanted and Then, once we’ve figured ourselves out, we face the prospect unpleasant sexual experiences. (That might be true of some men; of the closet. Having one’s own secrets, however innocuous, I’m not telling anybody what their feelings are or should be.) But means feeling obliged to keep secrets for others—even when there’s also something about growing up LGBT that puts us at a we shouldn’t. From the confines of the closet, imagine saying much higher risk of being sexually exploited, while simultaneously “He forced sex on me” when it feels impossible to even say “I’m creating an environment that encourages us to compartmentalize queer.” Although LGBT people these days have been coming it and normalize it. And that’s no pleasure at all. out at younger ages than in the past, and to more welcoming 44
Hollywood sexual predators Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Harvey Weinstein
families and communities, even a short period of non-disclosure can leave someone feeling exposed and vulnerable. And some career choices can force otherwise “out and proud” people back into the closet. Justin Trudeau’s apology this fall for the Canadian government’s decades-long witch hunt against LGBT people in the civil service, military and RCMP shows just how nasty the world can be. Until very recently, professional sports didn’t even pretend to be gay friendly. And then there’s the entertainment industry and the current avalanche of sexual assault revelations. While Hollywood has built its brand on liberalism and self-actualization, it has long maintained an omertà code around homosexuality. Although typically presented as a case of “audiences don’t believe/like openly gay and lesbian actors in straight roles, and they don’t like gay and lesbian roles very much either,” one suspects the Celluloid Closet was created for the very purpose of exploiting fame-starved young people. With so many aspiring actors seeking so few roles, and suitability so terribly subjective, LGBT talent has few escape routes from the casting couch. Actor Anthony Rapp, the first (but probably not the last) gay man to make allegations of sexual assault against Kevin Spacey, didn’t tell his mother that the actor had drunkenly crawled on top of him when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Why? Rapp didn’t want to come out to her. When Rapp, now 46, first started mentioning the incident in public, he didn’t name Spacey, respecting the community’s convention of not outing people.
“It was this thing that happened, and I locked it away,” Rapp told BuzzFeed this fall. A practice meant to grant LGBT people respect and self-determination had, in Hollywood, become a form of impunity. When we are having flippant conversations among bar friends (perhaps against a backdrop of drag queens who are saying offensive things to be funny), we might turn painful encounters with sexual predators into campy stories, mixed in with stories about, say, dates who had unexpected fetishes. These stories seem to fit into the category of things we can say in the queer community, but not at work or with family or people whose esteem we hold dear. But they are not the same as the weird date story—that’s the lesson we’re learning from the brave women who are revealing their own traumatic experiences at the hands of public figures. I’m not suggesting that the world is full of sexual predators or that every unwanted touch is rape. There’s a range from those who purposefully dedicate themselves to manipulating and abusing others regardless of the consequences to the other person, to those who make momentarily drunken mistakes and then immediately stop. There’s what’s illegal, what’s unethical and what’s merely gross. There is the sex we definitely want, the sex we definitely don’t want, and the territory between the two. The existence of a grey area doesn’t mean there are no boundaries at all. It means we need to be completely shameless in our communications about sex: before, during and after.
PAUL GALLANT is a Toronto-based writer and editor who writes about travel, innovation, city building, social issues (particularly LGBT issues) and business for a variety of national and international publications. He’s done time as lead editor at the loop magazine in Vancouver as well as Xtra and fab in45
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Island pride The inaugural Caribbean Pride dishes out men, margaritas and mermaids in the Dominican Republic By Doug Wallace
Right from the heart-stopping second when I melted into a sweaty, sequence-y hug from one of the ripped dancers, I knew that coming to Punta Cana was one of my better calls. That was just one of the perks of being at the first-ever Caribbean Pride, held last September in this Dominican Republic resort town. Despite being cut a few days short by Hurricane Maria, the celebration was an unequivocal riot. My face hurt from laughing—at the zany characters (including my animated travel mates), at the always-entertaining Miss Conception, at the sheer whimsy of it all—and the sunburn I got was well worth it.
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The all-inclusive CHIC Punta Cana resort rolled out the pink carpet in style, welcoming men and women from all over the Caribbean, the US, Canada and points beyond. Initially I was a little cynical, assuming that the event was just going to be a marketing ploy orchestrated by a smart hotel. But I quickly realized it was in fact a long-overdue celebration of Caribbean gay culture, a giant party thrown by a very welcoming and genuine bunch of people. I’m generally a stand-on-the-sidelines kind of guy, but that went out the window early on. It was impossible not to wade into the fray, get acquainted with new friends from Venezuela and Puerto Rico, scream with laughter at the Best Swimsuit Contest contestants, and indulge in rounds of frothy drinks in and out of the
pool. The variety of the crowd, straight people included, was what made it fun (although I did wonder whether the poor heterosexuals had been warned that their vacation was to be overtaken by a tidal wave of beefcake. They seemed to take it in stride.) Thankfully, the resort is adults-only, as some of the poolside drag-queen bingo language was more than a bit naughty. DJs Johnny Dynell and Citizen Jane kept the tunes coming day and night. Evening entertainment pulled out all the stops quite a few times, with the fire-eaters and aerialists in particular prompting many jaws to drop. Extremely tall, up-and-coming Toronto drag star Priyanka opened the show one night, mesmerizing the crowd with a gorgeous wall of pop perfection. And speaking of queens, a Queen tribute band, fronted by a very talented Latin Freddie Mercury, had the audience yelling itself hoarse. Who knew so many people know the words to “Radio Ga Ga”? One-stop fun As for CHIC Punta Cana, its selling point is the buzzing atmosphere. Owned by Blue Diamond Resorts, it is the only property in their repertoire to feature a unique mix of Las Vegas- and South Beach-style fun. Rooms are comfortable and, well, chic: mostly all-white with some dramatic purple lighting thrown in to sleek things up. Guests are looking for relaxation for sure, but also for a dash of café society sidelines to keep them occupied throughout
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the day and into the night. This resort gave them that, and more: the week included a series of extracurricular activities including samba class, Zumba class, yoga, mixology and pole-dancing. Other resort amenities include a casino, a Black Jack station on the way to the pool, an Oxygen Bar where you can practically eliminate your hangover, and a small nightclub kitted out with the aforementioned pole-dancing stage. At the exclusive Mermaid Pool, glass windows on two sides let bystanders watch what’s taking place below the surface. YouTube star and digital producer Michael Rizzo took to it like a fish to water, using the photo op to its fullest with a rainbow flag draped over his shoulders.
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Even though one afternoon all I ate were strawberries dipped in white chocolate (I was busy!), I can tell you that the food was exemplary. In addition to a beachfront buffet-style restaurant, CHIC Punta Cana sports four fun à la carte restaurants: a steak house, an Italian trattoria, a sushi and ceviche restaurant, and one with a Middle Eastern theme. Plus, for a few extra bones, you can enjoy a special seven-course tasting menu at a private dining room. The beach is serene and soothing, not that far away from the pool and not overly jammed with vendors hawking stuff you don’t need. More than once I hid in a corner cabana with a book, throwing money at the nice servers who brought me beers and cheeseburgers. Yes, more than one. Getting away from the crowds Stepping out one afternoon to see a bit more of the island, we took a luxury catamaran ride along the coast of Bavaro to snorkel the Cortecito Reef and relax in the natural pools there, beers in hand. When the captain let us take control of the music, a lip-sync contest broke out, fueled by Jack Daniels and the encouragement of random boats passing by. The poor boat staff didn’t know what to make of us. But, really, you could tell these people had seen and heard 48
it all before. (Hospitality people anywhere have seen everything before.) Our crew was certainly in tune with the LGBTQ crowd. I didn’t sense any homophobic vibes whatsoever during my week and, man, I watch for that like a hawk. Though same-sex sex has been legal in the D.R. since 1822, the country still has no anti-discrimination or hate laws of any kind. As in much of the Caribbean, sadly, religious groups have considerable sway with the politicians, leaving support for LGBTQ rights in the dust. There’s always next year—hey, look at Belize, which revisited its laws for the better in 2016. Meanwhile, back at the pool, while I was trying to massage away the nap lines on my face without anyone watching, word spread that a hurricane was looming. Many of the Caribbean guests left at the first whiff of this news, as did quite a number of Americans. In the end, thanks to an efficient airport, we all made it out before the storm came (thankfully, the D.R. got off relatively light compared to what people on other islands in the area have had to go through). A dramatic end to a fun-filled, albeit shorter-than-planned, week. We will just have to save our white-party outfits for next September—same time, same place. When you go Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing and WestJet all have non-stop flights to Punta Cana from around $750 return. CHIC Punta Cana is about a 35-minute drive from the airport. Spring for Diamond Club status at the hotel, which will net you private check-in/out, an upgraded room-service menu, an exclusive beach area with a dedicated bar and wait staff, access to the private lounge (where you can find round-the-clock snacks and the more premium spirits), discounts on spa services and free access to the spa’s hydrotherapy circuit, as well as access to the Mermaid Pool—all really worth it. Visit CaribbeanPride.com and ChicResorts.com.
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.
WORKPLACES TO CONSIDER Celebrating diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
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FLASHBACK JANUARY 1977 IN LGBT HISTORY “Don’t leave me this way I can’t survive, I can’t stay alive, without your love Oh baby, don’t leave me this way”
January / February 2018
On January 29, 1977, the disco-infused “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston began its 17-week Top 40 run on the Billboard charts. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Houston’s version of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes song was appropriated by the LGBT community as an unofficial anthem for friends lost to the AIDS epidemic, after artist Nayland Blake referenced the title in a piece created for the American Foundation of AIDS research about the epidemic. Blake’s piece consisted of nothing more than a delicate bouquet of tangled flowers and shrubs with their roots showing, with the motto “Don’t Leave Me This Way” draped around the flowers. Instantly, a gay anthem entwined in thoughts of death and departure was born.
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January / February 2018
REFLECT WHAT DRIVES YOU. Offering refined ride comfort, a luxurious interior, standard LSS+ safety features and sculpted exterior lines, the 2018 NX is as bold and uncompromising as those who drive it.