MARCH / APrIL 2018
11 LGBTQ people who changed the world Why Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot is more important than ever
Start your engines! RuPaul is back… again! 1
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inmagazine.ca PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo FASHION DIRECTOR Danyl Geneciran SENIOR WRITER Paul Gallant CONTRIBUTORS Nelson Branco, Maxwell N. Burnstein, Christian Dare, Colin Druhan, Adriana Ermter, Ruth Hanley, Courtney Hardwick, Karen Kwan, Orlando Lopez, Kat McAndrew, Yaseera Moosa, Michael Pihach, George Pimental, Al Ramsay, Mitchel Raphael, Adam Segal, John Simone, Doug Wallace, Ashley L. Williams, Casey Williams, Marianne Wisenthal DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS MANAGER Bradley Blaylock MARKETING AND SPONSORSHIP MANAGER Jumol Royes CONTROLLER Jackie Zhao
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March / April 2018
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Australian Idol and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Courtney Act (whose real name is Shane Jenek) was crowned the winner of the 21st season of Celebrity Big Brother UK on February 2, 2018 at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England.
issue 81 APRIL/MAY 2018
06 | Travel Companions Notable tips and tricks for must-pack beauty and grooming items
08 | The Next Big Trend: Customized, Individualized Skin Care A new line of custom-made serums from France takes your daily skincare regimen to the next level 09 | Spring Flings A collection of hot rides that will have you revving for the warm weather 10 | Sweet Slumber Get the good night’s sleep you need with these strategies 11 | Open Relationships: Introducing The Idea To Your Monogamous Partner It seems like there’s a growing interest in the concept of open relationships 11 | Relationship Changes After Kids How do we recapture the pre-dad glory days? 12 | Take A Stand Against Trans Unemployment It’s the first step to transforming your workplace culture
13 | RRSP CONTRIBUTION’S DONE. NOW WHAT? You scrambled to make your RRSP contribution before the deadline...but you’re not done yet 14 | Bare Essentials Tried-and-tested techniques to banish the winter blues and put a spring in your step 15 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit FEATURES 16 | Making America Fabulous Again Why Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is more important than ever in the age of fashion fluidity— and the evolution of straight and gay friendships
20 | Bareback: The Inverse AIDS Crisis PrEP is controversial even on the gay scene 21 | LGBT People Who Changed The World Not hiding who they were was just the first thing they did to inspire progress 24 | In Praise Of Gay Sluts The ‘downfall’ of gay culture isn’t because of Grindr and the ‘thirsty’ bros who use it 26 | Drag Opera Start your engines! RuPaul just wrapped another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars and is about to unveil a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race
30 | Halleloo: The Evolution Of Shangela The beloved drag queen talks about All Stars 3, queens she admires and acting alongside Lady Gaga 32 | The Rise Of Drag Queen Storytime “With all the crazy shit that’s going on in the world, I want to do everything I can to spread love and stomp out the hate” 44 | The Power Of Ex What to do when your past catches up with you 46 | Gin O’Clock Northern Ireland comes through in spades, with some of the best gin tourism adventure off the drunken path 49 | Bermuda Becomes The First Country To Ever Revoke Same-Sex Marriage Bermuda swaps marriage for domestic partnerships for LGBT couples 50 | FLASHBACK The Aquarius bathhouse in Montreal is firebombed FASHION 34 | IN DEVELOPMENT This season, master the chic monotone trend and start wearing the same colour head-to-toe
March / April 2018
l o o k ing g o o d
Travel Companions Notable tips and tricks for must-pack beauty and grooming items By Adriana Ermter
The Beach Boys said it best in “Kokomo” with their tropics-inspired One good solution, if your vacation will be one week or less, is lyrics about escaping to Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama, Key downsizing: travel with smaller, 100-mL-size products in your Largo, Montego and, of course, the Florida Keys. After all, that’s carry-on suitcase. You can even call ahead to see what amenities where you go to get away from it all. According to Booking.com, your hotel or lodging offers, to avoid bringing unnecessary items. checking off bucket-list travel to the islands and beyond is a big “If they have full toiletries, hair dryer, etc., that will cut back priority this year, with 45 per cent of Canadians reaching for their significantly on what you need to cart around,” says Siddiqi. passports and planning the next getaway. “Hotels often like to brag about the toiletry brands they carry, so this info might easily be found on their website. A lot also like to “At this time of year, Canadians are looking to shake off the last feature local products and ingredients, so it’s a fun way to test out remnants of winter and emerge from their winter cocoons,” affirms new brands and product lines. If you can’t find this info online, Maryam Siddiqi, editor of La Carte magazine. “It’s a good shoulder call the hotel. Better to plan ahead than to show up and have to season too—rates are lower if you want to go south to the Caribbean, rummage and make do.” If you are stuck and find you don’t have and temperatures aren’t too high yet. If you’ve got kids, summers what you need once you arrive at your destination, “head straight are often about family and kid-centric stuff, so spring travel is an to the hotel concierge,” adds Siddiqi. “This is what they’re there opportunity to do adult-focused travel.” for. Otherwise, head to a local grocer or pharmacy with Google Translate ready on your phone.” Packing your suitcase for that dreamy destination will fill you with feel-good anticipation—at least until you have to organize Alternately, use a bag you’re willing to check in at the airport, your toiletries, that is. The average 750-mL bottle of shampoo and pack it with full-size items that provide you with double-duty weighs 2.2 pounds. Supplement that with a hair conditioner, tube benefits, such as a shampoo that can also be used as your face and of sunscreen, jar of face cream, favourite toothpaste, must-spritz body wash, an oil that works as a hair conditioner, as well as a fragrance, pocket-size lip balm and 24-hour antiperspirant…and face and body moisturizer and a head-to-toe sunscreen. “But avoid you’ve added 10 pounds to your luggage, 20 if you’re travelling anything that comes in a jar,” warns Brierley. These containers are with your partner. often bulky, heavy and made from glass, which can break. Plastic tubes and bottles are more easily transported, plus “anything in What to do? “Keep it simple when you’re travelling,” advises Kirk a tube helps dispense a measured amount and is less messy,” he Brierley, a beauty expert, trainer, on-air personality and Cityline says. Don’t forget to pack it all into a zippered liquid carry-all bag favourite. “There’s no reason to get bogged down with baggage.” to help prevent spills from seeping into the rest of your luggage. 6
Double-duty products to pack: Aveeno Ultra Calming Moisturizer SPF 30 $14 for 120 mL, available at Walmart stores The sunscreen-infused lotion gently soothes and moisturizes the sensitive skin on your face, yet is hydrating and sun protective enough to also use on your body. Clean Reserve Smoked Vetiver $125 for 100 mL, available at Sephora stores This shareable unisex scent has earthy, citrus and woodsy notes that make it a sexy alternative to packing two fragrances. Dove Pure Care Dry Oil with African Macadamia Oil for Hair $7 for 100 mL, available at Shoppers Drug Mart This non-greasy hair treatment can also be used as a post-shower, leave-in hair conditionerâ€”plus you can rub it into dry hands, elbows and heels for extra moisture. The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel $10 for 250 mL, available at The Body Shop stores Fresh and invigorating, this citrus-based shower gel removes dirt and excess oil from your body and face, and easily pulls double duty as a shampoo.
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
l o o k ing g o o d
The Next Big Trend: Customized, Individualized Skin care A new line of custom-made serums from France takes your daily skincare regimen to the next level By Christopher Turner
The concept of ‘bespoke’ is having a moment, and advancements in technology are taking truly personalized skincare regimens from novelty to mainstream. In recent years, consumer demand for more tailored beauty and grooming regimens has skyrocketed and, as a result, personalized personal care products have become a reality.
that may have blackheads and comedones; oily skin; or lentigo, melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Products are then mixed with a unique system and can be adjusted to accommodate different seasonal needs or tweaked over time as the customer’s skin changes and improves.
“It’s definitely where skin care is going, and it makes sense,” says Dr. Stephen Mulholland of SpaMedica in Toronto. “It’s a part of a larger cultural trend to individualized, bespoke products in virtually every category; no one wants anything ‘cookie-cutter’ anymore. But it especially makes sense in skin care. While there are only so many skincare concerns that people have, the degree to which one can have them and the combination of concerns make everyone’s issues unique.”
It’s simple and efficient—and more in-depth than picking a product from the beauty counter of your favourite department store. After all, it’s incredibly easy to waste a lot of money on products that not only aren’t effective but also can potentially do your skin more harm than good.
Generally we are sold skincare products to suit about five different categories: dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, aging skin and problem skin. But what if you have aging skin, and are still prone to oiliness? Traditional over-the-counter products will focus on only one category and you may be doing more harm than good by tackling what seems to be your biggest skin problem.
“When I talk to my patients, I call Universkin the big guns,” says Dr. Mulholland, who regularly recommends Universkin to his patients at SpaMedica. “The Actives are powerful and the base formula to which they are added is, in itself, strong and effective. Department-store brands, even the most potent, have to be concerned about a wide range of people and they keep things moderate. With Universkin, we can tweak it and the concentration of Actives can be increased. We can alter your formulation at any point. That’s important when you are using powerful skincare ingredients.”
Ahead of the ‘bespoke’ trend, a panel of expert dermatologists and plastic surgeons from France developed a new concept of custom-made serums, called Universkin. First introduced in Europe and the UK, the individualized skincare line has finally made its way west, offering a potency of ingredients and formulations that drugstore, department store, boutique and mass brands simply cannot match.
Professional guidance and the right skincare system inevitably puts you on the right track.
The days of 10 different skincare products—and buying skincare products that aren’t right for you—are over. And this is just the beginning…
“No other skincare [brand] is doing this—for most brands, customization means a base formula and a handful of serums to choose from and add to it,” says Dr. Mulholland. That’s not the case here.
March / April 2018
From the individualization standpoint, Universkin has 19 pharmaceuticalgrade “Actives” available in 57 possible concentrations, which can be used to create a staggering 1,159 unique formulations. The serums are highly active, to target various conditions from pigmentation, acne and sensitive or eczema-prone skin, to wrinkles or loss of volume. The journey to personalized skin care begins with a comprehensive consultation with a Universkin-trained medical aesthetician to determine a customer’s specific skin condition and skincare needs before determining their individual formulation. The aesthetician works with the customer to determine what needs to be addressed and what is the biggest concern, and then creates one-of-a-kind formulations to help, whether it is stressed skin; wrinkled skin and loss of volume; inflammation including redness, inflammatory acne and rosacea; dry skin; thick skin 8
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.
Spring Flings A collection of hot rides that will have you revving for the warm weather By Casey Williams
Spring brings life anew, but it’s also a time to court four-wheeled partners that will elicit love and adoration for years to come. Whether your ideal ride runs to sexy Italians, Germans, Japanese or Americans, one of these could put the fling in your spring.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio What kind of steamy tryst is an Italian sedan packing a 505 horsepower turbocharged V6 engine and all-wheel-drive to get it all to the ground? Just order it in red! But you may also appreciate the exotic carbon fibre hood, roof, rear spoiler and front splitter. Crank up the Harman Kardon audio system, dial in 3D navigation, and stay safe with collision avoidance systems. Love me! Base price: $87,995
Audi A5 Sportback Get the A5 as a coupe, convertible or…five-door Sportback, the four-door coupe. A wide grille, LED headlights and beefy fenders hint at the power within: a 252 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo-four or 354 horsepower turbo-V6, the latter rocketing from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. It all gets to the ground through Quattro all-wheel-drive. Cuddle up with Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, inlay wood, panoramic sunroof, 4G WiFi and Audi’s flatscreen virtual cockpit. Divine! Base price: $47,950 Honda Civic R It looks sexy and moves like Bruno Mars, setting a record for front-drive cars on Germany’s famed Nürburgring of under seven minutes and 43 seconds. Praise the 306 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo-four, six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching, and adaptive suspension dampers. Beneath wings n’ things is a roomy five-door cabin, dressed with deep buckets and flip-down rear seats, that hauls all of your gear really fast. Drive all night. Base price: $40,990
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon If you’re clinging to a mountain, choose this capable cleat. Redesigned for 2018, Wrangler is sleeker, but also fortified with a refined suspension and array of powertrains: a 285 horsepower V6, light hybrid with a 270 horsepower turbo-four, or V6 diesel. Plug-ins arrive in 2020. Soft tops can be deployed in seconds, but a new powered canvas section on hardtops opens skies. Stylish interiors finally equal premium prices. Base price: $46,345
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 to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Sweet Slumber Get the good night’s sleep you need with these strategies By Karen Kwan
Do you often feel sleepy and tired? You’re not alone. The average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but about one third of Canadian adults aged 18 to 64 sleep less than seven hours. And one of the biggest misconceptions is that we can get away with less sleep, says Amy Bender, who is on the research team at the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary. “People think they can adapt to sleep deprivation. They think, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m performing well,’ but when you look at their performance objectively, they’re certainly not.” In fact, less than one per cent of the population can get away with less than six hours of sleep a night.
March / April 2018
Sleep is as important to your health as a balanced diet and getting enough exercise—to start treating it that way, try out some of these sound sleeping strategies to get you on track for nights of sweet slumber. Get your daily dose of daylight “Recent research shows that the more light you can get before noon, the better your sleep quality is at night,” says Bender. That’s because the light helps regulate circadian rhythms, letting your body know that it’s daytime and you should be awake and alert. She notes that other studies have shown that office workers who sit near a window enjoy better sleep quality. What to do if you don’t work near a window and have little time outside before noon other than your commute into the office? Bender recommends taking a walk at some point in the morning. “We can all take a 10-minute break, even in the winter, to get some outdoor light. Taking a break helps your performance, too, so you’re killing two birds with one stone.” Listen to your body’s needs How to judge if you’re getting enough sleep? Bender says that if you’re waking up without an alarm, and feel alert during the day without relying on drinking a lot of caffeine, that’s a good sign you’re getting enough sleep. In the real world, though, most of us use alarm clocks and have kids and other responsibilities that we 10
need to attend to. If you want to see how much sleep is right for you, Bender suggests this test: over a period of time (for example, while on vacation), go to sleep when you’re tired and wake up naturally without an alarm clock, and then look at the average number of hours of rest you’re getting over that period of time. Also, Bender says, if you’re getting enough sleep, you will feel alert within 30 minutes to one hour after waking up. Practise a body scan to help you relax at bedtime You can use your breath to get your body into a state of relaxation when it’s time to hit the sack. Cassidy Thedorf of Toronto’s Radiate Happy Meditation recommends doing a body scan. “Start with some deep, diaphragmatic breathing—imagine a baby breathing, with your belly rising and falling. This will push the abdominal wall against the vagus nerve, which runs up the spine, sending the message from your body to your brain that you’re safe and it’s okay to relax,” says Thedorf. “Once you have practised this breathing for a few rounds, allow yourself to settle into a rhythm of breath that feels natural to you.” Next, scan your body slowly, beginning at the crown of your head. Notice any sensations, whether tingling, numbness, heat or cold; if you come across areas of tension, send your breath there. Thedorf says that if your mind drifts off, simply guide it back to the scan. She says practising this every morning and night, even just for a few minutes, will help boost your melatonin levels and lead to better sleep. Write out your to-do list before going to sleep Rather than getting up and making a list of the things you want to accomplish that day, put pen to paper before you hit the sheets at night. A recent study conducted at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, found that study particupants who spent five minutes jotting down their to-do list for the next day before going to bed slept more soundly compared to participants who wrote down what they had accomplished that day. It seems writing down what needs to be done in the future helps to offload worries and gets us into a more peaceful frame of mind, which can lead to falling asleep more easily.
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
Introducing An Open Relationship to Your Monogamous Partner It seems like there’s a growing interest in the concept of open relationships By Ashley L. Williams
So…you’re in a monogamous relationship and want to start a conversation with your partner about opening things up. The first step is understanding the lifestyle, because opinions on monogamy and open relationships will vary from one person to the next. If an open relationship is something you’re interested in exploring, it can be difficult to introduce the idea to your monogamous partner. But there is a process that I’ve found to be successful in broaching the topic. Start off by dropping subtle hints about the topic to see how your partner responds. Next? Create yourself a “sales pitch” of sorts; explain why opening up your relationship will be beneficial to each of you, as well as together as a couple. Think of success stories and come up with answers to questions you think your partner might ask; cover the pitch from every angle you can think of. Why will this change be good for you? If your partner is hesitant about the idea, suggest trying things out first. You can organize a group activity where you play together, or allow your partner to choose someone to play with on their own and see how they feel.
Throughout the process, it’s important to remember that the most important step for a successful open relationship is communication. Honest, trusting candour. Opening up your relationship means you’ll have to deal with a lot of emotion; feelings can take on all sorts of shapes including fear, sadness, jealousy, inadequacy and anger. Communication means talking about comforts, creating rules and reassuring each other when needed. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings—your relationship will need that communication more than ever. Being open also means being non-judgmental. This new relationship will require a lot of acceptance on both ends. It’s important to remember to have fun with the freedom, but remember that you still have a primary partner who deserves your respect. On the note of having fun, try socializing with other couples who are in open relationships, and learn from their experiences. Going from monogamous to open means you’ll need time for trial and error. You’ll need to be patient, and willing to learn from mistakes without making anyone feel guilty. Move at your own pace, and more importantly your partner’s pace, and never apply pressure to the relationship—not everyone wants to be open, so don’t force it.
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.
How do we recapture the pre-dad glory days? By Adam Segal
Dear Adam, My partner and I have been together for five years, and our son Max is about to turn one. Max can be a handful, but he is pretty fantastic. My relationship with my partner, on the other hand, feels rather limp. I’m sorry to report that our bickering has increased dramatically since Max’s arrival. Our spats often revolve around parenting styles and how we discipline Max—we both care about him deeply but get exhausted. Before becoming parents, our relationship was really great and playful. I think we both want things to improve but it’s like we can’t catch a break— we’re so consumed with the daily grind that it seems impossible to reconnect. I knew having a child would be hard, but really hoped the experience would bring us closer and not make us want to strangle each other. How do we recapture the pre-dad glory days? —Simon Dear Simon, To start simply: it’s probably never a good idea to assess the quality of a relationship in the first year (or two or 10!) of having children. Becoming a parent, while often rewarding in the long run, is usually overwhelming and disorienting to say the least. When you and your guy started your relationship, the bond between you was focused on the joys of getting to know each other. Now, with little Max in the picture, your relationship has become somewhat of a child-rearing ‘company,’ with both of you sharing the role of CEO. Like many other young families, you are feeling stretched,
and there’s no way to resolve that in a snap. Here are some tips that could take the edge off: Remember you are on the same team A common pitfall of co-parenting with someone is the blame game. When one partner is up all night with a distraught child, it can be harrowing and, let’s face it, somewhat torturous. From that exhausted place, it’s tempting to channel your frustration by finding fault, and your partner is an easy target. Both of you are going to have to resist mindlessly blaming each other for the hardship of raising a child—a hardship that, even with the best parenting skills, is unavoidable. You’ll both benefit from remembering that you are aligned in wanting the best for Max, even if you go about it differently at times. Be realistic—not fatalistic It’s painful for new parents to feel so estranged from less complicated times. The fact that you two lovebirds had such a joyful start together means there is something solid to build from. But trying to replicate that carefree spirit right now is unrealistic when so much energy has to go into making your family function on a daily basis. Expecting yourselves to squeeze in lots of romance in the midst of parenting your young son would be a set-up for failure. Instead, commit to treating each other with the same love and respect you showed each other initially, and be willing to apologize when the late nights and grocery store tantrums make you lose sight of your gratitude.
ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @email@example.com.
R elati o nships
Relationship Changes After Kids
P ri d e at w o r k
Take A Stand Against Trans Unemployment It’s the first step to transforming your workplace culture By Colin Druhan
“You seem qualified, but I just don’t think you’re a good fit.” This, or a similar phrase, is one that many LGBTQ2+ job seekers report hearing again and again while looking for work. In response to a Pride at Work Canada survey of LGBTQ2+ job seekers across Canada, many community members reported fears that their gender presentation or appearance was preventing them from being taken seriously when looking for work. These concerns are felt most acutely among people who identify as trans or gender diverse, a group that is disproportionately impacted by unemployment and underemployment compared to the broader LGBTQ2+ community. While an increasing number of Canadian employers are vocal about their support for LGBTQ2+-inclusive workplaces and hiring practices, many are not sure where to start. Some focus more on the needs of cis people who are lesbian, gay and bi, forgetting about the needs of trans and gender diverse people of all orientations. “Frankly, I need to see change at a fundamental level. Often LGBT positive doesn’t mean trans positive,” said one survey respondent.
March / April 2018
Laleh Moshiri is the national director, diversity & inclusion at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Canada’s oldest law firm. She first started thinking about how her firm could open up opportunity for trans and gender-diverse employees when she attended a talk about LGBTQ2+ people in the legal profession at the University of Toronto. One of the speakers talked about transitioning gender while completing law school, a process that included changing his name. The fact that his undergraduate diploma and transcripts did not reflect his name and lived gender therefore outed him while he was in the process of seeking a summer law student job. “That was an eye opener,” says Moshiri, and it prompted her to see what she could change at her firm, including the introduction of all-gender washrooms, to create a more inclusive environment. “I thought, this is more than just washrooms,” says Moshiri, who took on the challenge of updating policies across the firm as well as introducing a stand-alone trans inclusion policy. Her work paid off. Soon after the changes, an employee stepped forward to seek support in their own transition. They told Moshiri it was the visible support that made them feel comfortable to do so. “That moment was so incredible for me,” explains Moshiri. “It confirmed that we had done the right thing.” Danielle Araya, coordinator of the Trans Youth Mentorship Program at The 519 in Toronto, would like to see more employers take an 12
increasingly proactive approach to trans inclusion. “There’s a lot of talent in our community that’s not being utilized,” she says, explaining that employers sometimes need to look outside their current workforce to create better systems. “You don’t just wait for it to happen, you have to reach out to communities that have felt excluded.” However, she cautions against leaning entirely on the community to do your work for you. “Allies need to do the work of unpacking their own cis privilege,” explains Araya. “Flip the lens off the marginalized group and see who is benefiting from the current system.” Biko Beauttah knows what it’s like to struggle to find a job, and is well aware of how current processes keep a lot of trans people out of work. She cites transphobic violence, complications related to identification, ignorance of issues facing trans people, and safe washroom access as sources of frustration and trauma for trans job seekers. “Forgive us for needing a little extra support, but the T in LGBT should not be an afterthought,” she says. Her struggle to find a job inspired her to found Trans Workforce, an organization whose mission is to accelerate upward mobility of those who are trans or gender non-conforming. Ultimately, she says, “it’s not about me; it’s bigger than me.” Last November, Trans Workforce held Canada’s first job fair for trans and gender-diverse job seekers, hosted at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. The event attracted locals as well as people who had travelled from as far as California to see what employers had to offer them. Beauttah was pleased to see so many community members make connections with employers who were willing to listen to their needs. “Maybe through this good energy the community can be united,” says Beauttah. “Maybe they can find unity in kindness.” Considering the challenges facing trans and gender-diverse people in the job market, and the willingness of many employers to become more inclusive, Pride at Work Canada recently released Hiring Across All Spectrums: A Report on Broadening Opportunities for LGBTQ2+ Jobseekers. The report provides insight into the crucial steps many employers are missing when creating inclusive environments and equitable hiring practices. To take the first step in transforming your workplace culture, download a free copy of the report at prideatwork.ca. To learn more about Trans Workforce, visit transworkforce.com. For more information on The 519’s Trans Youth Mentorship Program, visit the519.org.
COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employees to foster workplace cultures IN MAGAZINE that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.
You scrambled to make your RRSP contribution before the deadline…but you’re not done yet. By Al Ramsay & Orlando Lopez
So you’ve been on the ball this year. You did your research about the benefits of RRSP contributions and you got it done…before the deadline! Now what? For starters, try to make sure you haven’t made one of these common contribution mistakes. Is it invested? During the rush to make the deposit and obtain the tax receipt, it is not uncommon for clients to delay making an informed investment decision and instead just leave cash in the RRSP account—which doesn’t give you the maximum benefits on growth. Yes, you still benefit from the tax deduction against your income; however, the other benefit of the RRSP is that you pay no taxes on dividends, interest or capital gains you generate in the account until you start to withdraw. Consider future tax implications For most people, the main motivator for RRSP contributions is the tax savings it allows today against your most recent tax year, by allowing a deduction against your taxable income for that year. But I recommend that you take the time to consider not only today’s tax impact but also the long-term impact when you start to draw from your RRSP nest egg, particularly if you have a spouse. Consider the fact that if a couple earns $100,000 and $50,000 respectively, their total income tax paid is higher than if they each earned $75,000 each, although their total household income is the same. The norm is for the person with the higher income to accumulate a larger RRSP savings in their name; however, you can also strategically use a spousal RRSP account, which allows the high-income earner to get the tax receipt while putting the savings in their partner’s name.
Estate planning An RRSP account allows you to designate a beneficiary, which could be an individual, a number of persons with percentages allocated, or your estate. Many people don’t review their designation when they purchase the RRSP, making an update only when they think it necessary. But the timing doesn’t always work: I have seen a situation where the beneficiary for a client’s RRSP was their ex-spouse—whom they had divorced years ago. It wasn’t the client’s intention to benefit the ex-spouse and it wasn’t required by any court ruling; it was simple negligence on the client’s part. Planning ahead If you’ve covered all the bases discussed above, then your sights may be set on planning for the next tax year. It is possible to have an automatic monthly transfer made to your RRSP, which keeps you disciplined and gets your money invested immediately. In order to have flexibility (in case you end up needing this money for an emergency), I recommend that you make your automatic monthly investment to a Tax-Free Savings Account and then at tax time (around January or February), you can transfer in kind whatever lump sum you want to the RRSP. This way, you don’t miss out on the investment gains—tax sheltering—but you also don’t commit to setting your money in an RRSP too soon, before you know your actual tax situation when the year is complete. Finally, remember to check in with your financial advisor to get the right advice that suits your financial needs.
AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s regional 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @AlRamsay_TD. 13 ORLANDO LOPEZ, TD Wealth Financial Planner, is a member of Al’s team of expert advisors who support the LGBT community.
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RRSP Contribution’s Done. Now What?
Bare Essentials Tried-and-tested techniques to banish the winter blues and put a spring in your step By Jumol Royes
Keeping it simple has never been my strong suit. In the university of life, I majored in complex and got a master’s degree in complicated. But there’s one thing I’ve come to know for sure: sometimes we’re better served by stripping things down and getting back to basics. If you’re like me, you know all about self-care and what we could and should be doing to take care of ourselves. But the truth of the matter is there’s a big difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it, and I’ve been guilty of not always practising what I preach. We could all benefit from a periodic gentle reminder—or a swift kick in the rear end—to inspire us to do better and be better. After a winter spent holed up inside and hibernating, who couldn’t use some help thawing out and getting back on track? I sat down with my friend and yoga instructor, Adam Bolton, one of the founders of Men’s Retreats (a community of mindful and active men supporting one another), to get his thoughts on simple strategies to fill up our tanks so we’re not running on empty.
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Get some sleep We’re busy, overstimulated and constantly distracted, and getting a good night’s sleep is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside. We can tell ourselves we’ll make it up later, but don’t get it twisted: sleep deprivation is real, and its effects can have a tangible impact on the overall quality of our lives. According to Bolton, the single most important thing we can do for ourselves is to reset our brains and bodies by getting a good night’s sleep and establishing a sleep regimen.Tip: Try not to check your phone in the hour before bed, and charge it where it’s out of reach. Take up yoga These days, even if you don’t do yoga yourself, you probably know someone who does. If you’re thinking about taking it up, you’re probably trying to figure out what the core benefits are and if there’s a specific style of yoga that suits you best. For Bolton, yoga is just one piece of the puzzle where the focus is on rebalancing and regulating the nervous system…and that’s something that would benefit everyone.Tip: Don’t research a style of yoga; research a teacher you connect with.
Give mindfulness meditation a try When we hear the words “mindfulness meditation,” there’s a tendency to tune out, but there really is something to it. Mindfulness can be described as the non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. “I would distill it down to mental training,” says Bolton. “You need to think of training your mind the same way you think of training your body.” The goal of mindfulness is not to clear or empty your mind; it’s about creating a safe space for stillness and observation.Tip: Download a mindfulness app and practise seven minutes daily at the same time each day. Establish community connections It’s human nature to crave community and to seek out a sense of belonging. This desire to connect takes on even greater significance for those of us in the LGBTQ community, who often feel isolated and excluded. Bolton stresses that cultivating community takes effort and isn’t always easy; we have to actively choose it and make it a priority. Being in community can be challenging at times, and we should be willing to give support if we want to receive it. Tip: Join a book club, or sign up for cooking or art classes. Whatever you do, be sure to show up for yourself and for others. Be of service Giving back and reaching out to help someone in need is something we’re all called to do. Loving our neighbours and loving ourselves are one and the same. When we volunteer our time, energy and expertise in service of the greater good, we’re being a demonstration of love in the world. And it’s hard to disagree with the argument that the world needs as much love as it can get. Tip: Find an organization whose mission you believe in and contact them about volunteer opportunities that match your skills and time commitment. Self-care isn’t rocket science, so keep it simple, sweetie.
Adam Bolton and Men’s Retreats are joining forces with OUT Adventures for their upcoming Big Gay Cottage Getaway (www.outadventures.com). To find out more about Adam’s upcoming workshops and retreats, visit www.adamboltonyoga.com.
JUMOL ROYES is IN’s Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, and a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.
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Scenes From The Party Circuit By Michael Pihach
Bloor Street Entertains at the Four Seasons Hotel (photos by George Pimental and John Simone) 1: Andy Anderson, Nada Ristich, 2: Steven Larkins, 3: Greg Menzies, Alexander Filiatrault, 4: Jeronimo deMiguel, Eva Hartling. Fly Nightclubâ€™s 19th Anniversary (photos by Mitchel Raphael) 5: Travis Lâ€™Henaff, 6: Kirk Pelletier, 7: Gairy Brown, Gaelen Patrick, 8: Will White. IDS 2018 Opening Party at Metro Toronto Convention Centre 9: Baraa Alarazi, 10: Colin McAllister, Justin Ryan, 11: Miles Raine, 12: Kyro Parry, Whitney Scheefer.
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Making America Fabulous Again Why Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is more important than ever in the age of fashion fluidity—and the evolution of straight and gay friendships By Nelson Branco
The cast of Netflix’s Queer Eye, from left to right: Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Bobby Berk (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Is Madonna helming the TV and streaming world? These days, almost every hit series is being reinvented just like the Queen of Pop has done with her venerable career. And not to be outdone, the groundbreaking reality TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—which revolutionized not only the tube but also gay and straight culture (who can forget that full-image Entertainment Weekly cover after the show exploded?)—returned last month with a new look, cast, location and attitude.
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Replacing the original “Fab Five”—Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez—are newbies Antoni Porowski (food and wine aficionado), Bobby Berk (interior design guide), Karamo Brown (culture czar), Jonathan Van Ness (grooming guru) and Tan France (fashion maven). And your eyes are not deceiving you: to mirror the times, the cast is much more diverse. Take newcomer Tan France, for instance. He is thrilled by his casting, saying, “I am an immigrant, I am Pakistani, I am Muslim, I’m gay. If you’re Middle Eastern, boys don’t go into fashion. They go to law school or to be a doctor. I love the plan for what they want for
this new show. It’s very much about the hero but also about us and our stories. I think it’s going to be formidable.” It’s also lost a few inches off its original title: the series is now known as just Queer Eye (a move Bravo made halfway through the US run). Moreover, the tastemakers are on the road: New York City is out and Atlanta, Georgia, is in. “It was time to leave New York,” says executive producer Rob Eric. “We realized that you can take anyone into a high-end Manhattan shop and make them look like a million bucks. We believed Queer Eye should be able to go anywhere—any city, any town, any community on any budget and make over anyone of any gender with great results.” A smart move since the southern US states provide a lot more characterdriven conflict and culture clashes than post-modern New York City. What has stayed the same is the focus on watching the cast forge transformative relationships with men from a wide array of backgrounds and beliefs often contrary to their own. As a TV reporter and critic, when I heard of the Queer Eye reboot,
my immediate thought was: “Wouldn’t it be more cutting-edge and relevant if Netflix reinvented the reality series as Straight Eye for the Queer Guy? Or Cisgender for Generation X?” After all, more than 10 years after the Emmy-winning series left the airwaves, straight men have embraced their own sense of fashion-forward style and/or merged with ours (from metrosexual to hipster) without our help—and evolved lifestyle design in many ways across the spectrum. In fact, millennial straight men are also, for the most part, embracing the many layers of sexuality and gender, and are disrupting the status quo in all areas of life almost daily. So why go back to the same well? In an exclusive interview with IN, executive producer and creator David Collins, who took a mini-career break to become a dad to twins, explains the genesis of the reboot. “Taking some time off to be a dad, I realized there was a whole generation now that didn’t know about the original and beloved Queer Eye,” he sets up. “We’re in a time when the show can do some work and some good again. We wanted a breath of new life, and Netflix was the perfect partner and fit. They bring the modern world of streaming and platform.” France points out to us, “[The gay community] has gone through a lot in the past year—especially in America. But it’s also an important show globally [Queer Eye spawned myriad international versions]. There’s so much more impact we can have in the world, just like the original show had in America.” And vice versa. Discussions began 14 months ago—and it was Collins who approached the streaming juggernaut. “They were exploring creating a non-scripted reality division, and we were humbled and blessed to be their first,” he says. As befits a show about transformation, it transformed itself into more of a documentary. “The new Queer Eye has much more of a verité documentary feel to it,” Collins describes. “To have a relationship develop, you need time. You’ve got to hang. Get some coffee or shop together. The audience needs to see that. They need to see more of their journey. They get to know one another beyond the superficial.” And straight men won’t entirely be the focus of the queer makeover in future seasons. Collins previews, “Hopefully, as we move on with new seasons, men, women, families, transgender, gay men and women—the possibilities are endless. Our idea is that the ‘queer’ eye is all-encompassing and really about designing your life well.” Part of that new fluid approach is thanks to Netflix and its young audience. Luckily, the streaming giant is keeping the show’s core appeal intact. Collins enthuses, “We leaned into Netflix for their insight and craved that information because we wanted it to succeed but also be true to
the original format, which is ultimately about transformation through information told with comedy and heart. That hasn’t changed. We’ve never been a makeover show; we’re a be-better show.” The world has changed a lot since the show debuted 15 years ago—gay civil rights becoming reality in North America, not to mention new technologies and social media—and that reality has been incorporated into the series. “We definitely took advantage of the smartphones and being able to do research and references,” Collins says. “It’s been a great tool that we will definitely tie in more as people use their smartphones for everything, from purchasing services to products and communicating. It’s exciting to see how tech impacts the zeitgeist more and more.” Or horrifying! In an era where anyone can be a tastemaker, journalist, star, producer, insert profession here—thanks, Instagram and YouTube—it’s comforting to know there are still experts out there on the interwebs to turn to. Karamo Brown nods, saying, “Nowadays we have culture at our fingertips because of technology. People are experiencing different cultures and subcultures constantly. For me, it’s helping people figure out how to navigate all those subcultures and cultures they’re experiencing. The guys have joked that in helping people to be more cultured, I’ve sort of turned myself into a life coach. Everything I’m doing is really, how do we help you navigate the life that you want to live? It’s not just the exterior—culture is the heart of all societies. It’s the heart of who we are as individuals.” But at its core, Queer Eye was a groundbreaking series that detailed the beautiful friendships gay and straight men have had throughout time. “One hundred per cent,” smiles Collins. “The original inspiration for the show was based on my best friends being straight. I used to say, ‘It doesn’t matter that my straight friends love sports and I love shoes,’ but that has changed to ‘My straight best friends love shoes more than I do!’ Straight or gay, we’re all just men.” Overall, the reinvented series is about all of us trying to make sense of this new and crazy world of ours with increasingly fewer labels and spiked sensitivity in our language and communication. Collins says, “My favourite thing about being a gay man is enjoying all sides of being a human, quite frankly. One of the most beautiful things is experiencing my daughters and having an unbelievable newfound love for the beauty of women, which has tapped into my feminine spirit. I’m a dad but I’m also a mom as well.” Co-host Bobby Berk loves seeing the world’s pendulum swinging to a more inclusive side, but reminds us that the past is always present: “There is a lot of breaking down of norms—which has led to a lot of breakthroughs—but there has also been a lot of backsliding, which makes it very important for us to have these conversations.”
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The cast of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy that premiered in 2003, from left to right: Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia and Kyan Douglas (Photo courtesy of Bravo)
So what does Collins think of how millennials have shaped the world? And how upcoming Generation Z might shape it?
downs but ultimately we all have each other’s back. I couldn’t be more proud to be the daddy bear to them.”
“They’re very fluid,” he says. “Even my nine-year-old girls— who could not be more different from one another—are already [eschewing] gender norms. One of them is embracing their masculine side. In some ways ‘tomboy’ is a bad word for us because she is who she is—a beautiful soul. I love how open millennials are. They don’t have the hang-ups or weight that I had as a Midwestern South Baptist boy who was scared of his own shadow in Ohio.”
But can we expect to see a ‘return from the dead’ à la Alexis Carrington in Dynasty from the original cast in future seasons? (We won’t spoil if any of the OG returns in this season.)
But it’s how millennials are playing with drag and gender-bending fashion that makes them a generation to take seriously.
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“Millennials’ gender fluidity has really impacted their style and fashion—and I love how they dress,” Collins applauds. “It’s an amazing time to be a young person. I’m happy for them because they have real mentors and guides now to help them navigate life with their free attitude.” But let’s get to the important question: how does Collins manage five queens on set? He laughs out loud, saying, “It’s like the OG. They’re all truly amazing; it’s a big brotherhood. We laugh until our tummies hurt every day. It’s a fun adventure because of each of them. It’s like growing in a family. We all have our ups and
After all, arguably the most popular and successful post-Queer alum, Carson Kressley, wasn’t too thrilled to learn he wasn’t a part of the reboot when news broke last year. #Drama? The RuPaul’s Drag Race judge told TMZ, “The producers actually called me before the story broke and were like, ‘Hey, we wanna let you know, we’re redoing the show with a new dynamic cast’ and I was like [disappointed noise].” He continued, “I think they want a young, new cast, which I totally get, and they always do this with reboot shows, but I’m like, ‘I’m not Mickey Rooney! I’m still alive and kicking, I can do it!’” But Collins maintains every one of the vets is on Team Queer 2.0. “They’ve been so supportive and they’re all about the big Queer Eye family, but there are no plans one way or another for guest-star cameos,” he teases. “We’re not saying they will or won’t be back. But keep watching!” Or binging.
Meet the Sassy Five TAN FRANCE is the successful entrepreneur behind several international clothing ventures, including the bestselling brand Kingdom and State. France, who was born in England, had never planned to appear on television; he always dreamed of a career in fashion. Growing up, he’d spend summers working in his grandfather’s denim factory and at one point found the idea of becoming a machinist rather glamorous. But he says his goals didn’t exactly fit within accepted cultural norms. So, he secretly enrolled in fashion college and attended classes for some time before he got up the nerve to tell his parents. France now makes his home in Utah with his husband. JONATHAN VAN NESS is a hairstylist based out of L.A. and New York. But he is best known for starring in the popular web series, Gay of Thrones. Van Ness can vividly recall watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in his teen years. He settled on a career in grooming early on: “I’ve always wanted to do hair. I remember being three and one of my dad’s friends saying, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And I said, ‘A cabana girl or a cosmetologist,’ because the girls at the cabana at the pool had these really fierce little hats and I really loved them.”
BOBBY BERK has become one of the leading names in modern interior design. He also has strong ties to the original Queer Eye. “I still remember watching the very first episode thinking, ‘There are gay people on television!’” His wildly successful career owes a great deal to self-drive and determination. Fearing his sexuality would not be accepted in the small town where he grew up, he won emancipation from his parents before completing high school, moving first to Denver, then to New York, where he began to pursue his passion for design. Berk has since reunited with his family and maintains strong ties with them.
KARAMO BROWN is no stranger to reality television—he broke barriers as the first openly gay black man on the 15th season of MTV’s long-running The Real World. But he also has a long history of working in the non-profit sector, including as the founder of HIV awareness organization 6in10. It’s through the latter lens that Brown approached Queer Eye’s culture vertical—his chief aim was to foster understanding and respect for other cultures and to help people better understand the complexities of the modern world. A single father to two sons, ages 20 and 17, Brown was also excited to serve as a positive role model as a parent and a gay man of colour. ANTONI POROWSKI has had a lifelong passion for food and a history of catering private events in and around New York—he even served as the personal chef for original Queer Eye star Ted Allen, who would become his mentor. But he had never planned to make a career out of his culinary pursuits. Originally from Montreal, Antoni was bitten by the culinary bug at a young age, spending countless hours in the kitchen watching his mother joyously cooking and bringing a world of culinary delights to life. He discovered the worlds of Julia Child and soon after began to teach himself how to cook. Antoni became the personal chef to some of New York’s and Brooklyn’s prominent citizens. He’s also appeared in NBC’s Blacklist.
NELSON BRANCO is the digital editor and producer for the Toronto Sun. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, 19 People and TV Guide, and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV and The Marilyn Denis Show. You can follow him at @nelliebranco.
Bareback: The Inverse AIDS Crisis PrEP is controversial even on the gay scene By Maxwell N. Burnstein
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is changing the landscape of gay sex as the inverse of the AIDS crisis. The daily pill, which reduces infection from the HIV virus by up to 90 per cent, is normalizing bareback sex—and leading to a new social pressure to stop using condoms. Counter to the depictions in Philadelphia, Angels in America, Rent, Dallas Buyers Club and The Normal Heart, the little blue pill has become a new symbol for sexual freedom. Patients on PrEP take a pill (brand name Truvada), once a day, that blocks the HIV virus from entering pathways in the body for men whether they are HIV positive or negative. Thanks to the protection offered by Truvada, the wave of unprotected sex that drove the AIDS crisis in the 1980s is rising again. Advocacy from the previous generation is reversing the cultural stigma that was bred with the disease’s queer association and bias within the community.
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A major motivation for people to use the drug is the fact that it allows them to be protected from HIV while enjoying bareback sex, and apps like Grindr propagate its use as the new normal. The drug’s prevalence within the gay community is indicated by the status option that can be found on profiles, leaving some to wonder about the shift in conversation, where openness to bareback sex now seems to be a prerequisite. Vice contributor Brian Moylan’s 2016 op-ed “Not Being on PrEP Is Making It Harder for Me to Get Laid” resonates with this sentiment, and it’s still relevant in
2018 as the social norms around condom use continue to change. Of course, medical evidence suggests that PrEP is helping to reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs). (Healthcare providers require regular HIV testing and STI screenings as part of PrEP treatment as a prevention model.) But many physicians are limited in their ability to prescribe PrEP or offer the education needed, because of a lack of experience with queer sexual health practices. Although the FDA approved a generic form of Truvada south of the border in June 2017, there’s currently no American federal program to reduce the cost. However, New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco all provide the medication for free. In Canada, the federal government has approved PrEP as prophylaxis for HIV in general, and residents in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia (as of January 1) can receive the medication for free as it is covered by most health plans. The Alberta government is conducting a months-long review to assess possible coverage. Other countries, such as England, are still in the midst of their own clinical trials to ensure the drug is safe and effective. Without coverage, the cost of this drug is staggering, reaching up to $1,000 CAD per month. For now, the presence of the PrEP has forced us to openly address the taboos on sex within the gay community, as the stigmas of bareback sex have shifted to stigmas around condom use.
Original artwork by Maxwell N. Burnstein using imagery from photographer Tyler Miller
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.
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11 LGBT People Who Changed The World Not hiding who they were was just the first thing they did to inspire progress By Courtney Hardwick
“Changing the world” is no easy feat. It means connecting with people in a way that few of us are capable of, and doing it on an enormous scale. These days, social media makes “going viral” seem like a piece of cake, but that’s because people can share their opinion with a click. A cause can spread across the country—and the world—like wildfire thanks to hashtags, vloggers with millions of followers, and a 24/7 news cycle that never sleeps. There has been a lot of change for the LGBT community in the past couple of decades, and social media has undoubtedly been a huge part of that. More people are able to share their stories, start conversations, and demand more from the world. As acceptance grows, it’s important to remember some of the iconic LGBT people who have done so much for not only their community, but also the world as a whole. Here are just a few of the LGBT individuals who have made history for their contributions.
Anderson Cooper Anderson Cooper is probably the most prominent openly gay journalist and anchor in American television today, with his show Anderson Cooper 360° airing on CNN since 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 that he came out as gay, saying, “It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something—something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.... The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.” In 2013, Cooper was awarded the GLAAD Vito Russo Award, which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. Barbara Gittings Barbara Gittings was a prominent American activist for LGBT equality from the 1950s until her death in 2007. She brought attention to a wide range of different causes that affected the LGBT community, from picketing against the US government’s ban on the employment of gay people to fighting to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness. Because of her devotion to promoting positive literature about homosexuality in libraries, the American Library Association created the Barbara Gittings Award, an annual award for the best gay or lesbian novel. As well, GLAAD named an activist award after her.
Christine Jorgensen Although she wasn’t the first in the world, Christine Jorgensen was the first person in the US to become widely known for having sex reassignment surgery. After serving in the US Army during World War II, she heard about sex reassignment surgery and travelled to Europe to seek out the operations for herself. Her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News feature story, and she used her newfound platform to become an advocate for transgender people. Her openness helped bring attention to gender identity, and influenced other transgender people to change their names and the sex on their birth certificates. She sparked the notion that gender was not a set binary and inspired more discussion around gender norms. Dan Savage Dan Savage started writing his relationship and sex advice column “Savage Love” in 1991 as a way to provide mocking advice to heterosexuals, because he said straight columnists were “clueless” when it came to responding to letters from gay people. The column, along with his podcast, Savage Lovecast, made him a household name—and he has used his platform to bring different types of love, sex and relationships into the spotlight, shut down stereotypes and fight for LGBT rights. In 2010, Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, started the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit that aims to prevent suicide in bullied LGBT teens by letting them know that things will get better. Savage always encourages his readers and listeners to get involved in any way they can.
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Ellen DeGeneres After working as a stand-up comic for years, Ellen DeGeneres starred in two popular sitcoms: Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. It was during the fourth season of Ellen in 1997 that she (and her character) came out as a lesbian, making her the first openly lesbian actress to play an openly lesbian character on TV. The show went on to explore a number of LGBT issues including the process of coming out, which was something no other sitcom had ever done. DeGeneres has been hosting her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003; as well, she has her own music label and production company, has won 30 Emmys and 20 People’s Choice Awards, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her contributions to shaping television and the media today.
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs German writer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs grew up in the mid-1800s preferring to wear dresses and feeling like he’d much rather be a girl. In 1862, when he was 37, he told his family and friends that he was an “urning,” which he described as “a female psyche in a male body who is sexually attracted to men.” He began writing under a pseudonym, coining a number of terms to describe different sexual orientations. He eventually started using his real name, which is considered to be the first public “coming out” in modern society. Ulrichs was also the first homosexual to speak out against anti-homosexual laws. He is now considered an icon and pioneer, even being called the “first gay man in world history.”
Magnus Hirschfeld A physician and sexologist from Germany, Magnus Hirschfeld was also an outspoken advocate for sexual minorities. He founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which has since been credited with having carried out the “first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights.” His 1914 book The Homosexuality of Men and Women attempted to prove that homosexuality existed all over the world regardless of culture and upbringing. Hirschfeld, who was gay himself, believed that proving the existence of gay high-ranking officials would help legitimize homosexuality. He even testified in a high-profile trial that “homosexuality was part of the plan of nature and creation just like normal love.” During a tour of the US in 1931, Hirschfeld developed a system where he categorized 64 possible types of sexual orientations, which today might be similar to what we consider the “spectrum.” Oscar Wilde An Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde is known for his play The Importance of Being Earnest, for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray—and for the persecution he faced for being gay. In 1895, Wilde sued the father of his lover for libel, but the lawsuit backfired on him and he ended up being charged with “gross indecency”—or homosexuality— and was sentenced to two years’ hard labour. During his trial and in his writing, Wilde eloquently defended his right to his sexuality. He believed in the right to be yourself, writing, “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
Lana and Lilly Wachowski Originally known as the Wachowski brothers (Larry and Andy), Lana and Lilly are a directing, writing and producing team for movies such as The Matrix Trilogy, V for Vendetta and Cloud Atlas, as well as the Netflix series Sense8. In early 2000 it was reported that Larry was transgender and beginning her transition, and by 2010 she was no longer Larry, but Lana. At the time, she was the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender. She received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award in 2012 and said: “I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world, and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value.” In 2016, Lana’s brother Andy also came out as a transgender woman and is now named Lilly. COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.
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Harvey Milk As the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, Harvey Milk made history when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as a city supervisor in 1978. His speeches were high energy and flamboyant, which attracted a lot of media attention and support from San Francisco’s gay community. Milk served as a city official for only 11 months before he was assassinated, along with the mayor of San Francisco, by a former co-worker. He has since been called “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States” and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
In Praise Of Gay Sluts The ‘downfall’ of gay culture isn’t because of Grindr and the ‘thirsty’ bros who use it By Christian Dare
Gay culture has changed drastically over the past few decades. Long gone are the days of covert cruising in parks and public bathrooms for a little action, a little joy. First came the cultural acceptance that allowed for gay bars to establish themselves and thrive—publicly. And now, thanks to social media, dating and ‘hook-up’ apps, gay bars are no longer the only place gay men can meet each other. Some even argue that these apps are the end of gay bars and gay villages. They long for the ‘golden age’ of gay bars filled with men only (and lambast the infiltration of ‘straights’ into their spaces). They blame the shift on technology. Sure, I get it. Log on to your Instagram these days and you may wonder if you’re also on Grindr. There are lots of shirtless hunks baring it all—‘thirsty’ men, I think they like to call them. Apparently this is the downfall of gay culture. But I would argue the exact opposite.
March / April 2018
The ‘downfall’ of gay culture and gay villages isn’t the fault of the advancement of technology and the ‘thirsty’ men who use it. Rather, our fight for equality in terms of human rights and gay marriage (rightly or wrongly) has contributed to the space we are in today. A space where gay bars are closing and those who aren’t playing by the newly codified rules are labeled as outcasts or sluts or thirsty. You see, when you want acceptance into the mainstream, you have to give up something. If you want a place at the table, you need to put away your short shorts and put on that hetero-normative suit. Fighting for gay marriage and social acceptance did not change the concept of marriage—in fact, it simply forced gay men to fit into the narrow boxes already codified in law. But that doesn’t mean the fight was wrong. LGBTQ2 people should be given the same human rights as everyone else. I get it. We all want to be accepted for who we are. But what are we giving up? There’s such a need to be accepted into a hetero-normative society that we’re adopting many of the same attitudes around sexuality and sex. We are becoming a gay culture that self-polices itself more than ever. We label them as ‘good gays’ and ‘bad gays’ or sluts. Research on power relations highlights that through disciplinary mechanism of power, everyone is pushed towards particular, normative modes of being. In relation to sexuality, the norm towards which everyone is pushed is that of heterosexuality—or rather, hetero-normativity. We judge those in our community for their out-of-wedlock flings and uncommitted sex—it’s bad and, by association, unfulfilling. I hear it all the time: why get married if you have an open relationship? I counter, why does it matter to you what they do? How they redefine marriage? It shouldn’t. But it does, because 24
too many people think it makes ‘us’ look bad. We aren’t fitting into the boxes we agreed to check off—single or married… My point is that we, as a community, have spent so much time (and energy) doing all that we can to show the rest of society that we are just like them—that we are them. Moreover, that we all have the same values. And we do, mostly. We wanted to have the same rights and privileges as everyone else. We wanted to be able to make the same life choices as the rest of ‘them.’ And when we made those choices, we wanted to be able to do so without fear for our values. Or our lives. We did manage to find some sort of mainstream acceptance. We had television shows with gay lead characters—and everyone watched. From Will & Grace to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, we were finally being represented. Well, gay tropes were being represented. Did you ever notice that the actual act of sex was never even suggested on Will & Grace? Sure, we saw Grace in bed all the time with a man, but not Will. And Queer Eye was based on the concept of having a gay best friend to fix your ‘looks.’ And people ate it up. No one has a problem with the gay aesthetic—perfect hair, perfect house, and fashion-forward clothes. Oh ya, they love it when we help them pick out the perfect china, but let’s not talk sex.
Along with more acceptance came a push to distance ourselves from our history. Our shared history of flaunting sexualities, of seedy bars, of cruising and cottaging. We turned our back on our history of ‘sluts,’ a constructed history that was never truly who we are. Or ever have been, for that matter. And neither have they. The very notion of the slut is a social construct. And we have now adapted this history of sluts that is systematically dividing us because we do not show the true representation of ourselves in all its facets. Sexuality and sexual identity is one of the key parts of us— what makes us who we are (and I mean everyone). And yet we spend so much time shaming others for expressing theirs. And in some ways it makes sense. We have always been illustrated in very poor lighting for flaunting our ‘deviant’ sexuality. So why talk about it? Why go back there? I would argue that now that we have a stronger platform to stand on, we cannot conform to their dominant morality. It shames and ignores so many in our community.
sleeping around too frequently for your tastes, remember that you are doing exactly what hetero-normative culture wants you to do. You are self-policing members of your own community to fit within the mainstream. To make us palatable for everyone else’s taste. The very notion of slut shaming comes from a puritanical/ religious understandings of the body as inherent sin. Shaming the slut is exactly how we have kept ‘gays’ (and women) in check. Further, it ensures that someone cannot control their own sexuality or their own bodies. History has taught us that truth is very subjective. So let’s choose our ‘truth.’ Choose to be authentic—to use our bodies and our sexuality however we want, while refusing to accept anything but equality. Don’t fall into their traps, for we have never been sluts.
What do you think? Let us know by reaching out to us on social media at: @INMagazineCA.
So next time you are commenting with friends on how ‘thirsty’ someone is on their Instagram or how ‘slutty’ someone is for 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.
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Drag Opera Start your engines! RuPaul just wrapped another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars and is about to unveil a new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race By Nelson Branco
Are you as lit as RuPaul? “More like late,” laughs RuPaul after a phone mishap delayed my much-anticipated phone interview when I called her the ‘lit-est’ queen. That’s a perfect example of the wit and woke charm of the two-time Emmy-winning Reality TV Competition hostess. But give the What’s The Tea? With Michelle Visage podcast co-host credit for calling this writer on her own without a publicity team setting up the call. While RuPaul’s fame and career only continues to ascend to new heights and stunningly shows no signs of slowing down, the biggest drag queen of all time is still down to earth, never forgetting her humble beginnings. Or her loyal fans. Which is why, on the high heels of a fantastic third season of All Stars that wrapped up last month, RuPaul is launching Season 10 of her critically acclaimed and popular reality TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race on March 22, which airs in Canada on OUT TV. IN caught up with the 57-year-old San Diego native and delved into some hot topics, including her hippie approach to time, aging ‘secrets,’ culture appropriation and the current political climate. And no, luckily, I didn’t have to lip-synch for my life.
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Congratulations on your most recent Emmy win for Best Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition program! Where do you keep them? I don’t think of them as mine. I do it because I want to celebrate the art of drag. I don’t think of the Emmys as mine; I see them as a collective award. I don’t do this show to snatch Emmys! Hundreds of people put this show together. I’m so proud of them all. But I do still keep the Emmys at my house, though! [Laughs]
Now we just need the show to win the Outstanding Reality TV Competition Emmy! That would be great. How excited are you about the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race? And what did you think of All-Stars 3? It’s so good. I’d be a fan of this show even if I wasn’t involved in it. It’s so beautifully done. It’s done with love and kookiness and laughter. This season of All-Stars [was] fabulous too. All of the queens were icons. Why do you think Drag Race resonates so profoundly with the mainstream audience? It has to do with the stories of the queens. These are amazing people who have been through so much adversity and overcame their challenges. They are true success stories. We are people who live outside the status quo. I think there are a lot of people who want to live outside the status quo too but they don’t have the courage or support around them to do it. Watching these queens, who sometimes come from these horrendous backgrounds and are beaten down by society, to see them triumph is inspiring. Also, it’s a fun show to watch. There is a lot of colour, laughter, music, love, strength and joy—it’s all there. The host isn’t so bad, either. Unlike network reality TV shows, you don’t seem to shy away from bringing back vets and producing all-star seasons. Most execs want newbie casts each season for a variety of reasons, mainly because veterans are hard to deal with and cost more. All Stars is like a family reunion. I get to check up on them and see their progress since the show. Also, mixing up the girls in a different way than they competed before is always fun. But I do love the new girls because I love seeing them launch their international
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Ross Mathews, Michelle Visage, RuPaul Charles and Carson Kressley at the 69th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California (Photo: Getty)
careers. I also like seeing new contestants play the game, because they often don’t know what we will throw at them.
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It feels like there have been more than three All Stars, to be honest. Yes, it feels like there might be more because we continue to work with the girls through our production company, so it feels like they’re always around. Your show is also nostalgic comfort food. It takes me back to the 1980s/’90s gay scene, especially with the gay vernacular and discourse. Do you miss those days? Yes, our brothers and sisters were dropping dead of AIDS and our rights were non-existent, but we had fun and shared a real sense of community long before social media and tech took over our lives. It seemed like a simpler time, but that could just be selective hindsight talking. I hear what you’re saying. I live for today. I had a great time in the ’80s and ’90s—even though it was not necessarily a cakewalk. I enjoy today even though we are living in the best and worst of times. We’re living in a time where lots of changes are happening. And I’m all for changing. Like a butterfly’s metamorphosis into a beautiful creature—one which is very violent, tumultuous—and I think that’s what we are experiencing now. There is so much division right now. But at the same time, we’re digging up a lot of old and unresolved issues we haven’t dealt with, like the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, gay rights and transgender issues. Hopefully, we can
heal them, and in that regard, it’s a good thing; it’s a silver lining to so much darkness in the world. In terms of time, I never think of time as linear. I think of time as happening right now. It’s all right now. It’s a weird hippie concept—but that’s how I always thought of time. Let’s dive into the cultural appropriation debate. The gay community is largely comprised of slices from other cultures because we took in disenfranchised LGBTers who were kicked out of their homes and families. Clearly, I’m not talking about putting on white or black face. But the Censorship Police are in full force right now and are very sensitive to even the meekest of expressions or nods to other cultures. What do you think? I believe you should use all the colours in the rainbow. It’s of the ego mind to think, ‘Oh, no, this colour is only mine.’ No. Use them all. I think we live in such an egotistical time where people want to branch off and say, ‘We are here; we are this.’ The truth is there is only one of us here. Obviously, I oscillate between figurative and literal thinking. I go into metaphysical speak a lot. It’s hard for people to keep up, but the truth is I like to use all the colours in the world. I would hate for anyone to restrict me from using the colour orange. Especially since it’s the new black! What do you think of millennials? Are they inspiring or the end of the world? On our show, we try to mentor young people about navigating this world: how to use the information that is literally at your fingerprints,
Photo: Mathu Andersen
and how to carry the torch of your ancestors. I think our culture—not even millennials—suffers too much from ADD. It’s hard for people to find the peace and the stillness, which is very, very important. Again, I feel the same way about millennials as I do about the concept of time. I think we’re all millennials right now. If you are alive right now, you are of this time. It’s very easy to get distracted and for people not to be able to focus, which has usually been attributed to millennials. But I think everybody is really suffering a sort of this amnesia. Let’s get to the tough questions. What magic or potions are you using to never age?! (Laughs) Trust me, I am aging and do age! You know what? I am okay with it. It’s the deal I signed when I came to this planet. It’s part of it. I love to laugh. I love music. I love colours. Love beauty. So that’s part of it. I think it’s important to remain a part of that childlike awe of the world. I don’t know if it’s a secret. I am having a good time. [Laughs] I’ll say it takes RuPaul three years to get ready! It’s about multi-tasking; in fact, I’m getting ready as we speak right now. You’re also a great character actor. Is acting still a focus or is the Drag Race empire and your podcast taking up all your time? I love being creative and challenging myself. If someone is going to offer me a part, I’m going to take it. I usually do whatever is presented to me—if I have time. But obviously, my first love and passion is Drag Race. However, I love doing other things, too. Acting
is an interesting undertaking because it really challenges places in my consciousness that I may or may not be comfortable exposing. I do love that challenge. Do you consider RuPaul a role in some ways? Everything I do—even this interview—is a performance. Naturally, I am private and like to keep to myself. Being able to speak to you and open up to you is a performance, but it’s also an exercise in opening up my heart and consciousness. It takes effort. I naturally keep to myself. I naturally don’t want to share my feelings, especially with someone I have never met. They are all sides of me. When I am in drag, that’s me. When I’m out of drag—right now I’m in this gorgeous Mr. Turk suit—that makes me behave a different way. I move differently; I feel differently. It’s all drag. It’s like I say—You are born naked and the rest is drag. I wish you had a talk show. You have that Oprah vibe that’s missing on network TV. You did one before, right? Twenty-one years ago I had a talk show on VH1 called The RuPaul Show. I would love to do a talk show again. That’s why I love doing the podcast, because I like speaking to Michelle [Visage] in a way where we get to actually have a real conversation. Consider the pitch written!
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Halleloo: The Evolution Of Shangela The beloved drag queen talks about All Stars 3, queens she admires and acting alongside Lady Gaga By Christopher Turner
March / April 2018
Shangela is back, back, back again! Not that she ever really went anywhere. The beloved drag queen returned to RuPaul’s world for her third shot at a crown when RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 3 premiered earlier this year. And, while the workroom might not have changed, Shangela definitely has.
Violet Chachki for the ongoing Werq The World Tour. “I don’t consider myself the best at anything, but I can say that I have worked the hardest. And look at me now.… I’m a grown-up drag queen!” It was only a matter of time before the grown-up drag queen came back to the workroom for more. But why did she say yes…
Shangela Laquifa Wadley (aka D.J. Pierce) first burst onto the scene during the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Unfortunately “Why say no? It’s RuPaul’s Drag Race!” Shangela laughed. “It’s a thread of our LGBT community and I’m so happy to be a part of the for Shangela, she was sent packing in that first episode, but she impressed Mama Ru and the producers enough to be asked to legacy. And, honey, I haven’t won the crown yet and I deserve it!” return as a surprise contestant after she auditioned for the series’ Shangela admitted she was a little intimidated coming back for All third season, where she finished in sixth place. Stars 3, but was quick to point out that the experience was filled Her makeup and wardrobe were questionable when we first met with excitement, and she had her fair share of memorable moments. her, but she had an undeniable fire, which quickly turned her into a fan favourite. And then there was that iconic monologue about “My favourite moment was getting a full Ru-demption in front not having a sugar daddy in an episode of Untucked, the Drag of Vanessa Williams! In the second episode!” Loyal fans will Race after-show. It’s the moment that really cemented Shangela remember that Williams was a guest judge on Season 3 and a in Drag Race herstory. witness to Shangela’s epic ‘Christmas-Couture’ runway fail. “In that episode I was on cloud nine with my Mariah performance, While so many of the show’s early queens seemed to slide off the I slayed the runway inside that plastic ball and then I won the map, Drag Race fans got a front-row seat as Shangela continued lip-synch…all in one episode!” to up her makeup skills and wardrobe. We watched from season to season as she reappeared to be eaten by drag queen zombies in As for who she really admired during this round of All Stars, the ’hood (Season 4) or popped out of Jujubee’s body (All Stars Shangela dropped two names: Kennedy Davenport and Trixie 2) or her many season finale audience appearances. We watched Mattel. baby Shangela grow up into a well-rounded queen—and thank “Kennedy has been in this industry for almost 20 years and still God for that. has the energy and excitement for it. That’s definitely admirable. “Anyone who saw Season 2 can look at me now and say she learned And Trixie Mattel has done some incredible things since Drag how to put on a snatch of makeup and look nice,” Shangela told IN Race,” she said. “But I think that anyone who steps in that room by phone before she hit the stage in Houston with fellow queens is someone to be admired. Everyone is to be admired for their Valentina, Detox, Kim Chi, Kennedy Davenport, Peppermint and own unique talent.” 30
Photo: Mat Wulff
Outside of this season of All Stars, Shangela talked at length about her admiration and fondness for so many of her fellow Drag Race queens. But, she emphasized, there are three in particular who mean a lot to her as she’s grown in the industry. “Alyssa [Edwards] and I are so close and I’ve always looked up to her as a role model from Day 1,” she said. “I love Bianca Del Rio! I think her work ethic is so strong. She’s travelled the world, and we’ve swapped secrets and she’s really encouraged me through the years. I really admire her a lot. And Willam [Belli]. He’s someone who has worked in music and television and has had so much success online with his YouTube series and travelled the world and written a book. I really, really look up to them.”
“I was very thrilled to be working alongside Gaga. She was a true professional and made everyone feel so comfortable on set,” Shangela told me. “We got to have some serious girlfriend time between takes. We talked about costumes, and music…. I tried to get some Beyoncé tea outta her! [laughed] But, ultimately she was exactly what you would hope someone you admire would be like. She was an angel and an inspiration.” When I mentioned that she herself is an inspiration for a lot of fans watching the shows, she paused. And shared this: “Well…I’ll tell you this. I’m a person who has gone through the ups and downs of life. But what I’ve found is that life is a lot more fun to navigate if you have a good, positive attitude about where you’re going. No matter how many times you get knocked down, and I’ve been knocked down a number of times, but I’ve never given up on myself.”
Of course, Shangela has plenty of talent herself. Like Bianca and Willam, she’s been working as an actor since originally leaving the Drag Race stage, with scripted television appearances in So what’s next for Shangela? Dance Moms, Glee, 2 Broke Girls, Community, The Mentalist, Bones and The X-Files. She’ll be making an appearance in “Oh honey! I’m the working girl and have always got something Bianca’s independent comedy Hurricane Bianca 2 later this brewing! I’m living my best life with the experience of All Stars year, but another big screen appearance is bound to boost her 3. Right now I’m connecting with the fans and continuing on this onscreen credentials. tour with 62 more cities between now and June, travelling the world from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. And I’m working on new A Star Is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, is music. There’s a lot of fun stuff in the pipeline and I can’t wait to scheduled to hit theatres in October, and Shangela will be making experience what’s next with my fans.” an appearance in the full-bodied take on one of the most oft-made films in the Hollywood canon—see also the 1937 original with I think it’s safe to say that they can’t wait to experience it all Janet Gaynor, the 1954 Judy Garland version, and the 1976 with her. rock opus with Barbra Streisand. Shangela plays a drag queen MC and bar owner, sharing scenes with both Gaga and Cooper. You can follow Shangela online at www.shangela.com Essentially Shangela portrays Gaga’s drag mother. 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 Rise Of Drag Queen Storytime “With all the crazy shit that’s going on in the world, I want to do everything I can to spread love and stomp out the hate” By Marianne Wisenthal
It’s a snowy Saturday morning in Toronto’s east end as more than 300 parents and tots squeeze into the reading room of a small public library. From Lego clubs to sing n’ spells, the Jones Avenue branch regularly offers family activities, but this is its first event to be hosted by a six-foot-five-inch drag queen wearing a gold lamé dress. As the children settle onto the carpeted floor, queen Erin Brockobić (or Erin B., as she’s known to the kids) introduces herself before launching into a lively reading of Todd Parr’s Be Who You Are. This festive gathering of queens and young families sharing books about inclusivity and open-mindedness is just one of many drag queen storytime events popping up in urban cities across North America. Whether it’s a reaction to oppressive political rhetoric in the US or simply the more mainstream popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race, some might say that drag queens are having “a moment” among the under-10 set and their parents. “I have a two-year-old daughter who I’m raising to be kind and accepting of others,” says East Toronto Drag Queen Storytime co-founder Breanne Erhardt Gimza. “With all the crazy shit that’s going on in the world, I want to do everything I can to spread love and stomp out the hate.” Gimza and co-founder Dani Stover organized their first storytime at a yoga studio in April 2017. “Getting queens up and in makeup at 10 am on a Saturday is a lot but Breanne was adamant that families do stuff early,” laughs Stover.
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A total of 120 parents and kids showed up for that first event, and the feedback was so positive they realized they’d tapped into something special. “The night before, our queen had had a homophobic altercation with someone in the Village. I was worried she might not want to come, but she did,” says Stover. “After [reading to the kids], she said the future seemed bright and the whole experience had given her the energy to go on.” But what really struck Stover was the faces on the kids. “When they saw the queens, they were just in awe.” What was meant to be a one-off gathering for the East Toronto group soon propelled into a series of events at Toronto Public Library (TPL) locations across the city. Scott Robins is a Children’s Services Specialist and the chair of TPL’s new internal work group organizing LGBT programming for kids and families. He says drag queen storytime aligns perfectly with TPL’s values. “The library is for all people. We’re about inclusivity and freedom of information,” he says. “We really hope that kids who identify as LGBT or come 32
from LGBT families will see themselves reflected in the programs we offer, and those who don’t will be introduced to this particular culture and background.” TPL’s LGBT-positive activities now include things like voguing workshops for school-age kids and bringing drag queen storytime events to libraries outside the city core. For many drag queens, the experience of reading to kids is the first time they’ve performed during daylight hours, and to such an attentive crowd. “In bars, everyone is a little drunk, they don’t care what I do; but now here I am reading books to [an audience] that’s listening to everything I’m saying,” says Theo Rose aka Atmos Fierce, a blue-haired, self-described “baby drag queen.” “I can’t swear and I can’t have a wardrobe malfunction, but it’s a nice way to give kids that exposure and that awareness about the queer community. As a kid I would have loved going to something like this.” Toronto isn’t the only city where storytelling drag queens are bringing in crowds of families, but what makes it remarkable is how many events there are. In addition to being a storytime regular at libraries, Erin Brockobić aka Aleks Golijanin hosts a weekly all-ages Drag Brunch every Sunday at Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, and feels
Fay and Fluffy (Photo: David Hawe)
that queens have a lot to teach kids. “It’s inherently our job as performers to find the light in the dark parts of life like bullying and oppression,” says Golijanin. Golijanin is six foot nine—in heels—and says kids are often a little mystified by the height. “They look up in wonderment!” he says. “I make fun of my telephone pole figure and call myself gangly because it’s important to laugh at your insecurities and not take things so seriously.” So what can drag queens learn from children? “Kids don’t give a fuck,” says Golijanin. “They’re so uninhibited. As an adult I have so many guards up, but they’re not jaded and it’s nice to be reminded of innocence.” One of the first to bring drag queen storytime to Toronto is JP Kane, aka the bright and bearded Fay Slift. “My whole approach to the character is about joy and lightness and celebrating difference,” says Kane. A kindergarten teacher by day, he’d sometimes share videos of himself in drag with his students. “They’d ask, ‘Why are you wearing girls’ clothes? Why are you wearing makeup?’” says Kane. “I’d tell them, ‘It’s not girl stuff; it’s my stuff. This is my love of dancing and drama,’ and that’s all it took for them to get it.”
Kane has been reading to kids in his drag persona since 2016, and now hosts a regular series with Kaleb Robertson aka Miss Fluffy Soufflé. The Fay & Fluffy reading series, which takes place monthly at the Gladstone Hotel in collaboration with The 519, attracts lots of families from the LGBTQ community. “We have chairs, big pillows and blankets on the floor. It starts with a little Sharon, Lois & Bram song, we talk about being attentive listeners, and then we read three books.” Each event features a guest reader from the queer community and, at the end of the hour, a dance party. “Having the opportunity to be visible and out and inclusive to all families has been really important to us,” says Kane. Aside from their monthly reading series, Fay & Fluffy have events booked at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Queen West Arts Crawl, Totsapalooza, and a three-day stint at a children’s festival. There’s even a kids’ book in the works. Whether drag queen storytimes are a passing trend or a permanent fixture has yet to be seen, but the hope among organizers is that they’re helping to nurture a new, more open-minded generation. “We want kids to know you deserve to be celebrated for who you are,” says Kane. “People are becoming more open to creating a culture where differences are valued, and I think that’s really sparked this.”
MARIANNE WISENTHAL is a Toronto-based writer and content strategist. When she’s not wrangling words with aplomb you can find her singing show tunes with her community choir.
IN DEVELOPMENT This season, master the chic monotone trend and start wearing the same colour head-to-toe
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Photographer: Yaseera Moosa Styling: Danyl Geneciran Models: Lara Berge @ Chic Management & Joshua Cocks @ Hunter Management
Top: Soulland Pants: Soulland Shoes: Converse 35
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Coat: Maison Kitsun
Fashi o n March / April 2018
Coat: CMMN SWDN Pants: CMMN SWDN Full look: Emporio Armani Shoes: RM Williams 38
Sweater: Ă‰tudes Full look: Tommy Hilfiger 39
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Top: Ã‰tudes Pants: Soulland Full look: Coach Shoes: Converse x Comme des Garcons 40
Sweater: Ralph Lauren Pants: Dolce & Gabbana
Fashi o n March / April 2018
Pants: Soulland Jacket: Soulland Shoes: Converse x Comme des Garcons 42
Shorts 3.1 PHILLIP LIM
The Power Of Ex What to do when your past catches up with you By Paul Gallant
When you arrive at a party looking for a fun, flirty night, the last thing you want to see is the ex who passively-aggressively dumped you two years earlier. But that was the situation I found myself in recently: standing there across the room was an ex-boyfriend of mine, whom I hadn’t laid eyes on since we’d conjugally uncoupled. I had been hurt, but by this time was well over it.
March / April 2018
What to do? Ignore him? Aim a little stink eye his way? Lower my shoulders and charge? A cheerful conversation was hard to imagine (“You don’t look as good as I remember.…”). I opted for across-the-room eye contact, smile and jaunty wave. It was done. No animosity, but also nothing to say. He knew where to find me if he wanted to come over, which he didn’t. Pure win-win. What little research there has been into people who maintain friendship with ex-partners suggests that they are more likely to be narcissists and psychopaths than those who keep their distance. At the very least, one study found, they’re users: pragmatism and sexual access were key reasons to sustain a connection, especially for men. People with “dark personalities” apparently have a greater need to befriend exes. “It may be that individuals who experience more anxiety from the negative thoughts and emotions that accompany a breakup are more motivated to maintain a PRF [post-relationship friendship] for these reasons,” write Justin K. Mogilski and Lisa L.M. Welling, of Oakland University’s Department of Psychology. “PRFs 44
may mitigate breakup anxiety by assuring that one will not lose the socioemotional support of an ex-partner (i.e., reliability/ sentimentality) or miss out on romantic involvement (i.e., continued romantic attraction).” Generally, it seems, people let their exes fade into the background as quickly as possible. It doesn’t surprise me that this study focused only on straights; for LGBT people, relationships between exes are quite different and usually far more complex—partly because they’re harder to escape. The community can be small, and queer peers don’t like to have to choose which ex-partner to keep in their circle. I know a peer group of lesbians that official sided with one half of a breakup, while individually maintaining discreet social relationships with the other. There’s strong pressure to suck up your heartbreak and, at the very least, be civil. Queer PRFs often go much further than mere tolerance. Many transform their conjugal relationship into something more sibling-like (some exes would describe it as more parent-childlike—usually the ex who sees themselves as the parent). They continue to co-own property together, go on outings together, attend family gatherings together. A surprising number of gay guys I know continue to live with their ex for some time after the relationship ends, even if there was animosity during the breakup. I asked a friend what it was like having his ex move back in a year or so after they had called it quits. “Now it’s feeling more natural, but at the beginning it was a bit weird, seeing him
bringing hook-ups home, and also having hook-ups over,” he told me. “It definitely doesn’t feel like we’re a couple anymore. He’s more like a family member. I don’t have any relatives living in Toronto, so for me it is a blessing that I can share my space with someone I care about and love.” It’s hard to imagine a straight person, male or female, giving a similar answer.
of his favourite fairy tales, about my colourful experiences in prison. My new boyfriend’s comprehension of English at the time was not strong enough to parse the absurdity. It took him about a week to summon the courage to ask me, “Paul, do you have anything to tell me, about going to jail or anything?” I told my ex to never speak to my new boyfriend ever again.
There are those who end the relationship following a prolonged period of sexual disinterest, revealing how some couples turn into roommates long before “the conversation.” In these cases, the PRF is pretty much identical to the waning years of the relationship. Chemistry and common interests are important in any coupling; when there are no children to raise, chemistry may be the only thing holding people together. Perhaps LGBT people have a special knack for recognizing when the magic is gone and not being resentful of it.
Still, if the trust is there, exes can be the perfect counsellor. They can dispassionately point out how we are repeating our annoying behaviours with our new partners. If they still care about us, they will take our side in conflicts, even as they see how we are making situations harder for ourselves. It’s not their job anymore to respond to or mitigate our problems, so they have the freedom to be completely honest.
After time spent licking wounds, I’ve become close friends with several exes. They know my virtues and faults better than anyone— and I know theirs. That knowledge can be a dangerous weapon if you don’t trust each other, if there are lingering jealousies or desires. Without even knowing it, our exes can subconsciously thwart our efforts to pursue new relationships. One night, an ex of mine who loves making up wildly incredible stories to tease people ran into a guy I had just started dating. While introducing himself, my ex told my brand new boyfriend one
Of course, in each relationship, we’re a different version of ourselves; maybe your latest fling loves your penchant for drama. But an astute ex can be a witness to personal growth, creating a positive feedback loop that can help both sides become better people. You observe a new partner heaping flattery on an ex who had been something of a grouch when you were together, and you think, “Is that all I had to do to cheer him up?” While no one but an ex is better positioned to torment us and hurt us, there’s also nobody who better knows what we are capable of.
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 Toronto, and is currently executive editor at BOLD magazine.
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Northern Ireland comes through in spades, with some of the best gin tourism adventures off the drunken path By Doug Wallace
I’m one of those people who always has a bottle of backup gin should the actual gin ever run dry. It’s the larger size, a two-litre bottle, which we call the Super Big Gulp. People laugh—but they’re more than happy to partake in said backup when the need arises, particularly my friend Sugar, who often shows up at the front door with a Slurpee, which I then top up with gin. My interest in gin began years ago, when I mixed drinks at my parents’ card parties in the 1970s: gin fizzes, gimlets and rickeys. A martini for me is always gin-based unless otherwise specified—I’m that committed. Being invited to the opening of the new home of Bombay Sapphire Gin at Laverstoke Mill south of London a few years ago was like a reward, a pilgrimage—one I still talk about, especially when I’m trying to impress other gin aficionados. (This always works.) But it turns out England doesn’t have the market cornered when it comes to gin, particularly small-batch gin: a trip to Ireland proved very much otherwise.
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This truth comes out in Belfast, where I spent a full Saturday afternoon with Taste & Tour, a food and drink touring company that takes you “off the eaten track” to experience the top food and drink establishments in the city centre with a couple of walking tours, including a Whiskey Walk and a Gin Jaunt. Basically, they walk people around town getting them drunk. It’s a simple but fun business model—and they do well by it: the Gin Jaunts sell out weeks in advance. I soon see why. “There’s a real fascination with gin at the moment,” says Taste & Tour founding director Phil Ervine. “Gin is a fascinating spirit category, as no two gins are the same. There are so many different styles to explore, from London Dry and Old Tom to New Western and Plymouth Gin.”
The tour takes us to five different locations, where we taste very generous pours of seven different gins in three hours, starting off in one of Belfast’s oldest pubs: the Victorian gin palace that is the Crown Liquor Saloon. We learn first about the pub (built in 1826 and restored to the tune of half-a-million pounds) and then embark on the gins, softening the first one with a Fever-Tree tonic, which I immediately dislike. The second tasting, a wet martini at Rita’s nightclub around the corner, provokes a few grimaces at the cocktail’s potency…but the noise volume coming from our group increases, something I see as a good thing. I’m shocked by how many people admit to never having tried a martini before, but I guess that’s the whole point of them signing up for this “lesson.” “Gone are the days of a plain old gin and tonic,” Ervine says. “We now have a gin to suit everyone’s tastes, and bartenders are doing wonderful things with it.” At the third stop, I wave away the tonic, and win kudos from Ervine for drinking the local Jawbox Gin on the rocks. It’s delicious, with fresh citrus notes balancing flavours of juniper and pine. The founder of this Belfast distillery, Gerry White, is on hand to provide a bit of context for us, including some background on the gin’s name, which is taken from the old Belfast communal sinks in the poorer parts of town, around which neighbourhood gossip was readily shared. Farther along our tour, Boatyard Double Gin from Enniskillen in the southwest corner of Northern Ireland lights up everyone’s eyes—mind you, we’re five in, so the lights were kinda already on and we are all really, really good friends by now. Boatyard has an even more pronounced juniper taste with a floral tinge. One of the organic botanicals is sweet gale, a type of wild myrtle that grows on the distillery property.
Photo courtesy of The Northern Ireland Tourism Board
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Photo courtesy of Taste & Tour
Another intriguing gin comes in a shelf-worthy blue-glass bottle. Distilled in Drumshanbo in the Republic of Ireland, Gunpowder Irish Gin has a citrusy, tea-like taste, with one of the more noticeable botanicals being something called gunpowder tea, a type of Chinese tea that is rolled into a tiny pellet. Hours later, I toss back a Gunpowder martini before dinner at Eipic, one of Belfast’s finer restaurants, carrying on with the day’s gin theme, smug with myself for being so in-the-know.
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Foraging the forest for gin Taking a 30-minute drive from Belfast to a town called Crossgar in County Down, we then let GPS lead us to the outskirts. When we find what looks like the right property, I lean out of the car as far as I can and start ringing doorbells at what turns out to be the gate of the grand Rademon Estate, one of the oldest in Ireland, dating from 1667. I mistakenly ring the house, but then manage to connect with someone from the on-site distillery, who buzzes us into beautiful grounds that we tour upon parking the car. Opened in 2012, Rademon Estate Distillery is a small-scale family operation that markets its Shortcross Gin as Northern Ireland’s first premium craft gin. Founders Fiona and David Boyd-Armstrong draw inspiration from the land for the flavours of their award-winning gin, infusing the spirit with a taste of home—wild clover foraged from the nearby meadows, plus elderflowers, elderberries and green apples. They have their own well that supplies soft, mineral-rich water—one of the finer ingredients, you could say.
David walks us through the distillation process, illustrating the local botanicals, murmuring quietly to their incredibly new-looking bespoke copper pot still. His passion is deep—these people clearly love what they do. This fervour translates into the product. I can really taste the juniper in Shortcross, with coriander creating a solid backbone peppered with notes of orange zest and cinnamon. It is beyond splendid! They pop a teeny tiny bottle of the gin into my pocket, with the prediction that it won’t make it home to Canada, insinuating that I will drink it long before the flight home. They are correct. When the sad, sad time does come to head to the airport, we spend time in Duty Free deliberating what our 2.8 litres of alcohol will be, hashing it out rather loudly. A kind business traveller comes to our rescue, steering us towards Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin from Ballyvolane in County Cork. Whey alcohol is used as the base spirit (hence the name), but it’s the spicy cumin, coriander and peppery orange flavour that practically jumps out of the bottle. I decide on it plus a bottle of Gunpowder, which gets extra points for the nice bottle. Though both of these prize bar possessions were opened within days of arriving home, they are strictly rationed, and continue to remind me of a week in the Emerald Isle, eating and drinking some of the best fruits of the land. My partner often pulls a James Bond and mixes gin with vodka to create a Vesper Martini, which I think is just a cruel joke on the gin. I mean, make up your mind. He’ll come around.
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.
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To Ever Revoke Same-Sex Marriage Bermuda swaps marriage for domestic partnerships for LGBT couples… For the first time in history, a country has repealed same-sex marriage rights. Bermuda has just become the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize and then repeal same-sex marriage, a move that critics are calling a shocking and unprecedented rollback of civil rights. The British territory’s Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage back in May 2017 but, within months, legislatures passed a new bill overturning the historic court decision. That bill was signed into law on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. According to a report by the Associated Press,“Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said the legislation signed by Gov. John Rankin seeks to balance opposition to same-sex marriage on the socially conservative island while complying with European court rulings that ensure recognition of and protection for same-sex couples in the territory.” LGBT civil rights groups said repealing same-sex marriage and replacing it with domestic partnerships amounted to a second-class status and are arguing that it is unprecedented for a jurisdiction to take away the legal right to marriage after it had been granted. Voters on the island rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum
in 2016, before the Supreme Court legalized marriage. But, the turnout was below the 50 per cent required for the result to be valid. Of the estimated 63,000 residents of the country, only “about a half-dozen” same-sex couples married during the window that it was legal, according to state records, and these marriages will continue to be recognized under the new law. While the British government could’ve blocked the territory from enacting the law, they chose not to. The BBC reported that “Prime Minister Theresa May said she was ‘seriously disappointed’ about the decision to abolish same-sex marriage,” but she added: ‘That bill has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government.’” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis has responded to the unjust and hurtful” news with the following statement: “As the world faces a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ activism, Bermuda just earned the shameful recognition of becoming the first national territory to strip away marriage from loving and committed LGBTQ couples.”
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Bermuda Becomes The First Country
FLASHBACK April 1975 IN LGBT HISTORY The Aquarius bathhouse in Montreal is firebombed
In April 1975, when Montreal’s Gay Village was still downtown, the Aquarius bathhouse on Crescent Street was firebombed. The perpetrators were never found or arrested.
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Three customers died that night, and two of them—found by the second-floor fire exit— were buried in Paupers’ Field in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in anonymous graves, because their bodies were never identified or claimed by their families.
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March / April 2018
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