JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
GIA GUNN’S MISSION GOES BEYOND THE CROWN
HOW ADAM RIPPON PLANS
IS THERE A “GAY VOTE” IN CANADA – AND IF NOT,
ON OWNING 2019
SHOULD WE CARE?
䐀䤀匀䌀伀嘀䔀刀 吀刀唀䔀 䰀伀嘀䔀 䔀堀䔀䌀唀吀䤀嘀䔀 䜀䄀夀 䴀䄀吀䌀䠀䴀䄀䬀䤀一䜀 䘀䤀刀䴀
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
䈀攀猀瀀漀欀攀 䴀愀琀挀栀洀愀欀椀渀最 眀漀爀欀猀 眀椀琀栀 瀀爀漀昀攀猀猀椀漀渀愀氀 最愀礀 洀攀渀 愀渀搀 氀攀猀戀椀愀渀猀 眀栀漀 愀爀攀 猀攀爀椀漀甀猀 愀戀漀甀琀 洀攀攀琀椀渀最 琀栀攀 爀椀最栀琀 瀀攀爀猀漀渀 愀渀搀 眀栀漀 愀爀攀 爀攀愀搀礀 琀漀 戀攀最椀渀 愀 氀漀瘀椀渀最 爀攀氀愀琀椀漀渀猀栀椀瀀⸀ 伀甀爀 昀椀爀洀 瀀爀漀瘀椀搀攀猀 愀 栀椀最栀氀礀 爀攀最愀爀搀攀搀 愀氀琀攀爀渀愀琀椀瘀攀 琀漀 琀栀攀 琀礀瀀椀挀愀氀 昀漀爀洀猀 漀昀 搀愀琀椀渀最⸀ 䌀漀渀琀愀挀琀 甀猀 琀漀 猀挀栀攀搀甀氀攀 愀 挀漀洀瀀氀椀洀攀渀琀愀爀礀 挀漀渀猀甀氀琀愀琀椀漀渀
PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo SENIOR WRITER Paul Gallant CONTRIBUTORS Fraser Abe, Sergio Araneo, Gastohn Barrios, Bill Beard, Steven Bereznai, Jonathan Bernardo, Bobby Box, Nelson Branco, Sebastián de Luca, Colin Druhan, Adam Efron, Adriana Ermter, Bianca Guzzo, Ruth Hanley, Courtney Hardwick, Kevin Hurren, Karen Kwan, Ashley Le Feuvre-Williams, Daniel Mitri, Michael Pihach, Franco Roth, Matias Santos, Ricardo Santos, Adam Segal, Renée Sylvestre-Williams, Doug Wallace, Casey Williams DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS MANAGER Bradley Blaylock CONTROLLER Jackie Zhao
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
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ADAM RIPPON Cover photo by Aaron Jay Young
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Out TV icon Ryan Murphy (the man behind LGBTQ-centric shows Popular, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story, Glee, The Assassination of Gianni Versace:American Crime Story, Feud, and most recently, Pose) is now a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
January / February 2019
06 | THE COMMUNAL CHALLENGE When it comes to bathroom behaviour, is sharing your significant other’s beauty and grooming products acceptable, or should there be a clearly defined line? 08 | READY TO SERVE: DIVERSE QUEER AND TRANS INVOLVEMENT ON NON-PROFIT BOARDS Our voices need to be heard on all types of boards, not just those that serve queer and trans communities
10 | BE GOOD Three ways you can be a better person 11 | KEEP YOUR LOVE LIFE INTERESTING Successful relationships require a good amount of work, fresh ideas and dedicated love 11 | BAD DATING PATTERNS When FOMO is creeping its way into your relationships – and destroying them 12 | GM’S 1950S MOTORAMA MASTERPIECES PREDICTED OUR PRESENT Looking back at some of the company’s historic show cars 13 | WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR LGBTQ SENIORS? Going back into the closet should never be a requirement
14 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit
FEATURES 15 | NEW STUDY ON SGD PROSTATE CANCER PATIENTS Online survey is studying the quality of treatment for sexually and gender-diverse patients and survivors 16 | PRIDE IN INDIGENOUS, TWO-SPIRIT HERITAGE Organization works to foster a strong, healthy and independent two-spirit community in Toronto 18 | A PRIMER ON PRIVILEGE Learn. Ask questions... 20 | IS THERE A “GAY VOTE” IN CANADA – AND IF NOT, SHOULD WE CARE? Recent poll finds that LGBT issues rank second-to-last on voters’ concerns 22 | FEMMES ON FILM Unpacking the lack of genuine LGBT diversity in mainstream media 24 | ADAM’S EVE How the Olympic medallist plans on owning 2019 as a media superstar 28 | BILLY PORTER DECLARES: “IT’S A NEW DAY” Pose’s game-changing Golden Globes nominations prove it
30 | GIA GUNN’S MISSION GOES BEYOND THE CROWN The catchphrase queen talks trans identities and the art of drag 42 | MODERN INVISIBILITY Though screens have made life easier, LGBT people still need to get out and take up space 44 | SWEAT, READ, AND CHILL IN WEST HOLLYWOOD WeHo made me feel like a new man 46 | THE HILLS ARE ALIVE Utah’s Park City delivers powder-perfect skiing, Olympic thrills, icy drinks and mind-blowing cuisine 50 | FLASHBACK: FEBRUARY 16, 1990 IN LGBT HISTORY Famed pop artist Keith Haring dies from AIDS at 31
FASHION 34 | HANGING OUT WITH MISTER SUPRANATIONAL ARGENTINA A day in the life with Jorge Piantelli, the 20-year-old model from Buenos Aires who was recently named Mister Supranational Argentina 2018 38 | STRONG SUIT When it comes to evening wear this season, make a serious style statement
THE COMMUNAL CHALLENGE When it comes to bathroom behaviour, is sharing your significant other’s beauty and grooming products acceptable, or should there be a clearly defined line? By Adriana Ermter
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
In Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood film Toilet: Ek Prem Kath, a woman ditches her relationship on her first day of marriage when she realizes her new home does not have a toilet. Her bathroom behaviour creates an uproar within the community, sparking an idealistic quest for modern sanitation and a great conversation opener about bathroom expectations and etiquette. It also makes squabbling over whose turn it is to pick up more toilet paper seem trivial now, doesn’t it? And yet, we all do it.
Choose the what’s-mine-is-mine route and you’re living by Elton John’s and Josh Flagg’s rumoured preference with their respective husbands, not to mention Sir Michael Caine’s lifelong rule. The two-time Oscar winner has been known to pontificate that “the secret to a happy marriage is having separate bathrooms.” But if you’re more like the 1.9 million Canadians who Statistics Canada reports are living in condos, and/or if you were born during the sharing-is-caring/one-love 1960s and ’70s, chances are you’re opting for the communal challenge.
Think about it: you and your significant other (SO) of x number of years are finally sharing a postal code. So far, co-habitation has “Sharing your beauty and/or grooming products can be very been good. Easy, even. Well…mostly. You do the grocery shopping comfortable, convenient and even cost effective,” says Rachel and cleanup; your SO does the cooking. You take out the garbage; Zipperian, the beauty scientist for Herbal Essences. “But this is only your SO shovels the walk. You replace the toothpaste cap; your the case if both parties are getting the same pleasant return; otherwise, SO leaves it off so the toothpaste dries out and gets a thick crusty sharing products can sometimes lead to conflicts.” outer layer that takes 10 minutes to scrape off with a knife. You buy expensive face cream; your SO likes its fresh scent so much Deciding who gets more counter space, if you have a locked-door or it’s slathered on daily from head to toe. You jump in the shower to open-door policy, or whether to squeeze toothpaste from the middle of wash your hair; your SO has used all of the shampoo and left the the tube or from the bottom: these are par-for-the-course conversations. empty bottle for you to replace. Reality is, no matter how in synch More challenging discussions can range from agreeing on a budget you and your partner may be in life and in every other room of the for your products or finding a happy medium between buying a bar of house, the bathroom is its own domain, and co-existing within it soap or the Olay Daily Moisture Quench Body Wash (the answer, BTW, can push all kinds of buttons. is both), to the value of indulging in a five-step skincare routine and agreeing that, yes, you can split the Gillette on Demand razor subscription. “Bathrooms are, hands down, the most private room of the house,” explains Karen Cleveland, an etiquette advisor in Toronto. “If “As a general rule, choose the best product for you,” advises Zipperian. we’ve lived on our own before moving in with someone, we’re “If this happens to also be the best product for your significant other, used to having our own time and space to get ready. Every couple great – but know that beauty and grooming solutions are not a one has to figure out what works for them, but a great place to start is size fits all. Picking the best items should be based on what your to agree on whether your bathroom products are yours or if they hair and skin needs to be healthy and protected, and these can be very individual needs.” are communal.” 6
choice, it’s a healthy one. Double-dipping into the same skin cream jar, applying mascara from a shared tube, washing your face and body with a communal washcloth or loofah, and brushing your teeth with your SO’s toothbrush are all grounds for cross-contamination with viruses and bacteria such as staph infections, the flu, strep throat, warts, fungal infections, pink eye or worse. “Some products can be dangerous or unsanitary to share,” affirms Zipperian. “You want to be careful not to share items that can transfer harmful germs.” Additionally, grooming tools such as razors, nail clippers and tweezers are often covered in microscopic spots of your blood, as razors can make teeny-tiny nicks in your skin while tweezer-plucked hairs often make your skin bleed.
Factors to consider when divvying products include your skin and hair types (you may be super dry; your SO may be greasy); whether you or your partner have skin or olfactory sensitivities or allergies to ingredients; your general consumption (perhaps you use handfuls of shampoo and conditioner every day, while your SO sprays in Herbal Essences Cucumber and Green Tea Dry Shampoo three times a week); the amount of time you actually want to spend in the bathroom; and your GAF meter, because it’s not a compromise if you don’t really care what kind of fragrance you use, so long as there’s something in the medicine cabinet to spritz on. “Shop for products together,” recommends Cleveland. “You might find an amazing new line that you both love.” Collaboration will make running your errands more fun and can even help to avoid unexpected conflict.
At the end of the day, if you’ve created boundaries and set expectations, and still the bathroom wars continue about who didn’t flush the toilet, left the cap off the toothpaste or used all of the hairspray, what do you do? The only thing you can: stay calm (be thankful you have a bathroom!) and know that time will smooth out the rest of the hiccups.
“For many, time spent in the shower and in getting ready is a true escape from the stress of the day,” adds Zipperian. “When that time, space or product is disturbed, it can kill those good vibes. The last thing you want to do is make your relaxing retreat a battleground or source of additional stress. Boundaries and clear rules go a long way in creating a happy bathroom space.” “Especially if you put the cap on the toothpaste and go kiss your honey,” says Cleveland. “Domestic bliss doesn’t leave a lot of Knowing your boundaries and setting them is not only a smart room for quibbling.”
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
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PRIDE AT WORK
READY TO SERVE: DIVERSE QUEER AND TRANS INVOLVEMENT ON NON-PROFIT BOARDS Our voices need to be heard on all types of boards, not just those that serve queer and trans communities By Colin Druhan
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
From St. John’s to Kelowna, Canada is home to more than 100 Pride festivals. Just like the many advocacy groups, community centres and charitable programs that serve gender and sexual minorities in this country, these festivals are governed by boards of directors, a requirement of the Canada Revenue Agency if an organization wants non-profit or charitable status. These volunteers are typically elected by an organization’s membership to make strategic decisions and manage its finances responsibly. Boards serve a crucial role in shaping the future of the organizations that serve some of the most marginalized members of Canada’s queer and trans communities. They hire the CEO or executive director, decide on the budget and make major policy decisions. So it’s important that they are representative of the people for whom they are providing services. Gender and sexual minorities are significantly underrepresented in workplace leadership roles. Other facets of one’s identity, such as cultural background and ability, make it exponentially harder for some community members to rise through the ranks across a number of industries. While women are better represented in fields such as education and health care, fewer grab top spots in industries like mining and technology. Considering that most boards have
traditionally sought directors with management experience, lots of people have been left out of governance structures that need input from the broad diversity of identities that make up Canada’s queer, trans and 2S communities. Michael Cherny is a certified public accountant (CPA) who sits on the board of management of The 519, a community centre providing services that target the needs of gender and sexual minorities in Toronto. He previously served as a director and as treasurer on the board of directors of Pride Toronto. What motivates Cherny to serve on volunteer boards is the knowledge that some non-profit organizations fail not because their mission isn’t important, but because of financial mismanagement. “The work being done is so critical,” he explains. “I feel a strong sense of duty to participate and provide the right stewardship, given my professional background.” Cherny says one of the top things for community members to consider when joining a board is one’s free time. “No one ever talks about the time [required],” he says, admitting that volunteer hours can add up, especially on top of a busy work schedule. “It’s a labour of love, so you have to enjoy it.”
Cherny says expectations around professional experience and She agrees that more organizations need to look at diversifying the time commitment can both be big barriers to some community their criteria for board involvement if they want to be successful. members who are seeking to have their voices heard on governance “While ‘hard’ skills are important and you may need the auditor boards. “What we need is more mentorship to help build up the or the lawyer, individuals can bring more to the board than their requisite baseline skills to help folks who don’t otherwise have the credentials,” explains Winter. “Someone with a certain lived professional experience to feel more confident in their applications.” experience might help the organization better deliver its mission.” She adds that “whether they have a degree in finance or not, they He is vocal about the need to get people with a variety of lived bring their whole selves, and that adds value to the decision-making experiences on volunteer committees so they can work directly process that isn’t already there.” with board members and make themselves more appealing candidates when it’s time for an organization’s membership to Winter adds that more non-profit boards need representation from gender and sexual minorities, even if they don’t specifically serve vote on new directors. queer and trans communities. “If they don’t have the input from Cathy Winter is program manager at onBoard Canada, an organization all members, including the LGBT community, they get into a that seeks to enhance the standard for modern, effective governance group-think mentality where they’re not thinking outside the box by offering affordable training and services through their board and therefore not serving their constituents.” One of the reasons member matching program. She says diversity strengthens all types onBoard Canada does its work is so that people from a variety of boards. “It certainly leads to better decisions,” she explains, “and of underserved communities can have their voices heard in the from an ethical perspective, you have to be inclusive, particularly governance process. This underscores why diversity on boards in a country like Canada. We have a diverse society, but do we is so crucial. As Winter says, “If you don’t have that lens from someone outside, change just won’t happen.” want one that is exclusive or inclusive?”
COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employees to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
BE GOOD Three ways you can be a better person By Karen Kwan
Let’s take the world’s current state – dumpster fire for the most part – and use it as inspiration to be a better person. If we all try to be kinder, gentler and more uplifting, maybe we can create a small but hopeful wave of positivity that’ll move us all to a better place.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
And to successfully mitigate the negative news that explodes every day, you need to be grounded, says Toronto-based life and leadership coach John Mackay. Work on cultivating your values, and not only will you reap the rewards of being an even better human being but the world around you will benefit, too. To keep it simple, here are three ways you can be better. Exude positivity We can’t all be as chipper as Kimmy Schmidt. But you can be a more positive person if you take matters into your own hands, says Mackay, who proposes that you start with counting your blessings and being grateful. “Please don’t zone out now. It’s how your mother might have put it and she was right. Make time to remind yourself of what you’ve got, what you’ve created,” says Mackay. He suggests actually sitting down and making a list. “It can be a game-changer.” Learn to forgive If holding on to a grudge and letting deep-seated anger fester is your M.O., learning the power of forgiveness will feel like a new
lease on life. Even if the offence happened a long time ago (say, your old roommate never paid you back some money or your brother bullied you for a chunk of your childhood), tucking away those hurtful memories can eat away at you and affect your life now in subtle ways. How to be more forgiving? Start by cultivating a sense of empathy: remember that the person you’re holding resentment against is going through their own life’s struggles too. “Forgiveness is tough because I think it means we accept or condone the behaviour we are asked to forgive,” says Toronto-based psychotherapist Lauren Wolff. “Look for what is going on with them and ask yourself if it’s really about you or them. Everyone has baggage; everyone is a mess. It’s about embracing the mess and working through it.” Be more giving When people think of volunteering, the emphasis is often on how the effort of giving time or money will help others, but the act of volunteering is hugely beneficial to you, the volunteer, too. It can lower stress, be a source of physical activity, provide a social network and be a confidence booster. Ultimately, working on your gratitude (see above about how to have a more positive outlook) can help inform what type of giving you personally will find most rewarding. “I’ve seen people make terrific decisions about how they’re going to give of themselves to causes and organizations they care about through the simple act of stopping to think about what they’re grateful for,” says Mackay.
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
KEEP YOUR LOVE LIFE INTERESTING
Successful relationships require a good amount of work, fresh ideas and dedicated love By Ashley Le Feuvre-Williams
Being in a relationship with someone for long periods of time can become boring if you don’t actively try to keep things fresh and exciting. So step out of your comfort zone! It’s a new year – do something different with your love. Below are some ideas that might inspire you to try something new and help keep your relationship exciting. Trust us.… You’ll be happy you did.
piece, new outfits…your options are limitless. Let the expert staff guide you.
Role-play like a pro Pick a busy place to meet, and show up separately. Role-play a little: pretend you don’t know each other, and meet each other for the first time all over again. Create a new person to be for the Plan a night in night. Buy your partner a drink, introduce yourself, and engage No TV, no cellphones, no emails. Make a nice dinner, buy a bottle with each other…let it get a little steamy. Go home together and of something nice to share, and prepare a series of questions… just have fun. It may seem like a silly idea, but it’s worth the fun talk about your fantasies, talk about one or two things you would to see how it all plays out. like to try this year. Set some relationship goals, and sign off on them like they’re a contract you can’t get out of. Remind your Visit a consensual playground for adults partner(s) why you love them. Oasis Aqua Lounge in Toronto lets couples explore a different world. Let your surroundings inspire new and creative ways to Visit your local sex store play. Of course, you don’t have to partake in anything going May we recommend Seduction Love Boutique (577 Yonge St.)…. on in the venue – you can just observe and keep a list for later. Wherever you go, aim to buy at least one new product that you can enjoy together. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a sex toy Try new things (although watching each other get off with one is kind of hot); The worst that can happen is that you agree it’s not for you. And in fact, it could be a game, massage oil, a stimulant, a fetish the best? I leave that to your imagination. ASHLEY LE FEUVRE-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.
By Adam Segal
Dear Adam, The other day a good friend called me out on something – she was a little harsh, but it kind of woke me up. She told me that she had noticed a pattern where I look for new guys to date, see them a few times, and then move on to someone else. I know she’s right and I think I’ve been fooling myself by thinking I was only doing this because I hadn’t found ‘the one’ yet. The real issue is that I lose interest soon after the thrill and excitement of a new sexual or romantic vibe wears off. After just a few dates, I’m already thinking about other men and how I could be missing out on something fun if I zero in on the current guy. I don’t know how to avoid getting bored, and can’t imagine one guy sustaining my interest enough for me to stop looking. What am I doing wrong? – Sam Dear Sam, I think the most vital question here is: are you really looking for a relationship, or are you looking for something intense? Believe it or not, these are not the same thing. Sure, when we first connect with someone, there can be a powerful and lusty charge, but this isn’t what a relationship is premised on. While part of you may very well be looking for real romance, it sounds like another part of you wants to escape into something all-consuming. Based on your question, it sounds like you get a rough case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) whenever you’re not out there searching for the next best thing. Underlying FOMO is often a sense of anxiety that time is running out for us or that others are leading a more interesting life than we are. It might be good to try to reflect on what kinds of fears you are holding about your life, and whether your self-esteem is playing a role in the pursuit of external validation.
Another possibility is that the hunt for excitement is a way for you to distract yourself from painful or uncomfortable emotions. Think about it this way: when you are about to ride down an amusement park roller coaster, it is hard to feel any emotions because the thrill temporarily eclipses everything else. If you meet someone you truly like, and put aside other pursuits for a while, the lack of new excitement will open up space for you to have to feel stuff – and that might be uncomfortable. The more you avoid your feelings, the scarier they seem and the more likely you will continue to push them aside. And just to be clear: this isn’t a matter of monogamy being the healthiest option or goal. The goal you can consider for yourself is to try to gain a little more understanding about what drives your longing for the shiny new toy, and to see whether you can tolerate putting aside that search and instead be with yourself a little more.
ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
BAD DATING PATTERNS
When FOMO is creeping its way into your relationships – and destroying them
GM’S 1950S MOTORAMA MASTERPIECES PREDICTED OUR PRESENT Looking back at some of the company’s historic show cars By Casey Williams
From 1949 to 1961, General Motors’ legendary design chief, Harley Earl, staged Motorama shows as glitzy visions of the future. Foreshadowing today’s auto show season, GM’s extravaganzas were respites from cold weather and repositories of hot bodies. “All of the GM Motorama cars were designed to dazzle people. They said, ‘This is what we’re going to do in the future!’” explains automotive historian Ken Gross. “The designs still have presence.” Here are five of the most important: 1953: GM LeSabre I get misty every time I see the LeSabre with its low profile, straked side mouldings, complex hood curves and mint green paint. Built as Harley Earl’s personal car, it foreshadowed late-’50s Cadillacs plus the iconic fin tail trim on 1957 Chevrolets. A rotating hidden headlight, rain-sensing power top, and heated seats were all to come on later cars. Even more special were the supercharged V8 engine and integrated electric lifting jacks for changing tires. 1953: Chevrolet Corvette The first Corvette debuted on January 17, 1953, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. Designed as an American alternative to European roadsters, it sported a fibreglass body with toothy chrome grille and side curtains. A 150-horsepower inline-six-cylinder engine and two-speed automatic transmission were not exactly the stuff of legends, running 0-100 km/h in 11.5 seconds. But the car was gradually refined and amply powered to become a global icon. 1956: Buick Centurion The two-tone red and white styling of the Centurion was pretty dramatic, especially with its Plexiglas roof and large inset headlights, but that’s not why it was significant. Cars in the 1950s didn’t have rearview cameras, but look closely at the rear rocket pod and you’ll see this one did. It also had an interior inspired by aircraft, with a video screen in the dash. A 325-horsepower V8 engine is just metal within the cake. 1959: Cadillac Cyclone One of the last cars Earl designed, the low-slung Cyclone was inspired by rockets of the ’50s, and sported sharp fins that would soon debut on production Cadillacs. In a prediction of today’s safety tech, those nose cones housed radar sensors for the collision avoidance systems. Power sliding doors and a silver-coated bubble-top canopy for UV protection are enduring features. A throaty V8 engine and independent suspension backed up the sporty style.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
1959: GM Firebird III Styles were evolving from the wrap-around curves of the ’50s to the sharp creases of the ’60s. The Firebird’s fibreglass body, tested in GM’s wind tunnel, sported a double-bubble canopy, seven short wings, and air drag brakes that deployed from the bodysides. Continuing the aircraft theme, it was driven by a 225-horsepower turbine engine. Steering was by a joystick between the seats. An ultrasonic key signalled the doors to open, while an auto guidance system helped avoid accidents. The future had arrived. To learn more about the bigger-than-life personality of the man behind these gems, read the new book Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit, by William Knoedelseder.
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews IN MAGAZINE to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR LGBTQ SENIORS? Going back into the closet should never be a requirement By Courtney Hardwick
Aging is one of the universal realities we all have in common. Despite that, elderly people aren’t always treated with the respect and patience they deserve, and that can be amplified for LGBTQ-identifying senior citizens. Society doesn’t particularly value elderly people to begin with, and feelings of isolation and invisibility are two things that members of the LGBTQ community understand all too well. Although acceptance of different sexualities has come a long way in the past couple of decades, that doesn’t change the fact that 50 years ago, it was illegal to be gay in Canada. That means many of the LGBTQ seniors in need of long-term retirement housing today remember when they had no choice but to be in the closet. They remember when same-sex marriage wasn’t possible, when homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, and when the AIDS epidemic bred widespread panic. They have seen the world change and acceptance become expected, but they also know there are still plenty of ways they can and will be discriminated against. With the “out” senior citizen being a relatively new thing, healthcare providers and staff in retirement and nursing home facilities might not be trained in the specific ways LGBTQ elders need support. Not to mention that today’s straight senior citizens grew up in a time when acceptance wasn’t as expected and many of them still feel no need to change their old-fashioned ideas. This is something that is on the minds of many aging members of the LGBTQ community. A 2015 University of Alberta study of people aged 55 and older found that being respected as LGBTQ was a top concern when considering senior housing – even more
important than facility amenities and affordability. Clearly, the fear that a retirement home could potentially be an uncomfortable and oppressive place to live out their twilight years is very real. For many seniors, one way to avoid discrimination is to hide their sexuality, essentially meaning they’d rather go back into the closet than deal with bullying and unwelcome opinions. That isn’t an easy choice to make after years of fighting for the right to openly be themselves. Another option is to avoid moving into a long-term facility at all, but since many LGBTQ seniors lack support from their family and are less likely than straight people to have children, that isn’t always possible. Organizations such as the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg and the Senior Pride Network in Ottawa are working to spread awareness and create better options when it comes to LGBTQ-friendly housing, palliative care, nursing homes, home care and more. The goal is not only to provide resources and services LGBTQ seniors can feel comfortable turning to, but also to teach healthcare providers how to make sure their programs are as inclusive and respectful as possible. The Rainbow Resource Centre recently proposed building affordable housing exclusively for the LGBT seniors’ community: a space with 120 units for seniors who have lost their partners. This is something that has been done successfully in Europe and in some parts of the United States but, of course, it takes time and funding if it is to be done properly. In the meantime, better training for staff can help take the edge off for LGBTQ seniors who are nervous about moving into retirement communities. After all, simple kindness and understanding can go a long way.
COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.
ON THE TOWN
SCENES FROM THE PARTY CIRCUIT By Michael Pihach
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
ARTATTACK! at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre 1: Christian Mittelstaedt, Patricia Wilson, Beau Burroughs, 2: Geoff Stevens, John Maguire, 3: Evalyn Parry, 4: Keith Cole. Bloor Street Entertains at the Four Seasons Hotel 5: Michael Liebrock, Garrick Frittelli, 6: Alex Filiatrault, 7: Steven Sabados, Christopher Grimston, 8: Suzanne Boyd, Shinan Govani. Mandy Goodhandy Sings, Steps & Salutes 65 at 120 Diner (Photos by Bill Beard) 9: John Amato, 10: Ori Dagan, 11: Todd Klinck, 12: Mandy Goodhandy.
NEW STUDY ON SGD PROSTATE CANCER PATIENTS Online survey is studying the quality of treatment for sexually and gender-diverse patients and survivors By Daniel Mitri
The Sexual Health Research Laboratory at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., is conducting a study of men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer and the cancer’s impact on various aspects of the participants’ lives. The analysis, which will be done based on the results of an online survey for affected males, aims to target the consequences of the disease and its treatments. Studies on prostate cancer are quite common in the field of health; what makes the Queen’s analysis stand out is that its objective is to discover how the illness affects sexually and gender-diverse patients (SGD), a group that is rarely taken into consideration. Much of the previous research has either been restricted to heterosexual males or else the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity has been overlooked entirely, even though these factors may add additional complications to the patient’s life both during and after treatment. The survey will ask questions regarding participants’ health-related quality of life, experiences within the Canadian healthcare system, mental health, social support and sexual outcomes (which will look at satisfaction, functioning, and changes in sexual roles and activity). Through the questions, the researchers aim to determine if SGD patients share the same experiences and level of care during prostate cancer treatment as heterosexual and cisgender males.
Previous studies regarding prostate cancer treatment have suggested that different sexual concerns have arisen post-treatment in gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual males. Some of these studies have also shown that SGD patients have experienced the healthcare system differently than heterosexual, cisgender patients, suggesting that heteronormative biases, homophobia and a lack of information from healthcare providers have all been factors affecting the quality of health care provided. If the findings of the study show an imbalance in the quality of treatment for SGD patients, healthcare providers can assess the issues and modify services provided to better suit the needs of each individual. As well, the analysis could potentially raise issues for SGD patients that would have otherwise gone unmentioned. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Canadian males, with approximately one in seven men developing the illness in their lifetime. Although the disease has an estimated 95 per cent survival rating, affected individuals still run the risk of complications as a result of the cancer and its treatment. For more information about the Sexual Health Research Laboratory, visit www.sexlab.ca.
DANIEL MITRI is a Toronto-based writer with a strong interest in music, politics and cooking. If he’s not playing his bass guitar, you can find him poking through vintage record stores and frequenting 24-hour restaurants.
HAVE YOU BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH PROSTATE CANCER? Seeking prostate cancer patients and survivors for an online study. Participation will take 60 to 90 minutes. Prize draws are available for participants. For more information or for a paper copy, contact the Sexual Health Research Laboratory: email@example.com 613-533-3276 To participate online: www.sexlab.ca/participate This study is funded by a Prostate Cancer Canada Movember Discovery Grant.
PRIDE IN INDIGENOUS, TWO-SPIRIT HERITAGE Organization works to foster a strong, healthy and independent two-spirit community in Toronto By Renée Sylvestre-Williams
Keith McCrady, executive director at 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations
Keith McCrady and I play email tag for a couple of days. We’re trying to coordinate a time to chat, and there’s a lot of looking at calendars and hastily drafted emails before we can finally decide on a time that works.
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It’s no wonder. Not only is McCrady, executive director at 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, currently interviewing people for the role of HIV educator at the organization, he’s still ramping up its role as spokesperson for two-spirited people within the Indigenous and LGBTQ2 communities. According to 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, in traditional Indigenous culture, elders spoke of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits: those of male and female. These individuals were looked upon as a third gender in many cases and were, in most cases, revered. In Indigenous cultures, two-spirited people were often considered healers and visionaries and as the centre of communities. McCrady, who is Ojibwe, Cree and two-spirited, didn’t apply for the job of executive director – he was invited to apply by the board, and took that invitation to lead the agency in a new direction. “I felt like I really needed them to know who I was and what my philosophy, my pedagogy, was, and the way that we learned with people. Really, it was really important for me and also the two-spirit identity, which historically could mean many things to many people. And I felt as though maybe there was too much focus on the HIV/AIDS part of that healing, and so I basically gave them a vision of what the agency could be in what we could do with the community.” Part of that vision, McCrady says, was to take the organization from being one where people say “it does wonderful things – we just don’t know what it does,” to one that fosters a strong, healthy and independent two-spirit community in Toronto, one where HIV infections will be rare and two-spirited people can live with pride in their Indigenous heritage. “I think that from my experience, the Indigenous community wants to learn, share and grow together – but 16
it’s not organized,” explains McCrady. “People in the Indigenous community, let alone the non-Indigenous community, don’t really fully understand what two-spirited is. We’re still trying to teach everyone all at once, and so I feel like in my experience, it really needs to start with our own community.” McCrady’s family teachings play a strong role in his mandate at 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations: as well as being two-spirited himself, he grew up with transgender and two-spirited people in his family. For him, being two-spirited means being the person who connects the genders together and being the person that anyone can speak with. “I think that the role of being two-spirited is really to talk about anything, especially when you modernize things. So it’s about talking about sexuality, about the way we work with children and the way we work with families, in the way that we support families in roles like auntie and uncle. There are specific roles for people, and I think that’s what I really want the two-spirited community to remember. It’s just as accurate as saying two-spirit is part of the LGBTQ2 spectrum. It is a gender identity, and if there was a box to click – male, female, two-spirit – I think it’s very accurate to say that that is the gender of some people.” The organization has received enough funding plus the original part-time role to create a full-time role for an HIV educator. McCrady wants that person to be someone who can go out into the Indigenous and LGBTQ2 communities. “I want the person in this role to come and say, ‘Here’s what we want people to know,’ and talk to other people living with HIV/AIDS and say, ‘This is our story and here’s what we need you to know about working with us in the community, and here’s what our role is going to be,’” he says. “It might be a workshop presentation or a [sharing] circle or a story, depending on what they decide, and so I thought it was a great opportunity. The second part of it is, who are they going to share that information with? I think it should be children, families, community, and all the other people who aren’t connected to Toronto’s LGBTQ2 community from the Indigenous community.”
RENÉE SYLVESTRE-WILLIAMS is a Toronto-based journalist. She has been published in Forbes, Flare, Canadian Living and The Globe and Mail.
OUR PASSION IS INTENSE. A profound need for answers and a devotion to progress permeates everything we do. We have a burning desire to make a real difference for people living with HIV, and weâ€™re not afraid to show it.
Our core values run deep. www.viivhealthcare.ca | @viivhc 17
A PRIMER ON PRIVILEGE Learn. Ask questions… By Fraser Abe
“I can’t have privilege; I was bullied!” is a sentiment many white cis gay men feel. But the fact is, there is probably no other segment of North American society more privileged (save, of course, for white cis heterosexual men) than white cis gay men.
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Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” first put forth the notion of privilege when discussing gender, race and class issues in the United States. In it, she states that as a white woman, she carries an invisible knapsack of unearned advantages, like “I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race” and “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.” When white cis gay men are “the norm” in LGBT advertising and entertainment, it’s hard to see anyone else in an adorable pair of Old Navy adult footie pajamas or as a love interest in a sexy nighttime soap on ABC. Meanwhile in 1989, Kimberle Crenshaw wrote an article in the University of Chicago Legal Forum titled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics,” where she averred that people can experience oppression on multiple fronts. A Black trans woman faces issues of racism that a white trans woman does not, so even if transphobia were to suddenly vanish, the issue of racism remains. White cis gay men still face challenges due to their sexual orientation, but many other intersections of oppression are invisible to them. Privilege often takes form in ignorance, and the LGBT community is not above that. RuPaul Charles, the impresario drag queen behind RuPaul’s Drag Race, has gotten into hot water for his
offensive commentary on the trans community. Asked by the Guardian if he’d have a trans woman who had any gender-affirming surgery on the show, he said, “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.” Not exactly the most progressive perspective from a person famous for pioneering drag, but not entirely unsurprising given many gay men’s ignorance of trans issues. For the record: a person’s gender identity is whatever they say it is, even if they don’t undergo any surgeries. And don’t ask about their surgeries anyway. During the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade, some members of the group Black Lives Matter Toronto held up the parade for about 30 minutes until Pride Toronto director Matthieu Chantelois signed their demands (notably about uniformed police participation in the parade, among others). Think about discussions from that time. Some people felt that it was either not the right time or place for the sit-in, or not the right way to go about protesting, or simply that the Pride parade is not about politics. Those sentiments are easy to feel when a police presence doesn’t feel like a threat to your very existence. Even those gay men with white privilege should also note that the police have not always been exactly kind to the Toronto LGBT community (consider the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto and, more recently, “morality raids” in an Etobicoke park in 2016 and the spate of murders allegedly committed by Bruce McArthur where the cops insisted a killer wasn’t targeting gay men in the Toronto village.) This is not to say that white cis gay men have it easy. There are very real issues for them, from childhood bullying to job discrimination to health concerns and beyond – but other members of the LGBT community often experience the same and sometimes worse. For
example, just days before the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the Ontario PC Party passed a resolution to debate whether or not the party should recognize gender identity (Premier Doug Ford later said it would not go forward). Imagine having the mere notion of your existence being debated.
doing some reading yourself before asking invasive questions of friends or co-workers.
Amplify other voices rather than your own. As a person with privilege, you may think: I have to do something about this! But the fact is, other people are already doing this work. Rather than So, what to do? Listen, learn, and raise up other voices. speak over others, retweet their sentiment or say something like “This isn’t my area of expertise, but so-and-so would know.” But When a person from a marginalized community says something, also, know when to speak up. Call out people’s biases, especially listen. Don’t say, “That’s not true,” or try to tone police them when in groups of other people with privilege. (“You’d get your message across better if you weren’t so angry”). Feeling heard can make a big difference to a person’s mental Identifying your own privileges does not mean that you didn’t well-being. work hard for that promotion or earn that raise. Calling attention to implicit biases in our culture is not meant to devastate, and Learn. Ask questions, sure, but also don’t think of a trans person those it does devastate would more aptly be called the “snowflakes” or Black person as some sort of infinite fount of knowledge. they are always saying others are. You know what is an infinite fount of knowledge? Google. Try
FRASER ABE is a Toronto-based writer. His work has been published in Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, Sharp Magazine, NOW Magazine and more. When he’s not busy writing, he’s shrieking Gia Gunn quotes at his boyfriend, Colin.
IS THERE A “GAY VOTE” IN CANADA – AND IF NOT, SHOULD WE CARE? Recent poll finds that LGBT issues rank second-to-last on voters’ concerns By Kevin Hurren
What is it that keeps Canadians up at night? It’s a question that national columnist Susan Delacourt asks in the Toronto Star when she reviews Public Square Research’s recent “Canadian worry check in.” It’s a bit of a loaded question. You see, the poll (released in November 2017) asked 1,500 voting-aged Canadians how worried they are about their future, gauging what exactly they’re concerned about. The results aren’t particularly noteworthy. Unsurprisingly, the costs of basics like groceries and electricity rank at the top of the list, followed closely by health issues and saving enough for retirement. Other than some partisan outliers – Conservatives, for instance, worry more about crime and immigration than their progressive peers, who fret more over the environment – it’s seemingly a no-brainer. As any pocketbook guide to psychology will tell you, humans are motivated to satisfy their immediate needs for food and shelter before considering the well-being of a broader community. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and all that.
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So what’s interesting about Delacourt’s column isn’t the worry index itself, but rather the conclusion she comes to after reading it. She, and in many ways the study itself, suggests that as we approach the 2019 federal elections, politicians should focus their campaigns on the pocketbook issues that topped the index – specifically jabbing the current Liberal government’s diversity-heavy messaging.
put their faith behind, and whose values they trust, there’s a lot more factoring into the decision – especially for LGBT voters and their allies. Personally, there’s not a single ballot I’ve cast where I haven’t looked into the candidates’ voting records or public statements on the LGBT community. In fact, my whole entry into politics was filtered through a queer experience. The first political campaign I volunteered for was to support a queer candidate, and when I was in the running to become the newest speechwriter for former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, there was only one way I could answer the question about what I respected most about Canada’s first openly gay premier: “She’s out.” That may sound a bit reductive, but it’s true. Before I knew anything about her time as minister of education in the late 2000s or her accomplishments following that, I knew she was breaking records and barriers as an out, lesbian political leader in Canada’s most populous province. As someone who, at the time, barely knew where I landed on the political spectrum, her obvious bravery broke through the noise. It left an impression on me that no amount of “good jobs” and “pocketbook issues” messaging that every (yes, every) politician shovels could match.
That’s because, she notes, trailing the list of things Canadians worry about are women’s equality, Indigenous issues and (coming in at number 22 of the 23 listed possibilities) LGBT issues.
When I landed the gig and began writing for the Premier, I learned my experience wasn’t unique. Many staffers, volunteers and supporters shared similar stories of inspiration. As I made my way through Ontario politics into other offices, I learned that the same could be said for many of the then-diverse caucus members. Women, immigrants, people of colour, queer folk – we came out in droves because we saw, for once, people who had similar lived experiences as us and who spoke about protecting us.
To be fair, it’s not that Delacourt or the reps from Public Square Research claim that no one cares about the communities listed above. Rather, they use these findings as fodder for advice to political parties of all stripes – in order to win, politicians need to stick to the issues people actually worry about, and that just isn’t LGBT issues.
It sounds like tribalism, or a kind of identity politics that pundits like to roll their eyes at, but it’s a powerful force of mobilization. One that may not be keeping me up at night, but is certainly getting me out of bed to vote, volunteer and donate – all of which are the ultimate goals of any campaign. That potential for organization and action shouldn’t be discounted.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story, does it?
As a matter of fact, less than a week following Public Square Research’s poll ranking LGBT issues second-to-last on voters’ radar, Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government became the trending punching bag after a party convention resolution was passed for debate that called gender identity an “unscientific, liberal ideology.”
There’s a lot going through voters’ minds when they’re handed that fateful ballot. When asked in a vacuum to rank what they want to secure in life, most would likely put a stable job, good health and some money in the bank high on the list. But when asked who to
Ontario Premier Doug Ford
Likely spurred on by the fact that this resolution came just three days shy of Transgender Day of Remembrance, the community pounced. Not just the LGBT community, but also allies and friends. They knew it was just a resolution for debate and not law, but still recognized it for what it was – a value statement erasing the real lives of trans and non-binary people and those who supported them. After days of media questions backed by social media and pressure by LGBT organizations, Premier Doug Ford took the very rare step of killing the resolution, telling media “it’s done.” His office later clarified that he would “explore every option as Leader of the Ontario PC Party to prevent this resolution from moving forward.” I say rare because this is a premier who cultivates a reputation for bluntness and a no-holds-barred approach to critics. The same premier who, just a few months previously, threatened to use a controversial constitutional notwithstanding clause to dance around a judge’s ruling (the ruling was eventually halted by a higher court). I bring up Premier Ford’s unique position on the gender identity resolution not to absolve him of past misgivings about the LGBT community, but instead as an example of what happens when queer and allied communities get involved, making noise and forcing a political leader to show his hand. After all, it’s not as though every criticized decision gets the same response. A week prior to the gender identity scandal, Ford’s government announced it was scrapping rent control. According to the worry index, one’s ability to pay rent or the prospect of losing one’s home came fifth on the list of concerns – yet the campaigns against the end of rent control
have yet to pick up notable steam. This despite the fact that, unlike the resolution – which was just up for debate – the end of rent control is actually happening. And what’s one of the few opposition campaigns that has been able to keep momentum? Reinstating the updated sex-ed curriculum, a movement that has been driven largely by – yep, you guessed it – LGBT advocates, organizations and allies. All of this is not to say that LGBT voters can’t or don’t make political decisions based on more than their sexuality. Of course they do. Yet much like other marginalized communities, most of us look at our interactions with public life through a queer lens. I can’t “cover the cost of basic needs” if laws don’t protect me from being fired or evicted for being gay. I can’t “care for my health or the health of people I love” if I can’t afford medications that would treat or prevent diseases disproportionately affecting my community, or if my rights as a same-sex spouse or parent aren’t recognized in the healthcare system. So, yes, when taken out of context, “LGBT issues” may scrape the bottom of the list when it comes to what’s keeping Canadians up at night – but I would caution any politician who’d use that as a licence to ignore or abandon the very real LGBT fights that are ongoing in this country. With our community’s history of activism, queering of pocketbook issues and personal championing of people who can speak to our lived experiences, LGBT voters can be a powerful ally in any political campaign. And for those looking to campaign on anti-LGBT platforms? Well, they might actually have something to worry about.
KEVIN HURREN is a former speechwriter for Ontario’s 25th Premier, Kathleen Wynne, as well as a senior communications advisor for members of her cabinet. He is also former chair of the Ontario Public Service Pride Network and works with LGBT campaigns. Currently, he’s a freelance writer based in Toronto’s gay village.
FEMMES ON FILM
Unpacking the lack of genuine LGBT diversity in mainstream media
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By Bianca Guzzo
Representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters in mainstream media is currently at an all-time high, and is light years ahead of where it started in the 1970s. Shows like Orange is the New Black and Modern Family have brought LGBT stories and issues into the living rooms of millions, and opened our eyes to how much representation of the LGBT community matters in a modern society. But while we’ve come a long way, there is still a hard road ahead before queer characters are front and centre, and represented fairly in mainstream media. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until the 1970s that queer characters first made their way onto mainstream television programs. Even then, the characters only got single-episode story arcs, and were usually forgotten about by the time the next episode aired a week later. And though these characters from 40 years ago made waves, the shows they starred in still included homophobic jokes and storylines. Often, the queer characters these shows chose to include were so blatantly stereotypical they started to seem hypocritical. As much as we want to believe we’ve made great strides in portraying the LGBT community in pop culture, this continues to be a problem with portraying queer characters on modern television. Just because a show includes a queer character doesn’t mean their show is progressive, and entertaining for queer audiences. The 1990s saw the popular sitcom Friends include queer characters through its entire 10-year run. Whether it was Ross’s lesbian ex-wife or Chandler’s drag-queen father, the show does get some credit for its inclusion of the LGBT community. But what seemed edgy and progressive at the time does get cringe-worthy upon re-watching the series now. Even though featuring a whole episode on a lesbian wedding was a big deal at the time, the same episode also includes 22
a string of homophobic jokes. Ross’s ex-wife and Chandler’s father were often the punchline for jokes and storylines. The show’s writers still defend their creative choices, stating that the show was incredibly progressive for its time, despite the fact that audiences agree that it hasn’t aged well. Then came shows like Will & Grace and Queer as Folk and, for the first time, it felt like audiences were seeing queer characters who drove a storyline and carried a show. Both of these shows were part of a huge turning point for depicting queer culture on prime-time television. Unfortunately, we’re still seeing queer characters and storylines randomly thrown into shows as the token LGBT representation, and it’s just not good enough.Yes, there is more representation of queer individuals in mainstream media. But imagine if, instead of just being token characters, they were regular, multifaceted beings, and their sexuality and gender identity didn’t exclusively define who they were. What if they weren’t just the femme gay best friends, there to assist the pretty blonde girl with her outfits? There are still plenty of shows and movies that throw in token queer characters in order to make themselves appear relevant
Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina features a non-binary character named Susie Putnam, portrayed by Lachlan Watson, a non-binary actor
and progressive. The problem is that, often, these token characters seem to fall into stereotypes we all know so well…because those same stereotypes (specifically of femme gay men and butch lesbian women) were once the only way we saw queer people represented on screen. What we really need to see, now more than ever, is an accurate representation of queer people in media. We need to see more bisexuals, pansexuals and asexuals. We need more transgender characters and stories. With the popularity of online streaming, shows started taking more risks with what they were showing, without the pressure of major networks controlling what they could, and could not, talk about on their shows. With the “streaming revolution,” we did start to see more representation of trans characters, played by trans actors like Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black. Netflix’s recent reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch features a non-binary character, played by a non-binary actor. As more of the LGBT community is fairly represented in popular mainstream media, we gain a better understanding of each other. We become one step closer to living in a world that with time becomes more accepting. Take, for example, the recent surge in mainstream popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A more diverse group of people
is being fully immersed in drag culture, and getting excited and involved in the wonderful and colourful world of drag. They’re going to drag bars, and supporting their local queens. Some may say that without RuPaul’s accessible gateway to drag, it would remain a clandestine subculture, observed solely by those in the LGBT community. Despite what various bigoted and irrelevant people seem to say on social media, there can never be enough diversity: not with race, gender, sexuality or otherwise. There is always room for more people to be fairly represented in mainstream media. What we are consuming in popular culture needs to catch up so it can resemble the kind of world we are currently living in. There are a select number of shows that have honestly and genuinely portrayed multifaceted LGBT characters without relying on stereotypes. We need to continue demanding more representation like this of the LGBT community in popular culture. After all, there can always be more, and better, representation – we have to continue demanding and supporting it. If we do, the landscape of LGBT representation in mainstream media will look very different, and the world will be a little bit better because of it.
BIANCA GUZZO is a writer based out of the GTA. She spends her free time watching Trixie Mattel makeup tutorials, though she still has yet to nail the look.
ADAM’S EVE How the Olympic medallist plans on owning 2019 as a media superstar By Nelson Branco
Don’t call him an ice queen. That’s because in 2019 Adam Rippon is going to let it, er, rip by reinventing himself off the ice. Coming off an insanely successful 2018, Rippon has retired from the figure skating world after winning a bronze medal at last year’s Winter Olympics (he was the first openly gay American athlete to win at the Winter Games). In the process, and thanks to his sassy and witty social media presence, the 29-year-old whippersnapper captured the imagination of the world – including major celebrities and politicians. (Reese Witherspoon and Rippon are totally, like, besties now!) Not one to rest on his laurels, the native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was quickly cast on Dancing With The Stars’Athlete edition. Shocker: he ended up winning that competition too! And guess what? He’s the first openly gay celebrity to do that as well. Are you sensing a pattern here? On the heels of scoring the show’s Mirrorball Trophy, the fan favourite was asked to co-judge the ABC spinoff DWTS: Junior opposite ballroom champ Val Chmerkovskiy and Emmy-winning choreographer Mandy Moore late last fall. To top it all off, he was named by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people (with an introduction written by Cher!), and he was honoured by the Human Rights Campaign with its Visibility Award. Add his infectious and prank-filled friendship with fellow athlete Gus Kenworthy, and you’d probably hate Rippon if he weren’t so damn lovable and entertaining.
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(What did YOU do last year?!) So what’s next for the ambitious star? While he’s intent on finding his new passion, Rippon is dedicated to lending his support to LGBTQ+ rights and extolling the virtues of personal liberation. In the process, he is already being called a gay icon and mentor. Now if he could only do something about his shyness problem… In an exclusive interview with IN, the oldest of six children laughs, saying, “I’m really hoping I can come out of my shell in 2019!” We spoke with the affable personality about living in Toronto at one point, the dangers of Donald Trump’s administration, why coming out is more important than ever, and his friendship with Kenworthy. It’s nice to see a celebrity call a journalist directly without a publicist involved! I got a phone! I might as well use it… 24
Is winning an Olympic bronze medal and scoring the Mirrorball Trophy on DWTS among your proudest achievements thus far? Along with being a gay icon and activist… It’s awesome to be an Olympic medallist AND win DWTS. It’s been great to be able to accomplish that as an out gay man. However, being gay had nothing to do with those successes. Because I was able to be open and be myself, that’s why I succeeded. I hope that’s the takeaway here: if you can be your authentic self and work your ass off, those are always the best experiences. That’s one reason why it’s important for me to be out. You came out in 2015 in Skating magazine. What was that experience like? One of the most liberating moments of my life was coming out to friends and family, because I needed to own who I was in front of them in private conversations. I think – and I hope – everyone experiences my positive coming-out experience because when you own who you are – your best version of yourself when you are fearless and don’t care what people think of you – that’s when you will be really embraced and accepted. People can smell fear, especially when someone is hiding something. And in today’s age, it’s harder to hide because we all have access to everyone’s social media. You know what people are up to and what kind of crowds they hang out with. That’s why it’s important to be transparent. I’ve been able to do that. I’ve tried to stay true to myself.… Yes, I’m still a disaster and hot mess sometimes, but I have a great heart! I know it’s cliché, but people really need to focus on their inner health because the greatest relationship you will have is with yourself. I’m glad your generation sees that. Why did you exactly decide to come out? Because of skating, I had this amazing distraction of, ‘Oh, I’ll deal with this later. I don’t need to come out now; I need to focus on what I am doing.’ So I didn’t come out until I was 22! Which is shocking because, as a teenager, I walked around with a messenger bag and wore whatever I wanted. I was myself but I didn’t share with people or explore that side of myself. But you get to a point when you’re 22 and life takes over. You meet people and feelings bubble to the surface. What changed my life was watching other people’s coming-out stories, and how they improved their lives and relationships. Yes, sometimes they lost people along the way, but for the most part, they felt good about themselves by being their authentic selves and enjoying the freedom to live the life they wanted to live. Simply, the courage of people who came out really inspired me to do the same. It’s tricky today because there are people who want to be gay but don’t think they have to ‘come out’ formally. There are some people who think there is no need to come out today.
COVER Unfortunately, in this time right now, where there are people who are not accepting of the LGBT+ community, it’s important that we are out and that the world at large sees we are relevant. It’s necessary because there are kids stuck in the closet [because they’re] scared their families are going to kick them out or [because] it’s illegal in their country. If you have the opportunity to share your story… that’s what coming out is at its core. To help give someone else the opportunity to see themselves in your own experience and the world didn’t end, that’s powerful. It really does get better. When I came out, I didn’t have a large following. I enjoyed some celebrity in the skating world, which was relatively small, but it was important to me to share my story for myself. It was an opportunity to say to my younger self: ‘I’m okay now and I’m better.’ If there is another little Adam from a small town out there, I need him to know it’s okay to live in [his] skin. That’s important to me.
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You’re still presumed straight until stated otherwise, so coming out is still a reality, albeit an unfair burden. Okay, let’s lighten up the mood: if your besties, Gus and Reese, were drowning and you could only save one person, who would it be? I wouldn’t be able to choose, so I would jump in the water and drown with them! Diplomatic answer! I really admire the friendship you have with Gus. I don’t think there are a lot of platonic gay bros out there to help dispel certain stereotypes. What kind of impact do you think your friendship has had, not only on the gay community but on the mainstream? Or have you even thought that deep into it… I’ve thought about it a lot. One thing that is so awesome is that we’re two very different people. Sometimes when you see two people from the same community, there can be a rivalry: who do you like better; who is your favourite? [Laughs] One thing Gus and I were able to do was show that we were champions of each other and could be friends – especially within our own Olympic 26
community. It’s cool to cheer on our fellow athletes. One of the most incredible moments of my life was walking in the opening Olympic ceremony – not only to be able to represent America with all my peers – but also to walk out with Gus. I had just met him about a half-hour before we walked out, but I felt like I had known him forever. I related to the experiences he had gone through – and they are very different than mine, and vice versa – but at the same time, they were very similar. I remember thinking the young me would drop dead if I had known I would be at the Winter Olympic Games as an out athlete walking alongside another gay man. What’s so interesting is that, yes, I may be more flamboyant than the next guy but I didn’t ever have to apologize for it. I know I’m a good person and I say what I mean. Being authentic, well, people respond to that. I was very grateful that Gus was also authentic and he also uses his voice. I think we were a great representation of America. I can only speak for myself but when I see Gus, as a gay guy, I am so extremely proud of him. I hope I was able to do the same. I love how you guys poke fun at each other on social media. When he mocked your Academy Awards outfit on Halloween, I laughed my old ass off! I almost dropped dead when I saw that post! You famously had an encounter with the White House when you turned down an invite to meet US Vice President – and gay conversion advocate – Mike Pence not once but twice. Are you worried about present (and future) gay protections and rights under this administration? Or are you hopeful that as your country hits rock bottom, it will galvanize the community even more? Of course I’m worried! That’s why it’s important for people across my country to use their voice and say: this stuff isn’t right. If Trump
were an Olympian athlete, and he said the things he says now, he would not be allowed to go to the Games. That’s why I don’t think he’s a good representative of my country. The things he says and the way he treats people is not right. It is not the way you treat the most powerful position in the world. You should not bully people. We all know what it is like to be bullied and teased – it’s awful. That’s not how you move forward. You should not play into people’s fears, which is how this administration operates. It’s important that Americans stand up and attend rallies. Find the candidates that really represent who you are and how we want our country and communities to be represented. Now more than ever, it’s important to use our voices – regardless if you have 10 million Instagram followers or just 10, engage and discuss issues. Even if it’s just to help a friend register to vote or to drive someone to a voting poll. When you are able to help people…that’s how a country moves forward.
true to myself. And that means saying no to things, too. Especially when they want me to be the stupid, funny gay guy – and that’s not who I am. Yes, I like to say stupid things sometimes, but I am very thought out. And I mean what I say. I want to find projects where I can be myself but also be impactful. You’ve spent some time in Canada skating. What did you think of our country? I did! My grandmother is actually from Toronto.That’s where I lived: in North York for two years. Which is always a fun fact. I just met the Queer Eye guys, and Antoni [Porowski] is from Montreal. I met Shawn Mendes, who is also from Canada. Whenever I meet a Canadian, it’s always a bonding experience. Toronto is one of my favourite cities. I always look back on my time in Canada so fondly. I knew you were cool for a reason! See, even in this interview, it’s paying off that I used to live in Toronto!
What are your long-term goals? I can totally see you hosting a talk show one day. What’s your endgame, media-wise? Acting… And if things ever go south down south, you can always move Skating used to be my outlet to entertain people but at the very core, here! Are you binging anything these days? I’m like a show pony. I like to be out there. I like to perform. I like When I was training, I didn’t have a lot of time to watch TV. I’m to engage with people. I like to make people laugh and have serious a huge YouTube person. In my life, I don’t have commitment conversations. In this last year, post-Olympics, I’ve explored many issues but if I have to commit to a whole season of episodes, I different experiences but I brought my lessons and experiences have a fear. I’m trying to overcome that and grow and become as an athlete into every single situation I’ve thrown myself in. I a better person, but old habits die hard. I loved watching A think the reason why I’ve been successful is that I’ve been able to Handmaid’s Tale because I’m a huge Samira Denise Wiley fan. I love carry through my successes into the next year. I hope I can carry it watching Queer Eye, especially after meeting them. They deserve the further into 2019. I’m really into trying as many opportunities as I platform they have because they are the kind of guys we need out can so I can see what I like, because I’ve been focused on one goal there changing perceptions. And what kind of gay guy would I be and job for 20 years. I have this post-college feeling right now – ‘I if I didn’t watch Drag Race? don’t know what to do!’ – and I think that’s normal. Yes, I would love to get into acting or host my own talk show. An excommunicated one! Luckily, I have an amazing team behind me to help me take the right and next steps. I’ve been very clear about my vision and staying 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, 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.
BILLY PORTER DECLARES: “IT’S A NEW DAY” Pose’s game-changing Golden Globes nominations prove it
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Pray Tell (Billy Porter) in FX’s groundbreaking series, Pose
Few television performances were as memorable in 2018 as says, “it’s a new day.” The Golden Globe nominations showed Billy Porter’s turn on FX’s Pose. His Pray Tell was one of the that there is a future for queer representation in Hollywood. standouts on the groundbreaking series, which is packed full of dynamic characters. “Especially right now when so many marginalized people are being marginalized even more by our leaders, it’s really.… Art In December, Porter was nominated for Best Performance by an is always the place that sort of softens the heart,” Porter says. Actor In A Television Series–Drama, for the 2019 Golden Globes. “It pierces through; it changes the molecular structure of human The series itself was nominated for Best Television Series–Drama. beings when they can relate to a story. There’s empathy that In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pose, which hails from evolves, [and] I’m so humbled to be a part of that storytelling. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, is an ensemble To have it be recognized is icing on the cake.” drama set in the 1980s. The series, which made history with the most-ever transgender series regular cast members, follows Pose wasn’t the only breakthrough diversity in this year’s crop several LGBTQ characters in the world of African-American of nominations. Crazy Rich Asians picked up a handful of and Latino ball culture. nominations, as did Black Panther. And the ceremony (which will be held on January 6 in Beverly Hills) will be hosted in part “It did take my breath away,” Porter admits when asked about his by Sandra Oh, a nominee herself; she’ll be the first Asian person nomination. “I’ve been in this business a really long time. Artists, to host the show. we don’t do it for awards, but it’s very – it’s really nice. It’s just really, really nice. I’m so grateful to have lived long enough to As for what’s ahead in Pose Season 2, well, Porter is tight-lipped. see the day when stories about my community are at the front “You know we’re not allowed to tease nothing,” he says with a and centre. It’s amazing.” These nominations prove that, as Porter laugh. “I’ve got to keep my job, honey!”
GIA GUNN’S MISSION GOES BEYOND THE CROWN The catchphrase queen talks trans identities and the art of drag By Bobby Box
She might have failed to impress judges in Drag Race Season 6, but Gia Gunn’s brief stint on the series secured her as one of the greats. Her catchy quips – “absolutelyyy”, “stunning”, “feeling my oats” – and empathetic spirit (she was the only queen to support fellow contestant Laganja Estranja in the viral “I feel very attacked!” freakout) are but a few of the qualities that captured our hearts. Since her inaugural appearance on the show, Gia’s jaunty platform has become political. Now a trans woman and advocate, she documented her transition on YouTube in a series titled #30DAYSINTRANSITION. Before she was announced as a contestant for All Stars 4, the “stunning” queen lamented she wasn’t going to compete again because her “kind” isn’t welcome on the series.
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In March 2018, RuPaul sparked controversy when he said he “probably” wouldn’t let a post-transition woman compete on the show. He told The Guardian, “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture.” He added, “It changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.” Gia later called RuPaul’s bluff when the commercial for All Stars 4 aired and fans recognized Ru was notably absent. Gia posted on Twitter, “I do not hail to those who don’t do the same in return.” While Gia didn’t take home the crown, she makes herstory as the first trans woman to compete on the show. IN spoke with Gia following her All Stars exit to discuss her transition, her experience on the popular reality series, and navigating drag as a trans woman.
What does it mean to you to be the first trans competitor on Drag Race? Did you feel any pressure? Definitely. I feel pressure to represent my community in the best way possible. But I also feel like RuPaul is under pressure to accept the fact that she went against her word. She has finally invited an openly transgender, female-presenting competitor on her show. You’ve been quoted as saying, “Trans is who we are, drag is what we do,” which is wonderfully insightful. But did you ever struggle with your identity as a drag queen when you came out as trans? Absolutely! Drag is what made me question my gender from the beginning. It was always hard to determine whether I was just loving the attention as someone who was perceived as female, or if that truly was who I was in and out of drag. How did your family react to your transition? In the beginning I think my parents felt that they were losing their son. Perhaps that was difficult for them to accept. I don’t think it was the transgender aspect that hurt them as much as the grieving of losing someone. In the long run they just want me to be happy and they’ve come to realize that this is what’s best for me and my happiness. Why did you choose to transition so publicly? I want to provide a positive example and demonstrate what a healthy transition looks like inside and out. For many years I was terrified of transitioning because I didn’t have anyone to look up to. My goal is to be that person for future generations. What was the hardest part of transitioning? The hardest part was simply looking at myself in the mirror and admitting to myself that I am transgender. Then it became doing something about it, which was the decision to begin hormone replacement therapy.
INTERVIEW In the All Stars 4 promo, you thank Drag Race for your self-discovery as a trans woman. How did the show take you on this journey? Drag Race allowed me to see the world and experience life in LGBTQ spaces all over the world! It allowed me to interact with people who were confident in themselves and ultimately allowed me to figure out where I fit in this world as a woman. By going through this experience, I was able to be confident in the decision that I was not a gay man, but a trans woman.
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What advice would you give today’s youth who are considering transitioning? Take your time and do your research. Don’t use transitioning as a way to escape or ‘answer’ your problems. How is Gia Gunn different from Gia Ichikawa? They are different in as many ways as they are similar. The biggest difference would be the amount of work I put into the persona and how I present myself. Gia Gunn is high glam, sassy and witty. Gia Ichikawa is more reserved and dressed down. I like to be comfortable. I wear tracks! You’ve said you wouldn’t return to All Stars. What made you change your mind? I changed my mind when I realized this was a big opportunity to bring other trans queens to the forefront and increase the chances of having trans contestants on Drag Race for future seasons. I wanted to slay and shine a spotlight on the trans community. 32
Have you found it difficult to date – not only as a Ru girl, but as a trans woman? Yes and no. Most men these days only fetishize trans women and only seek a sexual experience based off of a fantasy or curiosity. However, I think I may have gotten lucky in finding someone who accepts and understands that being trans is just a small part of who I am as a person. People criticized you for using the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to pay for your surgery. Any words for them? Just be happy for people and never be afraid to ask for help when it’s necessary. As my parents taught me at a young age: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all! Who is the closest friend you made from Drag Race? By far Laganja Estranja. Even though she eliminated me on my season, we connected since Day 1 in the Werk Room. Since then we’ve toured the world as #TeamTooMuch and have remained good friends. Now we’re roommates! You are a catch phrase queen. Did you have this planned out before you made it on Drag Race? Absolutelyyyyy…NOT. I literally went in there not knowing what was going on or what to expect. To me the best TV happens when it’s real and free-flowing. Being calculated is nice and may work in one’s favour, but viewers can usually pick up on it.
BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at Playboy.com and has had the privilege of speaking with the worldâ€™s most recognized drag queens, including, most recently, Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington.
HANGING OUT WITH MISTER SUPRANATIONAL ARGENTINA A day in the life with Jorge Piantelli, the 20-year-old model from Buenos Aires who was recently named Mister Supranational Argentina 2018 Photography: Gastohn Barrios (www.gastohnbarrios.com) Photography assistant: Franco Roth Production: Matias Santos Stylist: Ricardo Santos Grooming: Adam Efron Model: Jorge Piantelli
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Wardrobe: Modus Vivendi
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Motorcycle jacket: SKINGRAFT Pants: RICH KIM 37
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STRONG SUIT When it comes to evening wear this season, make a serious style statement Photography: Gastohn Barrios (www.gastohnbarrios.com) Production: Sebastián de Luca Stylist: Sergio Araneo Grooming and makeup: Jonathan Bernardo Models: Agustín Bassan, Eliandra García, Luciana Giannattasio, Gustavo Pardo Wardrobe: Juviá Sastrería by Roperonet.com
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Though screens have made life easier, LGBT people still need to get out and take up space By Paul Gallant
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In the 1984 documentary Hookers on Davie Street (easy to find on – including gay villages – have taken a hit. We no longer have to YouTube), we see prostitutes of all genders staking out their corners go to a particular place to know that LGBT people exist: gay life of busy downtown Vancouver neighbourhoods day and night, the can exist right in the palm of our hands. Yet there was something West End hustlers easily identifiable in their all-white outfits. We special about being forced to make connections IRL. We had to hear interviews about encounters with clients that will make your learn the tricks of in-person seduction, to be tolerant of those who skin crawl. One trans sex worker tells the interviewer: “He grabbed annoyed us. And we were visible to those who didn’t want to see me by the back of my head and threw me down on the bed, but he us. “Taking up space” ain’t what it used to be. didn’t know that right in my leg warmer, I had a knife…. It’s my survival or his…. I’ve only ever stabbed three people in my life.” Looking for LGBT life on a recent trip to China was, in some ways, like stepping back in time to, say, the 1960s. I visited one It’s hard to be nostalgic for this era. Street walking is a tough spacious multi-roomed sauna in Beijing that had nary a torso poster, business (which is why there was so much outrage last spring when AIDS-awareness pamphlet, rainbow flag or condom anywhere – nor Craigslist was pressed by US legislators to get rid of its personals any noticeable same-sex affection among its patrons. The video section, pushing many sex workers back onto the street). For LGBT lounge played period dramas. The karaoke room was the busiest people in general, 1980s Canada was much more homophobic, gathering spot. A naive straight person taking a walkthrough would transphobic and all-around sex-phobic. But there was something have no idea that the male customers were there to enjoy each about the brazenness of the queers of the time, personified by the other rather than the facilities…which was perhaps a social and in-your-face visibility of these sex workers, that was intriguing, legal necessity. If there was any hooking up happening, it must maybe even empowering. With so many of them stationed like have been happening among all the guys staring at their phones. In glamorous security guards around Vancouver’s West End, it was Shanghai, I went to the address of an underwear-and-sexy-clothing impossible to deny that sex, even gay sex, was happening every- store, only to find it had been converted into a wine bar. When I where, all the time. They took up space and pushed society along asked the very sweet bartender if the store had moved elsewhere, he rolled his eyes: “Everybody buys that stuff online!” by their very presence. It took guts. By the 1990s, this defiant queer spirit became institutionalized. Big city gay villages stopped being demure and discreet: their cafés, bars, bathhouses, bookshops and sexy clothing shops hoisted as many rainbow flags as possible. It was ghetto life, sure, at a remove from where straights would typically go, but it was also liberating. Time spent on Davie or Church or Castro or Christopher or Saint Catherine (if you could afford it and weren’t intimidated by it) could assuage feelings of isolation and lead to new friends and lovers. In this screen-obsessed new century, brick-and-mortar businesses
Based on my limited experience, it was like China had gone right from the closeted, underground era (the country decriminalized homosexuality in 1997) into the digital era without taking a break for a best-chest contest or two. They had moved from an invisibility enforced by law to an invisibility empowered by Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. With sex, companionship, gossip, pictures, videos, music and shopping – all things we used to go out for – just a tap away, haven’t we democratized LGBT life? Haven’t we made the entire
Internet-connected world a gay paradise for anyone with a smartphone? Maybe. These days you don’t have to live in a big gay-friendly city to buy yourself a leather harness. But, at the same time, something’s been lost. Though online communities count for something, there’s nothing like physically being in a room with people who drive you crazy with their ideas, their attractiveness or their lack of attractiveness. The stakes are higher, there’s a greater sense of urgency, and it’s harder to walk away from a real-life debate. People who can’t block one another have to learn to get along. The racism, rudeness and trolling that pervade online life are harder to pull off. The wardrobe choices, gestures, eye movements, and voice volume and tone – the cadence of real life – tell us much more than Photoshopped photos and over-considered online bios. Then there’s our sex lives. Though statistics on sexual behaviour are hard to come by (especially in Canada, and doubly hard for LGBT people), there’s evidence in the US that the craving for online porn has displaced the desire for real sexual contact. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that, between 1991 and 2015, the number of students in grades 9 through 12 who had ever had sex decreased from 54.1 per cent to 41.2 per cent. The number of young people who were currently sexually active declined as well.
This also seems to be true for adults. In the US General Social Survey, the number of respondents who reported having sex “not at all” in the previous 12 months increased by 42 per cent between 1993 and 2016. The Atlantic magazine reports that from the late 1990s to 2014, the average American adult went from having sex 62 times a year to 54 times. Perhaps LGBT people are an anomaly, consuming Internet porn while remaining sexually active. A 1990 UK survey found that 1.5 per cent of men and 0.8 per cent of women reported having at least one sexual partner of the same sex in the past five years. By 2013, 2.9 per cent of men and 4.7 per cent of women reported such behaviour. That’s almost six times as much lesbianism! But you could argue that there were so few brick-and-mortar venues for lesbians to begin with, they had everything to gain and nothing to lose by casting their sapphic nets online. Still…out of sight, out of mind. I think that’s why Pride has become such a contested space; it’s one of the only times, in this era, when being queer means getting out and taking up space. And getting out and showing we exist remains important. No matter how many apps we have at our disposal, we’ll always be outnumbered – but we can show the world we’re real.
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 the executive editor of BOLD, a global travel magazine for Canadians.
SWEAT, READ, AND CHILL IN WEST HOLLYWOOD WeHo made me feel like a new man
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By Steven Bereznai
This part of the world is “kind of like the wild wild west,” says outside the West Hollywood public library (625 N. San Vicente Joseph Hawkins, director of the ONE Archives at USC Libraries, Blvd.), so I have to meander some side streets to see the elephant which boasts of being the largest repository of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and dove by artist Shepard Fairy (well-known for his iconic Obama transgender and queer materials in the world. “There’s this idea “Hope” poster). Be sure to go into the library itself: it was one of that people come to California to remake themselves.” the sites for this year’s community-curated events for Lambda Literary’s annual literary festival, and the library regularly has That’s a philosophy I keep top of mind as I homo hop about gay-themed temporary exhibits. Arguably, the library itself is an art West Hollywood (a.k.a. WeHo). It’s known for its gay nightlife, piece. The staircase feels enchanted from the light streaming onto complete with a courtesy bus Friday and Saturday nights, and the trunk of a stylized white sycamore tree; the upstairs ceiling is Sunday during the day for “Sunday Funday.” The bus makes 15 polished wood with undulating patterns; the children’s storytime stops along a 6.5-kilometre bar route (wehopickup.com). I can’t theatre looks like a giant wooden crate. The library parking garage resist jumping off at one hotspot, the Chapel (692 N. Robertson has murals on the interior of the ground and second floors that Blvd.), for a “religious” experience of gyrating go-go guys are not listed in the WeHo walk but are worth checking out. and meeting locals – but what I really want to explore is West Hollywood’s other offerings, from art to food to health. All that walking (and selfies) works up an appetite! Keeping it healthy, I lunch at Gracias Madre (8905 Melrose Ave.). This A great starting place is the ONE Gallery (626 N. Robertson Blvd.), all-vegan eatery serves trendy takes on Mexican favourites using a satellite space to the ONE Archives that curates LGBTQ content only the freshest of locally grown ingredients. The vibe is hipster in the area. For nerdish gays like myself, it’s worth the US$25 rustic with white walls, colourful fabrics, and a mix of wicker and Uber ride to explore the archive’s rare collection of science fiction black metal pendant lights. I admit, I go overboard on the coconut fanzines of LGBTQ publishing pioneer Jim Kepner. But if you’re ceviche (so good and tangy!), the gorditas and the hibiscus iced tea. pressed for time and want to stay in the traditional gay area of WeHo, the gallery provides curated exhibitions that explore the To balance out my binge, I head to one of the latest fitness options in the area, Rise Nation: think Soul Cycle, but with stair climbers. artistic works of queer artists from various decades. If you want a quick half-hour cardio session, this will get your It’s a short walk from the ONE Gallery to MOCA at the Pacific heart rate going. Be prepared for a nightclub vibe – dark room, Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave.). The gallery is free and during pounding music, and a light show from the space-age ceiling with this visit, it features an exhibit of playfully fluid and genderless pyramidical architectural patterning. denim clothing by “69,” an anonymous Los Angeles–based designer. After rehydrating, I head to Shape House for a sweat of a different MOCA is also a great jumping-off point for a self-guided exploration kind. At this sweat lounge, the lights are dim, relaxing music plays, of West Hollywood’s murals, which I do using the route provided and clients have memberships for use of the sweat beds. I am set by visitwesthollywood.com’s Design District Outdoor Mural Tour. up in a private curtained area, and wrapped in a full-body heating Unfortunately, new construction is obstructing some of the pieces pad that emits far-infrared wavelengths. Purported benefits include
weight loss, better sleep and improved skin. It’s an awesome way for me to let go after an active day…and catch up on my Netflix. After the session, I lounge and stretch in the chill-out area, shower, and find myself in the perfect mood for my upcoming date with a local. We decide on the chic (yet reasonably priced) French restaurant Tesse (8500 Sunset Blvd.). The decor here is warm-modern with lots of wood to offset sterile concrete. As with many first dates, we have our awkward lulls, but our waitress is the perfect mix of sassy and efficient to help warm us up to each other, especially when she shares the Harry Potter quote (“open at the close”) tattooed under her clavicle. The “epigramme” of lamb is perfectly tender and, as a whole, Tesse feels like California meets French, toning down the richness with subtler, herbier tastes, and a healthier, lighter fare. The perfect way to end the evening? Gazing out at the skyline from the rooftop terrace of the Andaz West Hollywood boutique
hotel just a few blocks away (8401 Sunset Blvd., hyatt.com). Its semi-private cabanas are great for cuddling. The lobby has wonderful art pieces, like a set of bright angel wings that are perfect for flirtatious portrait taking. The hotel’s claim to fame is its connection to rock and roll. It was once frequented by The Doors, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and more, whose ensuing antics earned the hotel the name “Riot House.” Those days are in the past, but earplugs are still provided; the hotel is quiet, but the Sunset Strip can be noisy. After my day of art touring, stepping up and sweating it out, I sleep great. The next morning, I enjoy a healthy breakfast at the hotel’s Riot House restaurant, indulging in an omelette, chia pudding with berries, and an almond milk cappuccino that has a perfectly smooth kick. I may not have reinvented myself, but WeHo has made me feel like a new man.
STEVEN BEREZNAI is the award-winning, bestselling author of the young adult dystopian novel I Want Superpowers and the gay teen superhero series Queeroes.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE Utah’s Park City delivers powder-perfect skiing, Olympic thrills, icy drinks and mind-blowing cuisine By Doug Wallace
It’s early January and I’ve got the heated outdoor pool all to myself – toque on, trying not to get my phone wet. I want to be the best selfie version of myself but I’m failing: the bright sunshine and the mist from the pool are ruining every shot. My crepey neck is not helping either. This could be one of those times I’ll just have to live in the moment, I think.
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Hitting the pool isn’t the first thing I do after checking into the Grand Summit Hotel at Park City Mountain resort, just a half-hour east of Salt Lake City, Utah. The first thing is to hunt down the humidifier – a ski-lodge staple – and fill it up, along with stashing a jug of water in the fridge. This clean, crisp mountain air is as dry as a bone, and thin: the elevation here is more than 2,000 metres. With my hydration-not-headache plan in place and my swim trunks rinsed, I wander out to scout the Canyons Village before my chums arrive, and ogle all the fancy skiwear I can’t afford. The base of the hills is awash in gas firepits, sweet confections and colourful skiers. I see more skiers than snowboarders, packs of children seemingly on their own, and quite a few families. I grab a hot cocoa and sit near the entrance, watching the SUVs roll in and the families tumble out, trying to guess which of the moms will not be strapping on a single ski. The town of Park City, population 8,400, anchors Park City Mountain and the more posh Deer Valley Resort. It is best known as home of the Sundance Film Festival, but we are skiing a few weeks before the Hollywood types and their entourages converge on this little town, clog the roadways and snap up all the restaurant chairs. In the late 1860s, silver veins attracted adventurers here from around the world, with silver mining the base of wealth for numerous 46
suddenly rich millionaires, including the father of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The region has been a snow destination since the 1930s, when the shiny stuff ran dry. Purchased by Vail Resorts in 2014 and combined with nearby Canyons Resort, Park City Mountain is now the largest lift-accessible ski resort in the United States (at 3,000 hectares), and bills itself as the Greatest Snow on Earth. Upgraded in 2015, it now includes 350 trails, 41 lifts, eight terrain parks, 13 bowls and one super pipe. When we all get skiing, it is pure heaven – great grooming, not too many lineups, no snowboarders freaking me out or bowling me over, everything running like clockwork (including my legs, which are a bit wobbly but hold out). This season, the resort is debuting a few enhancements, including additional snowmaking, a new beginner area, the expansion of the Cloud Dine restaurant, and a facelift for the iconic Mid-Mountain Lodge. I manage a facelift of a totally different kind – via G-force – with a Winter Comet Bobsled ride down the actual bobsled, luge and skeleton track of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The afternoon begins with a 10-minute drive to Utah Olympic Park. We spend some time in the Games museum and the Alf Engen Ski Museum, and I get sidetracked by a temporary exhibit of ski-slope fashion through the decades. I also find case after case of black-andwhite photos and mid-century memorabilia, and try to imagine what it would be like to do aerials on wooden skis in a V-neck sweater and tie like Stein Eriksen, the father of freestyle skiing. Eriksen was such a skiing god that the nearby Deer Valley Resort, where he once served as a host, named Stein Eriksen Lodge after him. Being in that heady atmosphere of Olympic glory must have made
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us tipsy: we decide to try out the bobsled track. After bussing it to the track, we file through a room full of giant helmets, throw one on, break into groups of three and hop into the back of a truck with our sled for the ride up the mountain to the starting line. Thankfully, an experienced pilot takes the helm, and we don’t have to run and jump in on-the-fly like real racers, but we do have to hold on. This is why they make you sign a waiver, I think, as I hold on for dear life for 45 seconds, which feel like an eternity. Things come to a halt fairly quickly at the finish and the scoreboard says we hit 64 miles per hour, all information that is on my Instagram feed in minutes. Sure I thought I was going to die, but, man! I feel burly.
Celebrating the fact that no one has wiped out too hard or pulled a groin, we go to Firewood on Main Street in town one evening, where we start with Fire Line cocktails: a mezcal/tequila concoction with hibiscus extract and citrus ash, all smoky and refreshing. Firewood chef John Murcko and his culinary team cook the entire menu on a custom-cast, 14-foot-long wood-fire grill. Although there is zucchini and squash gnocchi, and grilled fish and scallops, this place is all about the meat. It’s the kind of kitchen where beef is one of the accompaniments to the steak: American Kobe Bavette comes with beef belly and a garlic sauce. Like, there wasn’t enough beef already, so they needed to add a side of beef. I love America.
Working towards the après-après-ski Next day, to help ease the pain of a day on the slopes, we take in a stretch class at the Spa at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, led by two-time Olympic gold medal skier Shannon Bahrke. She takes us through a yoga-tinged routine, plus mat exercises to work out the kinks – and it really, really hurts. Bahrke is a fitness advocate and one of seven ski ambassadors with the Deer Valley Resort’s Ski With a Champion program, which lets you ski with an Olympian for an afternoon. She is actually sweet enough to bring her silver and bronze medals with her to class, and she lets each of us try them on for a photo op.
Afterwards, we wander down the street into The Spur Bar and Grill, where a session of duelling pianos is underway. The performers are playing a game where they invite audience members to put money in the tip jar for them to stop playing a song, kind of like a reverse song request, a cease-and-desist tip. I make friends with the bear tending bar, only to have him line up shots of something that smells mostly like bourbon, inset into little holes on a wooden ski – a “shotski.” This is tradition, apparently, one that we get the hang of in a flash. Speaking of drinks, Utah is the opposite of tea-total and doesn’t have any dry counties, contrary to popular belief.
I end my time here as I started, in the swimming pool, this time But all the exercise in the world isn’t going to take away the bellies under the stars, not bothering with the phone, just soaking in the we grow eating three squares a day. I come to the conclusion that universe – and planning a summer visit. Utah ski people really know how to eat and they generally don’t When you go care how much the bill is. Delta and WestJet fly non-stop from Toronto to Salt Lake City At The Farm restaurant in Canyons Village, the server makes the in about 4½ hours for around $500 return. Ski season is from mistake of putting a platter of local charcuterie right in front of me November 21 to April 7 (estimated). Consider Vail’s Epic passes, – heavenly prosciutto, salami, house mustard. I try not to hoover it which include a Park City four-day pass for $470. The breadth and and let the rest have some. I almost wet myself when I discover that variety of accommodation is considerable, so shop around. Check my smoked bone marrow entrée comes with oxtail marmalade. We out ParkCityMountain.com, EpicPass.com and VisitParkCity.com also try the T-bone, which comes with black trumpet mushrooms for more details. and roasted radishes, radish tops – I’m back on the farm! – and radish chimichurri (which I later try, and fail, to make at home). 48
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.
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FEBRUARY 16, 1990 IN LGBT HISTORY Famed pop artist Keith Haring dies from AIDS at 31
Keith Haring was born in 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1978, he headed to the Big Apple on a scholarship from the School of Visual Arts.… He never graduated, though: he was expelled after using the school interior as a graffiti art project with his friend, fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988). In 1980, Haring began to use the empty, black paper-covered advertising panels throughout the New York subway system as canvases for his work. Think radiant babies, flying saucers and deified dogs! With white chalk, he drew large-scale murals in the graphic style for which he would become famous.
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He was also famous for his influential friends, which included Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, and the Material Girl herself – Madonna. Haring was openly gay and an advocate for safe sex, using his art as a social commentary on homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s. He contracted the virus in the late ’80s. Following complications from the AIDS virus, Haring died on February 16, 1990, at the young age of 31. His ashes were scattered in the countryside near Bethel, Pennsylvania. Six months earlier he had been quoted as saying, “The hardest thing is just knowing that there’s so much more stuff to do.”
Our transgender brothers and sisters are facing an epidemic of violence, and 2018 was the deadliest year on record.
â€œTrans and gender-diverse people are victims of horrifying hate violence, including extortion, physical and sexual assaults, and murder,â€? says Lukas Berredo, a spokesperson for the Germany-based Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project, which collects relevant data. FACTS ON TRANSPHOBIC MURDERS * Nearly 3,000 transgender people worldwide have been murdered over the past decade. The most common causes of death were shooting, stabbing and beating. * At least 369 transgender people were killed in the past 12 months.
* The number of trans people reported murdered each year by TMM has risen steadily, from 148 in 2008 to 358 last year.
* Brazil is the most dangerous country to be transgender, with at least 167 people killed in the past 12 months, while Mexico had 71 murders. There were no reported murders in Canada last year, but the United States saw 28 killed. * Nearly two-thirds of reported victims over the past decade were sex workers.
* In the United States, more than three-quarters of the trans people murdered in 2018 were women from an ethnic minority, and nearly two-thirds were under the age of 35.
* In France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, 65 per cent of reported murder victims in the past decade were migrants.
* Nearly three-quarters of known US victims in 2018 were initially identified by their previous gender in police or media reports, a practice activists say is disrespectful and can hamper investigations.
*Sources: Trans Murder Monitoring, Trans Respect versus Transphobia Worldwide, Human Rights Commission
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