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Living & Design

Gender Fluidity Kicking Down Male/Female Barriers

G ay & L e s b i a n

City Living | april 2014

Boy George He’s still got it TRAVEL India’s rainbow cities open house The bachelor

Street Smart

get noticed with this season’s casual Urban flair

Hot Docs Star Trek’s George takei

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MAGAZINE INMAGAZINE.CA PUBLISHER Patricia Salib EDITOR Alan A Vernon ART DIRECTOR Nicolás Tallarico CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Gordon Bowness, Paul Gallant, Michael Pihach, Krishna Rau CONTRIBUTORS Bryen Dunn, Nathan Duponchel, Carlton Ellis, Peter Knegt, Nora Meta, Velocci Models, Adam Segal, Accute Styling, Adam Webster, Andrea Zanin PROOFREADER Tristan McFarland ON THE COVER Photography Adam Webster SENIOR ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Ryan Lester Woodrow Monteiro DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza CONTROLLER Miki Ogiri OUR MISSION Inspire gay men and lesbians to live life to the fullest. Expand the gay and lesbian community by valuing diversity and individual choice. Celebrate Toronto. Provide readers with compelling news, information and entertainment.

Mint Media is dedicated to excellence in marketing and publishing tailored to fit the global LGBT consumer. Superior strategies and sophisticated media allow you to tap into a new market, extend your reach and grow your business. A world of opportunity is waiting to be discovered.

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for christ’s sake? BC law sChool’s anti-gay Covenant G ay & L e s b i a n

Cit y LivinG | marCh 2014

traVel magiCal and medieval Prague open house a night at the museum snap shots a sneak Peek rupaul the doyenne of drag

carefree & casual PUT SOME SPring in yOUr STEP


hannah and maggie are queer as folk

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19/02/2014 9:57:39 AM

CORRECTION In the travel spread of our March issue we incorrectly published that same-sex domestic partnership in Prague has been legal since 2001. Though it was reviewed by the courts in 2001, it was rejected. It has only been legal since 2006. IN magazine regrets the error.


issue 47 april 2014

views | living & design | insight | events | Arts & entertaiNment | sex





living & design


06 | travel Hurray for gay India

24 |get out Places to go, people to see

10 | open house Noel Coward would approve

arts & entertainment

13 | relationships Breaking up is hard to do

26 | music Boy George: rejuvenated and remastered

14 | fashion Street smart

29 | film To Be Takei at Hot Docs


31 | Books What should you be reading?

20 | it’s in our dna LGBT Philanthropic Conference takes a more global approach 22 |Blurring the boundaries A growing number of people are leaving a footprint on both sides of the gender divide

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on the town 34 | caught in the act Party pics

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Living & Design


An urban triumvirate → In spite of India’s appalling anti-gay laws, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore remain persistently queer Story Paul Gallant


f you think the internet can track down anything you’re looking for, just try using it to find a gay event in Mumbai. Though I ‘d heard there are a halfdozen regular parties in this megalopolis of 13 million, I am only able to Google my way toward one of them—and just barely. The banquet hall hosting the Gay Bombay party, one of the most long-running and, if you can imagine, accessible events, is on the fifth floor of an unnumbered building

somewhere along Tardeo Road, a good neighbourhood not far from business tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s infamous 27-storey, $1-billion home. So I wander rather suspiciously up and down a likely stretch of the commercial strip until I spot a group of possible party-goers making their way down a laneway. In a country where straight male friends casually hold hands and sometimes sit on one another’s laps on park benches, spotting the right kind of party-goers is

no easy task. But as I catch up to this gang, I smell the cologne and hear their luxury-brand-dappled English. I follow them into an elevator, one of them pushes the fifth floor button and I know we are all headed to the same place. I take a breath. It’s a real comfort to be confidently among birds of a feather. Much has been made of the horrible Indian Supreme Court decision upholding Section 377, a colonial-era law, which defines homosexuality as an “unnatural

offence” punishable by a 10-year jail term. It’s truly an appalling ruling on an awful law. But India throws many, many obstacles at gay and lesbian people and most of them will take longer to change than Section 377. To start, there’s a social order that makes marriage virtually mandatory. A visiting Westerner might be shocked how many otherwise strong-willed Indian men and women succumb to arranged marriages. Then there’s the national enthusiasm for red

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Living & Design

→ rainbow cities Mumbai’s imposing colonial architecture will remind you of a Gothic New York; brands famous and unfamiliar line Bangalore’s Brigade Road; and flowers for sale in Bangalore’s public market.

tape. Mumbai party hosts need about 24 permissions, give or take a few depending on the bribes demanded, including permits for alcohol, music and performances. Plus Mumbai rents ain’t cheap. Although some unofficial gay haunts have been around for years, rainbowed Mumbai remains a moving target partly out of economic necessity. Yet Mumbai somehow remains persistently queer. Gays are everywhere, you just have to know where to find them. Along with Kolkata and Bangalore (I’m not going to call it Bengaluru because so few people do), the city is one point of India’s queer urban triumvirate. Others might want to add New Delhi, I suppose, making it a gay rectangle. But the unhuggable capital lacks the zing of the other three. Both Mumbai and Kolkata are port towns and entertainment hubs, places where traders, sailors, smugglers, filmmakers, artists, actors and

other rogues have shaped the culture. Bangalore earned its queer credentials much more recently, but has done so with gusto. Each of these three cities has its own distinctive queer geography. Each requires a different entry point. So I offer very three different ways in. Within view of the Gay Bombay rooftop party are the country’s tallest buildings, the luxurious Imperial twin towers, built on the site of a former shanty town. No city in the world mashes together extreme poverty and extreme wealth quite like Mumbai. The C$11 cover charge seems relatively steep—you can have a great meal here for much less than that—but when I eavesdrop on the conversations about travel and parties, I realize, for this crowd, it’s nominal. Everybody seems to know everybody. In a country with few public faces or venues of gayness, people

find out about events by wordof-mouth or through direct messaging on gay websites; intimate communication weave tighter bonds. The music is—surprise, surprise—glitteringly Bollywood. The galloping techno beats soon lure most attendees off the patio and onto the dance floor. Before the lights go on at 1am, I’ve been given a few suggestions of where to visit. I’m told that Bandra West will give me a clearer picture of Cool Mumbai. The next day, I head north by train, which is less crowded than the College streetcar during rush hour. Bandra is relatively green and much more relaxed than downtown. Mumbai hipsters do indeed prowl the side streets and the malls, which are shiny new symbols of the economic growth India has experienced over the last decade. Although Mumbai’s historic downtown has a New York vibe, with its imposing colonial buildings and noisy traffic jams, Bandra’s much more L.A. I travel further north to Juhu Beach, a six-kilometre stretch of sand looking out over the Arabian Sea. Teens are playing soccer and affluent business types are jogging up a sweat. It dawns on me that there’s nobody selling anything—impossible to contemplate in this town. And as refreshing as a night out among peers. If Mumbai is polarized between rich and poor, Kolkata is a place where the divisions seem much softer. Educated men play chess in the street next to working-class men bathing at the water pumps distributed all over the city. Sidewalks here can feel like communal living rooms, not pedestrian thoroughfares. In this laidback, left-leaning city, you’re more likely to meet a poet than a banker. My entry point into the city’s

queer culture is a friend, Pawan Dhall, who I met when I visited India back in the mid-1990s. An American lesbian I was travelling with back then wrote a letter—yes, a paper letter— to a gay organization she’d been told about and by mail she set up a meeting. I tagged along and exchanged contact information with Pawan. When I returned almost 20 years later, she graciously played host and invited me along to a planning meeting for the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival. On the one hand, much had changed since my first visit. Pawan’s gay organization was no more, but other community groups had popped up across the state. A respectable number of NGOs had adopted LGBTinclusive policies. (Actually, the LGBT label is not quite adequate; hijras, transsexual/transgender people frequently described as “the third sex,” are so deeply rooted in Indian culture that they often figure larger in AIDS prevention campaigns than men who have sex with men.) Gay websites now provided an alternative to park cruising, at least for those with internet access. Being public remains challenging, though. The Pride Walk attracts mere hundreds, not thousands, in a metropolitan area of 14.1 million. While the group’s parties draw from a broader range of classes and backgrounds than comparable Mumbai parties, it’s the political commitment of the organizers, rather than profit, that keeps things moving. Still, there’s a real subversive pleasure going out to a traditional Punjabi restaurant with a halfdozen loud and proud activists teasing each other and making ribald jokes in front of the waiters. In a country that’s as over-thetop as India, extreme camp attracts very little attention. When deluded people in India declare that homosexuality is a Western import, Bangalore might be what they consider the main port of entry. The city’s boom as a high-tech hub in the last 30 years

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Living & Design


KOLKATA If you want to escape the backpackers’ ghetto of Sudder Street, take a cab out to City Centre Salt Lake, a welldesigned indoor-outdoor

→ Attractions galore (Clockwise from top) Bathers in Kolkata’s Hooghly River; Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey, one billion-dollar Mumbai home has attracted worldwide attention; and Victoria Memorial Hall, one of Kolkata’s famous tourist haunts.

has meant an influx of young, educated people with money and a global mindset. Family obligations are less paramount. Western-style fast food places are everywhere, pubs are packed, women (gasp) wear jeans and you can get a copy of Arena Homme Plus more readily than

in Toronto. When I first visited Bangalore back in the mid-1990s, it was the only place in all of India that had a bar—the Three Aces I think it was called, an enormous dimly lit banquet hall of a place—that a Westerner might recognize as a gay venue. Though the venue

has changed, that fact remains true in 2014. One floor of a beersoaked complex just off the Brigade Road shopping district is probably the most thoroughly gay space in India. It’s even mentioned in the local Time Out magazine—unheard of openness. At first it feels like a generic beer hall, with its dirty walls and table service. But when the right Bollywood hit comes on, guys around the room jump up from their plastic chairs and dance out the movie choreography. Unlike in Mumbai and Kolkata, this can happen most days of the week, creating a culture of regulars who can chat easily and confidently with newbies and the tourists. “Can you understand any of the lyrics?” a computer programmer sitting at the next table asks me. When I shake my head, he gives me a pitying look. We talk about our families for a while. His are back in Rajasthan, a poor but touristy desert state that seems as far away from Bangalore as Bangalore seems from Toronto. He had recently told his mother he’s never getting married because he doesn’t like girls. The fact he wasn’t getting married was much more traumatizing than the reason. “What would I want a wife for anyway? I don’t need one,” he shrugs, ordering another beer. And really. What wife would want a man who can lip-synch pop songs so convincingly?

shopping mall in a planned neighbourhood that feels nothing like the chaos of central Kolkata. And you have to eat some Bengali seafood. Fishfish restaurant in the easygoing Ballygunge neighbourhood is an elegant spot to try. MUMBAI Though increased security has make Colaba Causeway much less gay-friendly than it used to be—cruising at the Gateway of India is a rare thing these days—Leopold Café ( is still a cultural crossroads, the place where casting agents search for Western extras for Bollywood films. For something a little more au courant, head north to Bandra West and take a stroll along the fashion strip along Linking Road. Nearby Waterfield Road is more independent and a bit cooler. BANGALORE It’s a bit of a dive but Chin Lung (FM Cariappa Road at Brigade) is one of the few places in India where you can be confident that most patrons are gayfriendly… or friendly gays. If you’re hankering for Burberry and Louis Vuitton, head to UB City shopping centre, though Garuda Mall has better peoplewatching and an impressive food court.

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Living & Design

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Living & Design

O pe n H o u s e

stateRoom with a view → MAC makeup artist Drew Bowden’s pied-à-terre may be tiny but he lives in the lap of luxury Story Michael Pihach | Photography Riley Stewart


rew Bowden is a big thinker for someone who lives in a small space. The 50-year-old fashion designer and MAC makeup artist, inspired by high-society life of the 1930s and transatlantic cruise ships, transformed his compact apartment on the 27th floor of the Marriott Hotel at Yonge and Bloor into a luxurious hotel suite. Ripe with dreamy colour tones, vintage finds and keen creativity, Bowden’s bachelor pad is proof that you don’t need an expensive

condo to create your own piece of luxury in the sky. How did you wind up living on the 27th floor above the Marriott Hotel? I visited Toronto from Ottawa 21 years ago to march in the Pride parade, which went right past this building [along Bloor]. I remember walking by and thinking, “Wow. Imagine living right downtown.” Two years later I moved to Toronto and needed a place to live. I picked up a local magazine, checked

the rent section, and this place was listed. I wasn’t working, but the landlord said, “You look like someone who’ll find a job, so we’ll rent it to you.” I lucked out. It’s a 380 square foot bachelor, which you call “your dream home.” A hotel has always been considered a place of luxury located in the centre of a large city. I come from a middleclass family and as a kid it was always exciting to stay in a hotel when we travelled. I used to say,

“When I grow up, I wanna stay in a hotel.” So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve also lived in places that had two bedrooms and it was always a mess. Living in a small space is so much easier. Your place looks like the set of a Noel Coward play. I love the 1930s when people had a greater appreciation for luxury. High society people would always live in hotels, so I said, “I’m gonna do that.” Also, as I got older, travel became a big part of my life. Cruising on

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Living & Design

→ Stateroom in the sky Bowden’s 380 square foot apartment makes you feel as if you’re on a transatlantic ocean liner circa 1930. And so it should; he’s been on 47 cruises, including the one he took last year (pictured opposite page in a tux) to celebrate his 50th birthday.

ocean liners is what I enjoy most. When I moved into this space, I said, “Drew, why not re-create a luxury hotel or a stateroom on a transatlantic ocean liner?” So I did. You’ve even kept all the characteristics of a hotel, such as “Privacy Please” signs on the doorknobs. D: I always want to feel like I’m

in a hotel. I like white sheets and white towels. I keep chocolates by my bed. (Some hotels put chocolates on your bed at night). So at night I take out a chocolate and have one myself. I’m living my own fantasy. What’s your favourite hotel to stay at (excluding your own)? D: The Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. The attention to

detail (flowers in the suite) and the history of the hotel makes me appreciate what it represented in the past. In the lobby and parts of the hotel are memorabilia and historical events that shaped the world today. That all happened at the Waldorf-Astoria. Tell me about the crystal, silver and china on your marble and brass dining table. How often do you use those items? Every day. Beautiful items should be enjoyed, not stored in boxes or cupboards for that “special occasion” (that

may never come). That is my philosophy on jewellery, travel, clothing and life. If you live it, you become it. But hotels are typically where you go to get away from home. Do you still feel a sense of ownership over your space? I don’t want ownership. I wanna feel like I’m at the Waldorf. That’s part of the excitement. I come home and feel like I’m on vacation. Is that what inspired the softhued colour scheme? I chose shades of soft turquoise

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Living & Design

relationship advice — with Adam Segal → It’s been seven years since my girlfriend ended our relationship and I still wrestle with it every day. We were together for about a year and a half and for me it was pure bliss. I had never felt so happy and in love in my life. I’ve tried dating a handful of times but no one comes close to her and I just don’t feel as excited about anyone I’ve met since. I felt so incredibly lucky to have someone as beautiful and charming as her and fear no one will ever come along that brings me the same joy. My friends have tired of hearing about her and have encouraged me to turn the page. How do I let this go? Annette

Drew Bowden

and beiges. It’s like sea and sand. Toronto is cold and grey in the winter so I wanted to always feel like I was residing in a warm climate like Palm Springs or on an ocean liner in the Caribbean. You’ve been on 47 cruises (and counting). Why do you love them? I love the luxury. I love dressing up. When I go on a cruise I ask for the floor plan of the dining room one month in advance before departure so I can request a table that’s near the stairs so I can watch people come and go. I’m a people watcher. Is that why you love working as a MAC make-up artist? I’ve worked for MAC for 17 and a half years and I love it. If you can make a person smile by making them feel good, or even just be there to listen, even if it’s not about beauty, I am doing what God has put me on this earth to do. Everything in your life is beautiful. Even your cat. Her name is Belle. When I started at MAC my manager at the time found the cat on the street. She asked me if I wanted it. It was this skinny little thing

and when I took it home on the subway, some kids came over and asked, “Can I see your rat?” My mother told me to call it something that will make it feel beautiful, so I called it Belle. She’s my best friend. If you could meet any person past or present, who would it be? Cecil Beaton because he was one of the first gay men in the 1920s to be open and true to himself. He became one of the world’s top photographers and costume designers (he designed the costumes for the movie My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn). Cecil Beaton was a total selfcreation and lived his life as if he just stepped out of a beautiful dream, just as I do today. You just turned 50. How is that milestone treating you? Fifty is half of 100, so you re-evaluate yourself. I have perfect health. I have my family and good people to work with. I live at Yonge and Bloor and when I open my curtains I can see the entire city. At nighttime it’s so beautiful in here. What more can you ask for? I have it made.

Any armchair therapist will tell you that grieving is an important process that we have to move through to get to a better place. Allowing the normal feelings of disbelief, hurt and eventual acceptance are crucial. In this case, though, it sounds like you aren’t grieving so much as clinging to the past and fantasizing about an alternate reality where this separation never happened. Sometimes, when folks are still in turmoil over a break-up years prior, it’s a sign of two possible issues. I’ll call the first the “one and only syndrome.” Harbouring a belief that there is only one person out there for us can be a very painful way of navigating our romantic lives. While this belief offers a certain dramatic flair, it is profoundly limiting. By fully acknowledging the loss of this one relationship, you are freed up to pursue new possibilities. Changing this belief will mean at least deleting all your Adele playlists and refusing to daydream about miraculous heartfelt reunions.

Another culprit for the unending break-up grief has to do with your sense of personal worth. It sounds like you feel you struck gold with your ex—maybe that you even saw yourself as unworthy of someone so “exceptional.” So long as you see yourself as a peasant and her as a goddess, you’ll feel desperate for her validation and approval. Maybe she had qualities or a way of being that you actually wish you had yourself. Instead of limiting yourself to the notion that joy was only possible because of her, focus on the ways you created joy together and how you can translate those skills onto your life now—with or without a partner in crime.

Adam Segal The writer and therapist works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental health question at

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14 outlooks Month 2011

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get noticed with this season’s casual urban flair

Photography: Adam Webster Models: David & Jordan (Velocci) and Nathan Duponchel (Modèles LCP) Styling: Accute Styling Inc. Additional Style Direction: Carlton Ellis Makeup and Grooming: Nora Metta

COLOUR BLOCK Polo: Paul Smith Trouser: Polo Ralph Lauren (both available at Holt Renfrew Stores Across Canada) outlooks

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WELL-MESHED Top: Zara Sunglasses: Calvin Klein 16 outlooks Month 2011

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giving shade polo, pant and belt: Zara watch: Karl Lagerfeld sunglasses: Gucci


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ONE STEP AHEAD Jacket: Paul Smith (available at Holt.) Jeans: Joe Fresh Bag: Louis Vuitton Shoes: Aldo

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IN THE PINK polo, shorts: French Connection shoes: H&M watch: Karl Lagerfeld outlooks

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ph i l a n t h ro py

for the good of community → Members of the LGBT Giving Network say it’s in our DNA to get involved Story Krishna Rau


orced through discrimination and oppression, then through the fight to survive the AIDS crisis and the battle for equal rights, the LGBT community in Toronto has a long history of philanthropy and charity. And even as the community has achieved legal triumphs and social equality, that need has not disappeared. The goals may have changed somewhat, though HIV/AIDS remains prominent. The focus has shifted from just legal challenges to stamping out bullying, and fighting for international acceptance and transgender rights, using everevolving tools and strategies. The fourth Philanthropy Conference of the LGBT Giving Network, to be held on April 24 and 25, reflects those changes, with sessions on diversity, transgender issues and working with mainstream charities and concerns. “I think in some ways things haven’t changed,” says Doug Kerr, the co-chair of the Network. “Many organizations are still struggling in many ways; we have gone through a recession. “But fundraising is unique in the LGBT community. We had to start fundraising for ourselves because we couldn’t get government funding 25 or 30 years ago. We went from drag queens fundraising in bars to organizations like the AIDS Committee of Toronto. Today, we have government funding, which is great. Today, we have more interest and if anything, our organizations have gotten

better and better at fundraising.” This year’s conference will deal with some of those new realities, including a partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a renewed focus on the diversity of the communities. Says Kerr: “We’re looking at intersections, at what we can learn across communities, from people who identify not just as gay, but as black or Jewish or Sikh or whatever. We have people attending who are not gay who work in mainstream charities. The Canadian Cancer Society has been doing some targeted outreach. Even 15 years ago, you wouldn’t have had mainstream charities talking about the LGBT community. “We’re asking, ‘What is our role globally?’ It’s a local conference, but we’re thinking about what’s going on in Nigeria or Russia. And I think you’ll start to see more fundraising for projects outside Canada.” Kerr points to the Rainbow Railroad—a member of the Network that works to help gays and lesbians escape from persecution and danger in other countries—as an example of that global approach. Network co-chair Jay Katz agrees that LGBT charities need to focus on diversity, both within and outside the gay community. “In our society,” says Katz, “diversity makes for a better community, and understanding that makes it easier to build a stronger community. Correctly understanding diversity is an important part of our success.

Most major corporations are proud of their diversity record. And it’s not just because it’s a good thing to do, but because they’re trying to make money. “In a diverse society, I think that everything cross-pollinates. As mainstream charities are looking to the LGBT community, LGBT charities and HIV/AIDS organizations are looking for support from mainstream organizations.” Kerr also points to an increased focus on transgender issues at the conference. One session is entitled Philanthropy & Transgender Issues and Communities, and will include speakers from the Sherbourne Health Centre, which has long focused on transgender health,

→ it’s in them to give Each year an LGBT Giving Network Major Donor Thank You Reception is held. (Above and from left) Jay Katz, Doug Kerr and artist Charles Pachter at his Moose Factory studio in 2011; (opposite page from left) Kate Alexander Daniels and Lorraine Segato in 2012 at the Daniels’ home; and Sara Diamond, Vicky Bassett, Mark Tewksbury and Meredith Cartwright at James Stewart’s Integral House in 2013.

and from the Hospital for Sick Children, which in October opened the city’s first clinic to focus on medical care for transgender teens. “This is the first time we’ve had a specific session on transgender issues,” says Kerr. “Trans people are often very marginalized. Having a space for trans issues, looking at how we can better support trans issues,

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is a very exciting conversation to have. Looking at the trans youth program at Sick Kids, for example, what does it mean, who’s doing the fundraising for transgender issues?” Other sessions at the conference will include looking at diversity in LGBT philanthropy, at the Canadian Cancer Society’s outreach to the gay community and at the increasing importance of email and social media as fundraising tools. But Kerr says that legal triumphs and social gains have changed some philanthropic targets. “Donor dollars used to go into supporting legal battles. EGALE Canada is now raising money to fight homophobia; they used to raise money for legal battles. The needs change over time.” There has also been a dramatic change in those donating to charities, as well. Kerr acknowledges that the corporate support offered to LGBT charities today dwarves that from the past. “Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have a lot of corporations giving to LGBT causes. I think we’ve seen an evolution of giving.

More companies today have LGBT affinity groups and that’s affecting things dramatically.” But not all the needs of charities have changed, says Katz. He points out that the basics of LGBT philanthropy have not changed since the Network’s origin eight years ago. “By my observation, organizations are getting better at fundraising and are professionalizing. But the need is always strong. Ten years ago, we were fighting to make gay marriage legal. Today, we’re fighting bullying. But the progress we’ve made in gay rights, that’s distinct from HIV and AIDS charities like the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Casey House or Fife House, or from the LGBT Youth Line. Progress in civil rights doesn’t diminish that.” It was those basics that led to the formation of the LGBT Giving Network in 2006, and its first conference that same year. Kerr, who was one of the founders, says the impetus came from people working in LGBT charities. “All of our organizations were doing great work in the

community,” says Kerr. “There were social networks, and we started asking each other, ‘How do we address the interconnected causes?’ Our first conference brought together a couple of hundred people with very loose affiliations. We had a way bigger response than we expected.” That enthusiastic initial response stemmed, in part, from the fact that the LGBT community has a unique history, one that may make the community more aware and more generous, says Kerr. “We don’t have hard data on what LGBT people are giving. And with the recession, the immediate result was that some charities saw a flatlining of their revenues. But I think in some ways we are more giving, because of having to self-organize and fundraise for our friends and lovers who were dying of AIDS 30 years ago. We have a lot of tradition of being giving and involved in philanthropy. It’s part of the DNA of our community.” Today, the Network has 34 member organizations, ranging from the AIDS Committee of

Toronto to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives to the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. And the bottom line for the conference and for the Network, says Kerr, is helping all those groups learn how to work together for their own good and the good of the community in general. “The first day of the conference is workshopping,” says Kerr. “The second day is asking the big questions of where we’re going. It’s about realizing we’re all in this together. It’s about making the pie bigger.”

The LGBT Network Philanthropy Conference takes place April 24-25 at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. For more information or to register for the conference, go to or email info@ or call 647-352-5428. Attendance for members of the AFP or the Giving Network costs $100 for one day or $150 for both days. For non-members, attendance costs $125 for one day or $175 for both days.

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gender fluidity

Leaving him and her behind → What are the limits of moving beyond male and female? Story Paul Gallant

Lamia Gibson


epending how you’re counting, Navajo culture recognizes at least five genders, including androgynous, male-bodied with feminine characteristics and female-bodied with masculine characteristics, identities which may shift from childhood to adulthood. Not to be outdone by any traditional belief system, Facebook, the megacorp that’s put itself in charge of tidying up our identities, histories and relationships, now offers users more than 50 gender choices— more flavours than even BaskinRobbins dares. Ranging from more familiar terms like TwoSpirited and Transsexual to offbeat ones like Transfeminine, Pangender and Neutrois (genderless, just in case you were wondering), Facebook’s new Custom Gender option seems aimed at mainstreaming the idea that gender is not simply a matter of male/female. In fact, using the new option, a male-identified

Nat Tremblay

person who was born with a male body—someone we might readily call male—can choose Cis Man, Cis Male, Cisgender Man or Cisgender Male… and I might be missing a few possibilities. Gay men are often as seriously invested in policing male/female identities as straight people. “Be masculine” and “no femmes” are sad clichés of gay personal profiles, as is the disparaging of drag by so-called masculine gay guys. Butch-femme and bottom/ top dynamics can play into traditional gender stereotypes, making it an easy guess which half of a same-sex couple is most likely to bake cookies and who’s most likely to build a shed. Many transsexual people see their maleness or femaleness as being as unqualified as anyone’s, embracing traditional roles and appearances associated with their gender. So the idea of gender as anything other than a switch that points one way or the other can be unsettling,

Michael Strange

even for hardcore homos. Our mannerisms, our fashion sense or our hobbies may lean one way, okay, we can admit that. But we feel our feet are firmly planted. We tick boxes on census forms and surveys without hesitation. But a growing number of people are leaving a footprint on both sides of the gender divide. Or kicking down the male/female barriers altogether. In certain milieus, in certain situations, it has become easier to shrug off binary labels and be neither, both or something in between. The fact that we live more and more of our lives online—where physical limitations evaporate in a flow of words, pictures and video—may be a factor. The internet world permits people to move beyond who their bodies or histories suggest they are, to become who they themselves say they are. Before its Custom Gender option, Facebook allowed people to choose “he,” “she” or “they” as their preferred pronoun,

Kira Andry

a subtle gesture allowing people to easily blur the lines. Online experimentation can build realworld confidence. More and more trans people wonder if they need sex reassignment surgery to be who they are. Not that genitals make a man or woman. But if a person’s genitals—or mannerisms or taste in clothes or approach to life—don’t exactly match male or female, it makes sense to reach for new identities. “What did I write about myself today? It changes all the time. Trans-identified gender-fluid human. I often say that if there was a pronoun for human, then that would be me,” says Lamia Gibson, who at 35 has been questioning their gender for 15 years. “I’m very connected to the both of me. I was born into a female body but that just really feels like a casing for my spirit and my spirit feels very fluid. If there was a pill or something I could take that would morph my body to my gender as it shifts

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Insight throughout the day or throughout the week, I would take it.” As a child, Gibson didn’t want to shave their legs but then, when older, embraced a “super high femme queer punk rock” look. For a while, they considered transitioning to male, but when they became pregnant with their first child, now three, the “womanizing” experience made them reconsider. Though Gibson’s clothes often read as male—vests, handsome shoes— their round, curvy figure usually does not. Based on appearances, some people might be tempted to call Gibson a butch woman, but Gibson considers their journey paramount to their identity. The coming-out process seems unending. “In the street, I get bad looks, I get curious looks, I get happy looks,” says Gibson, who co-owns Degrees Community Acupuncture on Spadina, where they do shiatsu massage. “I’m not specifically out to my clients because I can’t do Tranny 101 with everybody, and I don’t feel like I should have to. Explaining this constantly can get so boring. But I’m out to my coworkers and have asked them to use the pronoun ‘they.’ I don’t walk around correcting people all the time.” Nat Tremblay accepts “he” or “she” as people see fit, though Tremblay prefers “they.” “If you read me as female, awesome, because there are aspects of femininity in my person. If you read me as male, that’s awesome, too.” When I meet them at Zocalo on Bloor West, they are wearing a bow tie, glittery top and a jaunty hat like my grandfather used to wear. A total charmer, Tremblay can name off their many identities without hesitation: identical twin, farmer, artist, educator, gender plural, gender queer, trickster, Two-Spirited, Metis, Frenchspeaking and cyborg. Growing up on a farm, Tremblay was more likely to roleplay masculine characters and imagine women as the subject of their romantic affections. “I saw myself as a girl-boy, not a tomboy, but a girl-boy.” It

wasn’t until Tremblay moved to Toronto 14 years ago that they developed a language, through academic study and art, for this very different sense of self. “It’s not to say that by getting a word, to name a feeling, that all of a sudden you have access to it. But it does give you a kind of power over what you feel.” For Tremblay, the “gender plural” label (not one of Facebook’s options, by the way) followed the identities of woman, feminist, lesbian, dyke, baby butch, Two-Spirited person and trans. “I still identify with all of those things. I continue to seek out identities and theories and concepts that offer more possibility—more liberation, if you will. When I identified as a trans person, I always saw trans as in a transgression of gender norms, a transformation and a transition from one static gender to something much more open-ended.” Some people with nonconventional identities are in the earlier stages of figuring out who they are. Michael Strange, a 23-year-old from Kitchener, chose Trans* Man as his Facebook gender, though he’s not sure whether that label will hold in a few years. “After high school, I was constantly falling in love with gay men. I absolutely did not like heterosexual guys. I was confused by this and I questioned myself,” says Strange. “But as soon as I made the decision that I was going to be transgender queer, I had a new vision of being this confident guy. I even had an idea of what my wedding would look like. I was going to have a vogue wedding with drag queens and gay people in this wonderful catwalk thing. I’d be bare-chested with feathers down one arm and fur around my neck. My partner could dress up in whatever way he or she wanted and we’d put on a show to celebrate our love for each other.” At one point, Strange considered transitioning into a completely male life, sometimes described as “stealth,” where his trans-ness would not be part

of how he presented himself to the world. But having won acceptance from his friends and family in his current stage of transition, he realized he didn’t want to leave his female past behind or eliminate all of his feminine qualities. Although Strange plans to take hormones and get chest surgery, he also wants to maintain a level of feminine and queer identity, thus the Trans* prefix to “Man.” “If I’m going to make an impact on the world, I have to be honest about who I am. I was a girl and that’s part of my identity and will always be a part of me, even when I go through the transition,” says Strange, who chose the name Michael after consulting with his mother about what she would have called him if he had been born male. “Sometimes I feel I’m making the wrong choice because there is so much femininity in me. Why would I want to be a boy when I can be a boyish girl? But that doesn’t quite fit right. I realize I’m on the right track. I have to be me.” Kira Andry, a 21-year-old student, identifies as neither male or female, settling on the label agender after a period identifying as gender fluid. “I was raised in a Catholic household so I was not aware that non-binary genders existed until a couple of years ago,” Andry tells me in a Facebook chat. “I recall having feelings that I wasn’t a girl back in grade two. I had considered all the possibilities I knew of and wondered if maybe I was male. However I came to realize that like its binary counterpart, the label of ‘male’ didn’t fit me.” Andry took a “take me as I am or not at all” approach to coming out, which has not always had the most positive results. “I’ve had people disown me. I’ve had many people try to force me to conform to the female gender,” they say. “I have had people come shopping with me and constantly point out dresses and try to get me to try them on. I’ve had people try to emotionally manipulate me to feel guilty about my gender identity, saying that I was ‘an embarrassment.’ I’ve had people

give me the ultimatum, ‘Stop calling yourself agender and being a freak or I won’t be your friend anymore.’” Despite some loosening of attitudes, we still live in a world where even public washrooms remind us of which camp we’re in. Even Facebook’s 50-plus gender options fall short, failing to include well-known gender identities from other cultures: India’s hijras, Thailand’s kathoeys or even the Navajo’s Nadleeh. And then, as Andry points out, there’s sexual attraction to consider. Facebook’s “Interested in” still lists only male and female as options. We have not gone so far as to consider that these emerging identities would be inherently attractive, that someone who has adopted the identity of genderqueer has not withdrawn from the domain of love and sex. Or perhaps we worry about what it all means for the future of romance. It’s hard enough being a man looking for another man, or a woman looking for another woman. A Gender Nonconforming Androgyne looking for a suitable Pangender might face an impossibly small dating pool.

And THis just out

This look at the life, love and struggles of six transgender or gender-neutral young adults, by award-wining author and photographer Susan Kuklin, puts a spotlight on the emotional and physical journeys each youth has taken in recognition of their true selves. Candlewick Press. $26.

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Get out april Events 04

Art › BANK

Buy Art Not Kids (BANK) returns for its annual fundraising event in support of Ratanak International, an organization working to bring an end to child sex trafficking. Hosted by Anne-Marie Mediwake, BANK features works for sale by more than 30 acclaimed Canadian artists, including Christopher Boffoli, Michael Levin, Julie Himel, Sheila Kernan and Marjolyn van der Hart. Havegal College. 1451 Avenue Rd.



The original parody opens with a ladies’ book club deciding to read Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel that’s shattered sales records around the globe. Through their interpretation, the audience is led on a sexy, hilarious romp with 11 original songs, including They Get Nasty, I Don’t Make Love and There’s a Hole Inside of Me. To Apr 13. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. 27 Front St E.



The 27th annual event continues with its innovative edge of international contemporary media art in a wide range of work and disciplines. The film component includes screenings of Aykan Safoglu’s Off-White Tulips, an intimate account of James Baldwin’s time in Istanbul; Dan Komljen’s Tiny Bird, which looks into the worn-out terms friendship, brotherhood and manliness by examining a gay cruising ground; Vivek Shraya’s Seeking Single White Male; and a collection of the works by net artist Jennifer Chan, including the homo-erotic K-POP inspired short film Boyfriend. To April 19. Jackman Hall (at the AGO). 317 Dundas St W.

Dance › Dancemakers: Past, Present and Future

Wine and dine at this 40th anniversary gala fundraiser, featuring an archival exhibition culled from Dancemakers’ 40-year history, plus a performance of Michael Trent’s new creation, Around, and a discussion on the future of contemporary dance. Dancemakers Centre for Creation. Distillery District. 9 Trinity St.


film › Cinefranco

Co-presented by FrancoQueer and the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, this special queer programme includes the screening of The Swimming Trunks, about a boy fascinated by the father of one of his playmates; Seventh Heaven (pictured), about a confused and withdrawn violent young man attracted to guys; and Hazel, about an obsessive mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is secretly attracted to boys. The Royal. 608 College St. cinefranco. com.

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Mixed Media › Images Festival


Fashion › {FAT} Arts & Fashion Week

Five days of fashion shows, visual art & installations, photography, films and live performance art from more than 200 emerging and contemporary Canadian and international artists. To April 26. Daniels Spectrum. 585 Dundas St E.

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Pop › Boy George

Worldpride is coming to toronto. are you Ready? we can help.

Man of a thousand hats and lives stops in Toronto with his nine-piece band to promote This is What I Do, his first album in eons. Danforth Music Hall. 147 Danforth Ave. (See interview on page 26.)


Opera › Roberto Devereux

The Canadian Opera Company’s spring season continues with Roberto Devereux by Donizetti, starring acclaimed American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in her role debut as Queen Elizabeth I. The cast also features Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, making his COC and role debut as the title character. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St. W.


Theatre › Hackerlove

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Sky Gilbert returns with a theatrical fantasy inspired by Bradley Manning (played by Kawa Ada, pictured right) and Adrian Lamo (played by Nick Green, pictured left) that imagines a queer love affair between two fictional characters in the midst of the 2010 WikiLeaks scandal. This poetic experiment in fictional history asks: What happens when gay love and national security collide? To May 11. Buddies in Bad Times. 12 Alexander St.

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Living & Design

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Living & Design


The karma chameleon comes home → Boy George a man of substance—and substance-free Story Bryen Dunn Photography Dean Stockings


n 1984, Boy George made androgyny a household world, bursting onto the scene as the front person for soul-pop band Culture Club. Thirty years later he’s in the midst of his biggest career and personal recovery yet. Having just released his first full-length solo album of new material in nearly two decades, and having been substance-free for more than six years, it is, he says, the happiest time of his life. “One day I just realized that I’m really lucky to do what I do. When I was younger and fame was thrust upon me, it was more of an obsession, but now I’m looking at it with a bit more maturity.” In fact, he’s lucky to be alive. Boy George’s life for the last couple of decades has been marked by drug addiction, jail time and a steep fall from his ’80s A-list celebrity status as a music and gay icon. Fortunately George found his way out of the depths of excess through religion and a dramatically different lifestyle. “I finally realized I can’t do things in moderation,” says Boy George. “So abstinence is the only thing that works for me. I attended my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting in 1987. I remember walking out because

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of the whole God thing. I was young and that was how I felt at the time. Today I have many different beliefs, not necessarily religious, but more spiritual. I’m a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, which is a Japanese branch that embraces having joy now as opposed to the after-life.” Now more focused on health and well-being, his rituals involve daily chanting that makes individuals capable of attaining enlightenment in their current form and present lifetime. Although devoted, using spirituality as a means to add more dimension to other parts of his life, George doesn’t have a physical shrine that he uses, admitting he’s more of a “digital Buddhist” with an “app on my Smartphone.” He’s even adopted a healthier eating regimen more in line with his cleaner-living lifestyle. He enjoys cooking and has embraced the vegetarian/vegan/raw food concept, yet he’s not hardcore about it. “I often tweet about interesting recipes or meals that I’ve prepared. I love food and find it very exciting. It’s also something that’s very emotional.” His current vice—a fresh French loaf—is a stark contrast to five years ago when George was sentenced to 15 months in jail for falsely imprisoning

a male escort by handcuffing him to a wall and beating him with a metal chain. George’s musical comeback began with the release of Coming Home, a digital single with a house music vibe. But it was the lyrics that underlined his return from the darkness. “I actually wrote that song as a way to find my mojo. I started off not really knowing what I wanted to say, and questioning the point of my present existence. I was in a complete happy place for the first time in a long time. I had no bad breakups, emotional baggage or demons to write about, and felt kind of lost for words,” he chuckles. “After finishing [Coming Home], I knew what I was going to say on the full album.” That album, his ninth solo release, is titled This Is What I Do, the name created on a whim when a television host put him on the spot. The title reflects a certain irony since this is his first album of new material in almost 20 years. “I wanted to make a baggy album that wasn’t overproduced, and I think I have achieved it. I was listening to things like Beast Of Burden by The Rolling Stones; my head most definitely was in the ’70s.” The new material also led to George’s return to music videos,

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Arts & Entertainment a world Culture Club helped pioneer as one of the early acts of the 1980s MTV generation. And while today’s videos have moved from the once all-powerful MTV machine to a world where YouTube can make anybody a star, George’s videos, if by name only, still stand out from the crowd. He shot and directed the video for Coming Home himself, but conspicuously is not featured in it. He’s also completed videos for the first two singles off the album, as well as for a powerful cover version of Lana Del Ray’s Video Games. “It’s one of those songs that doesn’t quite fit the pop song model, yet it works wonderfully as a single. I found similar comparisons to The Crying Game, which I did back in 1992.” Plus, Video Games appears as a bonus track on the US release, along with a cover of Yoko Ono’s Death Of Samantha. The lead single, King of Everything, begins with the line, “Put down the booze/Let the demons win the fight.” While George claims the song is more about recovery and human frailty than a reflection of himself, he does admit there’s a personal element to it. “I never drank booze in my life. That wasn’t my problem,” obviously referring to his well-publicized drug-addled past. “I wrote it more like a movie. The song really is about recovery and getting your shit together as a person. I actually got quite emotional and tearful when I first heard the final version of this song. That’s how important it is to me.” With lyrics like “What’s the word on the street? Have I lost my crown? Or will I be king again,” clearly Boy George questions how the public will react to his new material. But by all accounts, reviews have been quite favourable, some even going so far as to proclaim it as the comeback of the year. An eight-city North American tour stops in Toronto this month—the only Canadian date. He’s touring with a nine-piece band, many of whom worked with him on the album, which features collaborations with

the legendary producer Youth (Siouxsie & the Banshees, Primal Scream, The Orb, U2, Depeche Mode), as well as a string of stellar guest musicians including DJ Yoda, Kitty Durham, Ally McErlaine, MC Spee (Dreadzone) and Nizar Al Issa, and makes mention of a slew of forthcoming remixes to be released. “There’s a bunch of people who’ve worked on Feel The Vibration, including the Hoxton Whores. Also, George Clinton contributes to a remixed version of Bigger Than War. There’s still plenty more to come from this new recording.” And best of all, Boy George confirms that Culture Club is back together and writing new music to be recorded this summer, with a tour to follow. When asked if there was a Culture Club remix he liked, he was quick to reply with a simple, “No.” He then gave it a second thought and said there was one of Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? done by Quiver that he quite enjoyed because of its very soulful vibe. Whether or not Culture Club reclaims its past fame, or his

“I had no bad breakups, emotional baggage or demons to write about, and felt kind of lost for words,” he chuckles. “After finishing ‘Coming Home,’ I knew what I was going to say on the full album.”

solo album soars up the charts, George’s pursuits go beyond the musical. Though he also continues to DJ around the globe, he has written a couple of autobiographies, maintains his own fashion line, B-Rude, and has dabbled in art and photography. He recently did a painting of the infamous drag queen Divine for a charity auction event, saying, “I quite enjoy art. In fact, it was the only thing that I was really good at in school. When you reach the age of 50, you suddenly become fearless and are more open to taking risks.”

His return to the world stage, rejuvenated and recovered, puts the karma chameleon back in the pink and on the path to enlightenment.

Boy George plays the Danforth Music Hall on April 24. Win a pair of tickets to see Boy George compliments of IN Magazine and Embrace Presents. Email info@ by 5pm Fri, Apr 18th for your chance to win. Winners will be contacted by email.

2 8 IN Ma g a z i n e A p r i l 2 0 1 4

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hot Docs

To be Mr. Sulu → Star Trek’s George Takei and husband Brad share their lives on the big screen for all to see Story Peter Knegt


t 76 years old, George Takei has managed an impressive transition from being known best for playing Sulu in the original Star Trek television series and movies to becoming a poster boy for LGBT rights and a considerable internet sensation (he has nearly six million Facebook followers) thanks to his very popular memes. And now, Takei has his very own documentary (screening at Hot Docs this month) to highlight that journey (among other things) and continue to confirm how endearing a figure he really is. Jennifer Kroot’s To Be Takei follows Takei and his husband, Brad, as they navigate their lives together in Los Angeles, intermittently stepping back to discuss Takei being forced into Japanese-American internment camps as a child, his time on Star Trek and how he challenged the status quo for Asian actors. It’s a lovely little movie that George and Brad Takei were clearly quite proud of when they sat down to discuss it. So what was the genesis of this project? Why did you decide that this was something that you wanted to do? George Takei: Well, the genesis was Jennifer [Kroot, the film’s director], coming to us and telling us that she would like to do a documentary about it. We had to think long and hard and do a little vetting of Jennifer, but we also thought it was a wonderful and timely opportunity. We’d been in the struggle for equality for the LGBT community, and here was the opportunity to tell that story in the context of our lives. When she approached us it was 2010; it seemed like the kind of progress we were making for

equality was accelerating. And to chronicle this three-year period would be so important and maybe historic. And indeed it was. Last year, in June, history happened. But at the same time we were also developing a musical on the internment of JapaneseAmericans, which I experienced as a child, and so here we had a musical, bound for Broadway, and to have that recorded, from its genesis, all the way to, well, we’re opening on Broadway this year. So that’s why we embraced this opportunity. Brad Takei: And by seeing a same-sex couple in ordinary situations, it might make people think twice about if they have, you know, questions about acceptance of LGBT equality; it’s one way to just say that, ‘We’re members of your family and gay people are like anybody else.’ That was one of the underlying themes that Jennifer captured in the film.

You both appeared exceptionally natural throughout the whole film with a camera there. How did the two of you function that way? BT: Well, Jennifer created that comfort zone for us because she just allowed us to be ourselves, and I just sort of ignored the camera and went on with my life. What we did importantly is give Jennifer 100 per cent editorial control of the documentary. Meaning, when the final cut was world-premiered at Sundance, George and I had never seen it. And so, it’s an example of the trust that we put in the filmmaker; we felt that if she’s going for the truth, then let the chips fall where they may, and that’s what happened. GT: And I’m an actor. I’m used to being natural in front of the camera. Except in this case, unlike my professional naturalness, I wasn’t paid.

→ ACtion figure The 76-year-old Takei has never been busier, attending comic conventions and keeping up with social media followers. (Opposite page) A still from the movie To Be Takei with husband Brad Takei.

I assume it’s one thing when you’re filming it, but then another to see it on the big screen with a whole bunch of people who are laughing and cheering and getting involved in your lives. What was that experience like? GT: Exhilarating. Fantastic. We were on pins and needles.... There’s nothing more deadly, more frightening, terrorizing, than to be caught on stage, and you say something funny that you’re expecting to get a laugh from, and nothing happens, dead silence... But it was explosive laughter. That’s the wonderful communal thing about seeing a film.

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Other flicks to flock to at Hot Docs The Case Against 8 Shot over five years, The Case Against 8 offers an incredible inside look at the legal battle behind overturning Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California back in 2008. Directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White (who won the directing prize at Sundance for the film), it makes for an inspiring and emotional cinematic journey about a moment in history that will and has dramatically changed the legal rights situation for gay and lesbian

One thing I was curious about is the film talks a lot about your resistance to coming out publicly for quite some time. What would your advice be to people now— actors or public figures who are gay that maybe feel the same as you did? GT: The climate has changed dramatically, from black to white. I mean it’s that dramatic. And I think our coming out contributes to the acceleration of that transition. But, you know, it’s a personal decision, so I don’t tell anyone to do what they are reticent about doing. But it is a contribution to making this a better society. BT: And in your case, when you came out, what happened? GT: Oh yeah, in my case, there was a stimulus. It was angry, rage, blood-boiling. BT: Oh, I didn’t mean that. I meant... about your career. I was throwing it to George so that he would say, when he publicly came out as a gay American in 2005, ultimately it was the best career move he ever made. But your question was about closeted celebrities or whatever. GT: Wait, what did you say his question was? BT: Well, he was trying to find out what your advice would be to people in the closet; in your case, that your career can still flourish. GT: Well, this society is totally different. Yes, absolutely. In fact, one of my regrets is that we didn’t adopt a child when we got together 26 years ago. But we were 26 years younger. Now the climate has changed, and

it’s doable, but our bodies are no longer doable. We have friends that are raising beautiful children. Gay couples. BT: The LGBT audience, in my hyperbolic opinion, is gonna love the film, but that’s almost a given. But we think the documentary is gonna be expanded to a larger audience because of George’s Star Trek fame and social media popularity. It has things for everybody and every time you see it you pick up more wonderful qualities that you didn’t see the first time. We want this to hit America. This isn’t just a pigeon-holed film that should hit our wonderful, our beloved brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. We think it has the potential to reach other fairminded people. GT: And here’s a small example: we founded the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles, and we have a lot of volunteers. And one volunteer was apparently having difficulty discussing the issue of homosexuality with his parents. And he said, “Well, George Takei is gay, he’s got a partner.” And his mother said “Oh, then it’s okay.” So a film like this will get to more parents for when they get into that kind of discussion. It’s definitely a really universal film. BT: And we have a relative who’s bringing her 11-year-old to see the film. GT: My niece. BT: And that does bring tears to my eyes, just thinking about it, it’s like, woah.

couples in the US.

Children 404 The timely topic of LGBT rights in Russia is depicted in Children 404, Askold Kurov and Pavel Loparev’s firsthand account of the impact of Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law on the LGBT youth of the country. The law--which forbids “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”--has left an estimated 2.5 million LGBT children and teenagers in Russia without support. This film, having its world premiere at Hot Docs, is just a part of their story.

Gardenia: Before The Last Curtain Falls In 2010, seven aging drag queens and transsexuals (between the ages of 58 and 67) were asked by famed Belgian choreographer Alain Platel to return to the spotlight for a new show titled Gardenia. Their stories are depicted in Thomas Wallner’s wonderfully moving film about finding the courage to try something new in your golden years.

Lady Valor The Kristin Beck Story Former US Navy Seal Kristin Beck’s transformative journey to living truthfully as a transgender woman is depicted in Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog’s mustsee documentary. It’s not always an easy watch--people turn their backs on Beck left and right in heartbreaking fashion. But the manner in which Beck soldiers on in the face of each obstacle makes for a rousing study of an inspiration woman.

Songs For Alexis Songs For Alexis follows two teenagers, Ryan and Alexis, as they struggle with being different in suburban American. Alexis’ parents severely disapprove of her relationship with Ryan, a transgendered musician, which forces her to choose between her family and the man she loves. A coming of age story unlike anything you’ll see in mainstream narrative cinema, this documentary is as lovely as it gets.

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Arts & Entertainment b o o ks

The final chapters → Getting a kind of closure for a different time Story Bryen Dunn


eading is one of those warranted distractions that relieve us of our daily rituals, whether it’s fiction or fact. From the last book in an iconic soap operatic tale to the true struggles of one man’s fight for acceptance and another about a local community leader who changed the queerness of our city, these three works are worthy of a read.

subject to violations of our autonomy.” With regard to legislation to criminalize individuals for non-disclosure of HIV-positive status, he says,“This is a bad public health policy, because it discourages testing, it’s unjust to people with HIV, and a bit of a red herring as well because disclosure in and of itself does not prevent transmission.”

Sean Strub’s Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival is, as the title suggests, part biography, factual anecdotes, historical content and advocacy awareness. Strub, founder and executive editor of POZ magazine, has been an HIV/AIDS activist since first being diagnosed at the height of the crisis in the 1980s. He recalls the early days of the PWA Coalition and ACT UP, and how the nonchalant attitude of today leaves him feeling somewhat conflicted on topics such as the recently introduced HIV preventative pill now on the market. ”It works when taken as directed,” says Strub, “and should be readily available to those who won’t or can’t use condoms, but it doesn’t protect against other STIs so the claim that it is better than condoms is somewhat misleading.” Strub shares his personal journey from having to accept death being on his doorstep to overcoming that hurdle so that he could continue his fight for recognition and acceptance. He still feels there is a lot of discrimination today in terms of prejudgment, marginalization and the growth of self-stigmatization, even as the fear of casual contagion continues to decline. “We carry legal obligations no one else in society carries,” says Strub. “We are banned from some occupations, schools and venues, face profound violence, including that inflicted by institutions, and we are increasingly

Harper Collins Canada, $32

Army of Lovers Scribner Book Company, $30

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival

baby. It’s a fitting closure to a chapter of life that Maupin brought to readers for nearly four decades.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

The much beloved Tales of the City series comes to a close with the release of Armistead Maupin’s The Days of Anna Madrigal. Fans can jump right in where it left off as this final narrative continues with its insightful look at the barrage of characters who have resided within the walls of San Francisco’s 28 Barbary Lane. Others will likely need somewhat of an introduction: Anna is the elderly eccentric transgendered landlady who keeps things straight… so to speak. It’s with her that we travel back in time to her teenage boy years in the Nevada desert, to recount a childhood raised by a mother who ran the Blue Moon brothel to support her family. Her journey is orchestrated by her former tenant and ladies’ man Brian, as they embark on a road trip in his RV home on wheels. Some of her other “logical” family members are also headed in the same direction, but with the goal of participating in the hip festivities of Burning Man. For a series of writings that began with a serial column in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, this finale has a large span of time to reflect upon. Michael has survived living with AIDS and now lives with his younger lover, Ben; young trans-man Jake is Anna’s live-in homecare assistant who meets his boyfriend via a Buck Angel dating site; and Brian’s bisexual daughter is on a quest to have a

Army of Lovers is a book about the life of Toronto queer icon and trailblazer Will Munro, as documented by Sarah Liss. It reads much like a diary, with anecdotes from his childhood up to his last days in 2010 when cancer took him at the early age of 35. Friends, lovers, strangers and others were all affected by the loss of Munro who created an environment of inclusiveness within the sometimes fragmented queer community. His work as an artist, activist, promoter and DJ brought together a plethora of rainbowcoloured genders, sexualities, ethnicities, body compositions, musical tastes, fashions and discussions. “My memories of my initial encounters with Will are somewhat blurry,” says Liss. “I remember him wearing a chicken suit and talking animatedly in a grimy corner of the El Mocambo. I wanted to write at least a piece or a version of Will’s story to ensure it would be accessible to people who didn’t experience that moment in Toronto, and who missed out on their chance to meet one of the most important sub-cultural civic forces this city has ever known.” His vibrant spirit continues to rage on with a never-ending mix of outlandish parties held at the Beaver Café, the Queen West resto/bar that he co-owned. This is a part of Toronto’s queer history that shaped the city into where it is today. It will bring you closer to the heart of an ingenious outsider who left behind a legacy. Coach House Books, $14.

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Rape fantasies are pretty comEither way, you need to have mon, and lots of people like some in-depth discussions with things a little rough. It sounds her. Even if you are 100 per cent like you already know this, and into this all the time, she needs are generally okay with the idea, to give you a full, detailed runbut that you’re having a bit of dif- down of what does it for her. ficulty in the implementation Does she just need some bossy department, even though your energy and a bit of butt-slapquestion implies that you want to ping? Or does she need a fullplease your partner. on role-play scenario with a ski I’m guessing this might be a mask and a roll of duct tape? question of degree or frequency. Does she need to be physically It’s one thing to get into the occa- overpowered each time? Do you sional fantasy scenario, but have the strength and ability to when “typical” foreplay doesn’t pull that off? What are her safety ever work (at least not to start) limits? And yours? Can the sceand “rape” is the only thing that nario vary, or are certain eledoes, that’s a bit of a specialized ments required? Are you comrequirement. This isn’t to say it’s fortable with each element, or bad or wrong—but it does seem just some? How will either of you to be throwing you for a loop. clearly indicate if something’s So my first answer is a quesgoing terribly wrong? tion: is it okay with you to always If you’re not into being a “rapstart with force? Are you comist” all the time, you need to fortable being the “rapist” every discuss what else you can do time you have sex? This might together that will be mutually not sit well with you, and that satisfying—or agree that you’ll would be reasonable. Does play- trade off on who’s getting the ing that role turn you on? If so, kind of nookie they enjoy. After does it turn you on every time? If all, this is about two people in a not, how else does it make you relationship, not just one person feel? What kind of sex would you getting to live their fantasy. prefer to be having? Remember, consent is just as important for the top as for the bottom. Playing the “rapist” is an intense, demanding role that involves a great deal of vulnerability on your part, psychological and possibly physical. You’re allowed to want this only some of the time, or not at all, or to be willing to go there to please your partner but to want ANDREA ZANIN The Sex Geek blogs at other kinds of sex for your own Email her at enjoyment.



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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Magazine: April 2014  

IN Magazine: April 2014 Issue: 47 IN Toronto Magazine's April 2014 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

IN Magazine: April 2014  

IN Magazine: April 2014 Issue: 47 IN Toronto Magazine's April 2014 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.