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celebrating canada’s lgbt LIFESTYLE | april 2015



The Colours of Spring Travel


20/03/2015 11:38:31 AM

Downtown Toronto

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19/03/2015 12:18:38 PM 19/03/2015 12:20:59 PM

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18/03/2015 4:34:48 PM

MAGAZINE PUBLISHER Patricia Salib EDITOR Jim Brosseau Art director Nicolรกs Tallarico FASHION DIRECTOR Adam Webster ASSOCIATE EDITOR David Wright CONTRIBUTORs Paul Gallant, Dr. Malcolm Hedgcock, Tracy Howard, Michael Pihach, Al Ramsay, Adam Segal, Riley Stewart, Casey Williams ON the cover Photography by Adam Webster; Maciel (Sutherland Models) Senior Account Director Woodrow Monteiro Marketing/sponsorship co-ordinator Patrick Forestell 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 Canada. Provide readers with compelling news, information and entertainment. ADVERTISING & OTHER INQUIRIES 416-800-4449, ext. 100 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES 416-800-4449, ext. 201 PRODUCTION TALK BACK Feel free to share your comments on IN or articles in the magazine by emailing us at IN Magazine is published 12 times per year by The Mint Media Group. All rights reserved. 182 Davenport Rd., Suite 300, Toronto, ON, M5R 1J2

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18/03/2015 3:58:46 PM


issue 59 april 2015


07 | LOOKING GOOD Sexing it up for spring 08 | WHEELS The Mercedes-Benz sure to turn heads 09 | MONEY$TYLE Never too early for retirement planning 12 | ON RELATIONSHIPS Losing weight, gaining self-esteem 13 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit 15 | THE DOCTOR IS IN Growing concern over hair loss


16 | LUCKY IN LONDON At home in a designer’s dream house


20 | A JOURNEY TO NICARAGUA One writer’s take on an LGBT diamond in the rough


24 | THE COLOURS OF SPRING A preview of the season’s smart matchups 32 | CULTURAL CALENDAR Events of LGBT interest across Canada 34 | FLASHBACK Diversity takes to the airwaves

→ jem lopez preps mike for IN’s April fashion shoot.

Adam Webster

CORRECTION In the March 2015 issue of IN, text for the wedding of Al Ramsay and Michael Daniels should have indicated that Ramsay proposed to Daniels.

04 05 Mast Head.dw.indd 5


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18/03/2015 17/02/2015 3:59:39 3:36:58 PM PM

INfront collective wisdom for living well

Looking Good

Knock ’Em Out → How to get a killer look that won’t go unnoticed By Tracy Howard


es, you’re fabulous! Still, there are times you want to tszuj yourself up for a special occasion. Like maybe you and your partner are getting hitched, or you’ve been invited to your ex’s wedding…and his fiancé is a dead ringer for David Beckham. Whatever your motivation, here’s a plan to look like the best version of you. 1. Starting now: De-junk your diet Rather than starting a radical diet, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein. Cutting back on carbs will help banish bloating, while drinking several glasses of water daily will make skin look more luminous.

2. 12 weeks before: Peel it In the pursuit of younger-looking skin, many people think of Botox. And there’s no question injecting

07. looking good.dw.indd 10

botulinum toxin type A into muscles can temporarily smooth crow’s feet and frown lines. But if improved skin texture is your goal, consider professional peels, which target wrinkles, large pores and brown spots (the last being especially important since studies show hyperpigmentation can raise one’s perceived age by up to 20 years). Superficial peels, often using glycolic acid, are popular because they require minimal downtime. They usually involve about six treatments (separated by two weeks) for best results. Peels should be done in the office of a dermatologist or other qualified medical practitioner, and apply sunscreen daily post-treatment. 3. Four weeks before: Brighten Aging, combined with consuming the likes of berries, red wine and coffee, can darken teeth. Among the most effective ways to revive that smile

are professionally dispensed take-home kits featuring custom-made whitening trays. Your dentist will supervise treatment, with maximum results usually achieved in a month. Before whitening, ask your dentist if your teeth have a yellow or a grey tone, as the latter don’t brighten as effectively. 4. One week before: Slay greys If you think your hair says “grandpa” and not “Anderson Cooper,” see a professional colourist. At-home colour kits are affordable but often result in an unnatural shade. Instead, look for a salon that offers colour camouflage, a popular service that blends away some grey.

Tracy Howard is a writer and editor specializing in lifestyle topics. She’s the creator of beautyinthemiddle. com, a blog that takes an inside-out approach to looking good and feeling good at any age.

18/03/2015 4:00:11 PM

IN front Wh e e l s

Guest of Honour → Making a luxurious entrance in the Mercedes-Benz S550 By Casey Williams

2015 MERCEDES-BENZ S550 FIVE-PASSENGER, AWD SEDAN POWERTRAIN 335kW/449hp 4.6-litre TTV8, 7-spd. auto transmission SUSPENSION F/R Electronic Ind/Ind WHEELS 20”/20” alloy f/r BRAKES disc/disc fr/rr MUST-HAVE FEATURES Comfort, performance FUEL ECONOMY 14.8/9.8 litres/100km city/hwy ASSEMBLY Sindelfingen, Germany BASE PRICE (S550 LWB) $116,800


reparing for the season’s

Not to mention comfortable.

litre biturbo V8 that delivers

you can still loosen your grip…


The driver will appreciate those

335kW/449 horsepower, routed

and relax.


heated and cooled seats with


weddings, family reunions and

massagers and heated armrests.

drive. For such a big car, 14.8/9.8

summer’s many social gatherings

so on—leads some to think

And passengers will luxuriate in



can leave you wondering about

about how best to arrive in style.

heated/cooled reclining massage

garishly frugal. Throttle it and the

how to dress for the occasion,

With the right car, however, that

seats under a panorama roof.

car gathers speed expeditiously.

what gift to bring and a host of

stress will be replaced with bliss.

They can relax into the pillowed

Always remember the S550

other nettlesome details. But

You can almost feel any anxiety

headrests, crank the Burmester

is first and foremost a luxury

with the good fortune of an S550

evaporate as you slide into the


vehicle. Even in Sport mode, it

on your family’s radar, one thing

comfortable seats of a Mercedes-

lighting and enjoy a respite.

wafts down the freeway with

you’ll never have to worry about

When it’s their turn at the

a damped, heavy float that is

is your ride. You might even


wheel, they’ll find a dashboard

characteristic of Mercedes. Still,

think of its $116,800 asking price

wherever you’re going, the S550

dominated by twin LCD screens.

it’s unbothered lounging beyond

as the cost for your personal

is always a welcome sight. Its


triple digits (where permitted).

long-wheelbase limo.

big chrome grille and three-

joy wheel and centre screen to

Using radar, cruise control

pointed star are as familiar as

select infotainment functions.

automatically keeps you a preset

some treasured picnic spot. The



distance from other vehicles on

streamlined sedan sports 20”

instruments and a night-vision

the road, but the S550 also uses

alloys and body sculpting that



cameras to centre the car in

recalls classic Mercedes. And like

buttons adjust powertrain and

its lane—even around curves.

that special someone in your life,


Sensors require you to keep your




Benz S550. Wherever



it will always remain attractive.

















hands on the steering wheel, but





A contributing writer for, Casey Williams is a frequent business traveller to Montreal. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams is a columnist for that city’s newspaper, the Star.

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19/03/2015 10:24:28 AM



Retirement Planning → The inside track on when to start and what to consider By Al Ramsay


ne of the great advantages of living in a Canada is the support of our community. Whether single, married or in a common-law relationship*, we enjoy most of the same rights and freedom as the straight community. This is true of retirement planning. Yet there are still many important considerations we should review from an LGBT perspective to ensure we take advantage of every opportunity afforded us, and to ensure that our plans are carried out as intended, both during our lifetime and at our death. When should I start the retirement-planning process? In a word, now! The basic foundation of a retirement plan starts out as a simple savings plan and grows more complex as you begin layering additional considerations—tax planning, estate planning, income and savings protection, etc. To begin, you will need to outline your desired retirement lifestyle and then start to work backward to determine how much (in future dollars) that lifestyle will cost. Only then can you craft a detailed plan to ensure you save enough money between now and your retirement date to enjoy that lifestyle. A financial advisor will assist you in determining these figures, help establish a disciplined savings plan and recommend an appropriate investment strategy. Your advisor will also help you explore additional financial considerations to layer into your plan to ensure you’re taking the most strategic approach and

protect your assets in the event your savings plan is interrupted. Tax-planning considerations As the saying goes, there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. While both are inevitable, we can make good strategic decisions as part of our retirement plans to help minimize taxes now, in retirement and at death. To begin, if you are married or living in a commonlaw arrangement, you will need to inform the Canada Revenue Agency. You will then have the ability to claim a tax credit for a financially dependent partner, to transfer credits and amounts (i.e., age amount, disability amount, tuition amount) to your partner. You may also combine basic credits on receipted payments (i.e., charitable donations, medical expenses) to maximize the overall credit. Be sure to talk to your advisor about the following strategies and opportunities when building out your retirement plan: Income Splitting strategies with Spousal RSPs, sharing Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments, Pension Income Splitting, taxdeferred rollovers of registered plans and tax-free rollovers of TFSA assets.

Income and Savings protection Life can change in an instant. Suffering an unexpected accident or illness can quickly affect our ability to earn income and can eventually deplete savings. Be sure to discuss strategies with your advisor on how to best protect your income through disability-insurance coverage. Many employers offer basic coverage. Your advisor can help you assess whether your current coverage is sufficient, or if you should explore solutions to further protect yourself and your income. Critical-Illness coverage should also be considered in the event you’re diagnosed with illness that would require your absence from the workforce for an extended period of time.

intentions. If you experience such events as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child, you should revisit your will and update it accordingly. • Consider a life-insurance policy to cover any outstanding debts, to provide your partner enough financial freedom to take time away from the workforce to grieve your death, or to leave a lasting legacy to your family. • Beneficiary designations on insurance policies, registered accounts (i.e., RSPs, RIFs, TFSAs, etc.), pension plans and other work benefits should be current and reflect your life today. • Review the structure of jointly owned assets and property so they’ll pass to your partner, as intended, without interruption.

Estate-planning opportunities We often hear that it doesn’t matter what happens to your money or property once you pass, because you won’t be there to enjoy it! Our reality is much different, though. We each have intentions for our property and who we would like to benefit from our hard-earned savings. The following will help ensure that your intentions are carried out: • Make sure your will is up to date and accurately reflects your

Should I work with a professional advisor? Yes, absolutely! Find an advisor with whom you’re comfortable— someone who’ll take the time necessary to get to know you, understand what is important to you and who is knowledgeable enough to help you prepare a plan taking all financial considerations into account. Work with an advisor who’s able to help bring other experts to the table to ensure you’re taking advantage of every strategic opportunity available. Finally, you should like your advisor: This is a long-term relationship with someone you’ll review information with repeatedly to stay on track.

Related Resources • For a copy of the TD Wealth Financial Planning Considerations for Same-Sex Couples paper, or an introduction to an advisor who can help you prepare your retirement plan, you may contact columnist Al Ramsay at; 416-983-6818; Twitter: @AlRamsay_TD

• TD Wealth: Planning for Retirement

• BNN Money Talk with Kim Parlee, VP TD Wealth “Busting Myths: Same-Sex Financial Planning”

Al Ramsay is TD Bank Group’s regional manager, LGBTA Business Development. Follow him on Twitter, @AlRamsay_TD.

*For the purpose of the federal Income Tax Act, you are a “common-law partner” if you cohabit with another person in a conjugal relationship, whether that person is of the same or not, if (a) that relationship has lasted at least 12 continuous months; (b) the two of you are legal parents of a child; (c) he or she has custody and control of your child (or did immediately before the child turned 19) and your child is wholly dependent on that person. in m a g a z in e . c a

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23/03/2015 11:31:43 AM

Fitness Profile

Justin Hasselbach PROFESSION Public relations/communications. ROLE MODELS My friends (they know who they are). Each one has reached success, and my favourite thing is to listen to their stories and pick out details of how they managed to get where they are. I constantly refer to their experiences. HOW SEXUALITY AFFECTED SPORTS ACTIVITIES GROWING UP In high school, excelling at tennis contributed to my being bullied. Tennis wasn’t [considered] as masculine as hockey, which dominated in the rural community of Summerland. Sexuality didn’t affect my sports activities as much as sport affected my ability to cope with my sexuality. WAYS YOU OVERCAME ANY ANTI-GAY PREJUDICES Sports and physical activity allowed me to let out latent aggression toward an incoming tennis ball or to complete that set of chest presses. I was adamant about being the best and showing my peers that I could excel in sports, further proving my worth to them, whether it was warranted or not. I fought harder—all to display this air of strength. ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE ON OVERCOMING BIASES IN SPORTS The only person you can be is yourself. In terms of sports, the best achievements you can make are by knowing your strengths and running with them. FITNESS STRATEGY I have a diverse set of fitness activities, with weight training as my focus. I break my workout into three days: day one is chest, back and legs; day two is arms and abs. On my third day I do cardio, which usually consists of yoga or indoor running/relays. Also, I’m very conscious of what I eat. Knowing where your food comes from is something sacred and respects what we put into our bodies. HOBBIES I love indulging in all that the city has to offer. At home, I’m very handy and enjoy interior design, including using my power tools to build furniture. And one of my passions is my blog,, where I can explore fashion and lifestyle. Music and the arts will always be my first love. BEST LIFE LESSON SO FAR Know thyself. It’s probably one of the most profound philosophies and something that I constantly strive for. Throughout any of the stressors that I’ve had in my life, activity has always let me work through those issues and pick them apart until their impact is substantially smaller.

Photography: Riley Stewart

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20/03/2015 9:32:14 AM

Flyknit Lunar 3, $190 Speed Men’s Running Tights, $140 9” Distance Shorts, $65 Men’s Dri-Fit Knit Top, $105 (ALL CLOTHING AND SHOES BY NIKE) (Availability: Nike Retail Locations and retailers including Sport Chek, Running Room and Foot Locker)

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O n Re l at i o n s h i ps

A Thin Line → Does losing weight mean gaining self-esteem? By Adam Segal

Most of my life I’ve been a fairly out-of-shape guy with low selfesteem. I wouldn’t say I was obese but always a bit soft and awkward. About two years ago, I started working out, and it has been so life changing. I’ve lost a lot of weight and become a regular at the gym, where I have made lots of buddies and have attracted attention from men since toning up. The only challenge is that I can worry loads about gaining back the weight, and I do get embarrassed about all my diet restrictions when I’m out with friends. The other day my pants were ever so slightly tighter, and I panicked. A couple of folks have expressed concerns, but I just feel focused on living healthy and want to stay that way. What do you think? Felix

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Dear Felix: more crazy-making than you There’s no doubt that you could imagine. Take your have worked hard to lose weight friends’ concerns as caring (not and sculpt your body—and judgment), and see this as a you can certainly be proud of chance to prevent the anxiety your achievement. The only from taking over. Can you trap is when too much of your imagine enjoying food without self-esteem is in the hands of obsessing about your pants the something like your weight next day? Can you consider and muscle mass. It seems like that your desirability isn’t based your poor selfentirely on your Along with a image has been size? chiselled torso hanging around You’ve been for a while, enjoying getting and smaller and it’s worth waistline, you have peeped by other considering how gym bunnies, also inherited that all started and I don’t blame an anxious for you. you. It could be relationship with that you’re only For a lot of folks who wrestle food and a feargetting noticed with body image, now that you’ve based obsession there can be a with staying thin. slimmed down. more generalized But there’s also feeling inside of “not enough- the likelihood that you only feel ness” that ends up getting good enough now to notice and projected onto the body. That invite flirtation. So long as you way we have something tangible assume that your entire world to control and “fix.” Clearly, your and self-esteem would crumble if fears of losing your firm bod you put on a few pounds, you’ll be signify that the weight loss hasn’t imprisoned by your weight loss. completely healed the poor self- The gym might become an even esteem. Along with that chiselled more pleasurable place once it torso and smaller waistline, you stops being a venue that confirms have also inherited an anxious or dismantles your overall worth. relationship with food and a fear-based obsession with Adam Segal, writer and therapist, works staying thin. in private practice in downtown Toronto. While it doesn’t seem so Ask him your relationship or mentalbad right now, this anxiety health question at could snowball and become

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20/03/2015 11:24:38 AM


on the town by Michael Pihach


Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, Opening-Night Party

Cocktail by Design at the Design Exchange











Basquiat Bash at Art Gallery of Ontario





→ 1. Jay Mitchell 2. Shaun Marq 3. Jeff Rustia 4. Christoph Symonette, Pietro Pantanella 5. Ryan Oakley, Jefre Nicholls 6. Rick Byun 7. Sarah Richardson, Tommy Smythe 8. Mary Symons, Karl Lohnes 9. Colette van den Thillart, Nolan Bryant 10. James Burn, Kindy Kang 11. John Caffery 12. Rachel Diore, Alejandra Borges 13. Jose Sanchez, Mercedes Aquino, ShKaisar 14. Robbin Yoon, Jen Chow, Sanjay Ratnan 15. Shamina Cherawala, Alex Mcleod

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rt 9 7–1 ry A il 1 ora Apr temp Con r

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18/03/2015 4:03:26 PM

IN front

the doctor is in

Making Headway → Do the benefits outweigh the risks in hair-loss treatments? By Dr. Malcolm Hedgcock


h, the dreaded male-pattern baldness. Chances are it’s happening to you, or at least it’s going to. Whether we like it or not, about 50 percent of men will experience some degree of hair loss by age 50. That frustratingly conspicuous sign of aging is caused by shrinking hair follicles in certain areas of the scalp. The presence of a chemical called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the signal that tells these hair follicles to rest and collapse. DHT is a natural by-product formed during the metabolic breakdown of testosterone, and

it. But generally the diagnosis of androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness) is pretty obvious on inspection of the scalp. With time, it tends to get worse, and there are many things guys do to try to disguise and treat their hair loss. One of the more controversial treatments is called finasteride (Propecia) and, not surprisingly, I get asked about it all the time in my clinic. Finasteride is a molecule that blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT throughout the body. It was initially used to treat

There are lots of medical reasons people lose hair. But generally the diagnosis of androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness) is pretty obvious on inspection of the scalp. it’s not terribly useful to adults beyond causing hair loss—as far as we can tell. Of course, there are lots of medical reasons people lose hair. Thyroid disease, syphilis, stress and immune disorders can all do

enlarged prostates, since a second annoying feature of DHT is that it overstimulates prostate cells. It was later noted that finasteride was effective for reversing hair loss, and so several large studies were conducted to test it

out. The results showed that two thirds of men had an increase in hair counts after two years. One third had the same amount of hair, and only one percent lost hair. This was dramatically different from the group who received a placebo pill. Researchers also found that finasteride improved the colour, length and thickness of each individual hair. There’s no question that finasteride is effective; the controversy comes from the potential side effects. Even though finasteride shouldn’t interfere with the function of testosterone, we sometime see problems with erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. In general the risk of these is very low, but some men will have issues with sexual dysfunction that persist even after the medication is stopped. There are also reports of men developing depression, testicular pain and enlargement of breast tissue. On the upside, the anti-androgen effects of finasteride have been shown to prevent prostate cancer. Those few people who did develop cancer while on the drug tended to have a higher grade of cancer, but after 10 years, there was no difference in survival

between those taking active medication versus placebo. So the potential for use as a cancer-prevention tool are still up in the air. The manufacturer of Propecia did apply for a patent on a liquid version of finasteride many years ago—presumably with the hope that topical use may mitigate some of these adverse effects. As it stands, there are no topical preparations currently available. Despite the risks, I am quite comfortable prescribing finasteride to patients who want it. Similar to the studies, I’ve seen very few side effects in my clinic, and generally people are happy with the results. And while it might decrease your chances of developing prostate cancer, remember that taking finasteride doesn’t exclude you from regular prostate checkups. In fact, extra care must be taken to make sure small cancers don’t get missed. Dr. Malcolm Hedgcock is a Torontotrained family doctor living and working in Vancouver. He has a special interest in gay men’s health issues, including the primary care of those living with HIV and AIDS. TALK BACK Share your thoughts on this column or anything else in IN Magazine by emailing

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18/03/2015 4:04:14 PM

Lucky in London An Ontario designer makes a dream house his home By Jim Brosseau


hen Grant Gilvesy looked at a 1950s Cape Coder on a tree-lined street in London, Ont.’s Old North, there was no looking back. “I would never live in any other neighbourhood in London,” says Gilvesy, who heads two design firms in the city. “It has so much character, it’s walking distance to downtown and very centrally located.” It didn’t hurt that the Cape Cod style is one of Gilvesy’s favourites. But despite everything the 1950s-built house had going for it, there were “massive changes” ahead. The long list of improvements included a new roof and replacing windows and doors; cedar siding; painting; and landscaping. And that was just the outside! Indoors, Gilvesy opened up the main floor to help solidify the home’s overall open concept; completely updated the kitchen and bathrooms; and redid floors, doors, trim, lighting and plumbing. Fortunately, his firms together take a holistic approach to a property. Indeed, their shared slogan is “cohesive design inside and out.” Grant Gilvesy Design focuses on interiors, while In Bloom Design covers all aspects of landscaping. The three-bedroom home sits on a double lot, a rare find in the quiet Old North, where the diverse population includes young families, single professionals and active retirees. “The house had amazing bones,” says Gilvesy, “and it was a perfect fit for my needs.” If you can’t improve upon perfection, there’s nothing to stop

you from tweaking it. Among Gilvesy’s most ambitious tweaks to the 1,700-square-foot space was the removal of two walls. They were separating the kitchen from the dining area and the dining area from the family room. As Gilvesy recalls, “It had no flow and felt very chopped up.” When it came time to furnish the three-bedroom, two-bath home, which the designer acquired about three and a half years ago, eclecticism was the guiding principle. “I don’t collect one thing in particular,” he says. “However, I do like antiques and like to mix really good pieces into every room. I don’t like a space to feel as if you’d set up a showroom in someone’s home.” Although even an experienced chef would be pleased with the kitchen—with its ample light, quality appliances and generous counter space—Gilvesy confesses that he doesn’t cook: “I tend to meet my friends for dinner out.” But he hastens to add: “A future goal of mine is to entertain more.” For now, though, his workload leaves little time for hours-long dinner parties and other at-home gatherings. No matter, contends Gilvesy: the important thing is to be happy in your space. “I believe your home is an extension of you,” he reflects. “I don’t think people realize how much a space can affect their mood.” Which is why, he insists, choosing an interior designer should not be left to chance. “You have to click,” he says. “Check out their work; see what they have done; interview them and make sure you feel totally comfortable about working with them and the direction they’re headed. Designing someone’s personal space is a privilege.”

“I believe your home is an extension of you. I don’t think people realize how much a space can affect their mood.”

→ HOME SWEET HOMe Designer Grant Gilvesy’s London, Ont., home (above) before and after its facelift; the comfortably furnished living room.

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18/03/2015 4:07:27 PM

If you can’t improve upon perfection, there’s nothing to stop you from tweaking it. Gilvesy likes to practise what he preaches: “When I go into someone’s space, I first look at the period and style of the home and then listen to the client’s needs and wants. I try to find a balance between the two. It is extremely important to respect the home itself, to see it as the canvas on which the client paints.” Whether his own canvas or someone else’s, Gilvesy takes his design charge very seriously. After all, he points out, “I tend to do things to last forever!” But never mind, he adds, if you’ve settled into an entire house for life or a studio apartment you’ll vacate in a matter of months, “it’s important to take time and make your space feel right to you—even if it’s a temporary space.”

TALK BACK: Feel free to share your comments on IN or articles in the magazine by emailing us at

→ THE BRIGHT STUFF (clockwise from above right) Renovated kitchen; clean lines define the entry hall; removing a wall opened the dining room; understated bath; designer Gilvesy. 1 8 I N M a g a z in e a p r i l 2 0 1 5

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23/03/2015 1:11:36 PM

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18/03/2015 4:11:45 PM

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18/03/2015 4:12:10 PM

A Journey to Nicaragua Far from a gay mecca, the Central American country is a diversity diamond in the rough By Paul Gallant

had Sergio pegged from a distance. Out walking his

Nicaragua has worked hard over the past decade to catch up. Its

German shepherd puppy on the beach as the sun set

nasty civil war now in the distant past, its crime rate low by Latin

on the Pacific Ocean, he was wearing smartly tailored

American standards, its natural beauty rivalling that of other Central

blue shorts you might see on guys in Miami Beach or

American countries, Nicaragua has rightfully earned a spot on many

West Hollywood. In San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua—where backpacking

“next hot places to visit” lists. The start of preliminary construction

Americans in dirty khaki shorts experiment with dreadlocks and where

last December of a canal to rival Panama’s, being built with Chinese

an ill-fitting Polo shirt is part of the local uniform—his ensemble stood

money, has also made the world sit up and take notice of Nicaragua’s

out as particularly well put together.

ambitions. The canal plan (largely considered to be half-baked)


I was right. Openly gay, Sergio had left Managua two years earlier

dovetails with broader development of the Pacific coast north of San

for this tiny fishing village-cum-tourist town. While in his late 20s,

Juan del Sur that will see a new airport, a duty-free port and luxury

he had found work as a chef at one of San Juan’s nicer hotels. But

resorts built on pristine beaches that are now barely reachable by car.

he chose to move to this remote corner of the country not for a job

Surfing, sun-tanning and drinking are not the only attractions.

but for the relaxed beach lifestyle. Sure, everybody in San Juan, which

Volcanoes, both active and dormant, have created a unique landscape

has a population of less than 16,000, knows your business, but the

begging to be hiked, climbed, boated and otherwise eco-toured.

spectacular views and laid-back vibe are the perfect antidote to

Colonial cities like Granada and Léon provide spectacular photo

the traffic, pollution and messy urban development of Nicaragua’s

opportunities. But relative price and relative security have also

capital. Still, moving to a small town can be tough. While San Juan del

contributed to Nicaragua’s moment. Costa Rica isn’t the bargain

Sur has an abundance of fun-seeking straight people—the town’s off-

it once was. Crime rates have scared many tourists away from

the-hook Sunday Funday pub crawl is known as an event guaranteed

Guatemala and Honduras. If Nicaragua’s boom leads to higher prices,

to get you laid—it certainly doesn’t have a gay scene. Was it a hard

bigger hotels, more chains and more package holiday makers, will

place to be gay and single?

it scare away the travellers who are coming for the culture? There’s

“It’s okay,” Sergio told me in Spanish. “Nicaragua is changing very

more to distinguish Nicaragua than mere affordability.

fast. Tourism makes a difference, but the people here are changing,

“In Nicaragua, we are sincere,” says Alfonso, a project manager

too. I don’t have problems. My friends know I’m gay. They like me for

for a nonprofit organization from Managua I met one day. “If we are


friendly, it is because we’re friendly, not because we have learned to

While neighbouring Costa Rica has been in the tourism business

be friendly. That’s one thing that makes us different.” That Nicaraguan sincerity—the reluctance to embrace something


much longer—and has a solid reputation as a gay-friendly destination—

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merely to project the right image—is also reflected

anti-discrimination laws remains lax. Police are not

avoid. A sprawling hodgepodge of unappealing

in slowly changing attitudes toward LGBT people.

interested in anti-gay crimes, to say the least.

neighbourhoods, it’s not the reason one buys a ticket

The country’s perennial right-left struggle certainly

Yet the very fabric of society is undergoing change.

to Nicaragua. But many of the country’s winning

hasn’t done the community any favours. The

Although the Roman Catholic Church remains very

destinations are not far away from the capital’s

legalization of homosexuality and regulations

influential (one night in Granada, out of the blue,

cosmopolitan glow.

against discrimination came very late, in 2008, after

an hour-long Catholic-themed parade went by my

Alfonso, now in his mid-30s, says he came out

Daniel Ortega won the presidency in 2007. Ortega

hotel), that was also true of Mexico and Brazil when

to his family and many of his coworkers a couple of

started out as a leader in the Marxist-Leninist

gay life in those countries went bang. Though many

years ago. He was surprised at how unfazed they

Sandinista movement back in the 1970s, so you could

of the LGBT people with whom I talked are still in the

were by the news. His mother now laughs when

say that the left came through in the end...30 years

closet, most say it’s getting easier to be gay and to

he talks about guys along with his sisters. Holding

after it might have.

be out.

hands in public? Nope. Same-sex marriage? Still hard

Nicaraguan LGBT issues have not been fuelled

Perhaps not surprising, attitudes are most relaxed

to image. “But people won’t give you a hard time if

by the star power of someone like Mariela Castro,

in Managua, where the elites live, as do many gay

they know you’re gay,” Alfonso asserts. “People

daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro,

people. Alas, it’s also a city most tourists try to

don’t like to make a big deal about things like that.”

whose leadership at the Cuban National Center for Sex Education aims to link Cuban socialism with equality and justice. (I’m not defending Cuba’s human-rights record, just describing the image the Castros, accurately or not, are trying to project.) Second only to Haiti as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Nicaragua pushes some pressing issues off the public agenda with its focus on economic growth and poverty reduction. Only in the past few years has the government moved beyond crisis control. Nonetheless, enforcement of → TIMELESS NICARAGUA Granada’s Iglesia de Guadalupe (opening pages, left). San Juan del Sur (clockwise from below); fun on the Pacific coast; Asian-inspired décor at Granada’s El Tercero Ojo.


Nicaraguan Know-How

bout 100 kilometres from the simple pleasures of the beaches around San Juan del Sur, interiordesign junkies will have a field day in the historic city of Granada. Founded by the Spanish in 1524 and built to impress, its streets are lined with stunning colonial buildings. The exteriors are often understated—maybe a three-storey yellow wall with some columns along the front. But wonderlands may await those who step inside. Lush courtyards connect to even more lush courtyards, with unique annexes and pavilions creating maze-like effects. I went for brunch at the city’s Chocomuseum ( omuseo) and, looking for a washroom, wandered through one elegant corridor after another, eventually stumbling upon an infinity pool and spa. From the street, you’d have no idea—neither about the size of the place nor the art and furniture treasures all through it. Granada is rightfully proud of its historic bones. Hotel Dario maintains a sparkling neoclassical look, as if it were still the early 19th century, with tea served at 3 p.m. sharp. But the city’s hoteliers and restaurateurs aren’t afraid to experiment. El Tercer Ojo Granada (Eltercerojonicaragu has opened up its colonial street wall to better flaunt its funky Far East décor to anyone wandering by. I was able to duck into dozens of hotels and restaurants for a look-see without staff so much as giving me a second look. They’re used to it. Granada’s gay-friendly bar closed shortly before my visit. But I noticed the establishment that had taken over the location had embedded the rainbow colours in its logo. Sure enough, the broad array of patrons in the narrow little karaoke pub included quite a few I’d consider “family.” In particular, there were a few women— perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect nails—I’d categorize as trans. In such a conservative country, trans people remain on the vanguard. They’re like human rainbow flags, announcin g their existence to all around them. Last year’s Miss Gay Nicaragua competition attracted international attention when winner Carlos Castro, known as Amerika Ithzell Korkobas Berdrinadxy, toured the country promoting sexual diversity. Several times I spotted drag queens/trans people in the most out-of-the -way places. When I was changing buses one day in the chaotic Rivas terminal, I saw a statuesque woman strolling the dusty platform selling nutty snacks from a plastic bag she carried on her head. Her lips more red than any I’d seen before in Nicaragua, she looked like she’d just stepped out of a fancy-dress ball. First I thought, how brave! Then I realized I was the only person on the platform who looked at her twice. In a country changing so fast, being who you are without attracting comment might be the biggest sign of real progress.

where to go

Managua For many travellers, the capital is primarily a transportation

hub, except for the nightlife. The country’s biggest gay bar, Tabu Discoteque and Lounge ( DiscotequeLounge), boasts drag and stripper shows. Granada A fantasy for “Architectural Digest” readers, the city is worth a couple days of wandering. Hotel KeKoldi (, the sister hotel of KeKoldi in Costa Rica, offers affordable gay-friendly accommodations. San Juan del Sur Though you won’t see many rainbow flags, the locals and expats here run mostly judgment-free businesses. Eat poutine and drink Caesars at The Loose Moose Canadian bar or spend an afternoon savouring organic fair-trade coffee at El Gato Negro. For those who love surfing, boarding and climbing, the Canadian-owned Surf Ranch ( will make sure you’re always in action. Léon The country’s second-biggest city, and its liveliest one, is home to Nicaragua’s other gay bar (Facebook. com/ and a gay expat-owned guesthouse (Gayleonnicaragua.b—P.G.

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The Colours of Spring The season to mix, match and mix it up

PHOTOGRAPHY: adam webster Models: Bartek, Gleb and Mike (Velocci Models); Maciel (Sutherland Models) Styled by: Nagham Cararah and Janet Devins Makeup and Grooming: Jem Lopez for Toronto Bridal Style and Meghan Victoria

Left Chino: Ben Sherman Shirt: Ralph Lauren Bow tie: Just Sultan right Lapel pin: Just Sultan Chino: Polo Ralph Lauren Shirt: Ralph Lauren

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Justin Suit: Prada Shirt & Bow-Tie: Hugo Boss (available at Holt Renfrew stores across Canada) Jacket: Hugo Boss (available at Holt Renfrew stores across Canada) Shirt: Gap Shorts: Ralph Lauren Watch: Diesel

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Mark Suit: Tiger of Sweden Shirt/Tie: DKNY. (available at Holt Renfrew stores across Canada)

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Shirt: H&M Pant: Massimo Dutti Belt: Zara Bow tie: Just Sultan

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Shirt, Pant: Zara Belt: Gap Lapel pin: Just Sultan

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Jacket, Shirt: Public School, New York (available at Holt Renfrew stores across Canada) pant: Zara shoes: H&M

sweater: porter & ash sunglasses: H&M

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Shirt: Paul Smith Watch: Fossil

Justin Jacket: Hugo Boss (available at Holt Renfrew stores across Canada) Pants: HD Homme Shirt: Zara Mark Suit: HD Homme Shirt: Hugo Boss

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Cultural Calendar

april 2015

Events of LGBT Interest Across Canada By David Wright




Opera If you’ve seen the movie Amadeus, you’ll know that Mozart was allegedly poisoned to death by his archrival Salieri. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra revives this legend with Rimsky-Korsakov’s one-act opera Mozart & Salieri at the Orpheum Theatre. Conducted by Bramwell Trovy and sung by baritone James Westman (pictured), the score cleverly quotes Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Requiem.



In the lead-up to its big 25th-anniversary celebration later this spring, Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT film festival presents a 1990s Retro Series. Features include Show Me Love (F---ing Åmål), an edgy lesbian coming-of-age story circa 1998 by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, on April 8 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. In keeping with the ’90s theme, tickets are retro-priced at $5.50.

Rob Bovarnick, Rob-Harris Production

Edmonton’s Bonfire Theatre sizzles from April 7 to 11 during the fourth annual Bonfire Festival at the Citadel. Sit back and watch the sparks fly when members of the high-energy ensemble take to the stage to perform original, experimental improv.



© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Experience 50 Shades of Gay, an evening of LGBT humour as part of the annual Winnipeg Comedy Festival at the Gas Station Arts Centre. Hosted by stand-up star Chantel Marostica, 50 Shades’ roster includes local sketch-comedy troupe Hot Thespian Action (pictured).



The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2015 showcases the work of seven Canadian artists for their outstanding career achievements or contributions to the arts through voluntary or professional activities. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor General of Canada, the show runs until Aug. 30 in the nation’s capital.



Don’t miss this poignant English translation of Tom at the Farm by celebrated francophone playwright Michel Marc Bouchard. Running until May 10 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, the play follows Tom (played by Jeff Lillico, pictured) to his partner’s funeral and the family farm, where he discovers a hidden diary and plenty of other well-kept secrets.

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Film Festival

Southern Ontario’s Reeling Spinsters collective presents the London Lesbian Film Festival: three days of screenings, plus an openingnight reception, a Saturday-night dance featuring award-winning deejay Denise Benson and a Sunday brunch hosted by comedian Sandra Valls.


Literary Festival

Robin Toma Photography

Circle the 29th on your calendar this month for the Tomboy Survival Guide as part of Vancouver’s Verses Festival of Words at the Rio Theatre. Accompanied by her all-tomboy band, spoken-word performer Ivan Coyote (pictured below, second from right) tackles the childhood fear of being chosen as a flower girl, the joy of mastering a double Windsor knot and other tricky topics.



The National Arts Centre in Ottawa hosts a spectacular evening with Daniel Lanois—Canadian rock legend and one of the world’s most influential music producers—accompanied by folk singer Basia Bulat (Tall Tall Shadow) and the NAC Orchestra.

canada’s premier

LGBT lifestyle magazine

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FLASHBACK April 2007 in LGBT History



mong all the trailblazing moments in LGBT history, few match the morning Torontonians switched on their radios for a new day in media. On April 16, 2007, 103.9 Proud FM was born. It marked the first time an LGBT audience was served by a commercial broadcaster instead of a not-for-profit entity. As one publication declared at the time, “Ten years ago, they wouldn’t have had a chance.” Eight years on, the hits, as they say, keep on coming.

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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Magazine: April 2015  

IN Magazine: April 2015 ISSUE: 59 IN Magazine's April 2015 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

IN Magazine: April 2015  

IN Magazine: April 2015 ISSUE: 59 IN Magazine's April 2015 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.